(Note: Charter references and quotes are from the new updated Charter that you will be receiving within a few months, and may differ from the present Charter.)
1. God bless you! Mama and I love you so very much! We're so proud of you as you serve our wonderful Husband, Jesus, so faithfully. We're proud of you because you've "shtuck" and you continue to serve the Lord, giving your all to Him, witnessing and winning souls, distributing our lit, and spreading the wonderful message of God's love to the world. And we're doing it now more than we ever have! He's working wonderfully through you! As you continue to serve Him faithfully in greater yieldedness, He is able to use you much more for the glory of His Kingdom. Praise the Lord!
2. It's been a little over three years since the implementation of the Charter, and as Mama and I have said in past Letters when reviewing the Family's progress, we have grown by leaps and bounds in virtually every way. This growth is continuing! We're continuing to get out more Word, witness more, win more souls, reach more people, and open new Homes in new countries as we move forward. The combined CM/FM Family is now larger than at any time in our history. We've opened 540 Homes since the inception of the Charter, and over the last 12 months we've won an average of 110,000 souls a month! That's almost double our monthly average for the last 30 years of 60,000 souls a month. We are exploding throughout the world!
3. The hard-hitting GNs that have come out over these past months have been a challenge to the Family. And from the reactions we've received, many of you are taking up that challenge! You're seeing the seriousness of overcoming these devices of the Devil and making commitments to follow more closely--and consequently you're progressing in spirit and gaining victory after victory!
4. The Lord is expecting a great deal from all of us, because "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:48). We are given an abundance of His love, His truth, and His Word! We must be the most well-fed Christians on Earth, and still the Lord continues to pour His Word bountifully upon us--both through the WS publications as well as the Words you are personally receiving straight from our Husband and Lover. We certainly are the most blessed people on Earth! So with all that He gives us, He can certainly require that we work to achieve the spiritual goals He has set before us.
5. In order to reach these goals, there are many areas we need to progress in, and problems we all must overcome together. But as each of you seek the Lord's help in overcoming these problems and work toward reaching these goals by taking your burdens to Him in prayer and hearing His voice, we know that we can overcome these obstacles we face--individually, and as a Family.
Charter Reviewed at Summit '98
6. As reported in a recent Grapevine, Summit '98 was held in March and April. A great deal has transpired throughout the Family during the two years since the last summit in March '96. At the time of Summit '96, we were still feeling the aftershocks of the Charter, as you and your Homes were learning to step out according to your faith as per the Charter, getting used to your responsibilities and rights, etc. So after three years of governance under our Love Charter, we felt we should use part of the time at this summit to review its effects and look at its strengths and weaknesses. We wanted to analyze whether it was working the way we envisioned when we first implemented it, and discuss what problems--some new, others old--have arisen since the Charter went into effect.
7. In light of some of the serious problems we face in the Family, many of which have been mentioned and expounded on in GNs over the last year or two, a great deal of prayer, discussion, debate and hearing from the Lord took place while reviewing the Charter with your CROs. Some of the main topics discussed and prayed about were (note that not all of these were necessarily "problems" but rather suggested changes of Charter policy):
1) A lack of applying spiritual principles in the Word.
2) A loose application of the Charter by some Homes and members, which has hurt others and caused disunity.
3) Young people's (and some adults') negative attitudes toward sex, sharing and the Law of Love.
4) How to help our young people who choose to leave the CM Family.
5) The need for Family members to be more faithful in fulfilling their obligations, legal and otherwise, to other Family members.
6) Our Family members not getting the Word time they need.
7) Lack of discipline of children in some Homes and the parents' obligation to discipline their children.
8) Financial disputes in or between Homes over matters such as the tool fund, dividing of assets when a member leaves the Home, new disciples' assets, etc.
9) Alcohol limits.
10) Too much drinking at parties and other "special occasions."
11) A lack of the fear of the Lord concerning breaking excommunicable rules such as sex with outsiders.
12) Penalties for partial excommunication.
13) The need to help more young people in Western countries get to the mission field.
14) The difficulties pioneer Homes face in recruiting new members in order to meet the minimum Home-size requirement, and what to do about undersized Homes.
15) Strengthening the city councils.
16) More help needed for our single moms.
17) Better training needed for our new disciples.
18) How to strengthen our VS program so Homes can get more help and visitation.
8. These discussion points, problems, and areas needing improvement were thoroughly discussed and prayed about in committees of eight to ten CROs. These committees then brought their findings, suggestions, and prophecies before the rest of the CROs for further discussion, debate, prayer, prophecy, and finally a vote. As there are quite a variety of CROs--FGAs and SGAs of various nationalities, men and women, single and married, liberal and conservative, all coming from diverse fields--there were, of course, differing points of view presented on how to solve or overcome each of these problems. The differing opinions expressed by the CROs were extremely helpful, as it caused the discussions to be well rounded, with many points of view being represented.
9. One of the things that impressed me the most was that throughout these discussions the CROs continually shied away from and voted against having more authority placed in their hands as a method of solving the problems in their areas and in the Family at large. They did not want the power to become involved in people's personal choices, in the running of Homes, or in making local decisions.
10. Seeking such authority would seem natural, because they are the ones faced with trying to solve the problems of their fields and trying to help people overcome these problems. Having more authority to crack down on troublemakers would make their job as leaders easier. But they were not interested in making their jobs easier at the expense of taking away Family members' freedoms that have been granted by the Charter.
11. They all felt that the governing of the Homes should be left up to the Home's voting members and their faith and ability to hear from the Lord and make their own decisions, within the framework and general guidelines already established in the Charter. The CROs have all committed themselves to govern under the already existing boundaries and standards set down in the Charter. Seeing this made Mama and me proud of our CRO leadership.
12. We know they're not perfect; they make mistakes and blow it at times, and they have their own personal problems to contend with. We do know, though, that they love the Lord deeply, and that they give their lives to try to help you. They may not always do everything right, but they try to do the best they can in a very difficult job.
13. Please pray for them, as it's very difficult to bear the burdens of the Family in their areas--to help solve the problems and try to sort out the differences between individuals and Homes, while at the same time keeping up the infrastructure of their area, getting out the pubs and tools, processing the TRFs, answering your questions, overseeing local language productions, media teams, service centers, and much more! God bless them!
14. Summit meetings are a time when the CROs can set down their burdens and responsibilities and partake of spiritual feeding and shepherding at the Lord's hand by the messages that He has given for the occasion. One of the main messages the Lord kept repeating over and over to the CROs--which also applies to our VSs--was the need for them to take more time in the Word, prayer and communion with Him, asking Him questions and receiving His specific answers in prophecy, so they would be more attuned to Him and able to make wiser, more Spirit-led decisions.
15. As the Lord made clear in "The Spiritual Health Revolution" (ML #3184, GN 789), which was compiled in large part from prophecies originally given for the summit, He is expecting the whole Family to have a spiritual health revolution, but He is requiring it even more so of your officers, the CROs and VSs. Their decisions affect many lives, and sometimes their entire areas, so they need to be finely tuned to the Lord's Spirit. The Lord clearly stated that taking extra time with Him each day was part of their job--a part that is just as important as managing all the details and trying to work on solving the problems. He stressed that if they will take more time with Him, He will help them to do their job in an even more effective and efficient manner.
16. So if you happen to be around your CROs or VSs and notice that they spend more time in the Word and prayer than you think is needed, please don't be critical of them. Instead, thank God that they're doing what the Lord commissioned them to do--to hear from Him, so that they can be a greater blessing to you.
CROs' and VSs' Responsibility to Apply the Discipline Outlined in the Charter
17. One of the main solutions the Lord gave for solving many of the problems the Family faces is for the CROs to be more forthright in expecting the Charter Member Family to abide by the Charter. Over the past three years, many of the CROs have been hesitant at times to point out to Charter Members when they're not living up to their Charter responsibilities. In their desire not to infringe on the rights of individuals, they have at times allowed members to move well beyond their rights to the hurt of others or the work. They've sometimes been reluctant to use the authority given to them in the Charter to discipline the wayward, especially in cases when it was not black and white, as opposed to an excommunicable offense that is very clearly spelled out in the Charter.
18. As the Bible says, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecc.8:11). Since there was infrequent and inconsistent discipline given to those who were failing to uphold the Charter standard, it began to fall, and this has weakened the overall Family.
19. Part of the problem is that since the Charter has been in place, many people have put a great deal of emphasis on the rights of the individual members and the Homes, and much less emphasis on their responsibilities. The Family very eagerly claimed their rights, but in many cases the freedom to exercise individual rights has been carried to the extreme. Many felt that there should be no shepherding whatsoever, and were offended whenever someone tried to point out that they were out of line. Many young people saw the Charter as an opportunity to throw off all parental or shepherding authority over them, and have insisted that they have the right to do what they want, when they want, and how they want. They have the attitude that the Charter allows them to live life as they please, with blatant disregard for the Word, our beliefs and the Charter, losing all fear of the Lord.
20. One of the goals of the Charter was to allow people to "float their faith." Some people's faith really took off! They were able to move on and do things that they had never done before--pioneer new Homes, new cities, new countries, try new methods of reaching the lost, and on and on the list of feats and accomplishments go! Others' faith and standard of discipleship seemed to sink--some to the very depths, even bordering on being unchristian!
21. Some chose to do very little for the Lord, choosing rather to spend a great deal of time watching TV, videos, drinking, swearing, and generally acting like and absorbing a great deal of the world. Fortunately, that has been a minority; but unfortunately, that minority seems to be quite vocal about their non-Familylike attitudes, which causes problems for others. They tend to aggressively promote their low level of service to others, often causing others, especially our younger folks, to doubt their place in the Family, and in some cases have been instrumental in leading others right out of the Family. It is this minority, having gone on undisciplined, that has wreaked havoc in many Homes throughout the Family.
22. We have received many letters from concerned Family members asking why WS didn't crack down on these troublemakers. The main reason that troublemakers have sometimes gone unchecked is because the Homes, VSs and CROs have not sufficiently used their authority under the Charter to discipline them. The primary responsibility to deal with such problems lies with the Home, as they have the authority to discipline their members. However, it seems that there is a reluctance to do so at the Home level. The VSs and CROs also have the authority to discipline such cases, but they don't get around to visiting as much as they would like to, and even when they do, they have been reluctant to discipline, as mentioned above.
