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FSM 192: Family Specials News Magazine! (FN 301) DO
Copyright: Sept.1991 By Family Services, Zurich, Switzerland


My Deliverance from Bitterness & Negative Thinking!--By Kevin, WS

       Over the past several years the Lord has been teaching me many lessons about my NWOs, which range from selfishness, self-centeredness & self-righteousness, to bitterness, criticalness, & negative thinking. It has been a long process of first of all becoming aware of my NWOs, then making step-by-step progress to better understand how they are manifested & how they affect me, and finally getting a grip on them through united prayer, taking a personal stand against them, & learning to resist & go on the attack when I'm tempted to fall back into them. I'm thankful to have learned some life-changing lessons on fighting old habits & forming new ones. PTL!
       As with many of our Family Members, the Lord has had to take me through many changes & tests, in order to break me & keep me on the track & growing spiritually. To give you a little bit of my background: I have been in WS for many years. In fact, most of my 20 years in the Family have been spent in WS Units or other office situations. I was married twice for a total of 13 years, & had five children. Then I was single for a year, after which time my heart was broken in a relationship that didn't work out. At this time, I also received some stern correction, which I really needed & which was a turning point in my life as I then began to recognise some of my serious weaknesses. Eventually I re-mated & my new mate had a child. We had a happy fruitful relationship, but after two & a half years we separated for the Work's sake. I then was single again for the next year & a half.
       As I look back over the last five years, I see in going through all these changes that I was very much like the piece of pottery in the Potter's hand, that had flaws and was not malleable enough to simply be remolded, so it had to be crushed and taken from one extreme to the other, to become nothing but clay with no form, in order to be made again into a more useful vessel. It has finally begun to dawn on me what changes the Lord has been trying to make in my life! He has been trying to teach me not to be so stuck on myself, not to be so negative, not to be so critical & unloving, but instead to be loving, to be forgiving, to be malleable, and to be here for Jesus, not for myself or my own personal desires or opinions.

Recognising My Self-centeredness!

       After the Lord opened my eyes & I was in the "lesson learning mode", He worked it out so that I spent a whole day with my Shepherd. I was his buddy for town business. We informally talked about some various small personal battles I was having. When we arrived back home I felt very convicted because I had spent so much of the time trying to explain myself to him, the way I felt and all the inner workings of how I thought. I began to feel very selfish for having dominated the conversation, talking only about myself, and for being so concerned about my own personal thoughts & feelings. That night when looking back over our day together, I could see that my Shepherd was the one in our conversations who had given me love & understanding, and I hadn't really given anything to him, except problems & complaints. It was pretty much a one-sided conversation, with me trying to drive my points home.
       When reflecting upon how I had acted that day, I came to realise that one of the main lessons I needed to learn was about my deep-rooted, ingrained self-centeredness! This weakness had been pointed out to me years before, but I hadn't really seen it clearly myself. I had always been so concerned about how I felt and how I wanted to be understood. I came to realise that it was now my responsibility to grow out of myself & into understanding others, to stop being like a little child that needs so much attention. I was finally able to begin to recognise what self-centeredness is & how I was steeped in it.
       (Editor's note: Through the publication of this testimony, we do not mean to give the impression that you should never talk about yourself or your battles or trials to your Shepherds. Please don't feel like you now have to clam up & hardly talk when you're with your Shepherds, in order to make sure you're not being selfish or self-centered! In this particular situation, when Kevin was his Shepherd's partner for a day of town business, it was not right that he dominated the conversation throughout the day, talking only about his opinions or his problems or his trials. The Shepherd had not planned to talk with Kevin that day about his battles or trials, so for Kevin to impose himself upon his Shepherd like that was selfish & inconsiderate.
       (However, there are times when talking about yourself is the right thing to do. For example, if your Shepherd asks you questions about yourself, such as about your testimony or your previous experiences etc., then of course you would talk about yourself. Under those circumstances you wouldn't be selfish or self-centered, even if you ended up dominating the conversation a bit. Or if your Shepherd seeks your opinion by asking how you feel about something, then again you should feel free to talk openly about your feelings & how you see things. That would be expected & perfectly acceptable.
       (Another example of when you're supposed to talk about yourself is when your Shepherd is counselling you or talking to you about your problems or your NWOs. At such a time, your Shepherd wants to understand your battles & your problems in order to help you find solutions.--And to be able to do this, he usually needs to hear from you. In fact, one of the main purposes of this type of counselling time is for you to have the opportunity to pour out your heart to your Shepherd.
       (So there are situations where it's just fine to talk about yourself or your feelings or your battles. Just be Spirit-led according to the time & place & circumstances. If you're not sure, ask. PTL!)

I Had an Ought Against My Shepherds!

       Another thing I began to see after this talk was my failure over the years to see how my Shepherds had loved me and stood by me through various sicknesses, battles, & mistakes I had made. My attitude had been very ungrateful & selfish. I had a deep-rooted problem of murmuring about my Shepherds, thinking bad thoughts about them, not approving of the way they did things, not liking their personalities, analysing the different faults they had, thinking about how I didn't agree with how they did some things or how they did this wrong or that wrong, ad infinitum! In actuality, I had unknowingly been overtaken by the Devil's lies about my Shepherds, and I had spent my time throughout the years complaining in my heart & listening to those lies, while at the same time ignoring the fact that they had faithfully loved me and forgiven my failings and mistakes many times.
       I didn't outwardly murmur and it wasn't like I was constantly attacking my leaders with murmurs & doubts, but these critical thoughts were definitely beneath the surface & were my "real feelings" about things. Though they didn't hinder me enough to keep me from doing my work, they manifested themselves in my tainted, withdrawn spirit that kept me from really uniting with my leaders in spirit. In short, I had an ought against them. I had many lessons to learn about this major NWO of negative thinking & criticalness, & I was only beginning to become aware of it.

