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STOP THE GOSSIP NOW!--The Positive Speech Revolution Series    Maria #435       CM/FM 3187    4/98

By Maria

Dear Family,

            1. I love you! Here is another GN in our "Positive Speech Revolution" series. I hope these Letters are causing a revolution in your Home. They should be!

            2.This time the Lord is dealing with another serious aspect of our speech, one which the Enemy is using to get in and tear down our unity and camaraderie as a Family. We have received reports of the terrible effects of gossip in our Homes and areas--everything from disunity, distrust, hurt and discouragement, to the tearing down of the Law of Love and what we believe as a Family! This problem of gossip and talking behind others' backs--whether maliciously motivated by ill will, or simply the result of being loose-lipped and less than lovingly prayerful--has got to stop now!

            3.The Lord and Dad give some very stern warnings in the following messages, which I pray you'll take to heart and begin to act on immediately. Lord help us not to allow any more of this lack of love which is causing others to stumble--some right into a deep pit of discouragement and despair!

            Exactly what is gossip and what are we talking about in this Letter? It's not the casual talk about current happenings that is a problem, such as, "Did you hear Luke went to India?" but the type of talk that says, "Did you hear Luke's having problems?"

            To pin down the difference between news of others and gossip, we consulted a few dictionaries and reference books. They provide a good overview of what gossip is and exactly why it's bad.

            The American Heritage Dictionary defined it as "rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature," or "a person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts."

            World Book listed it as "idle talk, not always true, about other people and their affairs."

            Webster'sDictionary listed it as "a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others" or "a rumor or report of an intimate nature."

            Gossip is perhaps best defined in The Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, which says: "The Old Testament words denote a talebearer, one who rushes around telling stories. The New Testament word is 'whisperer,' or 'babbler.' The gossip whispers poisonous reports in someone's ear in private that he or she would not dare to say in front of the person talked about." The terms "false accuser," "revealer of secrets" and "slanderer" are closely related in many Bible texts and show other aspects of gossiping.

            Roget's Thesaurus lists more of the negative aspects of gossip. As a noun, it is described as follows:

            insubstantial thing: hot air, idle talk, speculation, rumor, empty talk.

            inquisitive person: busybody, meddler.

            informer: eavesdropper, tattletale, chatterer.

            rumor: hearsay, talk of the town.

            fable: claptrap, guff, bull, rumor.

            evildoer: slanderer, calumniator, detractor.

            As a verb, it is described as follows:

            inform: spread rumors.

            speak: wag one's tongue, rattle on, prattle, chatter.

            defame: speak ill of, speak evil, badmouth, make scandal, talk about, backbite, talk behind one's back.

All This Gossiping Has Gotta Stop!

            4.(Dad speaking:) Honey, this is one lesson our young people really need to learn!--And not just our young people, but the whole Family! This is a problem area, a weak spot. This is one of those "human weaknesses" that can really do a lot of damage and really get out of control! As you've seen and heard from so many reports, it can really hurt a lot of people.

            5.Gossip is a killer! Gossip is destructive! Gossip is one of the Enemy's favorite ploys to get people's minds off the Lord, the Word, and the positive, and onto the juicy little details of others' lives.

            6.It's just none of their business! It's just not something they need to be talking about! But it seems many people can hardly help themselves. They've just gotta know what's going on. They've gotta know what the latest scoop is. They've gotta know what So-and-so is doing with So-and-so, and who's with who, and who's gotten in trouble recently, and what's happening with their shepherds, and all these things that really have nothing to do with them personally!

            7.Let me tell you folks, you can help yourselves because you don't need to know these things! They're none of your business, and you don't have a right to know them! The right to gossip is not one you'll find in the Charter, and certainly not one you'll find in the Bible! The Bible says that to those who know to do good to others and do it not, it's a sin. Well, wanting and expecting to know everything about people, and especially to go through all their dirty laundry and air it to others, is not doing good to them. It's not doing good but bad, so it's a sin!

            8.So people who think they have a right to know the full inside scoop about others and have this burning desire to say or tell some new thing they've found out are gonna have a rude awakening one of these days when they're called to account for it. Instead of loving others, doing good to them, having fervent charity that covers even a multitude of sins with silence, they wanted to uncover them and spread them around!

            9.You're hurting your brothers and sisters by doing this, and you're breaking God's laws to love them and do good to them! So the Lord could say to you what a policeman tells a lawbreaker or criminal when he arrests him: "You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can be held against you!" And let me tell you, the Lord has a record of every single one of those words! So exercise your right to remain silent now and you won't have to face the great Judge of all someday and explain why you thought you had a right to gossip.

            10.I'm not talking about people's natural curiosity, or simply wanting to know what's happening in the Family, or what's happening with their friends, peers, or those they live with, or those they've known in the past. I'm talking about people talking about others behind their backs, and to other people who aren't involved and who don't need to know what's going on in their lives.

            11.It's this kind of gossip that hurts people, because most of the time it's blown out of proportion, it's exaggerated, and it's usually negative! The Lord says to think on and talk about things which are positive! He doesn't say to talk about the things which are negative! He doesn't say to go spreading them around amongst the flock, amongst the sheep.

            12.I think most people know and have seen from personal experience of having other people gossip about them that it only bears bad fruit. So why don't they stop it?! That's what I wonder! Honey, you're going to have to address this and try to get it through people's heads why this can be so destructive and damaging! It can basically ruin someone's life, or at least hurt them very greatly. And sometimes it takes them weeks, months, or even longer to get over!

            13.Gossip causes people to feel labeled. It causes them to feel put in a box, which makes it very difficult for them to step out by faith and to be what the Lord wants them to be. They feel like everybody already has a preconceived idea of exactly what they're like, what their faults are, and that they're already "figured out." It's just not fair to talk about people like this, and it just doesn't bear good fruit!

            14.Maybe the thing you know about someone is true, and maybe it is negative. We all know that there's a lot of negative, and there are a lot of things that you could share with others that would be discouraging, and that wouldn't minister faith, encouragement, or a positive spirit. But even if it's true and you're not really embellishing the story or adding your own little twist or your own thoughts to it, you still have to be very careful and prayerful about what you share with others. Because if it's negative, and if it's going to hurt someone else, or it's going to result in the hearer becoming skeptical or critical or less loving toward that person, and if it's not important for the other person to know, and you're not the one that should be telling them, then it falls into the category of gossip!

            15.Well, there's one good way for our folks to learn not to gossip--or to at least learn the damaging effects of gossip--and that's to have people gossip about them! That's what these folks are going to find out, and what they're seeing now! The realization is dawning on them that the gossiping that they've done over the years about others has probably affected those they've gossiped about in the same way that their being gossiped about now is affecting them.

            16.It all comes down to needing more love! And of course that's what we're trying to get across now to the Family in all of the recent Letters that you've been getting out, and that we've been helping you with from up Here. If people had more love, consideration and respect for each other, then they wouldn't talk behind each other's backs. They wouldn't gossip! So Lord help us to all have more love!