23. As I said earlier, the CROs don't want more authority; they don't want to create more rules; they don't want to have more power under the Charter to tell people how they should run their Homes and what they should and shouldn't do. What the CROs do want is to do what the Lord has shown--to simply enforce the Charter and to judge infractions based on what is stated in the Charter.
24. At the summit, the CROs more fully realized that they and the VSs have a responsibility to make sure that the Charter Member Family lives up to their name--Charter Members, followers of the Charter. Those who don't live up to the Charter and who don't take the Charter responsibilities seriously need to be disciplined or reclassified according to the Charter.
25. Some Family members have been like a child left to himself, which has brought his mother to shame (Pro.29:15). The time has come for this to change. Now, we don't want everyone shaking in their boots, thinking that the CROs and VSs are now going to impose draconian measures and become dictatorial leaders. Mama and I don't want that, you don't want that, the CROs don't want that, and no new rules are being introduced that would allow it. But they do need to do their job according to the mandates already given them in the Charter. I'll include those particular portions of the Charter so you can see what I mean:
26. To start with, all Family officers, which includes Home teamworkers, VSs and CROs, are obligated to "encourage individuals and Homes to live in accordance with the 'Charter of Responsibilities and Rights' and the 'Fundamental Family Rules,' and to impose appropriate and proper disciplinary action if they do not" (Obligations of All Family Officers, C).
As stated in the Responsibilities and Authority of Area Officers, point I., VSs (and CROs when they are visiting Homes) are responsible to: "Determine, through visitation, observation and investigation, as well as discussion with Home members, whether a Home and/or individuals within the Home are fulfilling the Responsibilities of Individual Members and/or the Responsibilities of the Charter Home.
"1. Upon discovery of an individual who is not fulfilling the Responsibilities of Individual Members, area officers must begin Procedures for Moving a Charter Member to Fellow Member Status.
"2. Upon discovery of a Home which is not fulfilling the Responsibilities of the Charter Home, area officers must begin the Procedures for Placing a Home on Probationary Notice."
CROs are authorized to "judge all matters concerning excommunication and partial excommunication" (Authority of Continental Officers, R).
27. It's very important for everyone to understand that the CROs and VSs have the obligation to discipline members and Homes that are not fulfilling the Responsibilities of Individual Members or the Responsibilities of the Charter Home. It's not an option for the CROs and VSs, it's their duty. They do not have the right to overlook Charter infractions, and if they do, they are themselves violating the Charter. They are commissioned by the Lord through the Charter to make sure that Homes and members are fulfilling the responsibilities of the Charter, and if not, to discipline them according to the Charter.
28. This isn't just for the sake of policing the Homes, but for the Homes' own good. Many, if not most, of the problems that have resulted in or between Homes in the last couple of years came about as a result of Homes or individuals not following the Charter, and as a result, hurting themselves or others.
29. Some of the CROs have been hesitant to discipline those who violate the Charter. However, after hearing from the Lord and taking the time to reread their responsibilities as Family leaders, it became clear to all that the Lord expects the CROs and VSs to judge situations according to the Charter, and when necessary mete out the appropriate discipline. The CROs now understand more clearly the need for them to enact a more definite governing and discipline--lovingly, of course--under the Charter.
30. It's important to remember that the Charter was not created to foster anarchy. It wasn't designed to allow Charter Members to do whatever they wanted without any discipline for their actions if they contravened the Charter. Of course, there are restrictions on the authority of leadership, and we have put that in place to keep our leadership from exercising too much authority over Homes and individuals, as some have in the past. When we originally drafted the Charter, we also tried to make the boundaries it sets for individuals and Homes as broad as possible; there is very little outside control, and lots of room for each person to operate according to their own faith. However, when Homes or individuals step outside those boundaries, then it is the VSs' and the CROs' responsibility to apply the discipline outlined in the Charter for breaking the rules or not living up to the responsibilities.
31. The CROs were thankful the Lord clarified and confirmed this, as it re-establishes the standard for them to do their job lovingly but justly. If they apply the mandates of the Charter, then they'll know they are dealing fairly and equally with everyone.
32. The individual's and Home's responsibilities, as well as the "Fundamental Family Rules," are clearly defined in the Charter. And if someone is violating them, then it's clearly laid out that the leadership's responsibility is to correct or discipline accordingly. If a person or Home is not violating the Charter, then leadership knows they don't have the authority to get involved other than to offer helpful counsel, or to intervene and assist when requested by the Home.
33. In society at large, there are certain rules and laws which govern each country. As long as people follow those rules, the authorities leave them alone. But when someone becomes a lawbreaker, then the police have to step in. In a sense, the VSs (and the CROs, when they are visiting Homes) are like the police. They keep an eye out for those who are stepping beyond the boundaries of the law and consequently hurting others. When someone violates the Charter, our officers are therefore required to discipline according to the Charter in order to protect the rights of others and the fruitfulness of the Home or the work.
CROs' Role as Judges
34. One of the CROs' responsibilities is to act as judges. When there is a serious infraction of the Charter, such as an excommunicable offense, or there is someone who is constantly violating the Charter and their Charter Member status comes into question, the CROs are responsible to judge the situation and determine the discipline. When Dad read the Charter, he saw the role that the CROs would play, and in the foreword to the Charter he said, "The over-shepherds need to act as judges, helping to judge situations as they arise."
35. System judges are responsible to decide the severity and length of the sentences they give to criminals. They base their decisions on the severity of the crime, whether the accused is a repeat offender or it's the first offense, and other facts and circumstances. In some cases they give stiff sentences; in other cases they give lighter sentences, often for the same crime, depending on the above conditions.
36. The CROs are often faced with deciding the length of excommunication, and whether it should be partial or full. In some situations they may feel led, after prayer and hearing from the Lord and weighing up the factors, to give someone a more lenient period of excommunication. Whereas in another case the Lord may lead them to mete out a more severe sentence, sometimes even for the same "crime."
37. In either case the Charter is upheld, as those committing excommunicable acts are excommunicated. Some might be given partial excommunication for three or six months, either in or out of a Home, due to mitigating circumstances [conditions which would work to make the sentence less severe]; while others might be fully excommunicated from the Family, depending on their past behavior and the facts surrounding their present case.
38. There have been times when Family members have felt that the CROs were being unfair or partial, because in one case they gave someone a "light" sentence, and in another case they gave someone else a "heavy" sentence for virtually the same "crime." Perhaps one of your friends was given a certain sentence, whereas you heard that in another CRO area, someone else who did the same thing was given a heavier or lighter sentence. What you must understand is that these decisions are made together by the full CRO teamwork, after counsel and prayer and hearing from the Lord in prophecy. They take into account the circumstances in which the infraction was committed, as well as the history of the person who has violated the Charter.
39. Sometimes, if the offense is less severe, if it's the guilty person's "first offense" and they are very repentant, the CROs, after prayer and hearing from the Lord in prophecy about the matter, may feel led to give them only partial excommunication. On the other hand, if the offender has a long history of infractions or has shown little regard for the "Fundamental Family Rules," the Lord might show the CROs that it's necessary to give this person a longer period of excommunication. They may even require such offenders to serve this period out of the Home so they can see the seriousness of their behavior and get desperate with the Lord about their future service for Him in the Family. These are the decisions that the CROs are empowered to make.
40. Often the ones who accuse the CROs of being unfair are those who are being punished. For example, they may have been partially excommunicated for six months, but complain that "so-and-so did the same thing and only got three months." Everyone needs to realize that if someone commits an excommunicable offense, the Charter demands they be excommunicated. If you commit such an offense, then the CROs discuss the seriousness of the rule you've broken and pray and seek the Lord. They take into account the facts and mitigating circumstances surrounding the case, and then bring it before the Lord to determine what kind of discipline is required, from partial to full excommunication.
41. They're not trying to be "equal"--they're trying to be led by the Lord as to what sentence is just and fair and fits the "crime," and what will best deter the guilty party from committing the offense again, or what will protect others from this person's bad behavior.
42. If you commit an excommunicable offense, you need to realize that you can be fully excommunicated and lose your place in the Family either permanently or for an extended period of time. If you are given a lesser degree of excommunication, you should be thankful rather than complain. If you don't want to have to go through some form of excommunication, then don't violate one of the rules that require the CROs to excommunicate you.
New Rule Regarding Partial Excommunication
43. Speaking of excommunication, there was a great deal of prayer and discussion on the subject of partial excommunication. Presently when someone is partially excommunicated, they're not eligible to read the CM literature, including the new GNs, unless they get special approval from their teamwork. But the point was brought up that those who are partially excommunicated actually need more Word rather than less. It was also pointed out that losing the privilege of reading CM lit isn't much of a deterrent, especially to some young people, when faced with a decision whether to have sex with an outsider. Some have even been heard to say that "he (or she) is worth three months."
44. It was therefore decided that there should be a change regarding partial excommunication. From now on, those who are partially excommunicated will still be able to read CM lit, including the new GNs. However, they will not to be allowed to drink any alcoholic beverage or watch any videos, movies or TV, with the exception of the news, or in the case of senior teens, any documentaries that they are assigned to watch as part of their schooling. So this means that if you are partially excommunicated, you will no longer be able to drink alcohol or watch TV, videos or movies for the full period of your partial excommunication, which generally ranges from three to six months.
45. This new rule goes into effect immediately with the publishing of this GN, and also applies to all those presently on partial excommunication. It will be included as a new amendment in the revised Charter, which will be printed and sent to you later this year, God willing. The other privileges currently forfeited under the Charter for partially excommunicated members would still stand. This means that you would not be a voting member of the Home, you would lose your right of mobility, and you must read the Reading List for Partially Excommunicated Members (an updated version of the Babes List--coming in the new Charter). And, if the offense was sex-related, you cannot have sex with anyone except your mate, if mated, during your time of partial excommunication.
