KEYWORDS: things, time, world, lord, spirit

Shooting Straight, Part 10

November 27, 2004

God's views on current issues and attitudes in the Family

By MariaFD/MM/FM 3514 11/04


The issue:

1. The pull of TV entertainment and sports is strong in many of our Family Homes. While quite a number of years ago, most of you wouldn't have dreamed of sitting in front of the tube so regularly, and for many hours at a time, in more recent years it had become the norm in some Homes. Sadly, before the renewal, many of you had let your guards down over time, to the point that you were quite sucked into and addicted to the world of TV entertainment and/or sports viewing. As with every other inroad of worldly input, we asked the Lord for His updated views on the issue.

God's mind on the matter:

2. (Jesus: ) I told you at the onset that the renewal was going to be a time to wash yourselves clean from the mud, the dirt and the grime of this world‚ a time to form new mindsets and develop new habits. But I explained that going through that time of cleansing and forsaking wasn't going to do you personally—or the Family as a whole—any good if you go right back to the mud of your previous habits and ways of living after the renewal. I also explained that the renewal was meant to show you the great benefits of minimizing System input, so that when the time of fasting was over, you wouldn't want to go hog-wild back to your former lifestyles, and that you would want to really count the cost regarding any System input you allow into your Homes and lives post-renewal.

3. There's an ancient proverb that explains this same principle very plainly, one that was repeated by the apostle Peter as a warning to the church of his day. Let Me repeat it once again for you here, because it's very fitting at this time: "If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2Peter 2:20, 22).

4. That's pretty strong language, I know. But by using it, I hope to emphasize the importance of your decisions regarding your free-time activities in the future. Those of you who have in the past watched TV indiscriminately, or who regularly wasted too much of your time on certain types of System input, activities, or forms of entertainment, just imagine yourselves as a hog, wallowing in the dirt and mud, or a dog in its own vomit‚ because that's what it will be like in the spirit every time you backslide in this regard and go back to your old ways.

5. I want you to understand, though‚ that I know it will require lots of yieldedness, prayer and counsel when deciding what to allow, and then lots of determination and a regular "pulling up of your socks" in order to stick with it. Just because you've gone through a few months of fasting worldly input doesn't mean that you'll now automatically have the right balance and the right attitudes, or that there will no longer be any pull or temptation from the "former things." You're still there in the world, after all, continually being pulled by "the lust of the flesh‚ the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." All these things will remain very real and powerful, especially in the modern world you live in.

6. And as technology increases, you can be certain these pulls will become even stronger. The Enemy will continue to fight against you, trying to fill your lives, hearts, and thoughts with anything but Me, and thereby distract and seduce you and pull you down off the wall and away from your important responsibilities and calling.

7. Satan has many tactics that he uses to try to occupy and take control of the hearts and minds of men, and get them to waste away or even destroy their lives. He continually bombards them with sights and sounds and seducing spirits. People don't want to have to think for themselves and make hard choices. They want to be entertained, they want "away from thinking‚" and the Enemy is more than happy to oblige them. But unfortunately, things aren't the way they seem. Satan and his puppets in the media and entertainment industry do give people what they want—away from thinking—and he does oblige them, by filling up their lives with mind–and heart-numbing entertainment.

8. But all the while he's keeping them from having to think for themselves, he's actually bit by bit taking control of their lives. He's usurping their thought processes and subtly leading them to think and feel about things the way he wants them to feel—both through the programming he chooses to feed them and through ingenious advertising, promoting worldliness and the acquisition of things as if that's what life is all about.

9. And how does the Enemy accomplish all this? Of all his machinations, there is practically no other weapon—whether in the realm of the flesh or of the spirit—that he uses more injuriously than television. In just a few decades it has become one of his weapons of choice in the battle for world domination. TV has allowed Satan and his ungodly minions and mindsets to infiltrate and firmly entrench themselves deeply inside practically every home on Earth—slowly, methodically‚ and very purposefully destroying seeds of faith, while planting the seeds of lethargy, worldliness, and rebellion against My ways. There could hardly be a more effective and destructive weapon.

10. During any given hour, on any given day, with one fell swoop, one witty or interesting program—and even with many that are totally boring and stupid—the Enemy is able to occupy hundreds of millions of households in every nation and practically every culture on Earth, completely taking them over.

11. Of course‚ television itself isn't bad or evil; it can sometimes be used to accomplish a lot of good, and even to preach the Gospel and spread the news of My Kingdom throughout the Earth. Even some of the programming that isn't necessarily that great isn't always that bad, either. I know that. I know that there are many levels and shades of worldly entertainment and programming, some of which are more or less just time-fillers.

12. But all filling of your time is something that you, My children, need to take very seriously, for time is a precious gift. The time I've given you on Earth, I would have you use wisely—to do that which is good, that which will last—not to waste it on that which is vanity.

13. During these months of spiritual renewal, as you refrained from drinking from the broken cisterns of the world, as you took in more of My life-giving waters and tasted more of Me, My desire is that you have discovered the truth of the verse‚ "O taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8)—that I, and I alone, have what you want and need and long for. "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1-2). "With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early" (Isaiah 26:9).

14. That, My loves, is the way I long for you to desire and seek after Me, for that is how I long for and seek after you. But I understand that you won't always necessarily feel this way, and that now that the restrictions are lifted, you'll be tempted to go back to some of your old watering holes, some of your old bad habits and addictions when it comes to TV viewing. You will have to come to Me regularly, as the scripture says, both to know what is My will and the right balance, and also to do of My good pleasure (Phil.2:13). The choice is up to you and your Home to prayerfully decide what to allow and how often. But there are certain guidelines I will give you here which should help you as you decide.

15. First of all, let Me speak very plainly regarding TV and other System input for your children. It's to be understood that you should never, never use the television as a babysitter. You should never let your kids watch live TV unless it's an inspiring or educational program that I've given My consent on, and one which, whenever possible‚ you've taped for them beforehand, so that you can have the option of fast-forwarding anything that's not edifying—including commercials.