            17.We just need to pray that some of our folks get a little more fear of God instilled in them in this area!--That they'll see and understand how gossiping displeases the Lord, how it hurts others, and in essence tears down the love, cooperation, respect, unity and fruitfulness that we're trying to build together as a Family! God help us!

            18.Another thing it shows is that our folks need to get their eyes a little more on why we're here, and on the fact that time is short! If they were really staying in the Word and busy reaching the world and getting the job done, they wouldn't have so much time to be so concerned with what everybody else is doing, and especially all the negative!

            19.It's because they don't really have the vision, and they don't really have their priorities straight. They have their eyes too much on this world and the little happenings, and the Enemy uses this as an inroad to get in his input in all these little things. He uses this to take their eyes off the main goal of why we're here, why we're a Family, why we live so close together, and why we have such unity and openness amongst each other--which is to win the world! Instead, he tries to get in and use all that closeness and openness and feeling free with each other negatively, instead of in the positive way that the Lord has meant it to be! So it really is quite serious.

            20.It's something that our young people need to learn--and our adults too, for that matter! Like I've often said, it's going to be the days of tribulation that will sober our folks up. But I really hope it doesn't have to get to that before they realize how harmful this is and what an inroad of the Enemy it can be, causing people to even lose faith in the Lord's love and in the love of their brothers and sisters, which is so sad!

            21.But this is one of those things that people just have to learn for themselves. They have to either take it from the Word and from the experience of others and believe it and obey it and gain the victories that they need, or else they have to learn it by hard experience themselves. It's just something that people have got to make a decision on and have conviction about.

            22.You gossipers had better beware! Maybe you think I don't hear the tales and some of the lies you're spreading around, but I know about your gossiping! Shame on you! The Lord hears every word that you say, and you're going to be held accountable for it! (End of message from Dad.)

Gossipers Are "Old Biddies" in the Spirit!

            23.(Dad speaking:) Gossip and tongue-waggin' has been a problem through the ages. It's been talked about by the sages. Many a church-based war has been waged because of gossip. Lots of gossipy letters have been written by the pages!

            24.My mother had to fight gossip and "old biddies" her whole ministry! (old biddies: slang; a term for older women who are fussy, gossipy, or eccentric [used in an unfriendly way].) Your problem may not be with old biddies, but they're being old biddies in the spirit. So you old biddies, lighten up! Grow up! Use your waggin' for some good! Get on board for Jesus and quit laggin'! Your unkind words are nuthin' but foolish, and get spirits to saggin'! So if you're gonna speak behind people's backs, turn your gossip instead to praisin' and braggin' (about them)!

            25.Okay? Praise the Lord! I love you! May we be known for our words of love, encouragement, and praise rather than for our words that tear down and are akin to old, self-righteous, pharisaical churchianity! Whaddya say? Love, Dad. (End of message from Dad.)

Gossipers Beware!

            26.(Mama:) Praise the Lord! Are you getting the point? In this next message Dad directly addresses our Family in the States, who, from all the reports we've heard, have some big lessons to learn along these lines. We love you, dear Family in the U.S., and because you're our children whom we love and whom the Lord loves, He sent Dad to deliver this hot message to you. Please take it as a part of His love and don't get sensitive--just learn from it and do better!

            27. And for all those of you who are not in the States, don't brush this off as only applying to them. We've received reports about the gossiping that's prevalent in parts of Europe, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and South America, and Dad might have had similar things to say if he had visited your Home or area. I'm quite sure that the Lord and Dad intend for all of you to learn from this and apply the lessons therein to yourselves. If the shoe fits, wear it--and ask the Lord to help you overcome in this area! "We are our brother's keeper!"

            28.(Dad speaking:) Okay, folks, are you ready for a hot new MO Letter? I've just completed a tour of the Homes in the U.S., and I've got something to say! Oh, I see some surprised looks on your faces! What, some of you didn't know I made regular tours to get around and visit the Homes? Ha! Of course I do! It's always been my heart's desire to be on the field with the Family, and now it's possible! And I can assure you that I get around to each of the Homes very regularly!

            29.One thing you can count on is that I don't only show up in your Homes just when you folks need me and call on me. I make surprise visits all the time to check up on you and see how everyone's doing! Oh, what are some of you squirming about? That doesn't make you nervous, does it? Ha! Now, that oughtta keep you all on your toes!

            30.That's my business--to check up on you and see how things are going! As a good shepherd, I always made it my job to stick my nose into people's business. That oughtta be the job of every good shepherd, to go around checking up on the sheep, checking on the flocks, and making sure everything is A-okay!

            31.I always made it a point to do that from the very beginning--even in the seemingly small things. As far back as when we were on the road in our early days, I'd walk around the camp at night checking on all the vehicles and the trailers, making sure everybody was warm and comfortable, had enough blankets or enough ventilation if they had those heaters on. That's the job of a good shepherd, to always be checking up on the sheep, and I'm still at it! Only now I can keep a closer watch on you than ever before!

            32.Right now I'd like to address you Homes in North America particularly, 'cause I've been keeping a close eye on your activities! But first, why don't we start out with a song or two?

(Dad sings:)

            Make me a blessing, make me a blessing,

            Out of my life, let Jesus shine!

            Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,

            Make me a blessing to someone today!

            Out in the highways and byways of life,

            Many are weary and sad.

            Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,

            Making the sorrowing glad!

            Make me a blessing, oh, make me a blessing,

            Out of my life, let Jesus shine!

            Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray,

            Make me a blessing to someone today!

            33.Hallelujah! It's been a long while since I've sung some of these old songs along with you! Some of you have heard me sing'm on tape, but I'd like to take a moment and sing a few of these now. If any of those tapes I made are floating around, you might want to get'm out, put'm on, and sing along! And if you can't find the tape, sing along anyhow!

            34.The Lord certainly has blessed the Family with the gift of music--so many songs--and now we have all the FTTs! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I love'm all! But while you're busy singing all the new ones, don't forget the oldie goldies from time to time! You oughtta be singing these songs with feeling, from your heart, and making'm your personal prayer!

            35.The songs of our fathers, your forefathers, are good for your soul, and this one was always one of my favorites:"Make me a blessing to someone today!" Now, I want to ask you, are you being a blessing today? Did Jesus shine out of your life today? Did you allow the Lord to make you a blessing today? I sure hope so!

            36.Let's sing another one, shall we? Here's another of my old favorites. Can you sing it along with me?

            Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?

            Your heart does the Spirit control?

            You can only be blessed

            And find peace and sweet rest,

            As you yield Him your body and soul!

            You have longed for sweet peace,

            And for faith to increase,

            And have earnestly, fervently prayed.

            But you cannot have rest,

            Or be perfectly blessed,

            Till your all on His altar is laid!

