From Mama to Gabe
100. Gabe, I want you to know that we love you. I heard a tape of a meeting that Megan's mom, Gwen, had with some of the young people in the Houston area, explaining what had happened. This was while Megan was in the hospital, being kept alive by life support. Someone asked Gwen if she was mad at you. She responded, probably through her tears, that she wasn't angry, that she had forgiven you. That's a lot of love, coming from a mother who is caring for her dying daughter.
101. I want you to know that Peter and I love you too, very much. If we could, we would hug you and hold you and tell you that we have faith for you. We have hope that you can learn from this and go on to be a great witness and testimony for the Lord--not a testimony to your own goodness or strength‚ but a testimony of the Lord's forgiveness, and His ability to bring forth beauty from ashes. You probably feel that your life is in ashes right now, and it is. But good can come of it if you choose to hang on to Jesus, really sacrifice to make the needed changes, let go of all your pride, and let Jesus give you a new start.
102. Don't give up in despair--that would be a cop-out. Think of King David, who had Uriah killed, and then the Lord chastised David and slew his son. It was after this that David went on to be called a man after God's own heart, because of his great repentance. And remember, repentance isn't only being sorry. It's changing your life, not doing those wrong things anymore, and really turning around. I know you can do it. We have faith for you.
103. Find the place of service the Lord has for you. If you feel it's with the Family, then accept your excommunication period humbly, and even if you can't live in a Home, live as if you were in one. Get ahold of the Lord. Get connected to Him. Make Him your first love, and obedience to His Word your priority. Live as a disciple. And when you can rejoin, do it with all your heart.
104. We love you, Gabe, and we're praying that you'll make the right choices. We know you can go far for the Lord if you choose to, even after something like this. Read "The Benefits of Backsliding" (ML #312, Vol.3). As Jesus told the woman in the New Testament, "Your sins are forgiven. Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11).
105. We also know that there are many in the Family today who are in just as bad spiritual shape as you were, even if they haven't yet felt the Lord's hand so strongly. What you experienced is the Lord's love for you in helping you wake up and get back on track so that you still have a chance to live a life of usefulness to Him. It is our prayer that everyone who needs this wake-up call will hear it and take note.
106. Almost at the same time that Megan lingered between life and death, another very unusual situation came up with Joe, an SGA living in Romania. We received a prayer request that he had virtually lost his mind. Of course, that's almost unheard of in the Family. We, together with all of you‚ prayed desperately for him, and thankfully he is recovering very well. (Update: You can read the most recent answers to prayer for Joe on the MO site, in a post from his dad in the classifieds section.) Praise the Lord! But the battle was very long and intense for him and his loved ones, and through it we have learned a lot.
107. While this was a very different situation and the problems were not fatal, the spiritual cause of this mental breakdown is founded on some of the same weaknesses that brought about the situation with Megan. Now that we have heard extensively from Joe's shepherds, we realize that Joe had not been doing well for a long time. He was very potential, like Megan, but he had a history of ongoing sins and problems, especially along the lines of pride‚ covering up‚ being influenced by an unfruitful relationship, being a hearer of the Word rather than a doer, etc. The important thing to see is that the problems were ongoing and he was not seeking the help he needed because he wasn't honest, and he also kept going back on the commitments he made to the Lord.
108. Joe has received medical attention and he has been diagnosed as manic-depressive. This is considered a hereditary illness‚ and there is someone else in Joe's extended flesh family who also suffers this same weakness. Usually, barring a miracle of the Lord, it is controlled by medicine. Joe is presently taking medicine daily. In a little bit I'll share with you portions of the recent letters we received from his dad, which give a hopeful update on how Joe is doing now.
109. We are very thankful that Joe has recovered to the extent he has! Thank you for your prayers. We do‚ however, want to explain the spiritual side of this incident as well, because there's much more to it than a lack of natural chemical balance in the brain and being "stressed," as the medical profession would tell you. As we have been taught by Dad, these things are often spiritual; they're the workings of the Enemy. But that raises a lot of questions in our minds, naturally, since Joe was in the Family, serving the Lord, and even seemed to be a bellwether and potential leader. So it's possible that you'd wonder what in the world happened and whether it could happen to you.
Background on Joe's Situation
110. I also realize that the prayer request that was posted on the MO site for Joe was probably alarming and a bit unsettling for many of you, as there weren't many details provided, and it's scary to think that someone could lose their mind out of the blue, or be subjected to an attack of the Enemy of that magnitude with no warning. There was a lot of background that we have received from his shepherds and father, which I'll try to put in a concise form for you here. In sharing these details, we're not being critical of Joe. We're not saying, "He deserved it." We love him; we're right beside him in the battle in the spirit through our prayers, and we hope you are too.