16. I know that in the smaller Homes of recent years‚ it's sometimes been difficult to tune in to your children and give them the care and training that you would like to be able to give them, and some of you have opted to let videos or TV do the work for you. But as you form bigger Homes and more well-rounded teams, it will hopefully make it easier for you to give them the godly care, input‚ and training they deserve.

17. It should be obvious, because even worldly psychologists and educational experts are all agreed, but if by any chance some of you are still wondering what's so bad about letting your kids watch TV, let Me ask you this: What would you think about the idea of asking a worldly television or Hollywood producer, or perhaps a major network owner, to come to your Home and babysit for you while you're busy with other things? Would you even consider it? Would you invite one of those worldly comedians or entertainers to your Home, and tell them they're welcome to do or say whatever they want with your kids?

18. Well, that's exactly what some of you have done in times past by your use of TV and videos to keep your children occupied and happy. Don't do it! Period! Don't ever just sit your kids in front of the TV or computer or a System video unless you've cleared it with Me and it's something I've approved—not if you care about your kids at all.

19. As far as those of you who are old enough to make your own prayerful decisions, the warning is the same. Don't let these ungodly networks and producers come in and have free rein to take up your valuable time and infiltrate your Homes. Don't ever just sit down in front of the television without a specific purpose. If there's something scheduled to come on that you feel might be interesting and worth taking your time to watch‚ first clear it with Me and get My counsel on it. Next, all those who plan to watch it should also check with Me. Even though I will help you to decide on united guidelines regarding what kind of TV viewing and how much is allowable, My counsel for each person will be tailor–made for that person, according to what I know you need and don't need.

20. Normally, it wouldn't be wise to just sit down in front of the TV and channel surf, especially if there are a number of people sitting there with you. Each person's time is very valuable, even your free time, but the more people involved‚ the more time is being taken. You should never waste your own time, of course. But even more so, you shouldn't waste others' time, or subject them to indiscriminate, unprayed-about TV viewing by clicking from one channel to the next, unless you're trying to find something specific that I've already given you the okay for.

21. If you're watching the news or a documentary together‚ make sure you're all agreed on what program is usually most beneficial and unbiased, and then if possible, tape it ahead of time and use the tape, rather than have the whole group wade through lots of unnecessary repetition, or commercials‚ or things that are just a waste of time. If for some reason that's not possible, then at least do what you can to safeguard your time and spirits, such as muting the sound during commercials and doing something more productive with those moments, and avoiding channel surfing.

22. It's not going to be the end of the world if you forget to put the tape in and you end up watching a few commercials, and I wouldn't want anyone in the Home to get hung up on the letter of the law or react self-righteously. But remember, in the past too much compromise with the world was allowed, and now is the time to do what you can to minimize ungodly input.

23. Regarding watching certain specific TV programs or a series that comes on every week, if it's something that you feel is worthwhile, not only should the Home prayerfully decide together whether to allow it‚ but again, each one who would like to watch it should also come to Me about it, and not just once, but on a regular basis.

24. Generally, I would advise you to stick with programs that are obviously edifying‚ and not waste your time regularly watching things like comedy series or series that major on the lives and loves of some group of people. These may seem innocent enough, and some may be. But with these types of programs—most of which are based on worldly attitudes and relationships‚ and often on the attitudes and cynical humor of countries like the U.S., and others which are just as bad—when you watch them regularly, week after week, as some people do—sometimes even year after year—there's a much greater likelihood that the wrong attitudes, worldly mindsets, ungodly personalities, and speech patterns will gradually seep in and stick with you.

25. When you watch the same characters and dramas over and over, week after week‚ unless it is a series that I've said is okay and good for you, it will have a much more far-reaching and weakening effect on your spirit than even watching a very bad movie that you see just once. The characters and their attitudes and humor gradually become a part of your life‚ and subtly work their way into your thought patterns and even personality—just as much a part of you as anything else you do on a regular basis. So, before you allow something, anything, to become habitual and take up your time on a regular basis, it had really better be worthwhile.

26. Regarding keeping up with sports news, the guidelines for My post–renewal Family will be very different from what had become the norm for many of you in the past, just as it will be with all other forms of System input and entertainment. Those of you who aren't interested in sports, and who have a hard time understanding why anyone would even want to waste their time in this way, please don't fall into the snare of the Enemy by becoming critical of those who do enjoy watching occasional sports. This too will have to be something the whole Home, and everyone in it, will have to come to Me for counsel about.

27. Some of you are able to have the right balance regarding sports and sports viewing. You're able to both participate and play‚ and also watch a game from time to time without it becoming overly important to you who wins, and without it affecting your spirit in a negative, worldly way. Others of you aren't able to do this; you become addicted, obsessive, overly competitive‚ aggressive and worldly about it. When that happens, you're no longer obeying the principle of being in the world but not of it.

28. Because there's so much easy access to sports programs and news—either on TV, the radio, Internet, or newspapers, and very little break in the scheduling of games, finals, playoffs, and championships for one sport after the other—many in the world today‚ and some in the Family, have become addicted to following sports. Some are more addicted and passionate about certain sports, or perhaps just in regards to their favorite teams, while others are simply addicted to keeping up with sports in general. But an addiction is an addiction. I would ask each one of you to review the counsel I gave you at the beginning of the renewal regarding your own personal addictions and weaknesses, and ask Me about them again now that the restrictions are over and some System input will again be allowed.

29. Anything that has the tendency to become an obsession for you—whether it's regarding a certain sport or following a certain team—that's not the right balance or the right standard, you shouldn't allow yourself to go there. Whenever you find yourself overly anxious about how your favorite team is doing‚ and bummed out when they lose; whenever you become so into a certain player or team that they become almost an idol to you; whenever you find that your interest in a certain team causes you to become nationalistic; whenever you find yourself constantly turning on the TV or checking some other news source to see who's playing and who's winning; whenever you find yourself praying that your team will win, unless I've shown you it was My will for some reason; whenever you find yourself getting hot under the collar, and overly aggressive (shouting, arguing, or cussing, either while playing or watching a sports game)—all of these are signs that things are way off in your life and spirit, and that you haven't kept things in their proper place.

Text box:

Nationalism in sports?