            37.Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Thank You Jesus! Do you have that rest?Are you feeling the Lord's perfect blessing in your lives? Are you being a blessing to someone today, so that you can be blessed and have rest? Well, sad to say, there are quite a number of Homes in the U.S. that are not being blessed. You're not receiving the Lord's full blessing in your lives, and you're finding you're having quite a few struggles. And from what I've seen of some of you Homes there in the U.S., you need to listen up!

            38.Let me remind you once again, I'm not going by any reports or hearsay here--although Mama and Peter have heard plenty of reports on this subject that I'm going to address, so it's no secret that a grave problem exists. But I've been there, folks! I've seen the problem with my own eyes, and I'm going by firsthand information here!

            39.At the time of the RNR, I had to pull information out of some of our folks--those who were a little afraid and shy to speak up at first, who didn't want to report fully to me what was really happening on the field. But thank the Lord, now I have a bird's-eye view and I can go around and get my information firsthand! This is a new day, and I've got my eye on you, folks! There's no escape now, so you'd better watch out!

            40.And let me tell you, what I've seen firsthand in the Homes in the U.S. reminds me of this line in the song here--"your heart does the Spirit control?" Do you know how you can tell if your heart is controlled by the Spirit of God? One sure way, a true indicator as to whether the Spirit is controlling your heart, is that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, beloved!

            41.I want to address right here and now what I consider one of the most serious problems the Homes in the U.S. are having, and that's the problem of gossip that's running wild! And the rest of you gossipers around the world had better sit up and take notice too, wherever you are!I'm not gonna beat around the bush here--I'm gonna give you the ol' short, sharp shock treatment! And the bottom line is this: If this rumor mill and gossip ring doesn't stop, I'm gonna put a stop to those who are guilty! I want it to stop, and I want it to stop right now!

            42.Beloved, God's Word has a lot to say about talebearers, and we're not going to tolerate them in this Family! The words of a talebearer are like deep wounds. This gossip, this perverseness of the tongue, as God's Word calls it, is a great breach in the spirit, and we're gonna close this breach right here and now! I'm not gonna stand for this corrupt communication amongst our members! Let me tell you, we're gonna pull out the stops on those who are guilty before it destroys the work of God! This unruly evil that is running wild is like a deadly poison, and I'm gonna call on the entire Family to put a stop to it now, before it defiles the whole body!

            43.I've tried to be tolerant and patient over the months, hoping and praying that many of you in the U.S. would get on the stick, get on the ball, and either get involved in a fruitful ministry that the Lord was calling you to there, or raise your support and get on out to the needier mission fields that are begging for help! I've been very patient, hoping and praying that you'd make the right decisions and good choices and build fruitful, lasting works for the Lord.

            44.I've prayed for you, rooted for you, tried to help you, given you signals, and even set up contacts for you. Yes, we've tried to engineer plenty for you from the spirit world and give you all the help necessary, time and time again, but to no avail. It's gone unnoticed! In many cases it's been like shooting into thin air, because you folks have not gotten the point! You've missed the mark. You've not tuned in, so you missed out. Now unless you guys get on the ball and listen, unless you get moving and follow our leads, take our hints, and follow our checks, there's not much use in us trying to lead you to the water if you're not gonna drink!

            45.Do you want the books or don'tcha? Are you gonna get a job done for Jesus, or are you gonna be left behind in the dust? That's the question! Do you want to serve the Lord and make a difference? Or do you want to serve yourself? I want each of you folks there in the U.S. to sit down now and examine your own heart, and hopefully see just why it is you're missing the mark. Ask yourselves:

            46.Are you becoming self-satisfied, complacent, and settling down like the churches? How on earth do you even find the time for such foolish gossip if you're out there getting the job done? What fruit do you have to show for yourselves being there in the U.S.? How many tools are you getting out? How many souls are you winning? How many disciples? What are you doing for the Lord? Why is it that you're missing the signals from all the help available to you from the spirit world? Is it because you're too busy with other things?

            47.Are you becoming so much like the churches that you're taking on one of their major occupations? Do you know what one of the major occupations of the churches is? Most churches don't witness much, and do you know why? It's because they're too busy gossiping! Oh, it's pitiful! They don't witness, but they love to talk--especially about each other! They love to spread all the juicy news and slanderous junk, always degrading each other! They're always ready for a juicy story--spreading the mucky, murky gossip and scandal. It's horrible!

            48.This is the history of so many churches and so-called Christians! They have so many petty jealousies and rivalries amongst themselves because they're not willing to really forsake all and give their all. So they selfishly hold on to their own way, and they fall into this deep pit of gossip, telling tales, and criticizing! It's absolutely tragic how they can criticize and vilify and slander each other! And the most tragic of all is how it hinders God's work of winning souls and reaching the lost with the Gospel!

            49.I oughtta know! I spent years in the churches, until I finally couldn't stand it any longer! I didn't find much love there, and I got sick and tired and fed up when I saw how they were barely loving each other, let alone the lost. I got fed up with all their bickering, fighting, backbiting, and ugly gossip--right among their own! And the saddest thing of all was that because they were so busy with all the backbiting amongst themselves, they were failing God! They weren't getting the job done!

            50.Beloved, is this happening to you? I want each and every one of you folks in the U.S. (and the rest of you, too, for that matter!) to ask yourselves this question. I want each of you Homes to ask yourselves if instead of getting off your rear ends to reach others for the Lord, are you sitting around gossiping and spreading all kinds of juicy rumors about others? Are you getting on the phone and telling tales? Are you sending your sad tales of woe via e-mail? Are you badmouthing others? Are you to blame for talking about others, and delving into the private affairs of others that don't concern you? Are you spreading hurt and slander? Woe unto those who are!

            51.Do you know what Jesus had to say about those who offend even the littlest ones of His children? He said it would be better for a millstone to be put around their neck and that they be cast into the depths of the sea! Do you know what Jesus Himself said about offences? If your hand or foot offend, it's better to cut it off! If your eye offend, pluck it out! Those are some pretty drastic measures, aren't they?

            52.Well, I've got news for you! I'm gonna take some pretty drastic measures if this doesn't stop! If all this gossiping and badmouthing doesn't stop, we're gonna cut you off! I've never been one to tolerate rotten apples in the past, and I'm not gonna start now!

            53.You can call this another bad apple clean out if you want, but I want it to stop, and I want it to stop now! If the shoe fits, wear it! If I hear or see anybody from now on spreading gossip, and thereby sowing dissension, disunity and discord amongst your brethren--we're gonna take some drastic action to cut you off from the Family! Beloved, these are abominations to God, they're abominations to me, and I will not tolerate it in this Family!

            54.I want each of you Homes who are having problems with gossip to sit down with your Home council and evaluate just what you're accomplishing for the Lord. Is it because you're sitting around getting comfortable in the rich lowlands that you can afford all of this time to gossip about others? If you were out there doing the job and getting out the tools, believe me, you wouldn't have the time to sit around and gossip!

