TONY'S LAST CHANCE! Maria #147 DO 2714 7/91
--Maria's Letter to Tony (Zack Attack)!
1. (Mama's introduction to "Tony's Last Chance":) Prior to writing the following "Last Chance" Letter to Tony, all I had received regarding him was Marianne's April report (see GN 479) & one other report, as well as Tony's OHR that appears on page 1. It was not until after I'd written him my Letter that I learned that Marianne had also written him. Nor had I received the "Updates from Tony's Shepherds" that are also quoted in the previous GN.
2. The fact that both Marianne & Ricky touched on many of the same problems & principles that the Lord led me to cover in my Letter to Tony was an encouraging confirmation to me that we were all on the right track & in tune with the Lord in our assessment of his very serious & longstanding problems. I pray that this counsel & Scriptural admonition will serve as a timely reminder to all, that as our Army for the Lord moves ahead with the DTR, we need whole-souled, single-minded soldiers & wildly willing workers who are determined to do their best for Jesus as we all strive together & press towards the mark of the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus! (Phil.3:14). (He needs breaking!)
+ + + + + + +
3. ILY & am praying for you. Several months ago your Area Shepherdess, Marianne, wrote in one of her regular reports about a 3-hour conversation she'd had with you in which you were voicing some questions & doubts you were having about the Family, & in which you admitted that you had been contemplating backsliding for some time. Then just a couple of days ago, I received in the mail an OHR that you had recently written at the JETT Teachers' Seminar. This was forwarded on to us not for the purpose of reporting to us all about your personal situation, but to share with us your views & opinions regarding our training of the Family's JETTs & Teens.
4. However, when I read your OHR, I became quite burdened for you personally, & the Lord showed me what a very serious condition you were in, & how very much off the track you were in your attitudes & ways of looking at things! The same day that I received this OHR, I also listened to another report that mentioned that you were openly talking about leaving the Family.
5. The purpose of this Letter is not to beg you to stay in the Family or to try to persuade you not to backslide, but merely to help you see how your attitudes & ways of looking at things are diametrically opposed to the way the Lord sees things. In fact, we would not even want to convince you to stay in the Family unless you make a definite personal stand & are "fully persuaded in your own mind" (Rom.14:5) that you want to have a complete change of heart & attitude.
6. To remain in the Family you would have to forsake your presently distorted & off-track ways of looking at things & doing things, as well as your serious sins of harbouring doubts & "oughts" in your heart & openly murmuring & expressing your disgruntled, dissatisfied & doubtful attitude to others! As long as you continue to be so divisive & out-of-unity with the others, you are doing much more damage than good, & for the sake of the Lord's Work it would be better that you did not remain with us.
7. But my sincere prayer is that you will be able to yield to the Lord & His Will & gain a wonderful victory before having to learn by hard & bitter experience the lessons that others have so patiently been trying to teach you for years. You could be a wonderful blessing & a tremendous role model for our JETTs & Teens, a wonderful example of brokenness & humility & dependence on the Lord & yieldedness to His Will. The Lord needs you & weeps over you, Tony, as have many of your leaders. There's still time for you to yield to Him & forsake your own program & sign His. And I urge you now to do so!
LIVING FOR JESUS, NOT JUST IDEALS!
8. Tony, your wife is right, living for ideals is not the ideal. Living to change the World is not even the ideal. Living to love Jesus & others is the ideal, & if in the process & as a result we do change the World, hallelujah! If by our love & obedience we enable the Lord to show His Love to others through us, then we have done what we could & what He wants us to do.
9. But our goal must be to love Jesus, not to change the World through our beliefs & our knowledge of Scriptural & spiritual principles. If we will love Jesus & others, then He will take care of changing hearts & minds. He says, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me!"--Jn.12:32. So you're right, Tony, when you say that maybe living for ideals is not the way to go, but just to simply live for Jesus.
WALKING BY FAITH, NOT BY FEELINGS!
10. You say, "It's hard to live for Jesus when I don't have a strong personal connection with Him that touches my emotions. I long for it, I pray & weep for it, & sometimes I do feel it, but often I don't, or I think I don't."--And you weep & you cry & you agonise for it: "I've hungered for Your touch a long, lonely time. ... Are You still mine? I need Your Love, I need Your Love, God speed Your Love to me."
11. How sad, Tony, that you're searching & crying & begging & pleading for God's touch when He has touched you! His Love touches you moment by moment!--Every Family Member who lovingly greets you & looks into your face with eyes shining with God's Love is the Lord's touch! Every Family leader who has sat down with you for hours to try to help you out of your confusion is God's Love for you! Every Word that you are so privileged to receive from the mouth of God's Prophet is God touching you! Every tender look & sweet considerate act of love by your sweet wife is God's touch! The love of the little child that the Lord has given you is God's touch! It is God touching you. How can you feel more than that? What more do you want from God than He's already given you? What more could He possibly give you?
12. You say, "Sometimes I think God wants me to be an example of someone who will keep serving Him just because of the Truth in His Word without any feelings, without any signs, without any revelations." Yes, Tony, I'm sure He does want you to be an example of that! But we're all supposed to be an example of that, regardless of whether we ever feel anything or not! God wants us to trust Him totally by faith, totally by what He says in His Word. That's what all of us have to do.