30. (Jesus:) In certain parts of the world some Family members have really gotten into a nationalistic spirit. This is often a spirit carried over from those who have joined the Family recently, but it also exists within the ranks of Family-born SGAs who have been caught up in that spirit. Some also enjoy rebelling a bit against the principle of the Family being a nation of called-out ones, those who have forsaken worldly nationalities in spirit in order to become citizens of My Kingdom. Some feel that because they are not American and are from a more peaceful, perhaps even more godly nation, it's okay to be nationalistic, but that's not the point.

31. No matter where My children were born‚ when they go overboard in cheering for their team and constantly refer to them as "us" or "we," then this introduces a subtle spirit of disunity into the Home, and can lead to arguing with members of other nationalities, and a general spirit of worldliness. Sometimes nationalistic comments are made in jest, which isn't necessarily bad, but it's important to watch out for this worldly attitude and to keep the vision of the heavenly nation of which you are all members now.

End of text box.

32. I understand that some of you might have an interest in certain teams for one reason or another. But what are those interests based on, and how do they affect you? To be quite honest, many of you hardcore sports fans are usually stuck on certain players and teams for pretty silly, frivolous reasons.

33. I don't blame you for having weaknesses; I don't condemn you for them. But I do expect you to pray and hear from Me regarding your weaknesses, and especially concerning any addictions or obsessions you might have, whatever they are, and to set safeguards for yourself. And if you can't trust yourself to stay within the guidelines I give you, then you're going to have to ask someone else to be your buddy and help safeguard you.

34. You might find that the easiest thing for you or for your Home will be to just set specific limits for the total amount of System input allowed per week, regardless of what kind. If you do decide to go this route, and the Home allows a certain maximum number of hours of System input, you should also come to Me regarding your own personal limit and base the amount on a number of factors: what My counsel is for the whole Home; what additional counsel or safeguards I've spoken to you about personally; what I'm working on in your life at the time; what particular weaknesses you have; how you're doing overall in regards to your spiritual life and walk with Me; how much Word you've gotten that day, as well as during the rest of the week; what will be the advantages and disadvantages for you personally (and whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages), and anything else I show you to take into account when praying about your personal guidelines.

35. It wouldn't be within My will for anyone in the Home to get antsy and uptight every time someone is sitting in front of the TV watching a game that I've given them permission to watch; just as I wouldn't want anyone to become critical of someone reading a book that I've given them consent, in counsel with your Home's book committee, to read during their free time. In some Homes, especially the smaller ones, it should be fairly easy for everyone to know pretty much how everyone is doing regarding the amount and kinds of System input everyone is getting, as well as how much Word they're getting‚ and how the System input is affecting them‚ so that each person can help safeguard the other. But in other situations, like in bigger Homes, it won't be so easy to know the full story about every situation. For those situations, the buddy system might be ideal.

36. It can be very helpful to work with a partner, someone you're open and honest with about all these things, and who can pray and hear from Me for you when needed—whether it's regarding your Word input and other spiritual habits, or in regards to the types and amount of System input you're getting. Very few people have the willpower to follow through on things that are difficult for them and really make the tough choices and changes that they need to make on their own. Most everyone needs someone—either their shepherds, or their friends or mates, or someone they can depend on to help them, to safeguard them, and to be honest with them if they're being influenced negatively or becoming obsessive or out of the spirit. So that's something that I highly advise to make things easier for each of you to be good.

37. The main thing that I'm asking of you‚ My brides, is to give Me a chance. Let Me fill your lives with things that satisfy and last, whether in your work and ministries or even during your off-hours. Just agree together on the overall spiritual goals of your Home, and in that context, make your decisions regarding things like TV and sports viewing and other forms of entertainment. If you put the emphasis on the things that you know you should be doing—the "dos" of your faith—you won't have to worry so much about the "don'ts." (End of message.)

In summary:

38. (Mama: ) The issue of movies and TV viewing is a little bit similar. So since the Lord already gave a lot of counsel on movie viewing—and what elements can make a movie worthwhile or unacceptable—please review that information, as much of it can apply to TV viewing. In addition to that information, which can be adapted and applied‚ here's a summary of some of the main tips and counsel from the Lord in the message above:

39. —Don't sit down in front of the TV without a specific purpose. Don't channel surf, unless you're trying to find a program that the Lord has given you the okay to watch. It can be a waste of your time, and others' time if you are in a group setting.

40. —If there's something playing (either a one-time showing or a program or series that comes on regularly) that you feel might be interesting and worth taking your time to watch as a Home, make sure you've cleared it with the Lord and gotten His counsel on it. Someone should hear from the Lord about viewing it as a Home, and you who plan to watch it should also ask the Lord personally to find out if it's His will for you. (If it's an ongoing TV show or program, you'll want to regularly check in with the Lord to assess the effect it's having in your life and the fruit it's bearing.)

41. —If you're going to watch the news on TV‚ agree as a Home on what program is most beneficial and unbiased. Record it ahead of time, if possible, to avoid the whole Home having to wade through commercials, etc. If that's not possible for some reason, do what you can to safeguard your time and spirits, such as muting the commercials and redeeming those moments of time‚ and avoiding channel surfing.

42. —Don't get hung up on the letter of the law or react self-righteously about TV and sports viewing. But remember, in the past too much compromise with the world was allowed, and now the Lord is asking us to minimize ungodly input. Have a godly, loving‚ prayerful balance.

43. —When it comes to ongoing TV programs, be cautious of those that contain worldly attitudes, relationships, and cynical humor, etc. When you watch a certain program, comedy, or drama week after week, there's a much greater likelihood that the wrong attitudes‚ worldly mindsets, ungodly personalities and speech patterns will gradually seep in and stick with you. Such programs can weaken you spiritually.

44. —Occasional sports viewing is within the Lord's will, if you are following His personalized counsel to you in prophecy, as well as the guidelines you agree on as a Home‚ if it doesn't become overly important to you who wins, and if it's not affecting your spirit in a negative‚ worldly way. If you're addicted, overly anxious, obsessive, overly competitive‚ make idols out of players, become nationalistic, aggressive (shouting‚ arguing, or cussing, either while playing or watching a sports game) and have a worldly attitude about sports, then these are all signs that you need to reevaluate your sports/sports viewing, and minimize or forsake it altogether.