Review of Charter Member Responsibilities
46. Since the Lord stressed to the CROs the need to be more diligent in helping the Family fulfill their responsibilities and live in accordance with the Charter and the Family rules, and faithfully discipline them when they aren't, we feel it would be worthwhile to review the responsibilities of Charter Members. When reviewing these responsibilities, it's important to remember that being a Charter Member, like the name implies, means that you have voluntarily chosen to abide by the rules and the responsibilities of the Charter to retain that membership status.
47. No one is forced or coerced to be CM. You're a Charter Member because you have chosen to be, and because you believe it's what the Lord has called you to be. As such, you should be willing to take on the responsibilities of Charter membership. Thankfully the greater majority of the Family have. Of course, nobody's perfect, and everyone at some time makes mistakes and breaks the rules. But for the most part, our CM Family are those of you who are determined to live the way the Lord has called you to according to the Charter standard.
48. However, there's a small minority of people who seem dissatisfied with life as Charter Members. They go to great lengths to circumvent the Charter and to find ways to do things in a non-Charter method in order to suit their own plans or lack of dedication. They take the Charter as license to do what they want, claiming that no one can correct them when they do not uphold their responsibilities of Charter membership. Reviewing the Responsibilities of Individual Members should help to clarify to this minority that they are misapplying the Charter, and should help them change their ways, or help them to choose Fellow Member status.
49. We want to make it clear what is expected of our Charter Members, so people won't be taken aback when the VSs or CROs discipline them for Charter violations. This review should help make it clear to everyone what is expected of you as a Charter Member. With each of these responsibilities I will quote the root clause from the Charter and then comment on it.
Stay Close to the Lord
Responsibilities of Individual Members:
1. CM Family members should:
A. Maintain a close connection with God through personal communion with Jesus, personal and united prayer and praise, personal and united reading of His Word (both the Bible and the Letters), Scripture memorization, and the minimizing and resisting of ungodly and unedifying influences in their lives; thus exhibiting the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are: "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance."
50. Your first responsibility is to stay close to the Lord. This should be paramount in our lives as Christians and Family members. We are Jesus' disciples who have forsaken all to serve Him, and thus we should want and desire to be close to Him by communing with Him through prayer, praise, and His Word. It is our responsibility to have personal, as well as united, prayer time. It is our personal responsibility to read His Word, both individually and as a Home. If you're not praying and reading the Word individually and together with your Home, then you're failing in this responsibility.
51. This clause also mentions Scripture memorization. Scripture memorization was included as a responsibility to ensure that Family members would commit to memory the basic Scriptures published in the Memory Book, and any other Scriptures that they feel would be useful in their witness or personal life. Scripture memorization is not required on an ongoing basis, but each member is expected to have memorized at least the Memory Book Scriptures and to be able to use them in their witness and in their personal lives when fighting the Enemy, claiming verses in prayer, etc.
Minimize and Resist Ungodly and Unedifying Influences
52. The most controversial portion of this clause is the "minimizing and resisting of ungodly and unedifying influences in their lives." This clause has been rather controversial because there is no strict black-and-white definition as to what "ungodly and unedifying" influences are. What one person considers ungodly and unedifying might differ from what someone else considers to be so. This has been a point of contention between Home members, and often between older and younger members.
53. The points of controversy that have been the most contentious have been the watching of violent or unedifying movies, listening to System music, playing violent or unedifying computer games, foul language, excessive and unwise Internet usage, and worldliness in general. The attitude of some has been, "Well, the Charter doesn't specifically say we can't watch super-violent movies, and I really like them. I don't think they're unedifying for me personally; I can handle it." Or, "I really like a steady diet of System music and I don't think it hurts me or affects my spirit or my service for the Lord." Or, "What's considered unedifying, anyway?"
54. Perhaps the way to look at it is in reverse: "Is this movie or music edifying for me? Does it help me in some way without being harmful in some other way? Is there some information or some moral value contained in it that will help me to be a better Christian or a better person? Does the movie or music promote things or attitudes that we as a Family are for, or does it preach against what we believe?"
55. Of course many movies, even a number of those listed in the Grapevine, are just watched for entertainment. But the question you should ask yourself in your viewing or listening is whether it's edifying entertainment or harmful entertainment. In listing movies in the Grapevine, we try to stay away from entertainment which would be considered harmful. Of course, almost all movies have some measure of violence or unedifying language in them, but there is certainly a difference in the degree of negativity a movie contains, as "You Are What You Watch" brings out. If you have a penchant for violent movies and you are watching them a lot, then perhaps you should ask yourself, "How is this type of movie edifying for me? Are movies like this doing anything good for me? Are they making me a better Christian or a better Family member? Do the effects of these movies draw me closer to the Lord?"
56. When asking the Lord about how to decide if something is edifying, Dad spoke and pointed out that you need to go to the Word on the subject to see what the Lord has said. Dad said, "That's the first way to know the will of God--the Word. You could do a little study on both His written Word and my written word on the subject. Open your Bible and see what it has to say on the subject. If it's not there--and you probably won't find much on music or movies there--then check out the Letters and see what Mama and I have to say on it. Use your Cat Book, your HomeARC, your Daily-Dex and other study tools, and 'study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that doesn't need to be ashamed,' because he knows the Word! I dare say if some of you knew the Letters a little better, you wouldn't have to wonder if something is an ungodly influence or not. You may be surprised at what you find--all sorts of treasures you haven't read for years that answer a lot of your questions." (End of message from Dad.)
57. (Peter:) A lot has been written on movie watching and music, so if you have a question about your appetite for certain kinds of movies or music, check out the Word on the subject.
58. Dad also said to ask the Lord about it:
59. (Dad continues:) What do you do if you're not sure whether something is an ungodly influence or not, or may be okay some of the time but you want to minimize its influence and not have it affect you adversely? If you have a question, just ask the Lord. Just get quiet and let Him speak to you. And if you're still not sure, a couple of people could hear from the Lord, so that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word would be established." Then you have to be willing to abide by what He tells you, of course! That's going to be the hard part in some cases, especially if you really want to do something and the Lord says you shouldn't.
60. So follow the seven ways to know the will of the Lord. Go to the Word. Seek His direct voice in prophecy or His written Word. Let it speak to you, and obey what it says. You can also seek confirmations and counsel from your shepherds or others. Remember that burdens are often one of the least effective ways to know God's will in situations like this, so you'd better confirm them with the other ways. (End of message from Dad.)
61. (Peter:) So if you are unsure about whether something is unedifying, go to the Word, go to the Lord, counsel with your shepherds and be open to what the Word, the Lord and your shepherds say. And when it comes to movies, if you stick to the ones that are published in the Grapevine and WS movie lists, as recommended in the Charter (Home Life Rules, K.), you're less likely to get off track. Not every movie rated "watchable" is a "top" movie that's going to be really spiritually feeding--but the list is a safeguard to keep you from the multitude of much worse movies out there that are much less edifying or time-wasters or even harmful! But even some of the movies on the Grapevine movie lists may not be for everyone, so you need to be sure to read the blurbs and decide whether you want to watch it or not--whether it's your type of movie or suitable for you or others in your Home.
62. Another question is in regards to how much or how little is "minimizing" these ungodly influences. We tried to be realistic when writing the Charter, knowing that it's impossible to completely eliminate every ungodly influence in our life, and so we said we should minimize them. This means to cut back on them as much as possible: to usually avoid them.
63. Perhaps you could find a practical definition by using this example: If your shepherd said that you should minimize the amount of times you have to do dishes or some other job or activity that you don't like to do, how often would you do it? Probably not very often--maybe never. Well, that would be your definition of minimize. So if you would minimize something that you don't like to do by cutting back to almost never doing it, then you should apply the same interpretation of minimize when it comes to some ungodly influence and how often you should partake of it.
64. Of course, it's much harder to minimize something that you like or enjoy or have a hankering for. However, our responsibility as Christians is to minimize the influences of the world as much as possible, not as least as possible. The Bible says, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate" (2Cor.6:17). That doesn't sound like just a little bit of minimizing, does it? Please, let's all make an effort to rid our lives of these negative influences and inroads of the Enemy!
65. It is very clear from the Word, both old and new, that some things are unedifying, and a steady diet of them is an ungodly influence. There have been a number of GNs that touched on movies, music, foul language, Internet usage and other aspects of worldliness, both specifically and generally, and that have clearly stated the Lord's views on them. Whether you realize it or not, regular intake of things of the world does have a detrimental effect on your spirit, and will affect your service for the Lord and loving interaction with others if it hasn't already--all the more so if you're not getting a steady diet of Word to counteract and cleanse you from the System input.
66. Since the Lord's counsel on these matters has been published in the Word, and since you as a Charter Member are expected to read and believe the Word, it is expected that you'll accept what the Lord and we have to say about these things. Whether you personally feel that these affect you negatively or not, God's Word says they do, and as a Charter Member you should avoid and minimize them in your life.
67. If you have an inordinate desire to watch violent videos or movies, or you enjoy a constant diet of System music, or you're extremely desirous of the world and its ways, and you do not want to minimize them in your life, but instead you want to fully drink of these cups, then you need to ask the Lord to deliver you. If you can't let go of them, then you need to ask yourself, "Why am I a Charter Member? Why don't I move to Fellow Member status where I can do these things and still serve the Lord and be a member of the Family?"
68. If some of these things are so important to you that you can't bring yourself to minimize them in your life, then you should voluntarily choose to become a Fellow Member, where the requirements for membership are less stringent. As a Fellow Member your negative influence and the negative influence of the movies, videos, computer games or whatever won't be damaging others in your Charter Member Home. But if you want to be a Charter Member and receive the physical and spiritual blessings of Charter membership, then you are expected to minimize these ungodly influences in your life.
Believe in Dad and Maria as God's Endtime Prophet and Prophetess
B. Believe that David was God's Endtime prophet, and that Maria is God's chosen and anointed successor, who has inherited David's mantle, as God's prophetess.