"Who, Me?--A Negative Thinker!?"--Yes!

       Shortly after spending this day with my Shepherd, another incident happened which helped to further bring to light my problems. During one of our Home's times of united prayer & fellowship, our Shepherdess read a letter of counsel that was written to a brother in another location who was having some problems. The letter talked about how he needed to have desperate prayer. Since I felt convicted by this person's problems and felt guilty of the same NWOs, I started thinking that the main reason my Shepherds had read the letter was just to convict me. I thought the lessons & correction in the letter were intentionally aimed at me! This was a complete fabrication and lie of the Devil, but I believed it, and that night wrote a note to my Shepherdess about how I felt.
       My Shepherdess talked to me and told me that that was the furthest thing from her mind. She explained that the reason she read the letter was so we could all learn from it & also so we could keep that person in our prayers.--It was in no way intended to be a "subliminal message" to me personally about my problems! Then she explained that my looking at it this way was a problem with negative thinking. Although I had heard this term many times before, I never could relate to it. I didn't know exactly what it was, but I could see others had problems with it, but I didn't think it applied to me.
       But I was soon to find out that negative thinking was one of my biggest, if not the biggest NWO that I have! After coming to grips with how I had so easily & completely believed the lies of the Enemy about why that letter was read, and after seeing how these lies were directed against my Shepherdess, I came to the realisation that I was quite filled with such lies. I began to see how I was always going around thinking negative things about other people or about myself. I was always being critical of people, of the way they did things or didn't do things, like the way some people didn't close the toilet seat lid or didn't turn the lights off when leaving a room or weren't quiet during Quiet Time or didn't obey this little rule or slacked off on that little rule, etc.!
       I realised that I was almost always thinking bad or critical or proud or self-righteous or jealous things about people! I was really submersed in critical thoughts! I was a negative and critical thinker! I had never realised that before, I just thought, "Well, that's just the way I think." I had no idea I was actually yielding to the voice of the Enemy, making a choice & wearing a groove or path in my thought patterns that I always followed. Somewhere along the line, I had developed a habit of thinking critically about people, which had with time become a cemented habit in my life. To me, it was normal to criticise others! I had grown up this way, & I didn't realise there was any other way to think!

Prayer of Deliverance!

       I saw that I had a serious problem with negative thinking which was caused by my self-righteousness, critical spirit, pride, jealousy, self-centeredness etc.! My Shepherd suggested that I ask for desperate prayer & the laying-on of hands to help me overcome this problem that had such a stranglehold on me. I ashamedly confessed my problems before my whole Home and had real desperate prayer, rebuking the Devil and his lies, & crying out to the Lord for help. This was followed with beautiful verses & prophecies, and even a vision I had of a Hand reaching down in my heart and grasping hold of many many little white seeds, like little watermelon seeds. Each seed had an intricate root system, & they were intertwined with each other & were growing throughout my heart. The Hand was beginning to root up all these little seeds.
       What the Lord was showing me, although I didn't realise it at the time, was that He had broken through the hard ground of my heart & reached His Hand in to grasp ahold of my problems.--But the rooting out and breaking of old habits was still to be done. I was just barely becoming aware of my problems. In the weeks that followed, I began to understand more about these very deep-rooted NWOs in my life. Now that they had been loosened up and brought to the surface, I was getting a good ugly look at them.
       I don't know why it had taken me so long to learn these lessons, but I was finally getting to the very root of the problems that I had had for so long, which had greatly influenced my life & the decisions I had made for years. These weaknesses had caused me to always take the negative path in my life, as I accepted & believed lies of the Enemy & patched them right into the thought patterns of my mind. The Lord knows I am a very brittle character, so possibly He didn't want to break me too fast lest I wither away and backslide or something! Like the evangelist told Grandmother when she asked why there weren't more leaders in God's Work: "He just can't break them fast enough!" It takes time, and with a brittle character like myself, He has taken years to get me to where He could finally help me understand & grasp my problems and the decisions I made that led me in the wrong direction.

Covering Up & Blaming Others!

       Next I read "Taking the Blame, Don't Justify Yourself!" and "War in the Spirit" & I learned a very key lesson from those Letters: I used self-righteousness as a cover for self-centeredness and selfishness, which in turn covered the very root of my problems, pride, or "damnable, stinking self" as Dad calls it. In other words, in my pride I was very self-centered & very concerned about myself first & foremost! And in order to hide that my basic motivation in life was to protect myself, I justified myself by blaming others for bad situations or bad relations I was involved in!
       I blamed others as an excuse! I didn't want to take the blame myself, so I quickly tried to throw the blame on someone else or something else or some other circumstances.--Anything besides myself! I didn't want to accept the blame for not acting responsibly or maturely, or for not being humble & loving enough to reach out to the other person, or for not trusting in the Lord to keep me afloat regardless of the situation. So I turned bitterly inward, blaming others for not understanding me, blaming them for not acting right or for the breakdown in our communication, when really it was a lack of maturity in myself, babyish selfishness & introversion, refusal to reach out and grow, refusal to sacrifice my pride & humble myself for the sake of good communication, refusal to hold on to the Lord.
       In order to cover up this lack of maturity--in a way it is protection of self, self-preservation--I would blame the other person. My sensitivity played a major role too, being sensitive about myself. Because of my selfishness & my sensitivity, when things didn't go the way I wanted, I self-righteously covered up my own fault in the matter, and in my own mind blamed the other person.