45. —Pray and hear from the Lord regarding your weaknesses‚ and any addictions or obsessions you might have as far as TV/sports viewing. Set up safeguards for yourself. And if you can't trust yourself to keep within the guidelines the Lord gives you, then ask someone to be your buddy and help safeguard you.

46. —A suggestion from the Lord: Set specific limits for the total amount of System input allowed per week, regardless of what kind.

47. —Agree together, as a Home, on the overall spiritual goals of your Home, and in that context, make your decisions regarding things like TV and sports viewing and other forms of entertainment. The choice is up to you and your Home to prayerfully decide what to allow and how often.

48. —Ask the Lord to speak to you about whether or not you should watch TV or sports. If so‚ ask Him for personal guidelines. What kinds of things should you avoid? What safeguards should you put in place? What particular weaknesses do you have? What are the pitfalls of this avenue of worldly input for you personally, so that you can avoid them?

49. —Never use television as a babysitter. If you're going to show your children a TV program or documentary, please ask the Lord about it first. It's also best to record it beforehand, so that you can preview it, as well as fast-forward the commercials and any parts that might not be edifying.

Key promise:

50. The keys have the power to rid you of addictions and obsessions, and to help you make decisions that preserve your discipleship and strengthen the bedrock of your faith.

Dig deeper:

*"Train Up A Child," ML #1142:55-58, DB 8

*"Choose the Good and Eschew the Evil," ML #2454:6-7, DB 9

*"Loving Shepherding and Interaction—Charter Style‚" ML #3018:47-50, Lifelines 22

*"Help From Heaven," ML #3056:109, 112-121, 126, 129-148, 163–164‚ 172‚ Lifelines 23

*"Goals for 1998," ML #3160:176-184, Lifelines 24

*"Don't Get Caught in the Web," ML #3174:13-14, 17-19, GN 779

*"World Currents!—No.90," ML #3215:48-58, GN 816

*"Worldly?—Or Free?" ML #3233:26–29, 47–48, 50, 60-62, GN 836

*"More on 'The Shakeup 2000‚'" ML #3262:15-21, 40–41, 43-44, GN 863

*"Coming Persecution?" ML #3361:161, 168, GN 957

*"What Is Jesus Worth to You?" ML #3433:168-172, 174-175, GN 1016

*"Renewal: Q'As‚" ML #3490:19-23, GN 1074

*"Renewal: A Gift of Love for the Children," ML #3491:138-148, GN 1075

*"The Stranger," Raise 'em Right

*"The Disease of Images," END 2

*"Parents must guide children in watching TV," END 12

*"'Idiot box' is claiming 11 years of life‚" END 15

*"Managing us," END 49

*"Television addiction," END 50

*"Ask Dad No.16: News–Watching Guidelines‚" END 64

Challenging Thot:

51. (Jesus:) Now that you are more dead to the things of the world, you can be more alive to Me. Now that the things of the world have decreased in your lives, I can increase in your lives. Now that you are pressing more toward the mark of My high calling, you will find it easier to leave the past and all its weights and burdens behind you, and to develop new gifts‚ new attitudes, new life, because you have shed the old.

52. Are My Words too grand, too optimistic? No, not at all. I have faith in you, just as you have faith in Me. And I not only have faith‚ but I see the glorious future ahead on the horizon for you who have faith and trust, obedience, and yieldedness.


53. (Mama:) One young man who read an advance copy of this GN was still struggling with the Lord's promises of how fulfilling other activities can be, because he personally felt that even after going through the renewal and putting his whole heart into it, there aren't many activities that are as much fun for him as certain forms of System entertainment. There are probably others of you who feel the same way, so I want to share with you the question he asked the Lord and the answer the Lord gave him. I pray it will be encouraging for you. And for those of you who feel this way and yet still commit to making the choices of disciples, all the more will the Lord pour out His blessings on your life here and now, and all the greater will be your reward in Heaven!

54. (Question from an SGA:) There are many forms of "renewal" entertainment that are moderately fun, but by the end of the renewal, I now realize that none of them are as fun overall for me as worldly entertainment. Other activities are fun and relaxing to a point, but I simply do not get as much enjoyment and relaxation out of them. I do them because they are semi–fun, they engender unity and are good for me spiritually, and after the renewal I hope to continue to do this and seriously curb my worldly input. However, it's really a sacrifice for me to forsake the worldly input that really gets the adrenaline pumping and helps me truly enjoy myself.

55. (Jesus:) Everybody's different and everybody enjoys different things. That goes for the types of entertainment people enjoy as well. Some people like the rush of extreme sports. Some people like the thrill of computer games. Some people get excited by certain movies. Some people feel ecstatic when they get to go to a fun dance party. And yet others truly feel the most pleasure and enjoyment by doing something simple like sitting down with a friend and having a drink together, or perhaps creating something artistic.

56. But regardless of personal preference, of which there is a great variety, when it comes to entertainment you can't necessarily determine what's best for your spirit and what's My will for you by how exciting something is for you, and how much of a thrill you feel. It's just like you can't determine how close you are to Me or how much spiritual progress you're making by how you feel. Sometimes when you feel the farthest from Me you're actually the closest—because you're desperate and humble before Me. Similarly, sometimes the kind of entertainment that seems a bit more mediocre or not as "thrilling" can actually be better for you spiritually.

57. Worldly entertainment is designed to satisfy the desires of man for thrills, excitement, and fun. But the satisfaction of worldly entertainment is only fleeting. That's why it's so addicting, because you feel like in order to be happy you have to keep getting your "shot" of whatever it is that gives you that "high"—and if that "shot" consists of repeated worldly input‚ then it's going to make you sick. Worldly entertainment is fun, it's exciting, and it holds a certain attraction, and that's why it can have a place in your life in moderation. But it doesn't bring with it deep happiness, long-lasting joy, or satisfaction. The feelings worldly entertainment give are fleeting, and that's why you can't necessarily determine what's best for you by how good it feels at the time of engaging in it. That's why it is important to be in prayer and seeking Me for My leading.