            55.And if you're in an area where you can't get out the tools, unless you have a mighty good reason to be there and the Lord has directly called you to a special ministry or place of service--something that is serving Him and others and the Family in some way--then you'd better review your situation and ask yourselves what you're doing there! If those people don't want the tools and they don't want the message, then you'd better move on to a place that does!

            56.I've told you before, you'd better have a good reason for staying in the U.S.! You'd better be sure you've heard from the Lord in no uncertain terms that He wants you to remain there, and why, and then you'd better stay mighty close to the Lord so you can claim His protection from the Great Society!

            57.Are you falling prey to the spirit of Amerika? (See ML #216, "America the Whore!") I'll tell you what all this gossip and slander is, it's nothing but a reflection of the Amerikan way! Look at Amerika! What news do you hear about her day after day? Look at her politics! Look at her movies! Her spirit of gossip and slander and mud throwing is polluting the world! It's all over the place!

            58.The Amerikan way is to thrive on gossip, slander, libel, and defamation of character! They take great pride in every form of vilification! Look at the Amerikan public--they thrive on a nice, juicy, dirty story! Look how they enjoy smearing each other, from their leaders on down the line! They rejoice when someone falls! Look at the smear campaigns when someone fails. Look how they thrill to the exposure! They love it! They thrive on it!

            59.Is this happening to you Family folks too? Are you falling prey to the spirit of Amerika? Has she got you trapped? Has she pulled the wool over your eyes to where you can't see what's going on?

            60.If I hear or see any more of this corrupt communication, we're gonna cut you off, and that's it! And I'm not only talking about those of you who are voicing it--who are spreading the gossip--but I'm also talking about those of you who listen to it! It takes two to tango. You're lord over your own tongue, but the other guy is also master of his ears!

            61.So let this be a warning! If I hear or see any more of this spreading of gossip and listening to gossip, we're gonna take action!

            62. No one who is going around spreading corrupt communication [gossip] belongs in this outfit, and that's that! And if you're listening to these dirty dirges, you're just as guilty! We've addressed the subject of love and unity plenty in the Letters, and you all have had ample warning. Maybe what you didn't see was the extent that this gossip is tearing down the very foundation of what we're trying to build as a Family--love, respect, trust, unity and harmony! So we're not gonna tolerate willful and unloving gossip in this Family anymore!

            63.Now that's the bark with the bite on it! You might think that I'm being too hard here, but I'll tell you right now, we never got this far by me pussyfooting around when it comes to rebellion and evil. And any of you who are gossips and talebearers are outright rebelling against the greatest of all commandments--to love one another! If you're guilty of this ugly gossip, you're rebelling against the law of God! You're disobeying His greatest commandment to live in love!

            64.And for any of you who don't see this nasty, filthy gossip that's been going around as evil, you'd better get out your Bibles and read again what it says about the unruly tongue! It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison, beloved. Open up those Bibles, blow that dust off, and read what it says! That little tongue of yours might be small, but if you let it boast great things, you'd better watch out! It can kindle a great fire! It's a world of iniquity--a world of evil, folks--and it's set on fire of Hell--the pits from where it comes! And those gossiping tongues are apt to defile the whole body!

            65.I'm not gonna stand for it! I'm not gonna let it defile this body! I'm not gonna put up with backbiters and gossiping tongues destroying this Family! I'm not gonna stand for this ugly gossip that's hurting others, hurting your brethren, and hurting the work of God!

            66.Anyone who is guilty and who does not repent and show fruits of repentance, I'm gonna say good riddance to bad rubbish--we don't need you here! Anybody who continues on in this kind of behavior does not belong to this missionary work! Anybody who insists on ignoring the Letters, and does not at least strive to follow all the loving advice and counsel that the Lord and I and Mama and Peter have given on this subject, has no place in this outfit! Look at the Word! Look at my Letters! Have I taught you to be gossips, backbiters and cutthroats?

            67. When you cut someone's throat, you drain the life from them and they die. Well, gossip cuts people's throats spiritually. You drain their zest for serving the Lord little by little because they can't believe their brothers and sisters in the Family, their loved ones whom they lay down their lives for every day, could be so unloving and uncaring! I mean, if you can't find real love here in the Family, where are you going to find it?

            68.If you're among the guilty, you'd better watch out! You'd better get out your Love Charter and seriously review your responsibilities as a member of this Family of Love! Are you striving to love your brethren? Are you resisting the Devil when he tempts you with his evil devices, and when he tempts you with being a busybody and a gossip? Are you exhibiting the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance? Are you striving to be a sample of the love of Jesus to others? Are you trying your best to constantly practice walking in love?

            69.Are you striving to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" and to let Him make you into the kind of loving, Christlike person He wants you to be? Beloved, you don't practice love by spreading ugly gossip about your brethren. You don't practice love and strive to be a Christlike person by getting on the phone and badmouthing others and letting your tongue run wild! You don't practice love by keeping up corrupt communication amongst yourselves!

            70.Get out your Charters and read'm! Are you endeavoring to live by the principles of the Law of Love? Are you trying to love and care for and interact lovingly and harmoniously with your brethren?

            71. Love does no harm to your brethren, folks! Love doesn't gossip or spread the intimate matters of others around. Love doesn't badmouth and spread rumors! This is not according to the Law of Love! So there you have it. If you'll just read your Love Charter, you might find that if you're a guilty party to this ongoing, malicious gossip going around, you're breaking the Charter rules on interacting lovingly and harmoniously with other Family members, and by causing physical, spiritual or emotional harm to others (see "Responsibilities of Individual Members," points E. and R.), your Charter membership could be in question for failing to live up to your responsibilities as a Charter member!

            72. I'm not gonna put up with gossips in this Family! And if this doesn't stop, even if I have to kick every last one of you out, I will! Let this serve as fair warning! I've been addressing you folks in the U.S., because this problem is rampant there right now, but there are other places it's a serious problem as well! So if the shoe fits, you'd better wear it!

            73.Anybody in this Family who continues on in their own wayward ways of gossip and backbiting and badmouthing, spreading rumors and meddling in the private, intimate matters of others, anybody who continues to make a habit out of letting their tongues run wild and telling tales after having received ample warning, is gonna be disciplined! This is not the place for you. If you want to gossip and slander others, go to the churches! If you insist on carrying on in this ungodly behavior, go to the System where there's plenty of it, and where you can get your belly full of it and have all you want!

            74.If you folks in the U.S. don't have anything better to do than sit around and gossip, or to get on those computers and gossip, and talk down about others and spread rumors, why don't you get out to the far-flung mission fields where there's no time for anything else but witnessing and winning the lost? I think you'll find if you get busy winning souls and getting out the tools and doing a job for the Lord, you'll be too busy to be busybodies! And that doesn't just go for you folks in the U.S. It's good advice for any of you Family members around the world, whether you're on the home field or mission field!