I Was Bitter! I Had to Forgive!

       The vision that I had when we had prayer for me was now being fulfilled: This big Hand was digging into my heart and revealing to me the many many little white seeds that had intertwined root systems. For some reason they were soft seeds, maybe to symbolise that they were alive. There were lots & lots of them: Seeds of selfishness, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, negative thinking, criticalness & bitterness. I had a completely root-bound heart. I began to realise that through my negative thinking & criticalness about others, I had developed some kind of bitterness about something against almost every person I knew!
       I was bitter about something with almost everyone, it seemed---or at least a lot of people. These bitternesses were not necessarily the result of big things either, but rather they had to do with lots of little things about others' weaknesses. I let others' weaknesses become big in my sight, & I criticised others for their NWOs, looking at the mote in their eyes, while not perceiving the beams in my own eyes!
       The Lord showed me that I had to get those feelings of bitterness out of my heart. I saw that the only way out of this bitterness was through forgiveness! The way to get this bitterness out of my heart was to take each person I could think of, and forgive that person for whatever it was I was holding against him. So I did. I had a good "confession session" with myself one morning. I thought about all the people I could think of that I had oughts against, & I asked the Lord to help me forgive them.--I thought about all kinds of people from the past and from the present.

Getting Rid of Bitterness!

       I had read a copy of the article, "Resentment Is My Problem," which was later pubbed in the Christian Digest in which the author said that the very first thing a bitter person has to realise is that the bitterness he holds in his heart against a person is going to do himself more harm in the long run than the person whom he is bitter against! In other words, I had to see that the bitterness in my heart was going to have a much more devastating effect on my own life than on anyone else's! It could ruin my life, ruin the way I relate to others, affect my children, my wife, my whole outlook on life!
       So it's necessary to realise that realistically bitterness is going to do you a lot more harm than the person you're bitter against! The realisation of that fact gently redirects your motivation & gives you a desire to get rid of bitterness. But once you have that motivation, the trick is, how do you get out of all this bitterness?
       I did a Bible study one morning to try to find practical ways to get out of bitterness.--But I couldn't find any! I found that the Bible condemns it, it says not to be bitter, it says, "Let all anger, & bitterness, & wrath & evil speaking be put away from you" (Eph.4:31), but I couldn't find out how to do it! I couldn't find any practical steps to actually help me climb out of it. I'm sure the answer is there, but I just couldn't see it.
       However, in "Taking the Blame, Don't Justify Yourself" I learned that the first step to be free from this bitterness is simply to forgive in my heart. Of course the bitter person doesn't want to forgive, because he thinks he's right and justified.--And maybe he is! But nevertheless, is it worth being bitter if it is going to devastate your life? Your children's lives? Your mate's life? Your service for the Lord? Will you really let yourself reap more harm in order to hang on to it, or will you make an attempt to throw it off? What is better for you personally? This is the wisdom of forgiving.
       So I forgave. I went through everyone I could think of and honestly, sincerely, before the Lord, forgave them in my heart. One thing that helped me when doing this was to continually tell myself that I have problems too, that I am no better, and who am I to think I could condemn anyone! I truly am the most wretched of all, being totally soaked in the worst sin of all, self-righteousness!
       I had also read in the Christian Digest article that one step in getting rid of bitterness is to sincerely honestly pray for the people you are bitter against.--Not a self-righteous prayer, but a sincere prayer that they will be happy, fulfilled & prosperous. This gets your mind on a positive channel about them. And though it is a bit difficult at first to break the ice, after you do, it quickly escalates into a heart-felt plea for their lives & protection & fruitfulness!
       When I followed this advice & started to pray for these people, I felt like the Lord had been wanting me to pray for them all along, but the Devil had hindered that plan by placing bitterness in my heart about them, so that I couldn't fulfill the Lord's intention! It was difficult at first, but once I broke past the Devil's lies about these people, I was in the open waters of His Love & forgiveness!

Rewiring My Thought Patterns!

       It was a great relief to finally face the truth about myself. But the battle was not over! The initial prayer for deliverance did release me, it resulted in the big Hand reaching down and loosening up the ground surrounding the seeds; but the battle now was to not only throw off all those past bitternesses & grievances, but also to not yield to them or any such feelings or influences in the future. I realised that was the part I had to do, to get those bitternesses out of my heart, & then to form defenses against allowing them to return in the future. Through united prayer I availed myself of the Lord's help to root out and loosen up all those seeds, but then it was up to me to personally make a decision against each one of them and kick them out of my house and out of my habitual way of thinking.
       So after the prayer and getting rid of past bitternesses, I had to learn to rebuke and resist these negative influences and the habit I had of thinking negative thoughts when they attacked me in new situations. This was a very critical time! I had to form new thought patterns, lest I fall back into my old thought patterns & my last state become worse than the first! (See Mat.12:43-45.)I had to pray against & resist old influences and strengthen myself in these areas, & teach myself new ways to think. Sometimes I won & sometimes I failed. And sometimes I failed at first and then later got the victory.
       It was a precious time of learning, learning from victories and from defeats, learning what was the right way to choose to think. The Lord initiated the war by loosening the ground and promising victory by faith, but the battle continued in a two-pronged attack: First, to pick out the seeds and clear the ground of my present bitternesses; and secondly, to strengthen my new habits & thought patterns in order to prevent new bitternesses from taking root.