58. I know that there are many of you who are never going to feel as excited or thrilled about fellowshipping or going to a party as you might feel about playing a computer game, or watching an action–packed movie, or viewing a sports game on TV. But by obeying Me and making the choices of disciples, even if it means forsaking some momentary pleasures or "highs," you will be blessed. If you choose to engage in the types of recreational and relaxation activities that I tell you are better for your spirit, better for disciples‚ better for unity‚ better for your overall happiness and contentment, even in place of something from the world that is more fun or more exciting in the short term, then you're showing great strength of spirit and great faith—and‚ as such, great will be your reward.

59. Some people really do get high in the spirit. Some people are very spiritually sensitive, very spiritually minded. Other people just aren't, and the "cross" they bear in this life is that I ask them to simply believe Me, to obey Me, and to trust Me‚ even when they don't "feel" so close to Me or don't "feel" such great highs in the spirit. Some of My brides are going to go through their whole life on Earth never seeing a vision, never feeling a spiritual sensation, and always battling with their carnal mind. Some people can see and believe and feel the spiritual. Others can't.

60. Some of My brides are more spiritually sensitive; thus they notice the effects of worldly input more, or are more aware when something is affecting them. Some people actually feel much more strongly the benefits of more spiritually healthy forms of entertainment and relaxation‚ or types of entertainment that promote unity or engender fellowship. To these, obedience costs less. But you who do not "feel" the benefits of spending more of your times of recreation with Me and others in place of the things of the world that hold more of an attraction and even feel more fun, yet you choose to do so anyway, will be wonderfully blessed! When obedience really costs you something‚ I know, I see, and I repay accordingly.

61. Some of you are never going to find things like fellowship and other activities to be as "fun" and "exciting" as some forms of worldly entertainment. But that's why I have always instructed you, My brides, to not go by your feelings. Just because some form of worldly entertainment feels better than interacting with Me and others doesn't mean that it is better for you spiritually. But you will definitely be blessed as you forsake some of your hours of momentary excitement for the happiness and blessings that come through obedience to Me.

62. Don't compare with others and feel that I'm asking so much more of you in this matter than I'm asking of others. If minimizing the things of the world costs you more than it seems to cost others, just remember that I work in each person's life in My time and in My way. This might be a greater test or sacrifice for you than for someone else‚ but remember that I test all of My children in different areas of their lives. I ask sacrifices of all of My brides. Maybe today is your turn to sacrifice; maybe this is your test. If so, concentrate on what I'm asking of you, and trust Me for the sacrifices I ask of others.

63. It's a matter of deciding to make decisions based on long-term happiness‚ fulfillment, and blessings, rather than on short-term excitement. One hour of fellowshipping with like-minded disciples might not bring with it as much of a rush for some of you as playing an hour of an exciting computer game. But if devoting that one hour to fellowship is My highest will, if that's what I show you to do, then even though it may not be as momentarily fun as playing that computer game, it's going to bring with it many more blessings as a result of your obedience.

64. What everyone really wants in their life is long-term happiness, that deep contentment and security and joy that comes from living every day of your life for Me first‚ others second, and personal happiness last. And that kind of happiness—which is a blessing of My Spirit—is not found through the excitement or rush of any kind of worldly entertainment. The joy of living, the fun of life‚ the happiness of the deepest kinds, comes from My hand in proportion to obedience, dedication to Me, and doing My will. (End of message.)


The issue:

65. (Mama: ) Not long ago we published a whole GN with the Lord's counsel and guidelines about novel reading ("Issues, Part 14," GN 1026). But in light of His post-renewal counsel to us, we came before Him again to ask Him how He sees this avenue of entertainment and how it affects our discipleship.

God's mind on the matter:

66. (Jesus:) My loves, the standard that I want you to have in regards to novel reading is not that different from what I've already outlined for you in the GN on the topic. Like so many of the avenues of System entertainment, it's not that I haven't already given clear guidelines, which could have kept you safe and clean from the world, but it's that you haven't been following them. You were used to taking in so much of the world pre-renewal that when you would read My counsel to you about System entertainment, you didn't really "get it." It seemed extreme to pull back from it—especially on the long term‚ like a lifestyle change. It seemed like it would be too great a sacrifice, and surely couldn't be what I was asking of you.

67. Now that I've cleaned you up and given you a mandatory detox from the things of the world through the time of the renewal period, you're seeing more clearly what I've been asking of you all along. You're not only seeing the standard more clearly‚ but you're seeing that it's doable. And it's not only doable, but there are benefits. You're more willing to obey. Your mindset isn't clouded by compromise. This was one of the goals of the renewal, to help you to step back from things and see them more as I see them.

68. Now through the experiences you've had during the renewal, you have seen that you can have fun and relaxation without taking in much, if any, of the world. You've seen how much easier it is to progress spiritually when you aren't being pulled down and having to backtrack all the time because of too much System input in your life. So now you're in a much more spiritually healthy position to see System input as it really is, and make wise, informed‚ prayerful, mature, conviction-filled decisions about what you want to allow and what you don't want to allow.

69. Here is a review of some of the main things I want you to remember in regards to novel reading:

70. —Pray and seek Me about what is best for your spirit overall—whether or not you should include novels or System books at all in your potential entertainment at this time in your life. And then share the guidelines you get with your shepherds, or the book committee in your Home, or your friends, or even your whole Home, so that your mates and loved ones can help to safeguard you. Don't wait until there's a book you really want to read before you ask Me for general guidelines and find out what I know is healthy for you‚ etc.

71. —Follow the Charter rule about getting permission from your Home (or from the book committee in your Home if that's how your Home chooses to set it up), before reading a System book. That's not just for novels, but it includes self-improvement books, Christian books, etc. In the multitude of counselors there is safety‚ and I will use this procedure to be a good safeguard for you, My precious children of David.

72. —Even if you get permission from the book committee or your Home, you should still really pray and seek Me personally for My permission or specific instruction about anything you're thinking of reading. If I give you permission, don't stop there, but keep listening and hear My full counsel—when you should read it, how much you should read, and if I have any guidelines or stipulations for you.