69. As explained in the Charter, having Dad as God's Endtime prophet and Mama as his successor is one of the things that sets us apart from other Christians and churches. Dad, and now Mama, have been commissioned by the Lord to pour forth His Word to the Family. This is a fundamental and bedrock belief, and if we didn't believe this, then it is most likely we wouldn't be serving the Lord with the Family and following His Word given through Dad and Mama.
70. There are, of course, different Letters that Dad wrote in the past, and that Mama writes now, that are hard to take, and at times they test our faith. It has always been that way and surely always will be, because God's Word is fresh day by day and His methods and modes of operation change. He often gives us New Wine which gives us the direction and spiritual strength we need to keep up with His plan and His will for our movement today. Even Jesus had hard sayings which many of His disciples had a difficult time receiving.
71. It's understandable that from time to time you might have a trial about or be tested by a particular Letter; that's probably happened to all of us at one time or another. However, if you find yourself constantly questioning, doubting and wondering about the Word that Dad has poured out in the past, and even now in prophecy, or the Word that Mama's been pouring out; or if you're thinking that it just isn't right, or that Mama doesn't know what she's talking about; or maybe it isn't really the Lord speaking in those prophecies that are published in the GNs--then you need to realize that the Enemy is severely attacking you and your service for the Lord. You need to get ahold of the Lord and rebuke the Enemy. If you don't, but rather continue to entertain these doubts and are voicing them to others, you are not fulfilling your responsibility as a Charter Member. (If you need help overcoming the Enemy in this area, you might find it helpful to read the "Crisis of Faith" series, GNs 713-715.)
72. If someone around you is regularly bad-mouthing Mama and the Letters, or mocking or making derogatory comments about her, you need to recognize that they are violating the Charter. You are responsible to ask your teamwork to help this person overcome these attitudes and get the victory. Or, if they refuse to, the teamwork should help them find and choose another path in life where they are not expected to follow Mama and the Words that the Lord is pouring out through her. (Mama: I want to add in here that this goes for speaking negatively about Peter as well, as the Lord has given him the position of king and since he is part of me.)
Believe and Teach the Family's Fundamental Beliefs
C. Believe and teach the Family's fundamental beliefs, both Biblical and revealed, as published in our "Statement of Faith," or otherwise declared as such in a publication with an ML number.
73. As a Charter Member you are expected to believe the Family's fundamental beliefs. Basically this comes down to believing the Word, believing what the Lord has poured out through Dad and through Mama and me. Our foundation is the Bible, of course, but we have a number of Bible-based beliefs that differ from most of mainstream Christianity. The Lord has opened to us an incredible amount of truth, knowledge and information that the churches do not possess because of their limited faith or unwillingness to be fully open to the Lord, His voice, His message, and His prophets. As members of the Family, we are expected to believe and teach Family doctrine.
74. Of course, there may be some of our doctrines that you don't fully understand, or even have a hard time fully accepting. When this happens, most of the time people wrap them up in a bundle of faith and trust that the Lord will help them understand and be more accepting in time. This is certainly understandable and acceptable.
75. However, if you are regularly bad-mouthing our Family's doctrines, speaking against them, trying to show others that they're wrong and to convince others not to follow them, then you are violating your responsibility as a Charter Member. You need to either change your ways or find another Christian group whose doctrines you can believe and adhere to. As Charter Members, you're expected to believe and teach the Family's doctrine. Thus if you're speaking against it and therefore teaching that our doctrine is wrong, then you are way out of line.
Receive, Believe, and Live the Word!
76. This next clause, D, is a new one that was added at the summit. It will be followed by the existing clause D, which will now be E. As they both talk about the Word, I'm going to discuss them together.
D. Live in accordance with the Word by endeavoring to apply the spiritual and practical counsel given in the Letters to their daily lives.
E. Read the Bible, the Letters, and other Family publications, both old and new.
77. These two clauses are extremely important, especially when coupled with accepting Mama as Dad's successor and as the Endtime prophetess, as well as believing in our Family's fundamental beliefs.
78. Our Family is built upon the Word. Every aspect of our lives is based on the Word. Our motivation to live the lifestyle we do--to witness, to love one another, to give our lives to the Lord, to live and work together in harmony--is based on the Word. We believe that when God says something, He means it!--And we want to do it! We try to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We take God's Word seriously and try to live it as best we can.
79. Numerous times the Lord has said that one of the reasons He continues to pour out the Word to us in such great abundance is because we believe it and act on it. If the time ever came when the Family read the Word just to "tickle our ears," looking at it just for information or interest but not implementing it in our lives, undoubtedly the Lord would begin to withdraw the blessing of His Word that He pours out to us. He would withdraw the flow of His Water of Life and we would become a dried-up, dusty, parched church. God help us never to let that happen!
80. The Lord entrusts us with the meat of His Word, but He expects us to believe it, receive it and act upon it, to make it a part of our lives. That's why He gives it to us, as He says in the following prophecy excerpt:
81. (Jesus speaking:) Hold on to your heritage, the heritage of the meat of God. Don't be ashamed of it. For I consistently pour it forth unto you, and continue to pour it forth in new measure, in new strength. For you are they who have accepted My strong Words, who have grown with them, who have obeyed them, who have applied them, who have suffered for them, and who have grown strong because of them. And so do I continue to pour them forth unto you. For there are no others that have this heritage, and no others have proved their willingness to pour them forth, to live them, to stand up for them, to be persecuted and mocked for them, who have been willing to say, "I believe them because God has said them!"
82. Great is your reward in Heaven for your faith to receive, to believe, and to live the Words of God. I am well pleased in you, My children, for your willingness to love Me with all of your heart; that you are willing to love not just with tongue, with words, but in deeds and sacrifice and in willingness to go with Me wherever I go, believing and trusting in My love for you.
83. So receive the Words that I give you through your queen, as you received the Words that I gave you through your David; so shall you prosper, so shall you be strengthened, and so shall you remain in the forefront, alive, controversial, radical, as a torch of light for all to see! (End of message from Jesus.)
84. (Peter:) As Charter Members who believe God's Word, we are expected to read it faithfully on a daily basis and to apply what we read to our lives. If we truly believe that the Lord is speaking to us, then why would we not want to apply what He says? The Word that the Lord pours out to us should have an effect in our lives. We should read it and follow the counsel therein.
85. Of course, we understand that there's a great deal of Word that has been poured forth, and that it's impossible for everyone to apply every jot and tittle of the Lord's Word to every aspect of their lives. Also, some Letters are written for a specific field or certain circumstances, and can't be applied exactly the same way elsewhere; you have to be Spirit-led. We do not expect a total "letter of the law" adherence to every word that is published.
86. However, as Charter Members we are expected to apply God's Word in our lives. We are expected to follow where He is leading and to receive and believe the Word, both old and new. We should let it guide and direct us. We should use it in our decision-making. It should help us set the right standards in our lives, give us the vision of where the Lord is expecting us to go, and motivate us to follow Him wherever He directs.
87. When the Lord pours forth His Word on a subject and makes His will on the matter very clear, then we as followers of the Lord should desire to do what the Word says, to implement it in our lives the best we can. For example, if the Lord makes it clear that we should do our best to live unselfishly, to think of others more highly than ourselves, to be more loving and affectionate to others, and to act with love, courtesy and kindness, then we should attempt to do so, because the Lord has said that it's His will. If He says that certain types of activity are detrimental to our spiritual lives and are a hindrance of the Enemy, then we should avoid those things in obedience to Him.
88. If you disregard the Word, if you don't believe it or accept it, if you don't make an effort to apply it in your life, if you avoid reading it or implementing it, and even worse, if you blatantly disobey it and speak out against it, then why are you in the Family? You are supposed to be a disciple, which means "a follower of the teaching." As Family members you are responsible to follow the teachings, the Lord's Words. You're responsible to live them to the best of your ability.
Interact Lovingly and Harmoniously with Other Family Members
F. Endeavor to live by the principles of the Law of Love: To love and care for, and interact lovingly and harmoniously with all members of the Home in which they reside and with Family members at large.
89. This is a responsibility that should govern your everyday life and interactions with others. You are supposed to endeavor--which means to make an earnest attempt--to be loving to others, to care for them, to work in harmony together with them. When you "put skin" on this, it means that you are to act lovingly and harmoniously with those you live with in your Home, whether you like them or not, whether you agree with them or not, whether they're young or old, whether your personalities conflict or not.
90. As a Charter Member you're expected to love those within your Homes as you love yourself, to do your very best to act in love towards one another. This means you don't criticize them, you don't gossip about them, you don't yell at them, but rather you go out of your way to love them. Take a look at yourself and the way you interact with others in your Home and other Family members. Are you treating them in love? Are you being kind to them? Are you trying to lift them up or tear them down? As Dad said, you may not always like everyone that you live with, but you're expected to love them with God's love. You're expected to treat them decently, with courtesy, respect and kindness.
91. We've heard about many who have acted very unloving toward others. We've even heard of brethren who won't speak to each other because they have grudges, complaints and bitterness against each other. We've heard of Homes who won't have anything to do with another Home because of unloving acts that have occurred between them. We've heard of FGAs being very unloving toward teens and other young people, and we've heard of young people being very critical, talking back to and being ugly toward older Family members. There's been a great deal of criticism, sarcasm, gossip and hurtful words being said amongst some of you younger ones.
92. These unloving acts go against the Charter. We are supposed to be a Family of love, a Family that does its best to support and care for one another, to have mercy and compassion on one another. If you don't--if you're lashing out at others and tearing them down, or if you have no desire to treat the others in your Home with love--then perhaps you're not fit to be a Charter Member.
Zealously Preach the Gospel and Witness!
G. Engage in evangelism.
93. The definition of evangelism is "the zealous preaching and dissemination of the Gospel." If there's anything that the Family is dedicated to, it's the preaching of the Gospel to every creature. That is our commission from the Lord--to witness, to make disciples of all nations, to pour forth God's Word and to get the wonderful message of salvation out to the lost. Witnessing should be our joy, our goal, our desire!
94. As Charter Members it is your responsibility to engage in evangelism, to witness, to follow up, to teach and to train. This is the main reason we are here; this is our main job, our primary mission.
