Home Children of God Publications A Letter of Love, Encouragement and Instruction for Josh--From Maria

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"By mercy & Truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil." (Pro.16:6)

Dear Josh,7/89
1. GBY! I love you! After receiving a number of letters from you--outlining your fellowship with the local Family in Hawaii, & your desire to do something for the Lord again--I wanted to write you & let you know that we love you very much & have been thinking of you & praying for you. PTL!

2. Dad & I have oftentimes reflected back on what a big part you played in the Early Days to help get the Family started, & the wonderful memories of bygone days. PTL! We've thought of you often, prayed for you & never gave up hope that the Lord would continue to work in your life & bring you back to Him. PTL! Sometimes it takes hitting the very bottom to realise that the way of the transgressor is hard, & heavy!--But if we just reach up to & yield to Jesus, we find His yoke is easy & His burden is light. PTL! Josh, it's been wonderful to hear from you!

3. We've been following your progress with great interest during these past months that you've been writing us & different ones in the Family, along with reports from Philip & Crystal there in Hawaii who extended the fellowship of their Home to you. Sometime back we asked a member of our pubs team to write you on our behalf & to request that you write more of the background of all the Lord has put you through to cause you to make the decision to return to His service, which we were personally quite interested in. (We believe there has since been another letter written to you that we trust you will receive around the same time as this.)

4. Josh, while you have already written volumes of material, our request via the pubs team was for an article written from a different angle, namely the details of your backslidden period & the actual experiences you went through, & how the Lord dealt with you, in order to bring you back to Him. Although you have written in general on the sins that caused you to backslide, such as your pride & self-righteousness etc., we had been hoping for more specific details of how off track you'd gotten. In other words, when you hit bottom, what exactly did you go through? (Now written--see TSM#3)

5. We feel it would be much more powerful if you provided the facts of what your backsliding involved, especially if we were to pub some of these things for the Family. Our teens have heard lots of generalities from former backsliders of how good it is to be back, & to be out of the System enjoying the benefits of the Family once again etc.--But unless they also hear the details of all that the System involves, & the terrible experiences a backslider goes through, they may be somewhat insulated from the full impact that a testimony like yours could offer them.

6. As a former backslider, you have gone through not only traumatic experiences, but you have also been put in the position of a babe again, because the Lord is wanting you to develop entirely new thought patterns, habits & attitudes. Returning to the Lord & His ways is not an instantaneous transformation. Even though the Lord breaks us, we still retain a lot of our old thought patterns & habits & ways of thinking & doing things, & as you've admitted, you have had problems with pride & self-righteousness all your life, & therefore your actions & behaviour are consequently shaped by the thought patterns & attitudes you've developed.

7. I was so happy to see in one of your latest letters that you realised & yielded to the fact that you are, again, a babe. As you wrote, "After failing the Lord, the Folks & the Family there's a price you must pay...After all, who am I? What about all those who have stayed faithful through thick & thin? Backsliding doesn't pay, you miss out & lose lots of ground." I was glad to see that you signed your letter, "Josh, an on-fire babe for Jesus!", rather than making any references to "General Josh" or "Big Josh," as you had in previous letters.

8. For the Lord to get you in the position He wants you to be in--totally broken, humble & thinking nothing of yourself--He has to strip you of all merit not only in your own eyes but also in the eyes of others. Therefore I was growing concerned when I saw the great fanfare that was being given you, once you began fellowshipping with the Hawaii Home & writing different old friends in the Family, & they in turn began sending you lengthy newsy letters & music Tapes & generally filling you in on all the latest. On the one hand, we were thankful they communicated with you as we felt the encouragement would help you through your initial battles of rejoining. On the other hand, we were concerned that people shouldn't make too big a deal about your returning to the Lord's service.--As we felt that this could serve to have a less than positive influence on you, in actually promoting your tendencies toward pride, one of the major things that caused your troubles in the first place.