73. —It's hard to judge a book by its cover or the brief write-up, and you might at times come across some that just aren't good for you. Even if you have gotten permission from Me and from your Home, don't ignore the checks of My Spirit, and if I nudge you that it's not having a good effect on your spirit or that it would be better to curb it or completely stop reading it, listen to Me. I know you better than you know yourself, and My goal is not to make you unhappy, but to protect you from things that will make you truly unhappy deep inside.

74. Also remember that if I ask you not to read something, or to stop reading something, I have something better for you. Ask Me what it is. That doesn't mean it will be another book. But it might be another good idea of how to spend your time, and if you ask Me I will fulfill My promise of never taking away anything without giving you something better. So don't dread My Words of counsel, but welcome them. They are given in great love for you.

75. —Be open to the counsel of your shepherds and peers. I'm like the doctor, and they are My assistants, the nurses who take your blood pressure and temperature and check your vital signs. You are all supposed to be that for each other. So you need to learn to listen to each other, and if someone senses that your spirit is suffering a bit, even if they can't quite put their finger on it‚ be open, and seek Me about it. Many times you'll find that it has something to do with some part of the world that you're taking into your life—either through System entertainment or some attitude that's not of Me.

76. —Never spend time reading the words of man if you haven't had sufficient time with Me. That's a hard–and–fast rule.

77.Don't allow yourself to grow dependent on reading for entertainment. Keep it in its place. Reading can be a very selfish and secluded form of entertainment, because you do it alone, you go into your own little world with whatever you're reading. Make sure to balance that with plenty of time spent with others, with the children‚ with your mates and co-workers—talking, laughing, doing things together, enjoying your fellowship and bond of love.

78. Reading System novels has its place‚ and I will give you permission for it at times, but it should be rare compared to the entertainment you enjoy with others in your Home. Whenever there's an opportunity to do things with others, I'll usually want you to choose that. The more you choose rightly, the more freely I will give you permission to partake of occasional System input, because I know you'll keep it in its place, and you'll go for the true priorities when you have the opportunity.

79.If you're reading at night, always close the day with some time with Me, praising, loving Me intimately, reading My Words, asking for My cleansing, reviewing your key promises, praying for others, etc. Don't allow the words of man to be the last thing you take in before you go to sleep.

80.Don't promote the words of man in your conversations or thoughts. Don't dwell on the System books you read and analyze them. If there's something that seems fascinating or intriguing to you, compare it to My Word, and see whether it's true or just some foolishness of man cleverly disguised. Seek Me about any questions you have.

81. —The list that I gave you in regards to movies can also be applied to novels as a general guideline of topics that should definitely be avoided, or ones that might be more worth your time. This is not a list to judge books as a "must read," simply because the book is on a topic I deem worthwhile. This is simply to help you judge wisely in the case that you have received permission from Me and are being obedient to My guidelines‚ and so want to choose something that will be more worth your time.

82. Something very important to keep in mind when looking at this list, however, is that a novel takes many hours to read—many more than a movie takes to watch. Even a short novel will usually take 3-4 hours, and that's the length of two movies. Some are much, much longer. So a story that goes bad in a novel can pollute a whole lot more of your spirit and waste a lot more of your time if you continue to pursue it to the end. What could be a quick, ungodly scene in a movie can last for several pages in a book. In that sense it's a bigger deal to get permission from Me to read a novel, because I'm in essence giving you permission to spend more hours on it.

83. So while I'm not asking you to never read a System book again, I am expecting you to choose your books very carefully, to pray that you will be open to Me to find those that are good, and have the discernment and strength of spirit to avoid those that are a waste of time.

Elements that make a book worthwhile (adapted from movie list by the Lord):

84. —A message that lifts Me up or glorifies the things of My Spirit in some way. This could range from a positive and sweet love story‚ to a story portraying the spiritual warfare and the triumph of good over evil.

85. —Exposure of the evils and hypocrisy of the System, without going to the extreme of being so horrible or traumatic that this aspect overshadows everything else.

86. —An anti-System message, when the System doesn't win in the end; or, if the System wins or appears to win, such as in the case of a book about a martyr‚ it shows how wrong the System was, and the message is clear.

87. —True stories of fighters, overcomers, missionaries‚ martyrs, or people who did something good for others; personal examples and testimonies that stir you and encourage and motivate you to want to give‚ to fight, to have conviction, to serve, and to do good for others.

88. —Stories that give insight into human nature‚ in the sense of helping you understand someone who is in a particular situation, or part of another culture which you're not familiar with but that could be helpful for you to understand and better relate to in your witnessing, without going into any perversions, or even just being too much of a downer.

89. —Things that are fun, funny, and relaxing. Stories that make you laugh, help you relax, and cheer you up, but without abundant foul language, that don't promote homosexuality, or contain cruel, gross, and cutting humor.

90. —A story or plot that stimulates your mind and is thought-provoking in a good way—such as a good spy story, an intelligent mystery, or a whodunit, as long as it's not filled with violence, gore, and senseless "action."

91. —Important or interesting historical information, or about famous characters from history. True stories from history that teach something or are educational.

92. —Information on current events or important things happening in the world today‚ that teach and inform—but aren't filled with violence or the Enemy's propaganda, but rather expose it.

93. —Stories that glorify the Word, the truth‚ and Bible and Christian heroes.

94. —A good ending. Not necessarily a happy ending, but a good ending, a "right" ending. Whether it's sad or happy, whether it's entertaining or serious, if it's a worthwhile story, it should leave you with a good feeling. You should feel like you were edified by it in some way, or learned an important lesson, or at least feel happy with the outcome, that the way it ended was the best way.

Elements that make a book unacceptable:

95. —An obvious message that is anti–God or anti-spiritual matters; anything that undermines faith in God, the Word, the Bible, Me‚ or spiritual gifts and powers, or plants doubts in your mind.

96. —Horror, especially if it deals with the powers of the Enemy. This is not the same as a story that deals with spiritual gifts or power. These that I'm talking about here are stories that emphasize evil spirits and the power of the dark side, vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, etc. There is no value whatsoever in such books.