95. The "Fundamental Family Rules" state that every member must witness a minimum of eight hours per month. This is the minimum. We understand that some of you can only witness this minimum amount, especially those taking care of children full-time, and in these cases being able to do only the minimum is understandable.
96. However, if your ministry isn't one that allows you time for only the minimum, then you should have the burning desire to get out witnessing much more often to fulfill your responsibility as a Charter Member to preach the Word, being instant in season and out of season! The Lord expects each of us to be witnessing, to be preaching the Gospel, and He blesses us mightily when we do.
97. A number of you have taken on System jobs as a means of support, and you have the right to do so under the Charter. In some cases, members have taken on such jobs as a way to either bring enough finances into their Homes so that the others in the Home could spend more time out witnessing, or to provide visas on foreign mission fields. Some have taken jobs so that they could raise quick money to go to the mission field, and others have taken them to support their families on their home fields.
98. Taking a job is acceptable under the Charter; but if it keeps you from witnessing at least the minimum amount, then you are failing to fulfill this Charter responsibility. You should never allow holding a System job to cause you to lose your fire and the umph to get out the message! If it isn't making it possible for others in the Home to witness, if it is draining you and causing you to get sucked into the System, then we suggest that you prayerfully consider if the Lord wants you to continue on in your job.
99. As a Charter Member you are expected to zealously preach the Gospel. You are responsible to witness! If you're not, then we suggest that you pray and ask the Lord to rekindle your witnessing fire--that spirit in you that tells you you've got to pour out!--That if you don't reach the lost, you'll be failing the Lord and His commission for you to preach the Gospel to every creature.
Obey the Rules of the Charter
H. Live in accordance with the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights," and the "Fundamental Family Rules," which are determined, defined and published by World Services.
100. This clause makes it clear that Charter Members must live in accordance with the Charter and the "Fundamental Family Rules." This means that if you regularly attempt to bypass or avoid obeying the rules or the Charter responsibilities, you can't be a Charter Member. If you have that attitude, in spirit you aren't a Charter Member. Everyone violates the Charter at one time or another because nobody's perfect, but if you're constantly violating or trying to see how close to the edge you can walk, how much you can get away with, then you need to reconsider your place in the Charter membership.
101. Those of you who feel that way and are continually trying to get away with things should ask yourselves why you're in the CM Family. If you're unhappy living under the Charter and regularly disobey the rules; if you feel that it's too much for you, you can't live it; if you're asking, "Why do we need the Charter? Why do we need these rules? Why can't I just love Jesus and do what I want?"--then you need to realize that you would probably be much happier as a Fellow Member.
102. As a Fellow Member you don't have to fulfill the Charter responsibilities or keep the "Fundamental Family Rules." You will, of course, miss out on the blessings the Lord has said He gives to those who follow the Charter and the higher level of dedication and adherence to the Word that it requires. But if your heart is set on living a life that is less than the Charter standard, then you're very free to do so by simply moving to Fellow Member status.
103. However, if you choose to be a Charter Member, then you are in essence choosing to fulfill and obey the responsibilities and rules of the Charter. And as a Charter Member, if you violate its rules, it is with the understanding that there are penalties for doing so. Those who try to follow closely and in spirit truly are Charter Members don't have anything to worry about, because they're not repeatedly violating the Charter. These are the kind of people our CM Family should be made of, ones who are here in spirit, who know they're doing the right thing, and who want to follow the Lord and His Word with all their heart, no matter what the cost.
104. If you're a Charter Member in name only and your heart is elsewhere, then maybe you should consider being elsewhere too. If you're in the CM Family only because that's where your body happens to be, or your friends are, or because it's easier for you for some reason, then you should seriously pray about becoming a Fellow Member where you will hopefully be happier and freer to live as you feel led.
Live in a CM Home
I. Reside in a Charter Home and appear on a Home's monthly report each month.
105. Charter Members must live in CM Homes, otherwise they're not a part of the CM Family. However, you must remember that living in a house with a number of other Charter members doesn't necessarily make you or your Home a CM Home in spirit. The CM Homes have certain responsibilities as well--the responsibility to witness, to live in harmony with other Homes, to allot sufficient time and resources to the training and education of their children, etc.
106. There are many responsibilities of the CM Home, and as CM members you are responsible to make sure that your Home is living up to the CM Home's responsibilities. It's not enough for you to just be living in a CM Home if your CM Home is not truly CM in spirit. If your Home is having a great deal of disunity with other Homes, or your children aren't being properly educated, if your Home is not trying to implement the goals of the entire Family--the goals of witnessing and follow-up to reach the lost, of living in unity and harmony with others--then your Home is not a CM Home in spirit.
107. This rule also means that you can't just be floating around, moving from place to place, living with relatives or non-Family members while still being reported on a CM Home's TRF. We built in an allowance for members who are on trips to raise support, but if you go beyond those rules--stipulated in the Right of Mobility, A.7.--you are in danger of losing your CM status.
108. It's just not spiritually healthy for you--especially you young people--to be out on your own in the System and away from a CM Home for so long, no matter how good your intentions are. Whether you realize it or not, you'll quickly lose your fire and desire to uphold the standard of the Word, because the System way looks so easy, especially if you're in a place like the States or some other Western countries. So that's why we have that rule--to help you stay on board and not allow your convictions to be watered down or washed away without your even realizing what's happening.
Share Material Belongings and Be Good Stewards
J. Share their material belongings with the Family in general, and with their resident Home in particular, according to Acts 2:44-45, and be good stewards of all Family materials.
109. Unfortunately, one serious problem that has come about since the Charter has been the drift toward more selfishness, with many people just looking out for themselves rather than being sharing and giving to others. In the pre-Charter days, people were expected to live and work together much more in unity, in larger Homes or combos that were tightly shepherded. Since allowing everyone to operate according to their faith, many have taken that as a cue to go the so-called easy route of being concerned solely about themselves and their own little family, Home or work, instead of truly and sacrificially being one with their brothers and sisters in the rest of the Family.
110. Some of you operate this way because you feel that in times past when you tried to unselfishly give to other brethren, you were taken advantage of. I know this has happened on occasion, and we're very sorry that some Family members have been so inconsiderate and unchristian as to act this way. But regardless of what has happened, that shouldn't stop you from doing what you know is right and what is your duty according to not only the Charter, but the basic principles of Christian living in the New Testament--and that is to be giving and sharing with your fellow disciples.
111. As a Charter Member you are expected to live Acts 2:44 and 45 and share your material belongings with other Family members according to the need. We know that a great many Family members do so willingly, but many don't for various reasons. Some, because they're selfish and are not following the Lord or the Word on this subject; others have been giving in the past, but due to the selfish and greedy responses of others have become more possessive of their things. If you are selfishly trying to accumulate things for yourself or your family, to the neglect of others, or if you are not helping those in need, or if you are taking rather than giving, then you are not living up to this Charter responsibility.
Bear One Another's Burdens and Put the Needs of Others Before Your Own
K. Endeavor to fulfill the Scriptural injunction to "bear ye one another's burdens." To put the needs of the Home and its members before their own.
112. You are responsible to put the needs of your Home, and of others, before your own. You are responsible to look out for the needs of others in your Home and to try to help meet each need, whether it's the care of their children, or finances, or a need for love and affection or sex (within the Charter guidelines), etc. Whatever it is, you are responsible to help them! It's your responsibility before the Lord to bear one another's burdens, to love your neighbor as yourself, to lay down your life for the brethren, to die daily for one another. It's not just a good or nice thing to help one another and to bear each other's burdens, it's a responsibility. It's part of being a Charter Member.
Help Make Sure that Your Home Fulfills Its Responsibilities
L. Bear, with all other voting members of the Home, the spiritual, physical, material, educational, and financial responsibilities of the Home in which they reside.
113. If you read this clause carefully, you'll see that every voting member is bound by the Charter to bear the spiritual, physical, material, educational, and financial responsibilities of their Home. What does this mean? It means that you personally bear responsibility, along with all the other voting members of the Home, to help keep your Home spiritually on track. You're personally responsible to help the Home keep a high spiritual standard. You're personally responsible for the physical care of your Home. You're personally responsible to help bear the financial load of the Home and to keep it afloat. You're personally responsible to ensure that the Home's material goods are well cared for and kept in working order. You're personally responsible to help make sure that the children in the Home receive a proper education.
114. These are not things that you can toss off to someone else in the Home and say, "The Home's not doing well spiritually, but that's the teamwork's problem, not mine." Or, "I'm not a childcare person or a parent, therefore if the kids in my Home aren't getting a proper education, that's not my responsibility." Or, "The Home is a mess, but at least I keep my room clean, so I've done my part."
115. It's your personal responsibility to help make sure that your Home, as a whole, fulfills its responsibilities. If the children in your Home are not getting educated, whether you're a parent or not, you are partly responsible. If your Home is going through financial hardships, you are partly responsible. If your Home is doing poorly spiritually, you are partly responsible. If your Home is a mess and is a bad sample because of it, you are partly responsible. There is no passing the buck, because you bear these responsibilities with every other Charter Member in the Home.
116. So take a look around and ask yourself, "Am I fulfilling my responsibility? Am I helping to make my Home what it should be spiritually, physically, materially, educationally and financially?" If you're not, you're not fulfilling this responsibility as a Charter Member.
117. Maybe you don't think you can make a difference in these problem areas of your Home, because you feel that it's the fault of others. Well, you're a voting member of the Home, and therefore you can have an effect for good through your vote. If you see problems, you are responsible to bring them up for discussion at Home councils. You can present your points of view--or better yet, what the Word has to say on the subject--and encourage others to follow suit to strengthen whatever weak areas there may be.
118. Let me add here that it is mandatory to have at least two Home council meetings a month--and some Homes should probably hold them more often. At those Home council meetings you have the right to bring to the attention of the body any matters which you feel are not right in the Home and which need to be addressed. So the avenues are there for you to help effect change in your Home.
119. Of course, it goes without saying that how you present your point of view to the other Home members will probably have a great deal to do with how it is received and whether changes are made. If you come across too strongly, accusing others and in a self-righteous spirit, then you're not likely to get very far. Others will naturally be defensive, and it could just cause disunity and make things worse. So be sure you're in a spirit of prayer and humility. Remember: Love, humility and prayer solve all problems!