Exposing Negative Thoughts that Are "True"!

       Now nine months have passed since I had prayer. During this time I have had some major bouts with the Enemy, who tried to wrestle me into my old ways of thinking. I've had several major tests to see how well I would adhere to the new & resist the old. I have zeroed in on more specific details regarding my weakness of negative thinking. I have found I have to continually be on guard and on the attack against it. There are times when "the Devil leaves for a season", but then he often returns with a major test. So, because it is such an ongoing weakness for me, I've begun a militant campaign of discerning & refusing negative thinking whenever it rears its ugly head.
       One of the times I had a major bout with negative thinking, I came to the stark realisation that I cannot give it any place at all! That was a very hard decision to come to! Though I realised I had the problem of negative thinking and bitternesses about people, nevertheless, the Devil still had this one inroad into my thinking where I had always felt justified in thinking negative things about others because I thought my opinions were true. Or even if I wasn't sure they were true, I would still think the negative thoughts long enough to just see if they were "correct evaluations" or not. In other words, when the Devil would present a negative thought to me, rather than resist it, I would always feel I had to "check it out" to see if it was true. I felt I had a "moral obligation" to the truth!
       But finally I came to the conclusion that, like an alcoholic can't afford one sip of liquor, I can't afford one sip of negative thinking or it really gets me!--Especially negative thinking that is manifested in critical thoughts about others. Sometimes these negative thoughts just attack me in a barrage of voices flooding my mind one after the other, & if I yield to them in the slightest, then there's no end to it, until I'm down at the bottom of the pit.
       I used to always think, "Well, the thing this person did to me really was wrong. I really need to think about it to see if he was really wrong & if I was really right, so I can see what the real `truth' is." Then after thinking about it, usually my next train of thought would be, "Yes, they shouldn't have done that! I mean that really was wrong! Why do they do that anyway?!" I would continue with this type of reasoning in my mind, until finally I was really down & completely out of the Spirit & being extremely critical!
       This was one of my basic thought patterns that was completely wrong!--But it took me such a long time to finally realise this & face it & accept it, because I used to think, "Well, if it's the truth, it's the truth! It's okay if I think these thoughts, because they are true!" But I finally came to the realisation that if it was having a bad effect on me, then the thing I should do is not yield to those thoughts any more! I should not think them, not even a little bit!
       This was the first time in my life I had actually gotten to the root of the negative thought-pattern that I had been following for years. I had always chosen to think about these negative & critical things, based on the assumption that they were, or might be, true! It was a real trick of the Enemy, & because of my self-righteousness, I not only fell for it but lived in it! The Devil used my self-righteousness & selfishness to justify my doing this.
       This particular lesson is quite a basic one, and it's exposed in the Letters a lot, how the Devil uses the truth to get you to listen to his lies. But nevertheless, I still felt I had to think these negative thoughts a little bit & analyse them to see if they were true or not. I thought I could "handle it". I thought I would proceed down that path just a little bit, just to "check it out". But as I said above, I found out that I am like that alcoholic, I just can't afford one sip of negative or critical thoughts about others!
       A main thought that hindered me from forsaking my negative thoughts was that I felt like I would be hiding myself from the truth if I didn't allow myself to think things through. Then I realised that I had come to this point of decision many times before, and I usually had taken the "thinking about it" path, and it almost always resulted in bad fruit! So I felt that this time I should go the other way, to not think these thoughts even if they are "true".
       I'd come to this crossroad of decision many times before in my life, but I had never made a whole-hearted choice to not go the route of negative thinking. Instead, I always chose to think about these things "just a little bit", just to "check out" if they were true or not. Then one thing would lead to another & before I knew it, I was completely "out of it" from having fallen for that trick of "it's the truth" and gone down the wrong path of negative thinking! So here I was facing this decision again, & I seriously needed to make the choice to not think about these things!
       It was a major decision & I didn't want to make the wrong decision, so I asked the Lord to please just direct my thoughts & give me a verse. I browsed through my Bible asking the Holy Spirit to lead me & confirm or not confirm this decision, & She led me to the verse, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts!" (Isa.55:7) I had asked the Lord for a verse, so when I got this I knew this was the decision the Lord wanted me to make: To forsake my negative thoughts! That was the right decision, even if these thoughts were supposedly "true", because they were having a negative effect on me, they were causing me to be critical, to feel discontent, unhappy, & get on a big bummer.

Thinking Good Thoughts from His Word!