111. The fact is that he suffered a serious attack of the Enemy due to spiritual weakening and disobedience. But if you will take the lessons maturely and apply them to your own life, I think you'll come away from hearing about this situation very thankful that we're sharing the details, so that you can learn from them and benefit from Joe's experience. You won't come away pointing the finger.
112. Joe was born and raised in the Family. Joe loved the Lord, was dedicated when yielding to Him, and was outwardly quite on the ball in many areas. He went through a very difficult time in his personal life when, over the last year and a half, he was in an unfruitful relationship with a young woman who did some unwise things‚ blatantly contravened the Law of Love on many occasions, going after others with the intent of making him jealous and getting attention, and it really broke Joe's heart--not just once, but repeatedly. These weren't occasional slips that we all make from time to time out of ignorance, or selfishness, or unintentional mistakes. She did these things repeatedly‚ knowing the hurt it was causing.
113. Joe tried to be strong and deal with it, but he was very proud, and his pride kept him from admitting how much it was affecting him and asking for the help and prayer he needed. It kept him from admitting the battles he was having. He wasn't open with his teamwork and shepherds, and he covered up for his girlfriend and tried to excuse her behavior and deal with it on his own. He tried to show that he could "handle it" and that he was strong enough to "live the Law of Love," when in actuality, what was happening was anything but the Law of Love. That prolonged lack of openness, honesty, and humility, and his struggle to appear strong or good enough to not be affected, are major points to take note of.
114. After this had been going on for a few months‚ the Lord showed him through personal prophecy (that he himself received) that he needed to end his relationship with this girl, as it was not good for him and it was weakening him spiritually. His shepherds confirmed this and encouraged him to follow through and obey the Lord's counsel. He made some attempts, but kept going back on his commitments.
115. This young woman whom he was involved with was way out of line in her actions, was not open to shepherding, and didn't see the need for the big changes she needed in her life, but rather continued on with the way she wanted to act. She has since received discipline according to the Charter, is on PS for six months, has moved to a situation where she is receiving closer shepherding, and is writing a letter of apology to the area and people she affected. We're sorry that she wasn't able to receive more shepherding earlier, as it could have greatly helped both her and Joe. Those are lessons for the shepherds involved, and something that many shepherds in the Family are going to be learning about during the restructuring period--what the Lord really means when He asks them to be shepherds, and how to be good, loving, wise, and consistent shepherds in order to help and protect their flock.
116. During this time leading up to his breakdown, there were many contributing factors that made things very tough on Joe. But if he had humbled himself and asked for help and prayer, if he had been obedient to what the Lord was telling him in personal prophecy and through the Word he was reading‚ things would not have reached such a serious state in his mind and heart. He would not have been so terribly weakened.
117. The Lord was also speaking to him personally all throughout this time period about his spiritual pride, which was getting quite out of check. He was the personnel teamworker for his Home and also on a national board, and this ministered to his pride. The Bible warns us, "Not a novice‚ lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the Devil" (1Tim 3:6). He didn't want to confess that he was having jealousy battles, that he was being seriously influenced by his girlfriend to the point of disobedience to what the Lord was telling him, and other things. He tried to be "strong" in the arm of the flesh and in appearances, and kept all the difficulty inside. He was also very self-righteous in regards to the standard of the Word and his application of it with others.
118. Pride and self-righteousness should be automatic warning signals that something isn't right and needs to be taken care of in your heart and life. However, often these weaknesses, which are some of the most serious and devastating to your spiritual life, are hard to see because of their very nature, because they are rooted in carnal-mindedness and a lack of being spiritually minded and seeing things in the spirit. So please be open to help from your friends and shepherds if they point out your weaknesses in these areas.
119. I have some messages to share with you later in this series about the spirits of seduction, which are spirits the Lord has revealed to us that seriously fight the children of David, and in many cases are able to influence you into making very unwise decisions. I believe that the spirits of seduction played a big role in making it very difficult for Joe (and Megan too) to make the right decisions, and in this case he didn't make the right ones.
120. In hindsight, and from our point of view, the right decisions seem obvious--he should have gotten out of that situation and not let it continue for so long. But even though he received very clear counsel from the Lord through personal prophecy, and through his shepherds being direct and honest with him at times about how they saw things, he didn't get the point. He didn't obey. He wasn't able to make the break and remove himself from that weakening, draining, compromised situation. He didn't take the steps needed to humble himself and get deliverance from his pride, which was growing increasingly stronger. I hate to bring up all these personal details, but this is the background that's necessary to understand what happened, so that you realize there was a lot more to the story than just a love relationship gone bad.