13. I rarely get signs, I seldom get revelations, I don't get prophecies. I don't frequently have spiritually high experiences, I don't feel thrills & excitement all the time. Most of our Family don't! We just have to go about our lives for the Lord quietly, calmly, steadily, without a lot of excitement, without a lot of hoopla or rah-rah, every day repeating the same jobs over & over again.--Mommies wiping noses, changing diapers; kids going to school, washing dishes, sweeping floors; secretaries typing letters, answering phones; cooks preparing meals that are there on the table & gone the next moment & have to be started over again in a few hours, the same routine day after day; witnessers doing the hard work of going door-to-door each day, one door at a time, being received by some but refused by many, & having to struggle with discouragement.--No great signs, no revelations, no great highs of emotion, just the quiet assurance that they're doing God's Will & that He is with them & cares about them & has everything under His wonderful control--& they're helping Him & others.
14. You sound as though you think you're the only one in the Family who has to take everything by faith without any feelings, without any prophecies, without any visions, without any revelations, without any miracles, without any voices, without any lights or thunder from Heaven! Why should you need more visual & sensual experiences than the rest of us? You may be very idealistic, but you're sure not being very realistic! (Amen!)
15. I don't hear voices, I don't give prophecies, I don't see visions, yet I believe, & I know Jesus touches me. I experience His touch constantly. But I cannot say that in the physical or emotional sense I "feel" Him touching me, & I'm sure that it's the same with the vast majority of our dear Family. We have to walk by faith, not by sight, hearing or feeling. (TYJ!)
16. This is a problem that a lot of the so-called "holiness" & Pentecostal church people have; they always want to feel the "moving of the Spirit." They've got to always have a revelation & a strong & tangible "personal connection," & if they don't, they're discontent with simply taking the Lord at His Word. Their faith is based on feelings & big waves of emotional excitement & thrills & tingles & all of that sort of thing.
17. God's Word says we are to "walk by faith, not by sight."--2Cor.5:7. Yet you say you're failing in your walk with the Lord because you don't have enough feelings. Maybe your faith is weak because you're not really living in the Word enough. But you quote a lot of Word, so you must spend some time in the Word, but maybe you're not really drinking in & receiving the Word like you should. "Faith cometh by the Word of God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is & that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."--Rom.10:17; Heb.11:6. Your faith needs to be in the Word & in the Lord's faithfulness to answer prayer & to reward those who seek Him, whether you ever feel anything or not!
18. It might do you good to remember Dad's example as well. Dad never even got the gift of tongues until the Revolution was already in full swing when we'd arrived at TSC. He wasn't depending on signs & wonders. He just faithfully did his best to love the Lord & live up to his convictions & obey & follow Jesus & preach the Word & win souls & get others to witness. Of course, the same is also true of most of God's greats in the Bible, the Lord didn't give them outstanding revelations & messages until they had proven themselves faithful to just plug along & obey & do His Will without any signs, wonders or feelings.
19. Tony, you remind me of Doubting Thomas. Do you remember what Jesus said to Him? "Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen & yet have believed."--Jn.20:29. But you're saying that because you haven't been able to see or feel Him enough, you're having a very difficult struggle in believing that He has touched you. "Blessed are they that have not seen Me, not felt Me"--physically, emotionally--"yet have believed." (that the Lord is still there with them, that He is touching them)
THE DANGER OF FOLLOWING EMOTIONS!
20. You lament that you don't have a strong personal connection with Jesus that touches your emotions. Since when do our emotions have anything to do with living for the Lord? If we go by our emotions, we are going to be defeated & discouraged most of the time!--Because the Devil can play with our emotions & feelings & make us feel what he wants us to feel. But he can't do anything to alter the Fact of God's Word.--Or the fact that we are the Lord's & that He loves us & touches us daily with His Love. If we try to depend upon our emotions to confirm our connection with the Lord, we're sunk! That's absolutely unscriptural & absolutely the wrong way to do things, & will bring nothing but defeat.
21. Our emotions are almost like the weather; sometimes there's not much we can do about them. We can wake up & suddenly just feel depressed, & not even know why. Of course, we don't have to stay that way. But it shows that the Devil can do things to our emotions without our permission & he can make us feel down & discouraged & defeated. Of course, we have the power to refuse to stay in that place or that position.
22. In other words, the Devil can sometimes get ahold of our emotions & do pretty much whatever he wants with them, at least temporarily. That's why we can't use our emotions as any kind of reliable guide to anything whatsoever! So it's ridiculous to say that you've got to have your religion connected to your emotions!
23. We walk by faith, not by sight, not by feeling, not by hearing, not by tasting, but by faith! And it doesn't really matter what you feel or how you feel! You might feel rotten all the time! What if you happen to be really sick? If your religion & your faith are connected to your feelings & emotions, you won't have any faith left! So you can't go by what you feel! Our emotions, our feelings could be terrible all the time! But we just have to keep going by faith that we're in the Lord's hands & we're His & we know that He loves us & He cares about us.--And we're assured of all that through the Word. The Word is the Fact, which helps us to believe & to have the faith!
24. We should never ever try to link our faith to our emotions or feelings or anything but the Word! Emotions are so fickle, feelings are so fickle, & they're so unstable--like a roller coaster! So we'd better not put any confidence in our feelings whatsoever! Maybe if you would just forget about your feelings & seek first the Kingdom of God by walking by faith, the Lord might be more inclined to give you some of these feelings you're seeking.