       But then I realised that if I had to forsake my negative thoughts, I needed something to replace them! I couldn't just not think bad thoughts, I had to have good thoughts replace the bad thoughts! I was in a desperate situation! I had to force myself to think the right things, & because I was in such a weak condition from a lifetime of thinking critically, the only way I knew to do that was to force-feed Scriptures through my mind. I started searching through various Chapters in the Epistles and found some verses specifically on my problem, & started forcing myself to think them, especially when I had negative thoughts. I started a campaign of memorising these verses, such as: Eph.3:20 (I thought that was a good one to start with to give me the faith that the Lord was able to do it), then Eph.4:23,27,29,31,32; Eph.6:10-18; Jam.4:7-10; 1Pet.5:7,8,9,10; 2Cor.10:4,5; Phil.4:8; 1Pet.1:13; Phil.3:13,14,15 and Isa.55:7,8.9. I would quote these verses any time I felt my mind was idle or blank, such as in the shower or on the toilet, washing dishes, cooking breakfast etc.
       I then chose some quotes to memorise. That was really difficult, but I figured I just had to go on the attack and memorise them, no matter what! For a while I wondered if I'd ever get them down, because no matter how many times I tried to review them, I'd get them wrong. But I just attacked, attacked, attacked, & finally I got them down! PTL! It was such a blessing to succeed in memorising these quotes, because it proved that even if it was a battle, if I just attacked, I could do it!
       One particularly helpful quote that I memorised was from "The Young Prophet & the Old Prophet": "You have to be rewired, having your mind transformed by the Spirit of God, & it takes time to rewire your computer! Any psychologist will tell you that it's not hard to switch right back into the original thought pattern, because your brain is so wired that your first automatic reaction is the one built there by habit & by custom, & a new thought pattern cannot be established until the old one has had time to be completely erased. So at a sudden emergency you will automatically lapse into your original thought pattern--except by a miracle of God!" (ML#1857:16)
       And another one from "Daydreaming": "You have to keep your thoughts under control by force, you have to capture them, you have to make a conscious effort to hold them in captivity. It takes work to keep your thoughts where they should be! You really have to fight! You need to fight it and to make it a habit not to think those things, just as you have let it become a habit to think of these things. It's a fight because you have to overcome a lifelong habit!" (ML#1915:2)

I Had to Make a Commitment to Change!

       I learned that a bottom-line decision had to be made in my heart. Besides the necessity of desperate laying on of hands & prayer & seeking the Lord for deliverance, personal commitment is the single most important thing that needs to be done in order to be delivered from bitterness & negative thinking. If you don't make the decision in your heart to resist the Devil & his negative thoughts come hell or high water, you will not make any progress!
       No progress will be made until you make that basic decision that you are henceforth choosing to listen only to the positive, uplifting, encouraging transmissions of the Lord, & that you will fight to the death any attempt by the Enemy to feed you negative influences, be they true or not. Until you make that decision & commitment, there can be no real growth & change!
       At least this has been my experience. I found out what the missing piece of the puzzle had been. I found out what my part in the plan was: To make a commitment to not take one sip of negative or critical thoughts. Of course, on the other hand, we're not perfect! We sometimes fall! But the basic commitment must be there, the compass must be redirected to true North, the voice of the Lord & His Word! Then victories will be won & progress will be made! There will be change, new, fresh life & growth in the Spirit, instead of the dead, cold, dark stagnation of bitterness. PTL!
       I am so happy to be aware of my NWOs and to be on the attack against them. It's freedom just to know what they are and to face them and accept them, because then I can fight them! Though it was very humbling for me to realise these things and to confess them to others, nevertheless it was the truth! And now it becomes easier & easier to confess them both to myself & others, & to concentrate on fighting them and forming new habits. It's a challenge! Just like how Dad says he loves to fight the Enemy, in a way, I love to fight my weaknesses, I love to get victories over them! And through it all I am learning, & I pray I will continue to fight my NWOs & become the man Jesus wants me to be. PTL!

Washed Clean, Forgiven & Able to Forgive Others!--More Deliverances from Deep-Seated Problems with Bitterness!

From Augustine (formerly Hebreos), Japan
       GBY! IRLY & wanted to share a very deep & precious lesson I've been learning recently. "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him." (Psa.103:17)
       I've been in the Family for 17 years now, but it didn't take long after I joined to discover that the life of faith held plenty of battles for me, which mostly came in the form of personality conflicts, arguments, "unfair" treatment, etc. As the years went by, I kept a very accurate record of bad experiences & people I thought had wronged me, until the Lord in His mercy showed me that I had lost the joy of serving Him & had become very bitter & hard to get along with. It's a real miracle I'm still here. I got a "last chance" warning from Faithy when she first came to Japan, then I went through a series of battles & ended up leaving the Family. I only returned because of the concern of my loving leadership who sent out a "search" for me. After one week of being out in the System in deep despair, I came back, but still didn't know the root of my problem.
       Even though I was counselled about many of the symptoms of my problem, the root was still there. I kept reading the Word, asking for prayer, fasting, anything I could think of or that leadership recommended. After awhile I was very disappointed & started to think God didn't care for me, as I saw everybody climbing the mountain & making progress, but I felt totally stagnated, old & dried up. Several times I thought about leaving again, & was even tempted at times to consider suicide. I was really scared & I knew deep inside it was not the answer. It was only God's Angels that kept me through those times. The times I desperately prayed, I couldn't even ask for the victory, but just prayed to be able to survive & not sink under the weight of my problems.
       Then at one point, for two nights in a row, I couldn't sleep. I went to the living room & started reading & praying, when suddenly the Lord broke through & showed me that all my "problems" were simply a lack of love!--That without God's kind of Love, I couldn't forgive & forget, & I would just keep accumulating more bad experiences until I wouldn't be able to do anything, but "Love covers a multitude of sins." "Faith works by Love," & Love is the key for overcoming personality conflicts, marriage problems, gaining happiness, etc.--So simple!
By faith I started showing more affection to everybody I met, whether Family Members or sheep, & as I did the little I could, others responded the same way & I felt closer to them. "Love begets love!" I began looking people in the eyes again, something I'd felt uncomfortable doing before, except for short glances. I started reading about Love in both the Bible & Letters, & it all started making sense again. How could I get more Love? Well, only from the Lord & His Spirit.
       Another thing I learned was that I was totally under-estimating the little things you can do to make others happy, to be a loving father, husband, brother, etc. I asked myself, "What about my work, why am I not being used as I'd like to be?" The answer I got was, "Don't you know, My child, that your service is nothing without your love?" "But what about my lack of faith, Lord?" "Faith worketh by Love." (Gal.5:6b) "What about my sins, why do I feel like the worst sinner around?" "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will God forgive your trespasses!" (Mat.6:15) The greatest of these is Love!
       Everything I asked the Lord, He pointed me towards LOVE. God is Love! I just felt so dumb. Why couldn't I see that before? Even that, the Lord in His mercy showed me, "You didn't ask." I realised that when all these "bad" experiences came, instead of asking the Lord, "What's the lesson for me here?", I just wrote it in my "black book." The result was I lived in total isolation, afraid to get close to people for fear of more pain, etc. I had just been going through the motions, & anything I'd done all those years was either the arm of the flesh or God's mercy.
       My whole relationship with the Lord had been crumbling & I had tried to find love in relationships, even getting close to sheep I witnessed to, anything but what I really needed, just to come back to my First Love. I even tried to blame it on being Mexican, being dark, ugly, too bad, dumb & really getting down on myself, or blaming it on circumstances or the people involved, totally missing the point of Love!
       Then at the Japan Summit '90 Meetings, we had a Pow-wow about bitterness, which totally exposed the Enemy & his tricks, & really scared me into realising how serious the sin of bitterness is in the eyes of the Lord. Most of all, I realised it was the extra mile of God's Love for me to even have been invited to these meetings, to learn more about the root cause of my problems--bitterness--& prayer, how to wield the sword of His Word, & that it's not my battle but that the "Lord will perfect that which concerneth me." GBY! "My Family, my Family, I'll love you always!"