            75.If you've fallen into the Devil's hellhole of gossip and badmouthing, you'd better get down on your hands and knees right now and repent! Ask the Lord to forgive you, to have mercy on you, and to give you another chance. Forsake that evil tongue so you don't take any of that poison with you, and get out to the mission field as fast as you can! Get back to the mission field where you can preach the Gospel and win the lost and where you're too busy for anything else!

            76.Well, that's it! That's the bark and the bite, and that's the bottom line! I'm not gonna put up with this ungodly, un-Christian behavior any longer! I've tried time and again to give you the benefit of the doubt, but my mercy is running out! You might think I'm being hard on you folks, but I've been understanding long enough! I will not put up with these abominations to the Lord any longer--this gossip and badmouthing that is feeding your critical spirits, and sowing disunity and discord amongst the brethren! I want it cut out!

            77.The days of your ignorance God winked at, but folks, this is a new day! Time is running out! The End is near! The summer is over and yet the harvest waits to be reaped! We'll have no more of this slanderous behavior in this Family! Get on with the work of God--or get out!

            78.As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!--And that means living and loving and serving one another in love!

            Mad Dad!

            79.P.S. It's never too late to have a metanoia--to turn around and go the other way. Start today--tomorrow will be too late! Do it now! Jesus is able to change your heart, your mind, even your tongue, if you yield your all to Him. Now won't you join me in one more song and make this your prayer each and every day?

            If I have wounded any soul today,

            If I have caused some foot to go astray,

            If I have walked in my own willful way,

            Dear Lord, forgive!

            If I have uttered idle words and vain,

            If I have turned aside from want or pain,

            Lest I offend some other through the strain,

            Dear Lord, forgive!

            Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee,

            Forgive the secret sins I may not see,

            Oh, guide me, love me, and my Keeper be,

            Dear Jesus, amen! (End of message from Dad.)

Prophecies Received by the Young People at YA/SGA Meeting in Japan

            80.(Mama:) Thank you, Dad, for spelling it out so clearly, and giving us the Lord's mind on it. And thank you, dear Family, for being willing to heed these words and change, if you've fallen down in the area of gossiping. I'm proud of you for your willingness to say yes to Jesus, change and move on, loving the Lord and your brothers and sisters with all your heart and soul and might.

            81. Next, here are excerpts of some messages that were received at a recent YA/SGA meeting in Japan, where gossiping has also been a big problem. We're sorry we couldn't publish all the prophecies, due to lack of space, but they were very beautiful. In the prophecies that we have included below, the Lord gives some very good counsel and clear steps to victory for those of you who have been sinning against the Lord and your brothers and sisters in gossiping, and ways to remedy the problem today! It might take some humbling, but if it gets you back on the right track and building up our Family instead of tearing it down, it's worth it! Amen? It's not just those in the States or Japan who need to shape up--we all do! There are plenty of other guilty ones!

            82.(Jesus speaking:) When I created mankind and formed you out of the dust of the Earth, I had choices as to how I could make you. And in counsel with My Father and My holy angels, We chose to give man the power of choice--to do good or to do evil. Then as We formed you and made each part of your body, We came to communication, and there was a decision to be made--whether We should create you with the power to communicate mind to mind with mental telepathy, or with an audible voice. In counsel with My Father and the holy angels, We chose to have the mind think first, and then have an audible voice that speaks what the mind chooses for it to speak.

            83.Because thoughts are always coming into the head--and even the Evil One is allowed to penetrate your thoughts and to send his thoughts and his attitudes and his words into your mind--if you were able to communicate via your minds, then you would have no choice as to what was transmitted to the other person and what was not. Therefore We created you this way, that your mind would think first, but that your heart would choose what to speak and what not to. This power is given to you, and you alone. You hold the key. You have the choice to turn that thought into words, or to rebuke it and to remove that thought from your mind.

            84.The tongue is hard to bridle. It's unruly and wishes to speak whatever it wills. For you young ones, this is a major area of concern, for you're too free with your mouths. You speak whatever you have on your mind without thinking much about it, without praying enough, without yielding enough to My Spirit and the checks that I give that some thoughts are not of Me and some words should not be spoken.

            85.You pride yourselves in being able to speak your mind and not care what others think. And sometimes you don't even care what I think, and you don't ask Me what I think. You don't even take the time to think about what I would think before speaking your mind, and this saddens Me. And in some cases, this angers Me, for I see the harm these words have done. So I say to you, forsake your pride. Forsake this pride of not wanting to conform. Forsake the pride of wanting to be different in your mind and to say things contrary to what everyone else is thinking, for this is not of Me.

            86.Yes, I do want you to be different from the world. I want you to be different from what the Enemy would have you be. But the Enemy would trick you into thinking that you're just being yourselves, and that in yielding to My Word and forsaking your own ideals, and your own thoughts for My thoughts and My will and My pleasure, you're being a hypocrite. But this is not hypocrisy; this is yielding. So it is with your tongues. So it is that you must weigh your thoughts, whether they be according to My Word and what I have spoken, or whether they be contrary. And I'll tell you very clearly if they're contrary, not of Me, and should therefore not be spoken.

            87.You must make your thoughts pass through some golden gates and you must apply the principles of My Law of Love. First, is what you're about to say necessary? Is it needful? Is there a good reason why you must say these things? Secondly, is it helpful? Ask yourself, will what you say hurt somebody? Will it tear down any of the many things that I'm using now to build up the Family, or will it help lift someone up? Will it help someone to understand another and cause them to reach out and love others more, or will it cause them to pull away from that person more? Thirdly, will it help you? For as I have said before, it's not what goes into the man, but what comes out of the man that defiles him. Will these words that you say cause you to love others more and to think more about other people? Or will these words help solidify your thoughts that are contrary to My Word and to My Law of Love?

            88.My Law of Love is based on one principle, and one principle alone--that you should love God with all your heart and all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the sieve that I would have you pass all your words through. Is it loving the Lord and is it loving others? For unless it passes through with flying colors, then I say, hold back. Hold your tongues.

            89.I know it's going to be a difficult road for many of you, for your tongues have been so loose and it's become such a habit, such an addiction, that it'll be difficult to break. It'll take reminders from others. It'll take checking yourself. It'll take making mistakes and having to go back and apologize--even apologizing to the one you talked about. And even though he or she may not have known about it, all things are found out in the end, and it almost always gets back to that person.

            90.It will take humility to do this, I know, and I can see you cringing inside at the thought of doing this. Yet this may be the only way for you to break this evil habit and to rid yourself of this evil disease.

            91.Even in this day and age people admire conviction!People admire those who stand up for My Word in spite of what others say. So I ask you again--you, the oldest ones of My younger generation--to set the example in this area. I know you'll fall. I know you'll make mistakes. I know there'll be times when you slip, but don't be afraid to go back and rectify them. Don't be too proud to say, "I'm sorry. I made a mistake."