25. But why do you require a thrill & feeling & emotional excitement all the time? That shouldn't have anything to do with your faith in the Lord. Insisting on having signs & wonders & great feelings & emotional highs & all of that--not only part of the time, but all of the time--is a demand that the Lord cannot supply, because it is not in line with His Will. Your view of things is a distorted perception of what life for the Lord is all about. It's just not that way in the Christian's life. You can be thankful for the times that you do have emotional highs or feelings of ecstasy, but most of the faith life is just that: Going by faith & not by feelings--plain plodding along, faithfully doing your job for the Lord, even when you don't feel like it--even when it's difficult or unexciting.
26. Remember the story Dad told of when he was teaching a very hard-to-handle junior high school class, & he just didn't know if he could go through it one more day? He looked in the mirror as he was shaving one morning & he thought, "How can I do it?" And the Lord gave him that verse, "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!"--2Tim.2:3. (See ML #897:81-83.) Our life is a test of endurance, it's an uphill climb, it's not a bed of roses! Most of the time you're not feeling all that great & ecstatic & high or emotionally "touched" & elated!
27. I'm not saying that we can't be happy; of course, we're happy! But our happiness & contentment is something that is consistent & steady--not like our emotions, which are up one minute & down the next. We're happy because we know the Lord & have Him in our hearts! "Happy is that people that is in such a case, yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord!"--Psa.144:15. Our happiness isn't something that's dependent on feelings or thrills or emotional highs of some kind. We're happy because we have Jesus, the most precious Treasure in the whole World!--True happiness is the peace, contentment & joy that remains in spite of all our trials & tribulations & the heaviness we often feel from the burdens of this life.
28. For us, God's children, happiness is a permanent state of being, not merely a feeling. We may feel gloomy & our hearts may be heavy sometimes, but nevertheless, at the same time, we remain happy with the happiness that Jesus gives us through Faith, Salvation & all the wonderful blessings that come with it. Thanks to Jesus, we know that all of our sins are forgiven & that we're saved from Hell & bound for an eternity of happiness in Heaven! So whatever our temporal feelings happen to be, our happiness abides! Happy feelings fluctuate, they come & go, but our state of happiness remains. However, for the unsaved, for the Worldlings, because they don't know Jesus, they can't be truly & permanently happy, although they do sometimes experience a kind of temporary happiness in the form of positive emotions or happy feelings.
29. So the brief momentary spurts of joy or delight or ecstasy that they sometimes experience is the only happiness they know--God's merciful bestowing of His blessings on "the just (as well as) the unjust" (Mat.5:45). These passing incidents of happiness include experiences such as the temporary ecstasy of sex or the thrill of being able to do something they've always wanted to, etc. But then almost as quickly as it comes, it goes again. So this is only a taste of real happiness. They can't have genuine lasting happiness without the Lord. Their only happiness is very brief & fleeting, it comes & it goes. They may experience the momentary pleasures of this World that last only "for a season" (Heb.11:25), but we, God's children, have everlasting happiness that can only come from knowing the Author of True happiness, Jesus. (Isa.35:10; 61:7.)
30. The Lord is so good to us, He not only gives us this greatest of all happiness, the permanent state of happiness that comes from knowing Him & being filled with His Spirit, but He also frequently gives us all the wonderful feelings of happiness as well--thrills, excitement, pleasure, ecstasy, delight--feelings that we often reflect in our physical behaviour when we smile or laugh or clap our hands or dance or jump up & down for joy, etc.
31. Even though such feelings of excitement & thrill & ecstasy are not a necessity nor something that we hinge our faith upon, nevertheless, because the Lord loves us & wants us to enjoy life, He gives us these feelings as a pleasurable experience, as sort of a bonus. These feelings & sensations of happiness are often the exception rather than the rule, but we do receive them from the Lord on occasion, & when we do, we count them as a blessing! But we must not expect them all the time or demand & insist that He give them to us, or think that we have to have them as some kind of a sign by which we gauge whether or not we're close to the Lord.
32. So we, God's children, actually have the best of all Worlds, the best of everything!--We have true, genuine, permanent happiness that comes from knowing Jesus. We're also frequently blessed with thrills & excitement of the Spirit that result in tangible feelings, sensations & spiritual "highs."--Not to mention the feelings of peace, contentment & spiritual rest that we usually have just from knowing that we're the Lord's & under His loving care. Then on top of all this, the Lord also lets us experience all of the pleasurable sights, sounds, feelings, scents & tastes that He has created as a part of His natural Creation.--The very things that most of the poor unsaved people of the World turn to & seek after as their sole means of obtaining happiness of any kind!
33. In fact, we derive even more happiness & pleasure & enjoyment from the natural World than the unsaved worldly folks do! Although they obtain a certain measure of pleasure, peace & temporal happiness from the wonderful natural Creation, "because they know not God, neither glorify Him as God, & neither are they even thankful" to Him for all the wonders He has made, they are therefore sadly "vain in their imaginations, & their foolish hearts are darkened."--Rom.1:21. But when we, God's saved children, enjoy His Creation, we not only marvel at the works of His hands, but we see Him in His handiwork! And we understand Him better by the things He has made, & we truly glorify & praise Him & are very thankful, having our hearts enlightened!