Participate in the Governing of Your Home and Abide by the Decisions that Are Made
M. Participate in the governing of the Home in which they reside; accept responsibility for the collective decisions and actions of that Home, and for the results of those decisions and actions.
N. Live in accordance with the agreed-upon "Home regulations" of the Home in which they continue to reside.
O. Commit their resources, time, energy, knowledge, gifts and talents towards reaching the agreed-upon goals of the Home in which they reside and the goals of the Family at large.
Q. Perform, to the best of their ability, the duties and responsibilities assigned to them by the Home's duly elected officers.
R. Cooperate with and support the joint decisions of the Home's voting members, or if in disagreement, or unable to cooperate for any other reason, voluntarily remove themselves from the Home by moving to another Home or pioneering their own Home.
120. I've grouped these five clauses together as they all speak about your responsibilities in regards to living in and governing your Home. As a member of a CM Home, you are responsible to participate in the governing of that Home, and to abide by the decisions that are made by the Home's voting members. If your Home makes Home regulations, then you are expected to abide by them. If you are given duties by the teamwork, you are expected to carry them out.
121. You have a say in how your Home is governed, the goals it has, how it's managed, etc. Your Home is what you help to make it. You elect the teamwork, you help decide the goals, and you are expected to work towards achieving those goals. As a Home member you need to give your resources, time, energy, knowledge, gifts and talents to the Home and the goals of the Home. In other words, you need to work together with your Home, participating in the ministries that the Home has decided to engage in. If these ministries are not ones you prefer to do but the majority of your Home has decided to work in these ministries, then if you wish to remain a member of the Home, you are required to put your whole heart into the chosen ministries. If you don't like it, you shouldn't work against the Home or try to do your own thing, or seek to cause others to be discontented in their work. You should strive to maintain the unity of the Home.
122. If you cannot find it within yourself to work in the Home's chosen ministries, then you should remove yourself from that Home. If you have a hard time finding another Home to move to or are underage, and thus can't move out of your present Home, then you should yield to the will of the majority of the Home and work peaceably in the ministries that the Home is engaged in, knowing that the Lord will bless you for your obedience and unity.
123. Just because you didn't vote for a certain Home regulation or rule doesn't mean that you can disobey that rule. For example, if your Home votes that the maximum number of movies they will watch is two per week, but you voted for three per week, you can't insist that you be allowed to watch three movies because you didn't agree to just watching two. If the majority of the Home voted for two, then two movies a week it is, whether or not you agree or like it.
124. One of the most difficult issues to agree on within the Home is the discipline standard of the children. Often when there are two or three different families in a Home, they will have varying standards of discipline for their children. On this issue the Charter says that parents are responsible to "discipline their children according to the standard agreed upon by the voting members of the Home in which they reside, providing it is in accordance with the 'Child Discipline Rules' in the 'Fundamental Family Rules.'" (See Responsibilities of Parents, H.)
125. The discipline standard that is set by the majority of the voting members is what the Home and the parents are responsible to follow, and they should discipline the children accordingly. In other words, if the Home votes that children should be disciplined for a certain infraction, then you as a parent are responsible to make sure you discipline your children if they commit that infraction.
126. To put it simply, as a member of the Home you need to participate in your Home and abide by the decisions made by the majority of the voting members of the Home.
Conduct Yourselves as Good Christians and Fulfill Your Obligations
S. Endeavor to conduct themselves as good Christians, showing outgoing love and concern for others, and fulfilling their obligations, legal and otherwise, to them.
127. We are Christians, and as such, we are supposed to emulate the qualities of Jesus. We're supposed to be filled with His love and His concern for others. We're supposed to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. If you're not acting in love, if you're not showing outgoing concern for others, both within your Home and outside of it, then you're not fulfilling this responsibility. If you swear, steal, cheat, lie, speak evil of your brethren, continually criticize and put others down, cause discord within your Home or act in other unchristian ways, then you are not fulfilling this requirement.
128. At the summit we added to this clause the words, "fulfilling their obligations, legal and otherwise." Sadly, there have been numerous reports of Family members who are not faithful to fulfill their obligations to others in matters such as taking care of necessary legal paperwork, diligently attending to business matters which they have agreed to take care of and that other brethren are depending on them for, etc.
129. Another weak area that falls under the category of "fulfilling your obligations" is the stewardship of materials that are loaned to you by other Home members or other Homes. This means, for example, that if you borrow a vehicle or VCR from another person or Home, it's your responsibility to return it in good working order.
130. Proper stewardship of the goods that the Lord blesses us with is unfortunately a weak area in many Homes. People often take the Lord's supply for granted, and don't properly care for the things that He blesses them with. Not only is this likely to make the Lord feel like not blessing you with much more if you don't take good care of what He's given you already, but it's also a terrible testimony and sample to others, including the person who gave it or lent it to you in the first place--not only Family members, but even more so outsiders, friends and supporters.
131. As Dad said back in the Letter "Kings": "We have been given literally hundreds of vehicles, but we have squandered and wasted and broken them up and wrecked them! God can't even give us vehicles as fast as we can tear them up! God is sick and tired of giving you things you don't take care of! Your attitude often seems to be: 'It doesn't matter!--I can wreck it and tear it up, and God will just give me another one!' Nothing will turn off your donors more than to see what poor care you take of what they give you! But nothing encourages your donors to give more than to see how meticulous you are!--To see what excellent care you take of things!" (ML #212:21).
132. This part about fulfilling your obligations not only applies to your interaction with Family members but non-Family members as well. It means being on time for business appointments, diligently taking care of matters that you are required to by law, or that your friends and contacts are waiting on you for, such as getting certain paperwork done on time, etc. If you're not faithful to fulfill your part of the bargain when dealing with the System, and especially with your friends and contacts, you're apt to offend and lose them, as has happened too many times!
133. Again quoting from "Kings": "One of our biggest failings seems to be consideration for other people, especially our kings! A friend lost is usually an enemy gained! There's no worse enemy than a former friend! Even if they don't fight against us, still they're a witness against us because they went back. Because you hurt them, they'll never have the same confidence in you again" (ML #212:2,10).
Be a Positive Reflection of the Family
T. Refrain from activities or behavior that would be a reproach to the cause of Christ and/or reflect negatively on the Family.
134. Clause T (which used to be part of clause S, but which was separated), states that you are to refrain from activities or behavior that would be a reproach to the cause of Christ, or reflect negatively on the Family. If you engage in activities which are not in accordance with the Charter, if you act in a manner that isn't Christlike, if you are a reproach to your Home or to the Family at large, you are not fulfilling your responsibility as a Charter Member.
135. Dealing deceptively with each other or outsiders, stealing, shoplifting and getting drunk are examples of unchristian activities and certainly are a reproach to the cause of Christ and to the Family. Using foul or unacceptable language, or having a dirty, slovenly or unkempt appearance reflects negatively on the Family, as does going out dressed in a manner that is not acceptable in the country in which you're living. If you want to be a Charter Member, then you need to be a positive reflection of the Family instead of a negative one.
136. As a Family member, you represent the Family to others. If you're disrespectful to outsiders or if you act in an ungodly manner, people will take what you do as a representation of our entire Family. Their impression of the whole Family--and in some cases, of Jesus and of Christianity--can be spoiled because of you and your bad sample.
137. If you are being a reproach to the Lord or the Family, then you need to shape up in spirit and deed or ship out! If you act in an un-Christlike, or un-Family manner on a regular basis, then why be part of the Family? If you act, talk, dress and conduct yourself just like the world, then perhaps the world is where you belong.
138. We have a standard to uphold as Christians and Family members. We do have rules, regulations, and responsibilities that every Charter Member is expected to adhere to and obey. You're here of your own choice, and if you believe this is where the Lord has called you and wants you to be, you should live up to your Charter membership requirements. You're a Christian, so act like one! You're a Charter Member, so act like one! That's your responsibility; it's expected of you. The Lord expects it, and we do as well!
Endeavor to Overcome Your Weaknesses and Besetting Sins
U. Endeavor to overcome, and when necessary request united prayer against, those personal weaknesses and besetting sins that cause physical or spiritual disruption in the Home, and/or physical, spiritual, or emotional harm to themselves or others.
139. Everyone has weaknesses, besetting sins and spiritual problems of some sort or another. Although there are some weaknesses that we may have to struggle with until we get to Heaven, the Lord expects us to work on making progress in those areas. We are responsible to actively take a stand against any areas in our lives where the Enemy has sway. If we are jealous, proud, self-righteous, bitter, critical or unloving, etc., the Lord expects us to work on these things, and if necessary, get united prayer against these having any hold on our lives.
140. Are you constantly thinking negatively? Are you overly sensitive? Do you have a drinking problem? Do you easily let your emotions run away with you, causing problems within the Home? Are you a chronic complainer, or constantly bickering with others? Are you plagued with fear and worry? Do you unprayerfully run off at the mouth? Do you have major doubts or other serious problems? Then you're expected to fight against them, and read and study what the Word has to say about these problems and how to overcome them!--To individually pray against them, and ask for prayer from others when you feel oppressed or battered or discouraged about them, and do all you can to overcome them.
141. If your teamwork shows you how your problems are negatively affecting others or your Home, then you are responsible to do all that you can to gain a victory and overcome these problems, not the least of which is asking for united prayer and help from the members in your Home. Don't let your pride prevent you from getting the prayer and help you need. Humble yourself and you'll feel thankful and so relieved that you took a stand against the Enemy in your life, and that you're obeying the Lord and living up to your responsibility as a Charter Member.
142. We don't expect you to be perfect--none of us are--and Mama and I also have our weak areas that we have to seek the Lord about and fight to overcome. You may always have weaknesses in certain areas, but you don't have to be as weak in those a year from now as you are now. The question is whether you're fighting to make progress in those areas or just accepting it as "the way you are" and "letting it all hang out."