            92.And don't be too proud when you see others speaking the wrong things to correct themand say, "That's not the way to go, man! Hey, don't talk about others like that! Is that love?" Sure, you may be labeled "self-righteous" and "spiritual," but I'll tell you, if many of you were doing this, if you'd all work together in this, then we'd all be in it together and no one could say to the other, "Oh, you're just self-righteous" or "you're just being spiritual."

            93.It's better to endure a label like that on Earth and to have My commendation and great rewards for forsaking your own feelings and your pride, than to one day face Me and have to face the reality of knowing that your words--or your lack of words, or your not saying anything--was the cause of such a great disease spreading throughout My ranks! Think about it. Pray about it.

            94.I ask you now to ask yourself in your heart, "Do I have this problem? Do I need to rid myself of this problem?" And if so, right now before all, before your brethren, before Me--say so! Ask for prayer, make a commitment, set safeguards. I'll see you take that first step, and I'll help you. I'll give you the strength to conquer this. And your brothers and sisters will see it, and they'll help to safeguard you. I know it's humbling, but this is the only way.

            95.Let's unite now! Let's get rid of these things that are holding you back from becoming what I want you to be!

            96.I now give you a pledge--the words that I want you to commit to Me. Each of you, turn to one another and say these words:

            97. "I will not speak evil of you. I will only speak that which is in love and that which raises up the standard of the Word. If I see you falling in this area, I will do my best to help you up. I will be my brother's keeper. I will not talk badly of others with you, but will always try to speak in love, and love my neighbor as myself, and speak of my neighbor as I would want him to speak of me. With the Lord's help, I will break this habit that I've had. I will fight to turn all my thoughts of others and of you into prayers. Instead of maliciousness, instead of tearing you down and tearing others down, I will lift you up and lift others up in prayer to the Lord, knowing that He will take care of you and He will help you through whatever you're going through, and that He will unite us as a team and make us into the Endtime soldiers that He wants us to be. By the grace of God, I commit this now."

            98.Say it with your whole heart, and mean it! And if you do, then I'll bless you, and I'll make this generation what I have always wanted it to be, what your Father David has spoken of it to be! Please do this for Me, do it for your brothers and sisters, do it for the lost out in the world, and do it for yourselves, so that you can reap the rewards that I have for you in the world to come! (End of message from Jesus.)

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            99. (Jesus speaking:) Love is saying you're sorry. Love is forgiving every day. Love sees the good and possibilities that others cannot see. Love loves the unlovely and casts a veil over countless sins. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (1Cor.13:4-6).

            100.It would do you good to review this chapter daily. Do you know what these words mean? Or are they just beautiful words that you once memorized as a child?

            101."Love suffereth long and is kind." That means when you've suffered, when others have maligned you and spoken ill of you, you're still kind and willing to forgive.

            102."Love envieth not." Love is not jealous of another's happiness. Love is not jealous of what others have and don't have. Love doesn't talk about those things and doesn't spread its envy.

            103."Love vaunteth not itself." That means you don't put others down in order to put yourself up. It's not "puffed up" in pride that makes you say things to put other people down because you think you're so good yourself.

            104."Doth not behave itself unseemly"--yet so many have behaved unseemly in speaking ill of their neighbor.

            105."Seeketh not her own." That means you don't think about yourself, but you think about others when you speak of them and when you talk about things.

            106."Rejoiceth not in iniquity." Love isn't happy when other people fall and make mistakes. Love doesn't go around talking about them, but it "rejoiceth in the truth." Think about the times that you've spoken of others and you've said things that weren't true.Love doesn't do this.

            107.I'm reminding you of these things so that you'll know that you're all sinners. Each of you has made mistakes in this area. Each of you has hurt somebody along the way. Only you know how deeply this root has grown in your heart. Only you know how deeply you may have hurt a brother or a sister. The only way to break this habit is to humble yourselves and admit that you have a problem with this, and to get prayer, deliverance and forgiveness.

            108.I've given you a pledge to say one to another, and I want this to be the start of a new life, of a new day of becoming more unified for Me. But before you can make this commitment to one another, you must rid yourselves of the past. You must let go of the past and the things that are holding you down--the bitterness, the hurt feelings, the condemnation--whatever it may be in your particular case.

            109.Those of you who've been on the other side, who've heard things said of you which weren't true, who've heard unloving comments spoken about you, who've felt hurt, who've felt distant, who've felt shut out by others--I ask you now to humble yourselves as well and to receive their apologies, their repentance, and to forgive them for anything that they've done to hurt you. Reach out your arms, admit to them that you've also made mistakes, that you're not perfect. Accept them, love them, and take these things and burn them. (End of message from Jesus.)

            110.(Mama:) These are very beautiful messages from the Lord that He's giving us. Even though the problem is such an ugly one, and knowing that we've been guilty of it is a horrible, sickening feeling, the Lord's forgiveness and mercy are beautiful, and the solution, the antidote--the Lord's love--is beautiful and cleansing!

            111.The next message from Jesus is another one that they received at the YA/SGA meetings in Japan, where the Lord is asking everyone to take communion, and with their time of communion, make things right and ask Him for a new start. Let's all stop right now, and do as the Lord asks.

            112.Set aside a time for communion and making things right as soon as it's convenient in the next couple of days, and come in humility to ask both the Lord and your brothers and sisters for forgiveness. You could read the following little prophecy together again at that time. Dad brings out that if you've gossiped about someone, in most cases you need to apologize. It's also just as important to apologize to those you've gossiped to about others. In other words, those whom you've been a bad sample to in speaking negatively about others, or those whom you've been guilty of dragging down with your unloving words about others.

            113.You'll never be able to "pick up all the feathers," but you can ask the Lord to help you never to let them loose again, and you can make it right with as many people as possible. Please use love and wisdom in your apologies, though. Read this entire GN, which contains good counsel on how to go about apologizing and when and where it might be best to do it. It would also be wise to ask the Lord to give you something in prophecy that would help you to know exactly what to do in your particular situation. Be prayerful and sincerely loving and humble, and I know the Lord will lead and guide you.

            114.Thank you for being willing to take this step to make things right. The Lord will honor it, and I know it will result in greater love and unity among our Homes and Family. Praise the Lord!

            115. (Jesus speaking:) Take this communion now, and wash and purify your souls. For this is the communion of My forgiveness and of your repentance, of My love for you. And when you take it, I want you to mean it, and to remember in your hearts the forgiveness I've given you. For in unity there is strength, and with this communion I bind your hearts and your souls together in unity, that there be not one weak link among you. With hand joined in hand, you will defeat the Enemy and the lion that seeks to devour you. I will not let any breach or any hole be opened that he may enter.

            116.Come together now in love and in forgiveness with this communion, and remember all that I've done for you. Seek My love, for if you do not have it, I will give it to you. Seek My grace, for I will give you the grace to do this. Seek My humility, for in humility there is strength, and in My humility, you can do this. For the proud know not how to forgive or how to repent. Pride is the way of the world, the way of the Sorcerer, to shut you off from My Spirit. But with Me is humility. You can do all things, and you can accomplish this by asking Me for it. (End of message from Jesus.)