34. So even though those in the World can partake of the very same beautiful & inspiring sights, moving, soothing & melodic sounds, fragrant scents, delicious tastes, & pleasurable & stimulating sensations & feelings that we partake of & enjoy, because they know not God, & glorify Him not as God (Rom.1:18-22), they refuse to perceive His Love for them through all these natural wonders that He has given them. In fact, they refuse to even know that He has given them these things. They refuse to even thank Him for it all or translate their enjoyment of it into prayer & praise & thanksgiving to God, as we do. So how empty, shallow, superficial & meaningless their "joy" & "happiness" is in comparison with our happiness, because we personally know the Creator of it all, the One Who is happiness Himself, "Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy!"--1Tim.6:17. TYJ!
"FAITH (IN THE WORD) IS THE VICTORY!"--1Jn.5:4
35. I must say, I'm amazed at people who think they not only have to have these highs & excitement & thrills part of the time, but all of the time, & virtually demand it of the Lord! And if they don't get them, they weep & cry & beg, thinking, "Oh my, something's terribly wrong!" Their faith is not placed where it belongs! There's a verse that says, "Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of Man" (1Cor.2:5), & it looks to me, Tony, like your faith is resting more in your own wisdom & what you think should be done than it rests in the power of God & the truth of His Word! Therefore it's not firm faith, it's not real faith!
36. How sad that you've had to agonise & cry & weep & plead & beg for emotional highs or feelings when all God wants you to do is to simply believe & have faith. You've asked & asked & asked for something that He's already given & you already have. When you asked your Heavenly Father for bread, He didn't give you a stone, He gave you bread!--Mat.7:7-11. The problem is, you just don't like the kind of bread He's given you! You've rejected it. You want something more tasty, more titillating, more exotic!--Something you can feel!
37. And you even have the gall & the arrogance & the presumption to admit, after all your murmuring that you can't feel God through your emotions, that God has often touched you emotionally & given you the feelings that you demand!--And clearly shown you that He is with you! But just because He doesn't give them to you all the time & keep you on that emotional high constantly, you murmur & complain that the only thing left is the Word, & that the Word is not enough! So you continue to beg Him for that excitement & thrill, just like a little spoiled child who easily becomes unhappy & dissatisfied & demands to be constantly entertained.
38. You complain that the thrill of the feelings & "touches" the Lord has given you fades away, & the only thing that's left is the Word: "So I continue hungering for that personal touch." You belittle & demean the Word when you say, "Oh, all I've got left is this same old thing, the Word, & all the thrill & excitement & personal touch just fades away!" Of course that fades away! The only thing that lasts is the Word! "Heaven & Earth shall pass away but My Word shall never pass away! Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven!"--Mat.24:35; Psa.119:89. So it seems that you need a major rewiring of your outlook on the faith walk. It is just that, a faith walk, & not a sight or feeling or thrill or excitement walk!
39. Maybe you should read "But If Not" again (ML #313), about how faith & obedience come first, & then God answers prayer! Your main burden & desire should be to be obedient & yielded to the Lord, to love Jesus with your whole heart.--Not to see signs & wonders or to feel great feelings. You would do much better & become much stronger if instead of hungering so much for "that personal touch," you would hunger more for the Word, & live & dwell in the Word! Then you would be like the tree that's planted by the rivers of waters that will be bringing forth the Lord's fruit.--If you meditate in the Law of the Lord day & night! (Psalm 1)
40. Tony, you should be ashamed of yourself! You've grown up in the Family & you pride yourself in your knowledge of the Word--the Bible & the MO Letters--& here you come out with a statement like that, that the Word isn't enough, you need something more! Jesus is the Word, & the Word is Jesus! You cannot separate the two, they're one & the same. So what you're actually saying is that Jesus is not enough!
41. But how can you say that Jesus isn't enough?--You've got to have more than Jesus? How can you have more than Jesus?! What do you want? You not only have the gall to murmur & complain because the Lord doesn't give you a constant stream of signs & wonders & miracles & voices & revelations, but you have the audacity to suggest that you should have more than Jesus! What you're saying is that Jesus is not enough & that there's something wrong with the plan & purpose that God has laid out for His people! You don't agree that they should live & walk simply by faith, in the quiet assurance of just knowing by faith that He's with them & is touching them daily, without having to walk by sight or hearing or feeling. You're saying you know better than God, & you have a better way! (Does he have any faith?! He sounds like Judas!--The Devil!)
THE SERIOUSNESS OF MURMURING, COMPLAINING & CRITICISING!
42. Tony, you have not only been very privileged to be brought up in our very special Family which has a very special high calling, but even within this Family you have been exceptionally privileged. You've been given a lot of special attention & special honour due to your gifts & talents. You have received a lot of tender loving care & counsel from many of the Family's leaders.
43. You mentioned that it's since you've come to Japan that you've had all of these difficult battles & trials. Instead of complaining, you should be thanking the Lord that He's brought you to Japan! It's where the Lord has not only put the squeeze on you & pointed out your problems & weaknesses, but where He's been able to give you the guidance & direction & counsel & supervision that you so desperately need to help bring you into line with His Will & to make you into the man that He wants you to be!