143. As Dad said in "Greater Victories": "You have to fight the Devil and your old self every day! You are a new creature, yes!--But boy, how that old self likes to try to pop up again! Paul said, 'I've fought a good fight!'--and probably most of it was against his old self! (2Tim.4:7). It's a battle every day--especially with your besetting sins--'the weights and the sins that do so easily beset you' (Heb.12:1), like your selfishness and laziness and jealousy. You never stop battling, you never stop winning victories, you never stop progressing or you'll backslide! You can never stand still. You don't just get the victory once and for all over some besetting sin, you have to keep fighting it. But the more you win, the easier it gets, with His help.--On that one!" (ML #727:10,11,17).
Endeavor to Stay Healthy and Physically Fit
V. Recognize that their body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and as such, do not abuse it in any way. Keep a clean and presentable appearance, and actively and regularly endeavor to stay healthy and physically fit.
144. As a Charter Member you are expected to follow what Dad has written in regards to your health and eating and exercising properly. You are not to abuse your body in any way, like regularly eating unhealthy foods, overdrinking, smoking, or in any other manner abusing your body, which is the Lord's temple.
145. If you overeat or avoid exercise, then you are abusing your body. If you are one of those who don't have get-out in some form on a regular basis in accordance with "The Fundamental Family Rules," then you're disobeying the rule that says, "Members over the age of 18 must have regular and sufficient exercise as well as fresh air, weather permitting, not less than four times per week, unless too ill to do so." Are you getting regular exercise?
146. There are very few people throughout the world who have been chosen to be members of the Family, and who faithfully witness and pour out God's message as you do, and therefore you are very important to the Lord. He needs for you to stay alive and healthy, and thus you need to eat right, exercise right, and live right. You first generation adults are reaching middle age, so it becomes even more important that you exercise regularly as well as maintain a proper diet, avoiding fattening foods if necessary, in order to control your weight. (By the way, young folks, you'll notice that I'm mainly talking to the FGAs about overeating here. Please bear in mind that undereating, in your case, can be just as unhealthy.)
147. You don't necessarily have to pump iron, jog, or work up a drenching sweat, but even taking a brisk walk four times a week will help to keep you healthy. Many of you probably already do this in the course of your daily outreach, but for those who don't or who have more sedentary ministries, it's important that you do. Remember that it's your responsibility to the Lord and to the Family to actively and regularly endeavor to stay healthy and physically fit.
Have a Working Knowledge of the Charter
W. Have a working knowledge of the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules."
148. We don't expect every Charter Member to understand or remember every jot and tittle of the Charter, as that's virtually impossible. However, as this clause states, you need to have a working knowledge of it. That means you need to have a pretty good understanding of what's in it and what the responsibilities and rules that pertain to you are. It plays a major role in the governing of your life and your Home.
149. We've often heard of people who were doing things that they shouldn't be doing, or have allowed others to do things to them which shouldn't have been done. When it was pointed out that these were Charter violations, they said, "I didn't know that was in there." We've heard of some outlandish statements made, especially by some young people to adults in Homes, claiming that something they wanted to do was allowed under the Charter, and was therefore okay for them to do--when this was not the case, and the Charter said no such thing. And the adults would allow them to do it because the adults didn't have a working knowledge of the Charter.
150. Ignorance of the law is no excuse! You are responsible to have a working knowledge of the Charter. You're responsible to understand your individual and Home responsibilities as well as your individual and Home rights. As the Charter states: "But neither will you be able to claim ignorance of the law if you fail to obey it." You can familiarize yourself with the Charter by reading through different portions of it from time to time.
151. It's especially helpful to take the time to look up what the Charter says when you're faced with a question or a problem. Don't just accept that what someone says is actually in the Charter, because they might not be right. Take the time to look it up. There's a thorough index in the back of the Charter to help you find things quickly. The Charter is also included on the HomeARC and Members Only Web site, which makes it quick and easy to find what you're looking for by searching for key words that may not be included in the printed index.
152. In addition to this review of the responsibilities of a Charter Member, I would like to address another point that was discussed at the summit meeting. There have been a number of inquiries by Family members as to why we need to have any kind of alcohol limits at all, while others have asked that the minimum be increased.
153. The question of alcohol consumption was one which the CROs at the summit discussed at great length and had much prayer about. After prayer, discussion and debate, it was decided to raise the weekly alcohol limits to one of the following:
1) twelve ounces (360 ml) of wine or
2) eight ounces (240 ml) of sherry, port, vermouth or other drinks that are not more than 20% alcohol, or
3) twenty-eight ounces (840 ml) of beer containing not over 6% alcohol.
154. The reason we felt (and the Lord confirmed) that it was okay to raise the limits, is because people enjoy having a glass of wine or a beer with their meal, and wine (red wine in particular) does apparently have some benefits for older people as far as helping to reduce the cholesterol level, etc. (though the same can be achieved with more exercise and avoiding high-cholesterol foods). Besides, you're not likely to get drunk or become an alcoholic on three small glasses of wine a week.
155. However, while most of the CROs didn't have a problem with raising the alcohol limits a bit, they were quite concerned about the overuse of alcohol during "special occasions," and also the number of special occasions that some Homes have been having. The "special occasion" exception in the Charter seems to have turned into an all-purpose loophole and it's been the flash point for most of the alcohol-related problems that have taken place since the Charter.
156. As you know, the Charter allows for alcohol to be served on special occasions. However, it appears that a number of Homes have become experts at declaring special occasions on a very regular basis, which has led to overdrinking, and in the case of some parties, often involving young people, getting drunk.
157. In the Food and Drink Rules it states: "There also may be times when your Home has a celebration or a special event at which you wish to serve an alcoholic beverage and may decide to serve more than the maximum listed here. Since this would be a special occasion or rare occurrence which warrants an exception, it would be allowed." In order to allow for special occasions, the Charter allows you to serve extra alcohol. However, according to the Charter this should be a rare occurrence. The definition of rare is "infrequently occurring; uncommon." In other words, it's not supposed to happen all that often. Unfortunately, in some areas it happens fairly regularly.
158. We have received many letters and reports regarding dances and parties that are held in Homes to which people bring their own alcohol, often hard liquor--vodka, rum, etc.--and at which people are drinking heavily, becoming sloppy drunk, throwing up, passing out, etc. This shows a lack of maturity and is an example of people misusing the Charter and twisting it to suit their own desires. It is important to remember that the Charter has set limits on the amount of alcohol you should be drinking. Secondly, it has allowed for extra alcohol to be served during special occasions, but it was never intended to allow people to drink so much that they get drunk, and certainly not to where they're acting like fools, vomiting, and passing out!
159. The Charter also states that the drinking age is 18 and above, so you senior teens should not be drinking at all! The one exception to this is stated in the Charter in this way: "Those under the age of 18 are not permitted to drink alcoholic beverages; however, in your own Home, on special occasions or celebrations, the Home could decide to let the teens drink a glass of wine or a punch which has some alcohol in it." The Charter allows those under 18 to have a glass of wine or some alcoholic punch on special occasions (not on a regular basis) in their own Home if the Home decides to allow it. That doesn't mean that you senior teens can be drinking at area parties or other Homes, etc. It is not a license for you to drink! It was included in the Charter so that you could partake of a bit of alcohol at your Home's special occasions. Other than that, you are not allowed to drink until you are 18! If you are drinking, you are in violation of the Charter, as are those who are allowing you to drink.
160. It seems that the loophole that many have used to overdrink has been the "special occasion" clause. They not only declare quite a number of special occasions each month, but seem to feel that there is no limit to the amount of alcohol that can be consumed during a special occasion; that if it's a special occasion, it means you can drink as much as you want. Because so many have been misusing this clause and it has had far-reaching and bad effects, the CROs felt this needed to be addressed in a Charter amendment. The CROs therefore voted to include the following change in the "Fundamental Family Rules":
There also may be times when your Home has a celebration or a special event at which you wish to serve an alcoholic beverage in addition to the standard weekly allowance, which was or will be consumed on another occasion within the same week. These special occasions must be limited to not more than two per month. During these special occasions, members are not permitted to drink more than twelve ounces of wine, or eight ounces of port or sherry (or similar beverages which do not exceed 20% alcohol), or twenty-eight ounces of beer containing not over 6% alcohol.
161. While the amount of alcohol that you can drink each week has been increased substantially, the number of special occasions at which you can serve alcohol each month is limited to two. And that means no more than two. There are no loopholes, and you can't have a third one even if it's someone's birthday, you're celebrating Christmas, having an open-house party for your friends, having guests over for dinner, or whatever.
162. The "Fundamental Family Rules" already forbade hard liquors such as whisky, gin, vodka, etc., in the Homes for members' weekly rations, but since it is so harmful to health the CROs also voted to not allow hard liquor of any kind at special occasions either, and this was also added to the Food and Drink Rules as follows:
All other alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of over 20%, such as whisky, gin, vodka, liqueurs, etc., are not permitted in a Family Home for the purpose of members' weekly rations, nor are they permitted to be drunk on special occasions or celebrations.
163. At each special occasion you can drink up to one week's quota of alcohol, but no more. In essence this means that you can drink your maximum quota of alcohol six times in a month--once a week with the weekly quota, and two other times in the month, at a special occasion. Remember, it states that on special occasions members "are not permitted to drink more than twelve ounces of wine, or eight ounces of port or sherry (or similar beverage), or twenty-eight ounces of beer." This means that you can't save up your weekly quota and then drink it along with the other alcohol allowed on a special occasion. On the two monthly special occasions you must limit your alcohol intake to what is stated above.
164. Even so, this is quite a significant increase in the alcohol intake for those who have not been circumventing the old rule. For those of you who have been declaring many special occasions and have been using them as an opportunity to drink as much as you want, it will mean decreasing your intake.
165. Please remember that these are the maximum amounts allowed, and not the recommended amount. We're not stating that we think the Family should drink as much as is being allowed here; we are saying that they are allowed to drink this much, but no more. Also remember that drinking this amount of alcohol is not a right! You can't demand that your Home spend the money to buy alcohol, claiming that the Charter says you have the right to drink this much. Drinking alcohol isn't listed in the Rights of Individual Members.