Making Your Hearts Right with One Another!

            117.(Mama:) I thought you might be wondering, as we did, whether people should apologize to someone for gossiping if they don't know for sure that the victim of their gossiping knows about it already. Here's the answer we received:

            118.(Dad speaking:)Gossiping is one of the devices of the Enemy. It's something the Enemy uses to try to hinder our unity, and those that have a problem along that line need to be talked to, and they need to be straightened out. This gossiping has got to stop!

            119.But you have to judge each case according to its own merits. Some people may not have intended to gossip. Perhaps it was just a slip of the tongue or some impression that they gave which was misinterpreted. Or maybe it's something more along the line of news that's not going to be hurtful to you or others, and it's not with malicious intent. But other people may have a real problem along these lines, and have a real tendency to talk negatively about their co-workers or about other Family members. So you can't just make one general rule, but you have to look at each situation and judge it accordingly.

            120.As far as asking people to confess publicly in a public meeting, sometimes the Lord may lead that way, especially if there's been a big problem with gossip, with almost everybody involved. In such a case you'd simply confess your problem with gossiping and ask for forgiveness rather than getting into any details or specifics about people or situations, of course. But in most situations, if there's not such a widespread problem, it's better to go to that person in private.

            121.If you know in your heart that you've gossiped about someone else or spoken negatively about them, well, you need to get your heart right and in most cases you need to go up to that person privately and humbly apologize. You need to let'm know that you're sorry, and by God's grace you're not going to do it again. But that's something that could be done just between the two of you. It's important that you get your hearts right with one another so there can be unity, and you can all work together in harmony. But this could be done privately, and it doesn't necessarily have to be a public confession at a public meeting.

            122.It all depends on the situation. If there has been very widespread gossiping with most people involved, like there was in Japan, then there might be a need for public confession. Even if just you have had a real problem along the lines of gossiping, and have done so to a number of people and it's obvious to many that you have done so, and you need to really learn your lesson along these lines, then in a situation like that, perhaps you could apologize publicly to all those that you've offended in a public meeting.--And that means not only to those whom you've offended by speaking evil of, but also to those whom you've spoken evil to about others. But it would be a rare exception that this would be done in a public meeting, and that would only be in a situation where you do have a serious problem and need to gain a real victory and need to be humbled. I would say that in most cases, if you've gossiped or spoken negatively about someone else, that you can just go up to that person individually on a private basis and make things right.

            123.The key is for each of you to pray and to check your own hearts. If you feel in your heart that you've wronged another, then you need to do something about it. Then, once the Lord has shown you in your heart, pray and ask Him what to do about it, and act on it. It's going to be humbling, but that's good for you, and it's the least you can do to help heal the hurt that your words have caused--whether you're aware of it or not.

            124. Now, we don't need to go to the extreme about this. If you've just made an off-the-cuff comment about someone and it wasn't intentional or malicious, and the other person has no idea that this comment was made about them, then in cases like that there's really no need to apologize. In other cases, people might be so deeply hurt that you've been gossiping about them that the apology would do more damage than the gossip itself. That's why you need to pray and ask the Lord exactly what steps you should take if you've been guilty of gossiping. Of course, even if you don't apologize to the one you've been gossiping about, the Lord might want you to apologize to the ones you've been gossiping to, as it was a bad sample to them and they have no way of knowing whether it was truth or exaggerated and distorted gossip.

            125. Each situation is different, and that's why you have to go to the Lord and seek His solutions and answers. In one situation He may lead differently than in another. It depends on the severity of the crime, how serious the problem is, or how widespread it may be.

            126.What I'm talking about is for each of you to pray, to ask the Lord, and if you have that feeling in your heart--if the Lord shows you that you really have said something that was hurtful or harmful to another person--well, then you need to go and do something about it! You need to humble yourself and go to that person and apologize. Some of you who have had a real problem with it and can't possibly get around to all those whom you've hurt--either through speaking gossiping words about others, or through speaking negatively about others to them--might want to consider writing an open letter to those you gossiped to or about, to apologize for your terrible sample and wagging tongue. Whatever you do, pray and seek the Lord about it, and act in love and prayerfulness!

            127.The person that is receiving the apology needs to be humble about this too. You need to humbly accept their apology, be able to forgive them, and not hold it against them in any way, so that you can work together in love and unity, and that there will be no hurt feelings or bitternesses between you.

            128.It all boils down to love! You've all got to do the loving thing. You've got to do what's right. So you've got to ask the Lord what is the loving thing to do in your situation, and then you have to have the faith and the humility to do something about it.

            129.This is important, beloved! The Enemy tries to get in in any way that he can to destroy your unity, so don't let him! Do what you can to keep your hearts right with one another. (End of message from Dad.)

* * *

            130.(Jesus speaking:) I would that all My children learn to raise their standards and to not let the Enemy in by speaking negatively about one another. For as I said in My Word, speak evil of no man, and let all your things be done in love. For by this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one toward another. (End of message from Jesus.)

            131.(Mama:) Gossip is really a terrible sin with deadly consequences in some cases--Dad has hammered that point home in these messages, God bless him! As a Family, we sure needed the shake-up!

Testimony About the Untamed Tongue

            132. As a closing thought, here's a very sobering true story told from the spirit world about the direct effects of gossip from a young man who suffered for his words. Lord help us not to be guilty of the same! I love you! Lord bless and help us, and keep us loving You and others, above all!

            133. "Is it true?!!" Juliette exclaimed from behind the bar as soon as she saw me. Her eyes searched mine in a desperate, wordless plea, hoping to find confirmation to her faint hopes that this nightmare wasn't really happening. Other customers in the bar were looking at us, and I squirmed like a little schoolboy who was caught doing something naughty. I didn't know what to say to her. She read my hesitancy and responded with a look of utter hurt and hopelessness that dug into the innermost part of my heart.

            134. I reached for her hand, "Juliette, I'm sorry … I …" but no adequate words came to mind to say. After all, what could I say?! I had betrayed her friendship; her trust. She saved me the trouble of thinking of something by turning and leaving out the back door abruptly. I tried to follow her, but the manager stopped me. "No unauthorized personnel out the back; you'll have to leave the way you came." By the time I got out in the parking lot, though, her car was turning out of it.

            135. I walked home dejected and confused. Thoughts tumbled about my head in chaos, first of self-recrimination, then justification, then criticism of Juliette, then pity for her, and finally a deep sense of loss for myself.

            136. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Juliette and I were both freshmen at college, both "new kids in town." Almost everyone else seemed to know each other, or at least each other's relatives. We were country kids. She was shy. We met at the cafeteria on one of the first few days, but didn't bump into each other much after that. The only class we shared was biology--botany mainly. Sometimes we'd exchange a few words as we ran into each other before or after class, and from those brief encounters we discovered our similar passion for nature.