9. In other words, we were concerned that you didn't feel obligated to promote the image you once had of "Big Josh" or "General Josh," but could just concentrate on getting back to the basics. In fact, we cautioned Singin' Sam about this very thing just recently, as we knew he had been writing you extensively, & since it's a good lesson for all, we are considering pubbing this in the GN. (See GN 393)

10. Now Josh, please understand that we have no doubt whatsoever about your sincerity. It's just that knowing all the Lord's done to take you to the bottom in order to get through to you, we don't want the Enemy to get in again & appeal to your long-standing weaknesses, & specifically to tempt you with some sort of "writing ministry," or allowing some of this attention to go to your head, or you even getting proud of being a dandy bad example or a "super prodigal" or something. I recall back in the Royal Family Letters Dad had to chide you for your pride & desire for recognition & adulation by your followers when you were sending out some of your writings & also had quite a fan mail type of mail ministry going. When hearing of the letters you've been writing different ones, I will admit we were concerned for your spiritual growth.

11. When someone has had a life-long problem with spiritual pride & self-righteousness, it's often difficult for them to learn lessons, as these problems often insulate that person from receiving correction or guidance from co-workers & even from the Lord. Because these have been your besetting sins, & because of your being away for a number of years, undoubtedly there are a number of major lessons that you still need to learn. During these years that you've been out of the Family, Josh, most of our leaders & Family worldwide have gone through many tests & trials & have learned many lessons, which you may now likewise have to learn. It seems that perhaps you understand this, as you acknowledged that you are just a babe in this respect, & far behind many others.

12. That's not to say we don't love you just as much as those who've learned these lessons. To the contrary, we love you enough for me to write you this personal letter, even at the risk of offending you. Though I know it may be difficult to take, I felt it is necessary to try to point out some of these things to you for your own spiritual progress & growth. Since you have just rejoined it seems like now is the best time to cover some of these points so you can be aware of them & can work on them right from the start.

13. We're very thankful that you want to get on board for the Lord again & that you have been witnessing, getting restrengthened in the Word & caught up on different aspects of the Family that you've missed. While you've made wonderful progress in many areas, as evidenced by your letters, there seem to still be a few important basic points that we know you will want to work on.--And considering all the Lord's done in your life, we'd be very sad if you end up missing some of the main reasons for it all. That's why I'm pointing out these things in this letter, Josh.

14. With all of the publications & administrational duties Dad & I have--not to speak of the problems I've been having with my eyes--we haven't been able to read every page of the huge volume of material you've sent our way, although we've asked others to read & summarise it for us in order to see how to best help you. We're concerned about the amount of time you spend writing all this when it may be taking away from your time for reading the Word or witnessing etc. Your spending all this time writing all this material of course doesn't really bother us, but we don't want it to adversely affect you, & since you have asked for help & direction we feel we owe it to you to point things out to you.

15. If you stop & think about it for a moment, Josh, actually it might be considered a little presumptuous of you to send us so many pages of handwritten letters & expect us to read them.--Not to speak of your statement that you're "writing a series" for our teens, implying that you were expecting us to publish all of this for the Family! For you to expect that we'd be able to read all this material, let alone stop all we're doing to personally give you specific orders or counsel, indicates that you may still be rather prone to think quite highly of yourself.

16. Again, we love you very much, Josh, & for years Dad considered you part of his immediate family, as he did Caleb & Lydia & others whom he took into his home. However, taking Caleb & Lydia as examples, neither they nor even Ho & Faithy write volumes of personal letters to Dad & myself. In fact, Dad even chided them when they wrote over one page, & has always encouraged us to counsel with our local leadership & hear from the Lord ourself, rather than referring personal matters to him. In the case of even his own personal family, although they of course know that we love them dearly, they manifest it in their consideration of our time, knowing that we have important things to do in leading the whole Family & that we can seldom offer personalised counsel.

17. Josh, I'm quite sure you didn't consciously intend to be presumptuous. You were presumably just trying to express your love & thankfulness to us for being back in fellowship with the Lord & us, & of course you had to communicate in some form to do so. I know that, but I also know many times we don't personally realise our inner motives until they are pointed out to us by someone close to us.