166. In some areas alcoholic beverages are very expensive, so we are not suggesting that you go out of your way to increase your alcohol intake, especially if it means that other needs of the Home or of the children are not going to be met. We pray that this weekly increase and the curbing of the special occasions will be a blessing to you, and that those of you who have been overdrinking will adhere to this change and begin to abide by the new rule which goes into place immediately upon the receipt of this GN.
167. If you feel it's extremely important for you to drink more than is allowed in the Charter and you just can't possibly limit your drinking to these alcohol maximums, and it angers and frustrates you that we have these Charter rules, and it causes you to be discontent so that you complain about it and feel it's grossly unfair, and you can't seem to get the victory over it, then again we invite you to change your status to FM, where you are not expected to live the Charter, and where you can, for the most part, set your own standards.
Make the Decision to Be a Charter Member with All Your Heart---Or Consider FM Status
168. The point we're trying to make in this GN is that Charter Member status is for Charter Members only, for those who have made the decision to dedicate their lives to the Lord and His service with the CM Family, and to abide by the Charter. Each Charter Member should understand that in order to keep their Charter membership, there are rules they must keep. Every organization, club or company has rules which their members are expected to keep if they wish to remain members, and if they choose to disregard them, they lose their membership.
169. Now we understand that you may not be super-thrilled about every single rule or responsibility. There are some things that are difficult to abide by, but if you're going to be a Charter Member, you are responsible to keep them. We don't expect everyone to love every single rule, every single responsibility, every single jot and tittle of the Charter.
170. But if you find that you're in opposition to many or most of them; if you find yourself constantly speaking against the Charter or the ways of the CM Family, or the GNs and the counsel and instruction that comes in them, or the Word that the Lord is pouring forth; if you're constantly complaining about them or mocking them, or you're working against them in spirit; or if you're putting down those who are trying to follow the Word as closely as possible instead of "doing their own thing" like you are--then, in fact, you're not a Charter Member.
171. If that's how you feel, you should face those truths and step into FM status where you can live whatever parts of the Charter you choose to live, or whatever parts of the Word you choose to follow, where there's no penalty for not following it fully. (Though to be a Fellow Member you do need to adhere to the "Statement on Fellow Members," previously called the "Statement on TRF Supporters.")
172. But if you are going to be a Charter Member, then be one with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength! Give your all to Jesus! Do your best to follow and to apply the Charter and its responsibilities, as well as its rights.
173. We've spoken a lot about the responsibilities of Charter Members in this Letter, but this doesn't diminish your rights as a Charter Member. Those rights have been embodied in the Charter to allow you to burn free and to follow the Lord and to do His will wherever He's leading, and whatever He's showing you to do, within the broad parameters of the Charter.
174. The purpose of the Charter was to allow you to follow the Lord in your life.--To pray, to seek the Lord, to follow where He leads, to do what He shows you to do without hindrance or red tape. However, this does not give you the liberty to do whatever you want if what you want to do violates the Charter. The freedom was given with the understanding that you would be seeking the Lord, that you'd be following Him, that you'd be praying and hearing from Him in prophecy, that you'd be applying the Word, that you'd be giving your all to Him. If you're a Charter Member, you're expected to live the Charter--all of it--the responsibilities and the rights. You're expected to keep "The Fundamental Family Rules," and you're expected to live your life and serve the Lord within the very wide boundaries the Charter provides.
175. The Charter has proven very fruitful in the three-and-a-half years it has been in place. The Family has grown by leaps and bounds. People are following the Lord, and in doing so, they're progressing mightily in spirit. The Family has done things it has never done before, gone places it has never gone before, and borne fruit as never before. You are able to follow your faith and do as the Lord leads and guides you, and it's been just tremendous.
176. There have been some problems and there are some who have abused the Charter, using it to their own ends. Thankfully, this is a small minority, but this minority is often vocal, and the effects of their actions--whether they intend them to be or not--are often far-reaching. They speak out against the Word, against the Charter, against the ways of the Family, against Mama and me, and against where the Lord is leading the Family. They've complained about it and criticized it.
177. If you are one of those few, then our suggestion is that you seek the Lord and ask Him to show you where you're at in spirit and where you got off the track. Ask Him to help you to overcome these divisive attitudes and to cleanse you from your bitterness, criticism, pride, self-righteousness, sensitivity, compromising spirit, or whatever else is holding you back. Pray that He will help you to become a Charter Member in spirit, and not only in your bodily presence in a Home.
178. But if you can't overcome, if you can't make the type of commitment needed to be a Charter Member, then we ask you to move to Fellow Member status on your own, before your CRO or VS has to point out all your various Charter infractions and has to move you to Fellow Member status. There is no recrimination or stigma assigned to Fellow Members. They are very much a part of our worldwide Family and have a very important role in our reaching the world with His message and giving His salvation to millions.
179. For the record, in suggesting you should consider moving to FM status if you are having longstanding problems in the CM Family, we are not suggesting that our FM Family should be thought of as only a place for problem cases. There are many different reasons why individuals become Fellow Members, and not all of those reasons are because of spiritual problems. Fellow membership is a place for Family members who wish to continue to be part of the Family but who for one reason or another decide they no longer wish to adhere to the Charter Member lifestyle, or are no longer able to do so. We want each one to find that place of service where they will be happy and a great blessing to others, whether as a Charter Member or a Fellow Member.
180. If you feel you need more independence or are unable to fulfill your responsibilities as a Charter Member, then it's better to say so and to become a Fellow Member of your own accord. You will be better able to follow the Lord at the level of obedience you see fit without undermining the CM Family standard or being a drain on the Home or a bad sample to others. You'll be happier and your Home will be happier. Because if you're discontent and causing problems in your Home because of your unwillingness to bear your Charter responsibilities, then it makes it difficult for you and others. But if you declare that you're moving to Fellow Member status, you'll make it easier for yourself and your Home.
181. We're not on a campaign to try to increase the ranks of our FM Family. We are, however, trying to help you to see that if you wish to be a Charter Member and receive the blessings of Charter membership, then you need to bear the responsibilities of the same. It's up to you.
182. Jesus, we ask You to please help all of us in the CM Family to abide by the Charter and try to live the spirit of the Charter. We're not trying to cause people to live an extremely structured law-laden life. The structure of the Charter is there to allow people to have a great deal of freedom. But it is necessary to have some rules and laws to govern such a complex life as ours where we live communally, where we generally educate our children at home, where we are not only a Family, but Your Endtime army. There have to be some rules in order for it to work properly. We have prayed a great deal over the Charter and we have tried to amend it whenever necessary to make it work even better and make it easy for the Family to abide by, and to assist them in preaching the Gospel.
183. Please, Jesus, help all of us who are Charter Members to do our best to live within its bounds and to follow the Word that You are pouring forth in great abundance to us. Help us to apply the Word in our lives and to diligently seek You as to what You have for us personally and for our Home, so that we can be following You and accomplishing Your will.
184. Please help any who are struggling with living the Charter Member life. Help them to study Your Word and seek You for the faith to make the commitment to live the Charter. Or, if not, then please give them faith to understand that they can become a Fellow Member, where they won't be under the restraints of the Charter; where they can follow You at whatever level they choose and no longer have to abide by all the disciplines and rules of the Charter.
185. For those who are unsure, those who are struggling a bit, but feel that the Charter Family is still for them, we pray that You will help them to do their best to remain close--close to You and close to the Word. Help them in their decision. If they choose to serve You as a Charter Member, help them to do so wholeheartedly. Help them to yield to You and be willing to uphold their Charter responsibilities, and thus be able to serve You with us in fullness of spirit. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
186. P.S. Although it may sometimes seem difficult to live up to the standard of the Word as outlined in the Charter and the responsibilities that come with it, in the end it's really the easiest path, as the Lord explains in the following message. It's also the most rewarding one, both now and forever!
187. (Jesus speaking:) There are many different levels of service, of discipleship, of forsaking all, of giving, but those who give to the very last drop, the last ounce, the last bit of themselves, will be the first in My Kingdom, because they had nothing left. The last shall be first--those who endure, who give all, who sacrifice the most, who give their whole hearts, who fight on despite the obstacles, who hang on and don't give up, who don't take the easy way out.
188. The Charter life is the life of sailing over uncharted seas, uncharted territory. It is following My map for your life, and My plan for every life that is given to Me is a complete giving, a 100% giving of everything. You are bought with a price, and that price was everything I had. I gave all for you, and I call you Charter members to do likewise, to give all.
189. Of course the Charter life is a more difficult life, more strenuous, more costly. It's always harder to give 100%--which is the requirement for Charter membership--than other forms of service, whether it be Fellow Member service, part-time Christian service, church work or whatever.
190. But in looking at the overall picture, although it seems contrary to the carnal mind, you will always have it easier if you give 100%, no matter what it is that I ask you to do. It will be easier for you in the Endtime, in the future. When all is said and done, everything I ask you to do is easier than falling short of My highest will for you.
191. What seems easiest to you is only your perception of what easy is. If you follow only so far but not all the way, only in part-time service instead of full-time service, it may look easier and less costly in finances, sacrifices, hardships or giving. But you live in the temporal, in the physical plane, and do not have the full vision or know the full scope of things or the big picture. Though you may have it easier physically for a year or two, you do not see that the time will come when circumstances will be more difficult and your faith will be sorely tested because you were not used to giving and sacrificing and exercising your faith like those who are tested daily and give all daily.
192. Some Charter Members may have a harder time meeting the requirements now, but if they persevere in living the standard, fighting to be uncompromising in their faith and to live up to their convictions, they will be in shape during the Endtime. The hard times in the future will only require a small increase of sacrifice beyond what they are accustomed to, and they'll be able to make the grade with only a small step in stretching their faith.
193. Whereas those who are not accustomed to stretching their faith and who take the easy way out will have a more difficult time. It will take a leap of faith on their part, because they haven't been used to taking the small steps of faith along the way in their efforts to go for the gold in every area of their lives. It'll not only be easier for those Charter Members who die daily in the long run, but they'll shine forever as the stars, with eternal rewards for their sacrifices! (End of message from Jesus.)
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family