From Chris (formerly Zatthu of Morningstar), Pacific
       Bitterness has been a very big hindrance in my life in the Family, & it's only been in the last year that I've been able to get a victory over it. My bitterness was directed towards my first mate (Elaine, formerly Morningstar) as a result of my jealousy over her from the time we got married. It came to a head a few times throughout the years, including the time of the Letter "Frustrated?" (See ML#835, parts 1-4.)
       The final crisis came when Elaine was invited to the Japan TTC, after which my jealousy became such a big issue that I lost my job & was invited to another Home for retraining. I was warned that my jealousy & bitterness would end up in separation, & my wife finally left me, in spite of the fact that I wouldn't let her take any of the children. GHM!
       This bitterness ruined my whole fruitfulness & growth, & I ended up staying in a hotel with the children, praying for the funds to leave the field & go back to Europe. Well, the funds never came & eventually I was able to move back into a Home. Miraculously the Lord began to work in my life & I was able to apologise to my mate & we came to a loving & united settlement of the children. To make a long story short, it was the Word & the love from the Family that brought me back to life. The Lord even saw fit to give me a very sweet & loving new mate, even though I didn't deserve her. I also want to share that I deserved whatever happened to me all those years because of my self-righteousness, & I really thank the Lord for delivering me. TYJ! PTL!

From Micah Bear, Brazil
       I'm realising that my problem of begrudging & blaming leadership is in direct proportion to how much of a man-pleaser I really am.
       Being a sort of emotional personality, I am seeing I need to grow out of the habit of letting my problems--when they're exposed & I can see them--overwhelm me & get me all down & sullen (a wounded spirit), but to rather accept the challenge as God's catalyst in my life to bring about the changes I want Him to bring. For the first time, during the last few months, I've begun to lose my fear of correction & really kind of look forward to getting the help I'm seeing that I need & outgrow some of my old, lingering problems. This is a big change for me, as I have been so sensitive for so long.
       I'm getting the point of the emphasis on falling in love with Jesus in a new way. The deeper your relationship with Him, the more your "natural" reactions & programmed impulses in time of decision (large or small) will be in tune with Him & will be more loving & Word-based.

From Thai Rose (Lit-Pic), SEA
       The changes the Summit '90 material brought were really God's Love & mercy for me! I was in a situation that I wasn't happy with, & since I didn't feel close to my Shepherds I wasn't honest with them.
       This discontentment began when I first moved into my present situation about 2-1/2 years earlier. I was quite lifted up in pride, & I didn't respect my new Shepherds & became resentful every time they corrected me in little things. My outward behaviour was pretty good, I hardly received any correction, & life became a day-to-day routine in my ministry. Deep down inside, however, I was comparing my new Home with my past situations.
       Then I went through a difficult pregnancy. I began to murmur & feel mistreated; I blamed my poor health on the situation. Clouded with a self-righteous attitude, I became very bitter toward one of my Shepherds in particular. Within a year I had become resentful toward my other Shepherds as well, & finally toward my overseer who has always taken good care of me & been so sweet to me for many years. I wasn't happy with the situation, therefore I wasn't happy with anything! Because of my unyieldedness to accept God's Will in my life, & having an unthankful attitude, it resulted in my getting on a very negative channel.
       It got to the point where bitterness was driving me out of the Family! I couldn't see myself as others & the Lord saw me, & I couldn't be helped because I wasn't completely honest on my OHRs.
       As I got desperate for a change, one by one my NWOs (which I couldn't see before) started coming to light. I began to see my sins, my weaknesses & where I'd been wrong. It was like a "life-after-death" experience for me as the Lord showed me a lot of past events scene by scene. I felt like a patient in a coma who had gone into the Spirit World & saw his life passing before him. When I saw how much I needed to change, I wanted to come back to life spiritually, right the wrongs, & behave myself. It was quite liberating for me to get exposed because I'd had a real fear of exposure before.
       I'm so thankful for the Prayerfulness Revolution because it helped me to take time to pray about why things happened & get back on the right track. It was so liberating when the Lord scattered the cloud of my self-righteousness so that I could see the truth clearly. Through the Summit material, the Lord has caused me to want to do the right things, receive correction, to feel close to each of my Shepherds & want to stay close to them. Now I'm happy serving the Lord even though still in the same situation! The Lord has given me another chance, another challenge & another life! TYJ!