97. —Anything that focuses on the things of the dark side of the spirit world, demon possession, psychotic behavior, or on sexual or other perversions.

98. —Substantial violence, especially if it is graphic, senseless, pointless, stupid violence, or violence that portrays a lack of regard for life. Sometimes violence is necessary to the point of the story, if it's something I wish to teach about war or gangs or something where violence is an integral part of the message.

99. —Glorification of evil, sin, or compromise—such as making the bad guys appear to be the cool guys. Something that falls under this umbrella is the typical "criminal plot" where there aren't any good guys or bad guys, but they're all thieves or slimy characters competing with one another or "knocking each other off." These stories promote lukewarmness and tolerance of things that should not be accepted by My disciples.

100. —Abundant, senseless foul language.

101. —Where the main characters are homosexual, or stories that come out strongly in defense of homosexuality, or promote an accepting attitude toward it.

102. —Deeds and concepts that go against the Law of Love; a message that promotes selfishness, self-love, jealousy, cheating, refusal to forgive, wrong attitudes toward children and having babies, toward men‚ toward women, toward the opposite generation, toward those of other nationalities, or other forms of ungodly relationship behavior that go against the standard of My Word, unless it's some kind of clear exposé.

103. —Humor that is overly gross or just plain stupid, that stuffs your head with silly junk and words that are not only of no value, but that are really stooping to a level that is far beneath where your spirits and minds as Christians and disciples should be at.

104. —A strong pro-American, pro-Western, or racist spirit; a message that promotes the American/Western way of life.

105. —If the evil in the story is victorious, either throughout‚ or at the end.

106. —Unloving, violent, selfish, ungodly sex.

107. —If lying and deceitfulness is approved of and glorified, or a major part of the plot.

108. —An overtly worldly/materialistic spirit. For example, the glorification of model-like women‚ muscle men, fashion, materialism, "get-rich–quick" schemes, the love of money, and other worldly hang–ups.

109. —Books that promote or overly emphasize higher education.

110. —If there's some good in the book, such as if it ends well, but the reader wades through so much negative to get to the small morsel of "good" or the nearly nonexistent lesson.

111. —A message that puts down or demeans Christians or godly people, or if the main "bad guys" are Christians or profess to believe in God, yet do evil.

112.A message that promotes anti-life attitudes, such as abortion, contraception, suicide, euthanasia, etc.

113. —A thread throughout that promotes bad, unhealthy, ungodly habits; if the book makes bad things and bad habits—such as smoking or taking drugs—sound cool and in vogue.

114. —If the message is so unrealistic‚ so fairytale-ish, so "perfect," without depicting the real struggles and facts of life, it can slowly start to warp your perspective and make you question My plan in your life, and wonder why I'm not making things "fairytale perfect" for you. Too much of this type of unrealism can make you dissatisfied, unthankful‚ and discontent.

115. —Books that deal with philosophies or false religions and theories of man, head-trippy, intellectual types. This is simply because the wisdom of man is foolishness to Me, and so much of it goes directly against the principles of My Spirit.

116. —Books that have a churchy, conservative message. You are children of David, and while other Christians have served Me in other ways, your calling and heritage is to be dropped out, radical. You're not mainstream and never will be. Reading churchy doctrines by System Christians subtly undermines the radical truth that is your heritage. Give no place to the lukewarm compromise that seeks to ensnare you and tempts you to trade the best for something that is barely good.

Text box:

Books with churchy doctrines?

117. (Jesus:) There's a difference between books that are full of churchy doctrine, and books that are a testimony of faith and the stories of great men and women of God, but because they were not of the children of David and all they had was the churches, there is a bit of conservatism or churchiness mixed in. If a book is above all a testimony of faith and prayer and the wonderful things that I accomplished through someone‚ then a little bit of conservatism or a little bit of churchy doctrine here or there is acceptable. But you must be on guard and aware of the compromise and churchiness that the Enemy would try to tempt you with in an attempt to water down and weaken the revolutionary heritage that is yours. Don't be worried about it—just be aware of his attempts. When you're aware and on guard in spirit, he can't get in subtly. So be discerning in what you read and what you allow your children to read. (End of message.)

Note: There'll be more about reading churchy books and doctrines in a future "Shooting Straight" GN.

End of text box.

118. (Jesus continues: ) Again, the more faithful you are to stay within the guidelines I've given you, the more you show by obedience and action that you care about what you feed your spirit, the more importance you place on keeping your heart and mind clean, the more loyal you are to Me and My Words in heart and deed—the more I can trust you to enjoy entertainment of the world from time to time, because I know that it won't hurt you, derail you‚ or weaken you.

119. Whereas if you are not faithful with the guidelines I give you, if you allow yourself to disobey or compromise, your spirit will be weakened, your convictions will weaken‚ and this will open the door for further compromise and disobedience. I will send you checks; I will ask others to help you see it. But whenever you disregard My counsel, you begin to go downhill spiritually. These are laws of the spirit which are never left unfulfilled.

120. In essence, My loves: Counsel‚ pray, and seek Me with an open heart; be wise, be prayerful, be discerning; keep System input in its place, and focus on the true priorities in life. So will you be happy‚ blessed, and strong in spirit. So will you be ready to be My men and women of the hour, who will stand tall and do exploits. (End of message.)

Text box:

121. (Jesus:) If you want to remain My Endtime ecclesia, you must drop out of the world and be separate in spirit and in action. If you are all mingled in with the world in your forms of entertainment, in your attitudes, in your appearance, in your testimony, you will not be My shining lights in the midst of gross darkness.

122. The darkness you're surrounded by in the world today is sticky. It's gooey and globby, and if you're not staying hot with the fire of My truth‚ it can stick to you and hide what little light you have left. Your protection is staying on fire for Me—full of heat, full of conviction, full of dedication. Once you allow a little bit of gooey darkness to stick to you, it starts to cool you off, and then more and more can stick to you, and pretty soon the little flame you had left is covered and hidden by the darkness of the world.