44. You have also been privileged to be a part of the very special Victor Program where the Shepherds there poured their lives & hearts into you to try to help you overcome your problems.--Problems which were partly due to all of the exaltation you have received in the past, & problems which were partly due to the contamination, pollution & corruption of the System. I'm sure there were other problems as well, & that you are not entirely to blame for all of them. (He's a spoiled brat!)
45. However, when you arrived at the Victor Program (shortly after you had come to Japan), a special setting & time with the Lord where you were able to get very intensive, specialised, wise counselling & treatment, the Lord was saying to you, "OK Tony, now it's up to you to overcome these things!--You've got to let go of the past & not blame others any more. It's time for you to grow up & take the responsibility yourself to be what I want you to be!" (And he flubbed!)
46. You have been abundantly blessed in so many ways! You've been privileged to be able to attend the Area witnessing pow-wows & meetings, sitting in a leadership role when the Shepherds have discussed & prayed about the direction of the local witnessing outreach. Your request to be able to go on faith trips has been granted, & you've also been able to play an active role in the very important outreach & follow-up programs to reach & minister to the Family's kings & contacts. You've also been able to be a part of the youth outreach band, working with some of our top musicians.
47. The Lord has also blessed you with a sweet wife, a wonderful child, a wonderful ministry, good Shepherds & very comfortable living conditions. He has poured out His blessings abundantly upon you, giving you every chance to show your love for Him, your thankfulness & gratefulness to Him, by your obedience & your faith & your love for others. Yet Tony, you have persisted in your disobedience & your breaking of God's laws by continually listening to the Enemy's lies & critical thoughts! The Lord commands us to think positively & talk positively & be positive (Phil.4:8), but your criticalness & negative outlook have been destroying you until the Devil almost has you completely in his pocket now.
48. Sad to say, your attitude & outlook seem to indicate that you have chosen to have closer fellowship with the Devil than with the Lord! You have chosen to listen to the Enemy's doubts instead of God's faith, & you have chosen to accept his lies instead of the Lord's Truth. You have chosen to criticise & tear others down instead of lifting them up. You have chosen to continually murmur instead of constantly praise. You have chosen to have "fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (Eph.5:11) instead of submitting & yielding yourself to God, & resisting & rebuking the Enemy so he will flee from you! (Jam.4:7.) You have chosen to "lean to your own understanding" instead of "trusting in the Lord with all your heart." (Pro.3:5)
49. You have chosen to "speak evil against dignitaries & authorities" (your Shepherds) instead of praying for & honouring them as the Lord commands. (2Pet.2:10; 1Th.5:12,13.) You have chosen to continually see the weaknesses & sins & faults & failings of others instead of covering their sins with love. (1Pet.4:8.) You have chosen to sow discord & doubt in your wife (Pro.6:19), as well as many others, instead of "endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph.4:3.) You have chosen to allow a "root of bitterness to spring up" & thrive (Heb.12:15), instead of "putting all bitterness & wrath & anger & evil speaking away from you" as God's Word commands! (Eph.4:31.)
50. You haven't just unknowingly slipped or somehow innocently fallen into all of these different sins & disobediences & murmurs. You have been talked to & counselled with by your Shepherds repeatedly about these things! You have had the benefit of a very concentrated & intensive time of good training under good Shepherds with lots of good counselling & warnings & Word on these matters, yet you have wilfully chosen to indulge in or hang on to all of these serious problems!
51. Tony, I'm sorry I have to be so firm here, but I'm trying to help you one last time to see what your problem is. It's not with others, it's not your circumstances, it's you! You have wonderful circumstances.--And even if you didn't, even if you lived in terrible conditions under difficult taskmasters who were unable to minister to you as you would like, without loving people surrounding you daily, the Lord's grace is still sufficient. (2Cor.12:9; Deut.33:25.)
52. He gives us power to rise above our circumstances. We can be "more than conquerors through Him Who loves us" (Rom.8:37), we know how to be "abased, as well as how to abound." (Phil.4:12.) We can even be "troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair." (2Cor.4:8,9.) Despite our outward circumstances, we can be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord.--Letting none of these things move us." (1Cor.15:58; Acts 20:24.)
53. Although you've been in one of the best situations in the entire Family, you are still murmuring & complaining & blaming everything on others, & even criticising the Lord because you say He doesn't give you His touch. You don't need more of God's touch; you already have that. Yet you spurn Him, you virtually slap Him in the face by your unyieldedness, your self-righteousness, your murmuring, your doubt, your criticism. Dear Tony, what you need to do, the solution to your problems, is to throw away your own plans & programs, & sign the Lord's.
54. Not only are you murmuring & complaining against God for what He hasn't given you--when you have more than almost anyone in the whole World--but you're also murmuring & complaining about the Family & your leadership & the Word & the spiritual principles that are all priceless privileges that God in His Love has given you! You're even railing against those who have trained you & taught you & helped you to develop the talents & skills & knowledge that you're now so proud of having acquired. You're biting the hand that has fed you, & criticising the people who have loved you.
55. You know, your name used to be Zack Attack. Well, it appears that you're now attacking everybody but yourself! You should be attacking your problems & sins & NWOs, & not attacking everybody & everything else, & even God! (I'm fed up with him! Kick him out!)
INDEPENDENCE & REBELLION AGAINST RESTRICTIONS!