18. For example, I mentioned earlier I've been having problems with my eyes, to the point the Lord told me I'm not even to read Family reports any more, but need to take that time in communion with the Lord. So, what did I do?! I was just at the point of requesting that all our leaders send in their reports on tape, so I could listen to them so I wouldn't have to read them.--Until Peter sweetly suggested that maybe I should reconsider, as he didn't want the Lord to have to make me deaf, as well as blind! So you see, all of us can get off the track easily & quickly unless we have someone who is loving & honest enough to point out our errors to us.

19. I realise that all this, besides probably being a blow to your ego & pride, Josh, may also seem somewhat contradictory. On the one hand we're asking you to write up details of what the Lord put you through, but on the other hand are chiding you for writing so much! The key seems to be if you can write an honest, specific confession, which would serve to really spell out to our teens & others the reality & seriousness of listening to the Enemy's lies & falling prey to his devices.

20. In the years you were away, the Family has grown to be much more open, honest & communicative about their problems, knowing that if they reveal the true nature of the problem they can get the proper help. We've also found that honest, detailed confessions put the cookies on a shelf low enough so that others can relate to them & learn from them.

21. However, the type of confessions you are probably used to are those like Faithy's confessions published years ago, which were a big step in the right direction, but never really came out stating exactly what her specific behaviour & battles were. In other words, even though Faithy may have said, "Oh, I was jealous & bitter," she didn't use enough concrete examples to illustrate the point.

22. Her past "general confessions"--although a big step forward at the time--are from an era gone-by. Thank the Lord, as a result of further breakings & remakings, Faithy & others have since written much more honest, straightforward, & down-to-earth confessions that we feel have an even greater effect on the Family when these are pubbed, as well as allowing the Lord to bring about the desired changes in their personal lives.

23. Josh, we feel that specifically confessing these things will be good for you & perhaps even be a help to others. That's why we'd asked our pubs people to write you & ask you to account in detail all you've been through. We were actually quite surprised when your response was that you'd try & write up these things "if the Lord brings these things back, & if it's the Lord's Will." Well, just the fact that we asked you to do it, should have been a pretty good indicator that it was the Lord's Will, & thus we had hoped that you would just go ahead with this simple step of obedience, which we felt the Lord would really bless.

24. To date, we still haven't received this specific assignment back from you, & instead you responded that you were "starting on a series." Naturally, we were concerned, especially as in the past you've had problems with not doing what you were asked to do, choosing rather to follow your own ideas. As you know, this was Saul's problem.--Samuel instructed him to do one thing, but instead he did his own thing. Another example is Cain; God's plan was to sacrifice a lamb, but Cain wanted to do it his own way. This has been a longstanding problem of yours, Josh, your pride & self-righteousness & thinking your way is best. Rather than letting you start out on the wrong foot, I want to point this out to you now so you can build on a new solid foundation instead of trying to rebuild on your old one.

25. Josh, I don't know what's going on in your mind & heart at the moment you read this letter, but let me ask you a question: If you had a chance to just wave a magic wand, would your wish be that you could again be a top leader involved with administration, personnel & all sorts of new projects? Well, if so, you're on the wrong track & you've really got the cart before the horse. What you really need & what the Lord has been trying to get through to you, is that you are a babe & you do need to start over & build the proper foundation in order to build a strong structure once again. As long as you are off in spirit, your thought patterns or actions are bound to be misguided.

26. Don't you realise that in allowing you to hit bottom, the Lord is trying to help you get rid of all that?--Like Dad has written about the archeologist, to clear away all the rubble of past ways & habits so you can rebuild again from scratch on a solid, uncluttered foundation. You have many bad habits that you have to face & ask the Lord to help you fight against, as the right reactions won't just come automatically. You need to learn to take the humble seat, Josh, & listen to the Lord & others, & in due time if the Lord wills & wants you to get involved in higher matters, He'll certainly show us. You need to sign a blank sheet of paper instead of presumptuously drawing up your own program for the Lord & Family to rubber stamp.