            137. I kind of wanted to get to know her better, but she never mentioned anything, and I was too caught up in the whirl of making new friends and getting in with the popular crowd. I was a sponge for all the tips and tricks my newfound friends had to offer me, including how to cut classes and play practical jokes.

            138. One class I never cut was botany. I enjoyed the free style of our professor, who reminded me of a kind of modern-day Don Quixote. Juliette and I often sat together, and we laughed a lot at our professor's sense of humor. He really seemed to be the only sane teacher in the joint, even with his nutty ways. Now and then a ray of unique wisdom would peek from his keen mind.

            139. On a particularly beautiful day, our professor announced that we were all to team up in pairs as we were going on a nature walk. For "how can you really study this subject until you fall in love with nature," he speculated to himself out loud. Juliette and I went together. Already set in the countryside, he let us all out for two hours to go any which way we pleased, the only requirement being that we were to bring back from our forage "a piece of the mind of God from His creation."

            140. We decided to take a small dirt road that wound out to the horizon, with fields on either side and tall trees along the way. Juliette led the way, saying she wanted to show me something. We talked and talked, and I discovered an amazingly witty and bright personality under her shy exterior. I felt free to talk about my own hopes and dreams and fears as well, things I wouldn't dare share with most of my other new friends, them being the shallow souls they were. We discovered that we had more in common than I had originally guessed, with our common love for classical poetry and artwork.

            141. The road wound around a clump of trees, and a large pond with swans and ducks came into sight. There was a cottage in the distance, on the far side of the pond, and a cow pasture close by, as well as some exceptionally tall trees that overhung the pond, the lowest boughs reaching right down and touching the surface. Without hesitating, Juliette climbed up into the nearest tree, giggling and telling me to hurry up. We climbed two-thirds of the way up the tree to a particularly wide branch that afforded a spectacular view of the pond and the surrounding countryside.

            142. We talked some more. I found Juliette surprisingly frank about herself. She said she trusted me because I "wasn't like the others," and nearly made me fall out of the tree when she told me that sometimes she liked to take walks on weekends, climb this tree with a good book, and take off all her clothes so she could read "and soak up nature," she said with a twinkle in her eyes. I felt myself blushing. I admired her free spirit and told her a few funny stories from back home of me and my younger brothers skinny-dipping in a lake and getting caught by some girls who laughed at us and wouldn't leave so we could get out and put our clothes on.

            143. We made our way back to the campus, talking more about what we hoped for in the future. I told her I felt I'd found true friendship and that I liked her company, and that we should take more walks in the future. She agreed. There were no romantic feelings, but this was a friendship I needed much more at this time in my life, and I think she appreciated the camaraderie as much as I did.

            144. A few nights later I was drinking with a few of my friends. We were playing cards and relaxing in my room, telling jokes and whatnot. I roomed with one of the most popular guys on campus and he had some of his other friends over. In the course of the evening, one of the guys was poking around my side of the room and delved into one of my shelves, emerging with several books of poetry.

            145. "Do you really read all this shit?" he dug at me, with an immensely amused expression on his face, as if it was the corniest pastime imaginable.

            146. "All the time," my roommate said, hardly glancing up. "He's really quite intelligent, aren't you, roomie?" I appreciated him sticking up for me, if for nothing else than to help me save face. But the other guy wasn't buying it.

            147. He said, "Hey, Rob, look what weirdo here reads in his spare time--maybe you should start doing that kind of thing." Rob snickered as he flipped through a book of Shakespeare's plays. "Nope. Think I prefer my girlie mags."

            148. Everyone laughed. I was feeling uneasy; here they were, making me look like a nerd. It only took one person to get down on someone else, and the rest of the airheads followed suit.

            149. My roomie had done all he wanted to in sticking up for me. I felt it was time to go to my defense. All I had built up in the way of my image on this campus was standing before me with a noose tightening around its neck. If I didn't say something now, there'd be no end to it, and I wouldn't survive the rest of the year. I panicked.

            150. "That's nothing! At least I don't climb trees naked to read books in my free time!" There was silence and Rob gave me a look of unbelief, mingled with amusement. "And who does that?!"

            151. I was trapped. I had to make this legit or they'd be right back at me. My mind was groggy from the drink, and all I could think of was my reputation standing at death's door. In a moment I betrayed her trust, as I said, "That new girl. She told me she did that."

            152. I laughed to cover my embarrassment, as the guys all looked at each other in amazement, then burst out into howls of laughter. It reminded someone of an off-color joke which they immediately embarked on, and I heaved a sigh of relief. The heat was off. I locked my conscience out in the cold and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

            153. The next day I had an exam, and still getting over the slight hangover from the night before as I crammed to refresh my memory beforehand, I completely forgot about my disclosure of the night before. Only at lunch in the cafeteria did it start to come back to me.

            154. I was eating when I noticed a few of the guys from the night before at the next table, whispering to each other, laughing and motioning to the far corner of the cafeteria, by the entrance. I followed their gaze to see Rob leaning against the entrance, talking to a puzzled looking Juliette.

            155. I was puzzled myself. "Rob never talks to her. I wonder what they're talking about?" It still hadn't sunk in, until I was stunned to see Juliette slap Rob across the face and storm out of the cafeteria. Rob returned to his table where his friends were all laughing, rubbing his cheek as if in pain and grinning from ear to ear.

            156. "Guess she didn't go for your proposition, eh Rob?" "Not exactly, but I know she'll think about it," Rob returned with a chuckle.

            157. The reality of what had just happened hit me with a sickening thud. Rob had no doubt made some off-color pass at Juliette, referring to the little piece of information I'd passed on the night before. Judging by Rob's look, it wasn't just going to end there.

            158. My mind screamed to go back in time as I imagined the harassment--if not actual physical danger--that poor Juliette would suffer at the hands of these thick-headed mugs as a result of my cowardice. But I was the most thick-headed mug. I couldn't swallow any more lunch. I'd betrayed her friendship to save my own shallow ties with this pack. In running with the wolves, I'd given in and howled just like one of them.

            159. Back to where I left you, with her driving out of the parking lot. I want to let you know that I was able to apologize to Juliette. It didn't erase the hurt, though, and it didn't revive our friendship. She suffered much at the hands of the thoughtless crowds as word spread around the school. Even some of the teachers made comments in front of the class, belittling her and making subtle references to the rumors. It got to be too much for poor Juliette, and she transferred to another school. As for me, I tried to talk to my roommate and undo the damage I'd done, but it was too late. I'd lit a match to gasoline and the fire had spread far wider than I could manage.

            160. I've since written to Juliette. I'm a wiser man now, but I'm sorry to say it was at the cost of a friendship with one of the deepest people I have ever met. Never again have I betrayed the confidence of a friend like that. Such are the sad fruits of a tongue untamed.

            (See also "Joe's Sad Discovery," Heaven's Library #5.)

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family