56. Let's face it, Tony, you want to be your own boss, you don't want to be under anyone's authority, not even God's! You don't like the way God does things, you don't like the way the Family does things. But if you wind up backsliding, I'm sure you won't like the way the World does things either! Your head will still be bloody but unbowed. (He needs it!)
57. You seem to really like yourself, & you seem to think you're very good & that everyone else is wrong except you! You've shown a very proud, self-righteous, critical & murmuring attitude, speaking against dignitaries & sowing discord amongst brethren. Your problem is that you're not willing to forsake all you have to be His disciple, nor to make the sacrifices necessary to be in God's wonderful Endtime Army. You chafe against all the restrictions & the things you can't do.--Yet you even admit that there are very good reasons why you can't do them. You say that our kids can hardly do anything that System kids are allowed to do to have fun. (Ha!)
58. You're complaining, "I'm not allowed to go skateboarding or climb trees, etc. I don't think these restrictions by these older leaders are fair!" Tony, what if you were in charge of a Home yourself & you were responsible for the safety & well-being of your Home's Members, making sure everyone's needs were met, etc.? What if your Home's best witnesser wanted to go out skateboarding or ice skating on his free day, so you let him go, & he fell & hurt his back, & as a result was laid up in bed for weeks or months?--How would you feel if you were the Home Shepherd & you were responsible "as they that must give account"?--Heb.13:17.
59. Imagine how you'd feel if this brother was unable to go out witnessing or keep any follow-up appointments or attend any meetings, & was thus unable to minister to or win any of the souls that the Lord wanted him to reach!--All because you condoned his going out & doing something that was unnecessarily risky & dangerous! His inability to go out could also make it more difficult for your Home to meet its rent & utility payments, which could mean that all of the other Home Members might have to spend extra time out & less time at home attending their different ministries because of this lack of yours!
60. And what if, on top of all of that, this injured brother was faced with questions from the local health department or the hospital or the police, wanting to know why he had this accident?--Or why he wasn't insured or inoculated or registered or whatever.--All because you, the Shepherd, had not more closely overseen his get-out activities on his free day! How would you feel about that?
61. We recently received a report about one of our adult musicians there who got his back or neck completely out of whack as a result of an ice-skating fall.--And it was a serious & painful problem that disabled him & hindered his ministry for weeks. I know they tried different competitive sports at the HCS, & they were having so many broken bones, twisted ankles & pulled muscles that they finally had to put severe restrictions on it.
62. You also brought out how you don't like having to yield to older leadership. Don't forget the fact that when we joined the Family in our late teens & early 20s, our leadership was Dad, & he was definitely older leadership to us! The Family was very regimented then, in fact, even more so than it is now, but we took it because we knew that Dad had the truth & he was our Shepherd & we needed that seniority of the spirit that he had. In fact, Dad still continues to be our older leadership!
63. Tony, if you'll read the Bible & the Letters, you'll see that living for Jesus is a daily sacrifice, it's supposed to mean taking up your cross & following Him. It's a denying of yourself, it's a forsaking all, it's fighting the good fight. (Luk.9:23,24; 14:33; 1Tim.6:12.) It's not only abounding, but it's also being abased & being content with such things as you have. (Phi.4:11,12.) It also means being yielded to authority. (Heb.13:17.)
64. In short, it's being in an Army. It's being disciplined, united, regimented, working very hard together for the same goals. It's subordinating our own desires to the desires of God's Work & His Family. It's suffering for Jesus' sake. And if we're yielded to all of that & putting Jesus first, He then often gives us the kind of fun that will be good for us & in accord with our work for Him.
65. You mentioned that you're not even allowed to climb trees. Although we don't have official Family-wide rules or policies specifically against tree-climbing & skateboarding, such rules sound like a good idea, & we certainly agree with & support your local leadership's concern for the safety of their flocks. And it seems to me that foregoing such activities is a very small sacrifice to make for the Lord's Work, & to ensure that you remain strong & healthy without broken bones that could lay you up for weeks, in which case you couldn't do anything for Jesus.
66. Why do things that could very easily damage the temple that the Lord dwells in? (As some have!) The number of bumps, bruises & broken bones resulting from skateboarding injuries is something that even the System is concerned about now.--Which is why they promote all kinds of elaborate & expensive protective gear for their kids who insist on doing it! Several years ago we had a skateboard injury in our own Home when Davida fell off of a skateboard & broke one of her teeth.--But for the mercy of God, it could have been much more serious. So why risk breaking bones, chipping teeth & doing serious damage to yourself--or to any of our kids--who need their health & strength to preach the Gospel & glorify God?
67. As far as horse riding goes, horses are wonderful animals & nice to ride, & we don't have any hard & fast worldwide Family rule against riding them. However, most of our Family don't really know much about how to ride them safely & properly. And since we don't usually have our own horses, it would mean riding someone else's horse, an animal whose training, temperament & spirit we don't really know much about.--Which, of course, could be very risky & dangerous for whoever rides it, & could lead to a serious mishap or accident. Even skilled & trained riders experience bone-breaking falls, being thrown, kicked, bitten & otherwise hurt by their--or other's--horses. So if your Shepherds suggest that you forego horse riding, it seems like a very understandable & small sacrifice to make for the Lord & His Work's sake.