Bitterness Exposed & Defeated!--More Reactions to the Bitterness GN!

Thai Bright, SEA
       One thing the Discipleship Training Revolution opened my eyes to is how I have been bitter against God & how He's running my life. I've been murmuring about the trials He puts me through, & wondering & comparing, "How come other people don't have these trials?", "How come the Lord doesn't expect it of them but He expects it of me?", or "How come I don't deserve to have good sleep when others do?" & so forth! It's plain self-righteousness & resentment against what He is doing in my life! Now I realise that the Lord wants me to go through these things so I can become sweeter & have compassion, & be more understanding of others, be more loving. It also helped me see how wrong it is to get upset at others. I need to humble my pride & ask for forgiveness & seek the Lord's solution. And if I feel they are upset with me, I need to do all I can to straighten that out too. TTL for this Revolution in our lives!

Matthew Psalm, SEA
       The Bitterness GN woke me up to what extent I had let a lot of "little" incidents build up in my heart! And I had let pride hinder me from being open & asking for prayer. It was never "big" things, nor did these seeds of bitterness root deeply, but they were becoming more frequent. I was letting the Enemy in & justifying it since they were only little things! It began to hinder my relationship with an older brother to the point where I didn't want to go out as a partner with him anymore. This GN showed me plainly how I had to go on the attack against these negative thoughts or else I was headed for serious trouble, but TTL the timing was perfect & it arrived to help me just when I needed it most.

From Isaac/Promesa & Ivan/Estrella, Lat. America
       This Letter has been the key that our Home needed to lead us to victory! We did a united study with Pow-wows & prayer meetings. It has cleansed us from some spiritual weights that we weren't even aware of & that we had been harbouring for years! Thus this Letter has been like turning on a lamp in our lives to shed light on the darkest places & furthermost corners, bringing in the light, truth, & freedom of the Word! TYJ! After reading this Letter together, we all wrote a personal list of bitternesses & then we burned it after praying the prayer of deliverance at the end of the Letter. As a result, we have a more united & loving Home, PTL!

From Timothy Happiness, Brazil
       Since I haven't been in the Family for so long I thought I didn't have any bitterness & hadn't gone through those things yet. But then I checked deeper & saw I had a root of bitterness against some Family Members & leaders whom I thought did not follow Dad & Mama & the Letters as close as they should. Every time I saw something wrong, I thought that people read the Letters but didn't put them into practice. So, TTL, I prayed for the Lord to deliver me from this kind of bitterness & to give me a clean heart to see things with the eyes of love, & He did it! It feels like a great burden lifted from my back & like I just joined the Family again!

Natanael & Maria Para Ti (TSers), Mexico
       As with all the Letters, this one came at the right moment when we needed it the most, as two days after this Letter arrived we were asked to leave the Home to become TRF Supporters. To be honest, to us this was like a bomb, even though deep in our hearts we were expecting it. Once again, thank you for this compilation on bitterness that we have been reading, it really helped us & is still helping us not to get bitter against anybody nor against God, & is also helping us to hold on to the Word & to Romans 8:28. We love you!

I Almost Lost the Pearl of Great Price through Bitterness!--By Mark (formerly Zeb)