27. Josh, even though you are on the one hand technically a "babe," in that you have a lot to learn &/or get caught up on in the Family, on the other hand a lot has already been invested in you, which the Lord doesn't want to see go to waste. When Dad initially heard that you were employed in a large shelter for the homeless there, his impression was that the Lord had given you a "ready-made work" that you are the "leader" of!--What an opportunity to minister to, shepherd & train the folks right there! Instead of rejoining a Home as a babe & being out on the streets Postering every day, in many ways you could do more at the shelter where by comparison you're a giant in spirit! In other words, even a babe in our Family is miles ahead of those who have never known the Lord & His Word at all.

28. Even though you are once again a babe, & have had to forfeit many of your privileges & have had to lose many opportunities, nevertheless, all that was invested in you years ago has not been totally wasted & can still be used for the Lord in His Work. That's the reason why we expressed the vision for you witnessing & working right where you are at the shelter, during which time you can continue to fellowship with the Family there in Hawaii.

29. In the meantime, take a definite stand against & fight the Enemy's attempts to entertain your mind with delusions of grandeur, or to make you feel that your progress is determined by a certain leadership role or ministry or even location. Just do what you can right where you are, & most of all, be thankful for this opportunity to get back to the basics & to really build the proper, strong foundation.

30. Besides this we encourage you to desperately ask the Lord to help you stay close to Him, & renew your mind & transform you through His Word, yieldedness & obedience into the new creature He obviously wants you to be. Please, stay close to Him & His Word & your local leadership. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Pro.4:23)

31. We know it must be hard for you as a babe not to be able to read all the DO pubs with all the latest the Family is doing, but we trust Philip & Crystal have encouraged you to read the Basic Course, which includes a lot of new material you will thrill to read! Not having access to all the GNs is a part of "the price you must pay" for your backsliding, & is a test that the Lord requires. After you're back in fulltime fellowship six months though, you are then eligible to borrow DO material from the Home's Library to read in the Home. TTL! So you've got lots to look forward to!

32. Josh, Dad & I still love you very much & do really pray that you feel that love in this letter, despite many of these things I've said being hard sayings. (John 6:60; Heb.12:5-13) We are concerned about you & do want to be faithful to counsel & shepherd you, especially when we had these checks about your attitude. We love you dearly & will be praying for you & your fruitfulness there. God bless & keep you & may the Lord, again, make you a real blessing to many. PTL!

Love, Maria

33. P.S. When we first heard that you had come back to the Family, Dad said the following:

34. "It really encourages me & it inspires me to know that Josh is encouraged, because I love him & am concerned about him. He knows if I still love him, the Lord must still love him. I'm sure that's encouraging. I'm sure the Word is following him. We'll have to tell him to read "Hound of Heaven," that famous poem about the Spirit of God following a guy & won't give up the chase. It's a beautiful poem. My Mother used to read it.

35. "I just couldn't see how Josh could forever be lost to the Lord's Work. I knew he wasn't lost as far as being saved was concerned. My, how far he did stray, all the way clear to the swine pit so he would fill his belly with the husks that the swine did eat. Husks, husks, husks!

36. "I think Josh led quite a few people astray when he was still with us. It's just like Jesus said, `You're either for Me or against Me.' (Mat.12:30) If he wasn't wholeheartedly for us, he was against us, so the Lord had to take him down to the bottom, to the Pit, apparently to show him how unrighteous he was.--And how wrong he was about FFing & about me & about some other things, too.

37. "FFing really divided the men from the boys & the women from the girls. I think that's one reason the Lord let us FF, to actually purge the Family of the self-righteous & the churchy etc. That was the last straw. (Maria: Yes, because that's yielding your most important possession, either your loved one or yourself to the Lord, that's the ultimate yielding!) The yielding of pride most of all! He was a proud man! My, how the Lord had to humble him, humble him so low. Look how low the Lord had to bring him to finally convince him he was wrong.

38. "Hallelujah! TYJ! Hallelujah! Bless & help him, Lord. Help him, Jesus, just to know You'll take him as he is, Lord. To just take You, Jesus, & just trust You alone, not himself any more.

39. "Hallelujah! TYJ! PYL! (Dad speaks in tongues:) `Satan hath asked that he might sift thee, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail thee not in thy Father David.' TYJ! `For when thou art tried thou shalt come through as gold.'"

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family