68. You also say that our kids aren't allowed to watch TV. I happen to know that most of our kids have plenty of opportunity to watch good videos, most of which originally came from TV. But why would you want to corrupt & pervert your mind with the violence, filth & garbage that is portrayed on most of today's TV shows?
69. You also mentioned that our 15-year-olds are not allowed to "have sex, eat candy, go out with friends, etc.; all the things that System teens do to have fun." Tony, considering the very serious persecution & false criminal accusations that our enemies have stirred up against the Family recently, surely you must understand why we don't allow our underage Teens to have sex! And you must also realise that our discouraging people from eating white-sugar candy has nothing to do with 15-year-olds or Teens in particular. We discourage everyone--children, Teens & adults--from rotting their teeth & perverting their appetites with good-for-nothing System rot!
70. And if by "going out with friends" you're referring to fellowshipping with non-Family Members, you know that the Word says to "Come out from among them & be ye separate."--2Cor.6:17. If you're talking about going out with Family Members, you know that we do go out all the time--out witnessing & preaching the Gospel to every creature, or to tend to whatever other business the Lord would have us do.--As well as on recreational & fun outings. But of course we don't send our young Teens out on their own into the System just for the sake of "going out!" Jesus Himself warned us to "Beware of men," & that as God's children in this World, we are as "sheep in the midst of wolves."--Mat.10:16,17. So we'd be very foolish & poor Shepherds to send our sheep out of the safety of the Fold into the wilderness of this wicked World just so they could "go out!" (He's in love with the World & its pleasures!)
A "LAST CHANCE" CALL TO REPENTANCE!
71. Tony, all I can say is that I feel very sorry for you, because at the rate you're going, it looks like you're headed out into the System. By your own admission, you've thought about leaving the Family, & quite frankly, unless you have a radical change of heart, I can't really see that there is any other way for you to learn that you're wrong, except by experiencing the Hell that the System has to offer. You have no idea how much freedom you have, how much love you're shown, how much you're accomplishing that's of true value & eternal worth.
72. You say you don't like your Shepherds & you don't like being under their authority?--And you think you have to "endure" a lot to live with them 24 hours a day? And you think that being under a System boss for only 8 hours a day might be easier? Tony, you have no idea how good you've got it now!--And how horrible it is in the swinepit of this filthy World! Here you're complaining about your good, Godly, Spirit-filled Shepherds who love & care for you, who are genuinely concerned about you, that you're doing your best for Jesus & pleasing Him.--And you're daydreaming how life might be better under some ungodly, Mammon-motivated Systemite slave-driver whose only concern about you is to use you to make more money for himself! Living & working in the System isn't just an 8-hour ordeal, it's total bondage & soul-slavery for 24 hours a day!
73. This Letter is a last chance, Tony. I'm writing you as a last resort to try to shake you up & wake you up to where you stand, & to try to get you to come to your senses! Everybody's been so patient with you & so longsuffering, spending hour after hour counselling you & consoling you & trying to help you to see things right. Somebody's got to just finally give it to you right straight between the eyes & really lay down the law & show you what's happening to you!--And show you how you're not only hurting yourself, destroying your own usefulness for the Lord, but also hurting a lot of others around you as well.
74. You think you're a slave & you're in bondage now?--Just wait until you see what kind of slave you'll be in the System! Just wait until you see what kind of bondage the System offers! "While they promise you liberty, they themselves (in this case, the Systemites) are the servants of corruption: For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage!"--2Pet.2:19. (See also vs.20-22!) How lost, how alone, how fearful, how much of a slave to the System you would be--without any loving, without anyone caring, without anyone supporting you, without any loving fellowship. You think you have to endure a lot in the Family?--Just wait until you see what the System has to offer!
75. Your problem isn't that you haven't known what's right & you haven't known the right thing. You have had the Truth & you know the Truth & you've had it all along, but you've rejected it! You want to do your own thing, you want to go your own way, you want to have your own program, so therefore the Lord has sent you strong delusion that you might believe a lie!--2Th.2:10-12. That's why you can't "rightly divide" the Word. You've been trying to divide it for your own purposes. The Bible warns us against "wresting the Scriptures" which can lead to destruction! (2Pet.3:16.) (Cast him out!)
76. You're "unstable in all your ways" (Jam. 1:7,8) because you've chosen your own way & you're refusing to yield to the Lord. You want to do it your way.--Like that awful "Invictus" poem, "My head is bloody but unbowed!" You haven't liked the way things are & you haven't wanted to accept them, so you've been going your own way & you've been trying to do it your own way, & you've been trying to make the Word fit into your own program.--Therefore, because you've been rebelling against the Truth for so long, you're now deluded & believing a lie! (And unworthy of the Family!)
77. Of course, at first you knew & recognised the Truth, but after a while, after you rebelled for so long against it, the Lord then sent you strong delusion & you began thinking that your own way is the Truth. When you first began rebelling against the Truth, you knew it was the Truth, but you just didn't like it. But because you've rebelled so long against it, you have now become confused & you don't even know what's right any more. And the reason you've rejected the Truth is because you've wanted to go your own way, you've wanted to have your own program, you've wanted to do your own thing. So now you're really in bad, sad shape!