       As some of you may recall, an FSM article came out a couple of years ago entitled, "They that Walk in Pride, He Is Able to Abase" (FSM 118). This was my testimony of how I got into quite a bad state after swallowing a lot of lies of the Enemy & then not receiving correction. I really kicked against the pricks for several months, ending up in bad shape before the Lord mercifully rescued me & brought me back to life, TYJ!
       After this experience, the Lord allowed me to spend a few months in India working in the Office there & having lots of time for the Word & reflection on the mistakes that I had made. The Lord used this time to further humble me & help me to see how much I needed Him.
       After several months in India, by a miracle of the Lord's Love & mercy for me, I was given another chance to help out in a leadership capacity as a junior partner of a Teamwork, to learn from others who had received a lot of training that I could benefit from. So I went with Dawn & Dust on a mission to Europe in the fall of 1988.
       During that mission I was making mistakes & needed correction, & at first I was pretty small in my own eyes. When I was approached about things that needed to be corrected, I did desperately pray & ask the Lord to help me & change me, & although some of the things were difficult for me to accept because of my pride & self-righteousness, nevertheless the Lord did help me at first to change & yield.
       However, after working with Dawn & Dust for a few months, I became familiar with them, seeing more their shortcomings & weaknesses & letting the Enemy use that in my mind to become familiar, & eventually to be unreceptive, particularly to their counsel & leadings of the Lord.
       At the time I didn't realise how bad I was getting, but I basically became impossible for them to work with. After reporting to the Folks over a period of time, they decided that it would be best for me to return to Japan where I had spent the previous three months before going to Europe. There I could receive some training in a ministry in which I wouldn't be under as much pressure as I was in the leadership position I had in Europe.
       To make a long story short, I was "hurt & offended" by this sudden move. It really offended my own sense of righteousness & right & wrong. I became quite bitter about this as time went on, adamantly not accepting what was done & adamantly rebelling against things that others had said I was guilty of in Europe. The actual fact of the matter was, unbeknownst to me at the time, since I was unable to see things clearly in the eyes of the Spirit, I was actually guilty of much worse than what was said about me. I was downright unable to receive correction & unable to yield to my leadership, not only in the last few weeks in Europe, but even more so when I returned to Japan.
       Basically I became more & more bitter & discontent & unhappy & unbelieving. I kept listening to the lies of the Enemy until it got to the point where I was contemplating backsliding. Right before Christmas of 1989, I was so out of it & so sick & fed up with what I considered at the time to be an injustice, that I set a fleece before the Lord, asking Him to either show me that I was wrong & help me get a victory, or to get me out of the Family.
       As the Bible says, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1Cor.2:14), & "The carnal mind is enmity with God." (Rom.8:7) To put it in a nutshell, I had become so carnally minded that I was just stuck in a rut & hardly able to receive anything whatsoever from anybody.
       A few days before Christmas, Josiah spent some time with me. I was going to go to the States to visit my System relatives & get a taste of the System to see what it was like, & he poured out his heart to me, as he had several times over the previous four months. This time, however, he did get through to me when he said, "Mark, you are a fool if you are willing to throw all of this away because of your damn pride & inability to receive anything!"
       These weren't his exact words but it was the basic message of what he was sharing with me, which I believed was of the Lord. Yet, because of being in this rut & unyielded state for so long, I still didn't have a complete victory & was in quite a weakened state spiritually, so I went to the States for 14 days.
       I still had a desire to serve Jesus, but because of my bitterness I had become blind to the fact that it was obvious that the Lord wanted me to stay in the Family. It didn't take very long there in the States, just two days in fact, to become very sick of it. It was a very dry & desolate place spiritually. Not to say that just being in the States was dry & desolate spiritually, but I should say that being out of the Lord's Will or being out of the charmed circle of His protection, where He wants you & doing what He wants you doing, is a very dry place.
       No matter what they tried to do to please my flesh & make my stay as pleasant as they were able to, it only took a couple of days before I was quite sick of the nothingness & shallowness & husks of being with my System relatives.
       So the second or third night there, when desperately crying out to the Lord for His help & for His strength, He led me to Matthew 13:45-46, where it says, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls, who when he has found one pearl of a great price, went & sold all that he had & bought it." When I read this I just broke down in tears.

       The Lord really used this to break my heart & crush me & remind me of all that He had delivered me out of 19 years earlier. The Kingdom of Heaven & this pearl of great price, which I had forsaken all to buy, was my service in the Lord's precious Family. And although I still didn't understand all the things that had happened to me, & although I didn't get an instant victory over my bitterness & resentfulness & lack of faith & trust in some Family leadership, at least the Lord did help me return to the fold where I belonged. TTL!
       Then after that, the Lord finally got through to me, at which time I was able to finally forsake & give up to the Lord the "last lump of the past" that was stuck in my throat. I really felt set free by just giving everything up & putting my life completely in the Lord's hands again. However, months & years of bitterness & carnal-mindedness isn't something that can be completely erased overnight, as was brought out very well in the Letter, "The Last State", about Mene. In my case, my bitterness & sensitivity & overreacting to things & listening to the Enemy have become quite predominant NWOs in my life, which I need to constantly be aware of & on the attack about.
       I still have a very long way to go. I still get sensitive about correction sometimes & don't always readily accept things from the Lord like I should & need to, & it is still a major NWO for me. But at least I have gotten to the point where, when I am going through it, I can look at things & say, "What is wrong with me?", rather than look at it from the standpoint of "What is wrong with others?" or "What is wrong with the situation, or the circumstances?", which is the way I had been looking at things for so long.
       I want to testify to the very serious dangers of bitterness & resentfulness that can very, very easily take you out of the Family. Even within the Family, these attitudes rob you of the joy of the Lord & the joy of your Salvation. They take you out of unity with others so that you become a Systemite or a backslider within the Family, which is what happened with me, sad to say.
       Mainly I want to share this with others who might be toying with bitterness & resentfulness, just to let you know that it is a very evil weed & a real trick & lie of the Enemy. It only makes you very unhappy & discontented & believing the lies of the Enemy, & it is a dead-end street, which I can tell you from experience isn't worth going down at all. So the best thing to do when attacked with any resentfulness or bitterness or doubts or whatever, is to really admit it & ask for prayer, rather than let it seep into your life & poison you & stunt your growth & render you useless to the Lord's Work as it did me.
       I want to thank anyone in the Family who has been praying for me over the past months as I know some people have. I know that it has only been the love & prayers of the Family that have brought me through when I was almost beyond help. I would also like to apologise to the Family in Europe, any of those who were affected by my self-righteousness or hardness the last time I was visiting there. I want to apologise to anyone I have offended or hurt because of my unloving ways. God bless & keep you! I love you very much!
       Love, Mark

Copyright 1996 The Family