121. The situation finally escalated to where he had what was basically a mental breakdown, although this first breakdown was very brief and mild by comparison. He recovered after just a few hours, and those around him tried to lighten the load of the pressure he was carrying and make it easy for him to regain his mental strength. He had lighter Home duties, he had brethren with him when possible, etc. But he remained in the situation that was making things difficult for him, and he continued making wrong decisions to remain in his relationship with this girl. He did not forsake it and move on as the Lord had shown him. He continued yielding to his pride, and he continued to compromise and disobey the counsel the Lord was giving him. He needed to humble himself. He needed shepherding and better safeguards. He probably should have moved to a different situation altogether to get away from the temptation that was making things so hard for him and tempting him to repeatedly disobey the Lord's words to him.
122. After his first mental breakdown, over the next couple of months he started showing more and more signs of mental instability--receiving loud and unwise "prophecies" on the street while witnessing, "snapping" at times into a very foolish spirit, mimicking someone who was mentally unstable, and other things. During this time his pride was also getting more and more out of check. He developed an image of himself as a great evangelist rather than a normal Family witnesser and shepherd, and his attitudes and misconceptions carried over into his Home life. His perception of reality was becoming skewed.
123. There were other factors involved too, such as a lack of shepherding of the problems he and his girlfriend were having‚ of his spiritual pride and self-righteousness; insufficient shepherding during his first mental breakdown; an inferiority complex and need to impress, discontentment with the way the Lord made him; covering up and deceptiveness to excuse his girlfriend and her antics, a weakness in the area of lust and perverted sex, manifested in engaging in sexual practices that are forbidden in the Charter (anal sex and sadomasochism), to name some of the main factors. Of course the Enemy played on these things, and all together they resulted in serious spiritual weakening that brought him to a very sad state.
124. About two months after the first mental breakdown, he suffered a complete mental collapse. He became violent, the things he said didn't make sense, and he was obviously being influenced by many dark spirits that would bother him and speak through him. He had to be physically restrained to keep him from hurting people and property‚ and after prayer and counsel was admitted by his dad to a mental institution for professional care‚ where he was sedated and given treatment.
125. We have full hope and faith that if Joe will continue to make the right decisions to resist his pride and forsake these spirits that had such easy access to his thoughts and words and actions, that his mind will be sound and he will go on to be very useful and fruitful for the Lord. He has already recovered greatly, and is being a blessing in his Home. Later I'll share with you more of what the Lord said about Joe's situation, which will make things even clearer.
Obedience Is Your Protection; Disobedience Can Be Your Downfall
126. I believe the Lord wants to use this as an example, because many of you are compromising in similar ways, and through compromise and disobedience you effectively destroy the shield of protection the Lord has given you. The Lord's power is plenty strong and easily capable of neutralizing the Enemy's attacks and making them powerless against us. We just have to use that power!
127. Even if you have some kind of so-called hereditary problem, it doesn't have to come to the fore. And in the case of mental illness that "runs in your family," if you stay very close to the Lord and keep your mind close to Him, He can keep it in check or cause it to not show up at all. God is greater than the Devil. He is greater than your natural man! We'll talk more about that in later GNs in the series. But the main point that I want you to grasp now is that what happened to Joe was not inevitable, even if such illness does supposedly "run in his family."
128. We all have different natural tendencies or weaknesses that could be "inherited," but we don't have to be affected by such things, because God is greater. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold‚ all things are become new" (2Cor.5:17). God can free us from such natural laws and cause them to have no effect on us if we're obedient to Him. He can bless us supernaturally to where we don't have to be subject to what would normally be expected in the flesh.
129. This means that Joe's illness was not entirely caused by some hereditary process. He might naturally have such a weakness, but he could have been protected had he not strayed so far and so long from the Lord. His own rebellion and ongoing disregard for the truth caused the Lord's force field of protection around him to collapse, and then he was open to the attacks of the evil spirits. But had Joe not been in such a sad state spiritually‚ the Enemy would not have been able to harm him to that degree.
130. So you see, it's the spirit that calls the shots, not the physical. The spirit reigns supreme, not what is supposedly hereditary. Joe's poor spiritual state empowered the Devil's evil spirits and actually opened the door to their attacks. Had Joe stayed obedient and close to the Lord, the Devil could not have done what he did, regardless of whatever "runs in Joe's family."
131. If you stay close to the Lord in obedience and humility, even natural weak points--whether physical or mental or spiritual--don't have to pull you down or hinder you greatly. The Lord has a reason for allowing these things to flare up. Often it's a consequence of our own straying outside of the Lord's protection, or allowing ourselves to be weakened through ongoing sin and disobedience, that the Enemy is allowed to take advantage of those natural, physical, or so-called hereditary weaknesses. That's what happened to Joe. There are, of course, many other reasons that the Lord allows physical affliction. (See "Comfort in Affliction, Part 2," ML #3396, GN 989.)