78. The problem is, Tony, you've got a "form of Godliness," your own form, the way you think things should be, the way you think is best, but "without the Power thereof!"--2Tim.3:5. You won't let go & let God have His way & let the Lord rule your life. Therefore, He can't show you His power. It's your sins that have separated you from Him--your sins of rebellion & defiance & murmuring, unyieldedness, criticism, self-righteousness, pride & unbelief. That's why you can hear the Word but not experience it, not have it come alive in your life.
79. "The Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from Him."--Isa.59:1,2. You've rejected His Truth because you've wanted to do things your own way. Therefore He's sent you strong delusion that you might believe a lie, & now you blame everyone else except yourself! You have to criticise everything, every policy & blame every leader for mistakes & failings & shortcomings so you can justify your own reasons for separating yourself. "To obey is better than sacrifice, & to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, & stubbornness is as iniquity & idolatry!"--1Sam.15:22,23.
80. Tony, I'm afraid that you have been weighed in the balances & found wanting. God is pointing the finger at you, not at the Family, not at the leadership, not at the rules. No, we're not perfect, we don't pretend to be. We acknowledge that we're not, we acknowledge there are areas that are lacking, & we also acknowledge that we're working on them. That's why we've recently had the DTR, to try to change some things, to try to improve things. And now, after the DTR is in place, we are evaluating things to see what we can do better & what problems still need to be remedied. We know there are areas that need to be worked on. (Yours!)
81. Life is always full of challenges & problems for which solutions need to be found. And this is our job, to continue helping the Family to be more fruitful, satisfied & happy in their work for the Lord. But Tony, I'm afraid in this case the Lord is pointing the finger at you. While you've been trying to point your finger at others, you've had three other fingers pointing back at you.
82. Just remember, Tony, without love, everything is in vain, it profiteth nothing. Your talent for speaking, your gift of writing, your beautiful singing voice, your skill at teaching, all these are nothing without love.--Love for Him first of all, & then love for others.--Not necessarily an emotional love where your heart goes pitty-pat, or the tears run down your face, but a love that shows itself through your actions & your behaviour & your words.--As well as through your obedience, your faithfulness to the Lord, & your perseverance & willingness to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ Jesus."--2Tim.2:3. Tony, you should take a close look at 1Corinthians 13. Check it out & see how you compare.
83. Hebrews Chapter 11 would be another good one for you to study. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, & that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."--Heb.11:6. If you diligently seek Him, Tony, no holds barred, no strings attached, He will reward you. But if you don't believe that, if you won't believe His Word, you can't please Him!
84. I love you, Tony. I've heard a lot about you through the years, & I know the Lord could mightily use you & would like to. I'm sure that He loves you very much. He's been trying to get through to you for months & months, years now, but you've hardened your heart & you've refused to listen to counsel & you've refused to accept the answers that He's trying to give you even by His top leaders who we know are anointed & inspired & love you very much, who have done all they can to try to help you. So I fear for your spiritual life & usefulness to the Lord unless you yield to His Will. If you persist & insist on continuing to do it on your own, He will let you learn the hard way. "The way of the transgressor is hard!"--Pro.13:15. (Amen!)
85. I pray that you will receive this admonition & counsel, even as my own children, David & Techi, have had to learn to accept public exposure & correction in different Letters that have been published. Remember that the Lord says, "As many as I love, I rebuke & chasten!"--Rev.3:19. As I said earlier, I'm sorry to be so stern with you, Tony, but the Lord definitely laid it on my heart to "deliver my soul" to you & let you "have it," so I'm hoping & praying that you will be mature enough to receive this Letter as a token of my & Grandpa's & the Lord's Love for you.--And that you will heed its counsel & "lay aside the weights & sins that have beset you" (Heb.12:1), as you earnestly seek the Lord & yield your all to Him.--And let Him make you the new creature He wants you to be. I love you & am praying for you.--Maria.
86. P.S.: After I dictated this Letter, I received a copy of the letter that Marianne wrote you. I hadn't even known previously that she had written you. Nor did I know the details that came in the message from Josiah & Marianne & Ricky. So it was a real confirmation that the Lord gave us a lot of the same verses & insight into your problem, Tony, confirming it in the mouths of several witnesses. (Amen!)
87. You might feel like you're unable to take this Letter because it's public exposure. But remember, Tony, you've had public praise for years & years! Many people have looked up to you. You were exalted in Latin America, you've been in Eastern Europe, you've been in recording studios, your articles & poems have been published, your songs have been sung, songs that you wrote are on DTD tapes. You've had all kinds of exaltation, so this humiliation is "the price you pay for playing in the Big Top."
88. "Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear!"--1Tim.5:20. This is a lesson that virtually all of our leaders have had to learn over the years, to be able to take public rebuke & correction, that others may learn from their mistakes. You can look back to the earliest MO Letters & see that almost without exception, all of our leaders--who, by the way, were about the same age then as you are now--received public chastening & rebuke in order to become better vessels for the Lord's service. (If you can't stand heat, get outta the Kitchen!)
89. You get the exaltation, but you also have to be able to take the humiliation of public exposure or public correction for your mistakes.--Because if you're not corrected, just as with any leader, their mistakes & wrong attitudes & NWOs easily filter down to & affect others. So again, Tony, please know that I love you & that I'm praying you'll be able to take this correction to heart, & will let the Lord use it to break & remake you into the man that He wants you to be.
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family