132. Some of you who know Joe, or have heard about this through "the grapevine," have wondered why this happened to Joe, of all people. Apparently he got at least two hours of Word time every day and was outwardly very dedicated. It's easy to wonder, "How could this happen to him? And if it happened to him, what hope is there for me?" This conflict between his outward "good sample" and his losing his mind temporarily has been confusing for some of you.
133. Some of the messages that will follow explain the spiritual principles that were at work in this situation in more detail. But the brief is that you can read all the Word in the world, but if you're not obeying it, it's not going to do you much good. You must be obedient in order to benefit from the spiritual strengthening the Word gives. You must be obedient in order to benefit from the Lord's protection. You must fight to minimize your pride and self-righteousness.
134. Pride will weaken you spiritually faster than almost anything. Yes, the Word is extremely important. It's our lifeline, it's our spiritual strength, it's what keeps our shield of faith energized against the Enemy. But staying close to the Lord and His Word includes obedience. You have to be obeying the Word. Part of obedience and staying close to the Lord is found in humility. Humility is a real key to applying the Word correctly, absorbing it, letting it change your spirit and strengthen you.
135. When you allow your pride and self-righteousness to get out of hand, you are spiritually weak and vulnerable to attack. The Enemy's attacks don't always come in the form of insanity, as happened to Joe. Sensitivity, jealousy‚ resentment‚ bitterness, doubts--these are all milder forms of the Enemy's attacks. When you don't deal with those, then the attacks increase and become stronger. That's what happened to Joe. He was too proud to admit he had messed up and needed safeguarding. He was too proud to backtrack and show his weakness, and admit how he had been buffeted for some time. So he was eventually wide open to a much stronger attack from the Enemy.
136. What you need to realize is that no matter how much Word you read, if you're not applying it to your life and heart in a spirit of humility, and if you're not following through in obedience, it's not going to do you much good. Yes, the seed is good, but if the ground of your heart is full of pride, unconfessed sin, disobedience, etc., then, like the parable of the sower, the Word won't take root and grow and bring forth fruit, it won't benefit you spiritually, and it won't protect you or keep you on track.
137. Joe was trying very hard throughout this whole difficult time period. He was trying to cope with things. He was trying to be a good sample. But he was trying so hard in his self-righteousness and pride that he couldn't see the simple truth--that despite all of his good works, he was being disobedient to what the Lord had told him. He was covering up. He was compromising. He was harboring sin in his heart, which tore down his force field of protection. His pride was keeping him from getting the help that he needed. It's similar to the story of Cain, who tried so hard to please the Lord that he didn't realize he was completely disobeying.
138. Pride is so dangerous. And we all have it. The Lord said one time that it's like a virus that resides dormant in the heart of every person, and will stay there as long as you live. The only way to stay spiritually healthy is to realize that it's there and fight to keep it in check regularly, fight to do the things you need to do to stay humble before the Lord and your friends and co-workers. Otherwise, it will pop up and make you spiritually sick, weak, and unable to withstand the Enemy's attacks. It's as simple as that. We all need to pray desperately for the Lord to help us keep our pride and self-righteousness in check; otherwise it can lead to a serious breach in the Lord's protection and open the door for very dangerous attacks of the Enemy.
139. You might wonder what spiritual pride is and how to recognize it. There's a lot in the Word about it, which I suggest you look up. (Note: See the reading list on pride in GN 1058, page 7.) And you can ask the Lord for personal counsel too. But one symptom was clearly expressed by a shepherd involved in Joe's situation who said, "There was much about Joe's spirituality that was convincing and sincere, but then there was a side of Joe that was hard to take, as his spirituality tended to put down others." That's self-righteousness.
140. Another confusing factor in Joe's sample is that he was apparently very into talking about our spirit helpers and the demons that fight us, and the spiritual warfare. That has made some people wonder whether it's even good to really get into that topic, because, "Look what happened to Joe." The Enemy wants you to draw that conclusion, because he'll do anything he can to keep you from receiving, believing‚ and using the Lord's counsel about the spiritual warfare and the specific demons that fight us. The Enemy doesn't want to be defeated‚ obviously, by us rebuking his imps by name and calling on our spirit helpers to aid us in the fight!
141. The problem was not that Joe was into the spiritual warfare. The problem is that his spiritual defenses were all but destroyed through repeated disobedience to the Lord and through spiritual pride. Because he was a wide-open target for the Enemy, the Enemy was able to come in very strongly and influence his mind and heart and thoughts. I'm sure the way the Enemy came in at first was much more discreet, appealing to his pride, distorting his sense of reality to make him feel better, etc. But after a while, Joe didn't recognize the Enemy's voice for what it was, and his mind became fully open to the influences of the spiritual realm, because he was so weakened.