123. Don't let it happen to you! Feed the fire of My Spirit in your soul! Stay passionate for Me! Cleanse yourself when you feel the slightest bit of goo sticking to you, knowing that it doesn't stop there, but begins to cool you off and invites more goo, until you are covered with darkness and My light in your spirit is quenched.

End of text box.

In summary:

124. (Mama:) The Lord gives some good guidelines, and if we obey, He promises that He'll be able to guide us to good entertainment and keep us from the bad. Please follow through with praying about this topic personally, especially if you're a person who likes to read. Please receive the Lord's personal counsel for you, and share it with your Home and loved ones so that they can help be effective safeguards for you. Then stay within the guidelines the Lord has given, as well as those your Home decides on, and the Lord will be able to bless your times of recreation and relaxation; they will be a positive thing in your life, rather than an avenue of weakening.

Key promise:

125. Claim the keys of renewal to help you be obedient and strong in Me, and resist the temptations of the world that would weaken you.

Dig deeper:

*"Organisation 1," ML #54:24, 25‚ 29, DB 4

*"You Are What You Read!—And Book Burning," ML #775-776:1-10, 18–19, 21-26, DB 1

*"Personal Letters!—Number 1," ML #2931:15, 21–24, 56-60, 70, 72-83‚ Lifelines 21

*"Loving Shepherding And Interaction—Charter Style," ML #3018:49‚ 51-52, Lifelines 22

*"The Shakeup 2000—the S2K," ML #3257:130‚ 133-134, 142‚ GN 857

*"Understanding Prophecy, Part 2‚" ML #3304:100-110, GN 905

*"The Way Things Really Are in WS," ML #3309:234-235, GN 910

*"Issues, Part 14," ML #3442:6-125, 160-162, GN 1026

*"Issues, Part 15: Timothy's Testimony," ML #3444:32-34, 65-66, 70–75, 79-80, GN 1029

*"So You Want to Be a Disciple?" ML #3458:6-11, GN 1043

*"Reading And Viewing‚" 1, 11-14, 18, MOP 2

Challenging Thot:

126. (Jesus:) If you have a hunger for something that I have made clear is not My will for you‚ ask Me to change your appetites. It's not My will that you would be continually struggling with overcoming a weak area in your life. I want to give you victory, and even bring you to the point where the thought of the former weakness sickens you. You will have no desire for the unclean things of this world once your mind is completely opened to the world of the spirit which awaits you. Diligently seek after the things of the spirit, and the things of this Earth that would weaken you or cause you spiritual harm will vanish from your "favorite treats" menu. Ask Me for a complete and radical change in the things you enjoy, to where you enjoy the things that feed and nourish your spirit, and are repelled and repulsed by the pollutants of Satan.


The issue:

127. (Mama:) One of the things the Lord focused on during the renewal was the need to refrain from the things of the world—not just through abstaining from movies‚ books‚ music, TV and the like‚ but also through pulling back from other materialistic activities—unnecessary shopping, browsing for "deals" online, buying and selling, going to malls, etc. This is something the Lord has given us a lot of counsel and admonition about over the years, but it's still a very big pitfall and inroad of the world in many people's lives. The Family has probably gotten more materialistic now than we have ever been—with the possible exception of the Chain during the pre-RNR days, or some Homes during the FFing era.

128. Some people argue that the Family is different from the way we used to be because we have to be—and in some ways that's true. We need to have a good standard in our Homes for the sake of our children, we have to be presentable and a good testimony to the rich and upper class that we are ministering to, etc.

129. But you don't have to let materialism into your heart, attitudes‚ desires, and the way you spend your time. You don't have to let "things" become so important to you that they distract and take away from your dedication to being a dropped-out, radical disciple. We asked the Lord to tell us what His standard is for the Family post–renewal in the area of materialism, what is acceptable to Him and what is not.

God's mind on the matter:

130. (Jesus:) Let's start with a simple Bible study, going back to the basics of the standard of discipleship that I gave to My first disciples when I was on Earth. I told them: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on Earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven." "No man can serve two masters … you cannot serve God and mammon (materialism)." "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of things that he possesses." "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none." "Give to him that asketh thee." "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mat.6:19,20; Luke 16:13; 12:15; 3:11; Mat.5:42; 6:33).

131. Then there's a lot more in the Epistles. I spoke through My beloved apostle John, teaching you to: "Love not the world‚ neither the things that are in the world ... for the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (1John 2:15-17). From that you can gather that it's obviously not "doing the will of God" when you become embroiled in the world and the things of the world. The words that James spoke to the "rich men" of that time are applicable to anyone who has more possessions than they need: "Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you and shall burn your flesh as it were fire" (James 5:2,3).

132. Think about these verses and ask yourself honestly how you are applying those principles in your personal life and actions. Are you living the standard of discipleship? Do you show by your life—by the clothes you wear, the possessions you own, the level of your willingness to share them, and the amount of time you spend talking or looking at or thinking about them—that they are not important to you, that they are not your priority, that you would willingly do without them or forsake them if I asked it of you? Think about that‚ and answer honestly.

133. The sad truth is that many of you give the impression, through what you wear, what you buy, where you shop, when you shop, how often you shop, and how much you talk about the latest "deal‚" that these things do mean a great deal to you. This is a chink in your armor in the spirit, and it's hurting and weakening you personally, not to mention weakening your testimony as dropped–out revolutionaries who do not belong to the world and aren't held down by the things of the world.

134. You justify yourselves by saying that you're not "rich" and that you just are so thankful for the good deals "the Lord provides" and so forth. But the sad thing is that while you may not have much‚ it's the importance that these things take on that I'm looking at. And in many of your hearts, I can see that the amount of focus and importance given is misplaced. Like your Father David said, you don't have to have much to have "great possessions," or to be materialistic, or to put those possessions in a higher place than they should hold. Do your things "own" you because you care so much about them?

135. Read what David said in "Whose Slave Are You?—God's or Mammon's?" That sets a good, clear standard regarding what the disciple's approach should be to possessions. Maybe you don't have too much, technically, but if those few things you have—whether it's your cool wardrobe (even if you got your stuff for a really good deal or in the provisioning)‚ your awesome electronic gadgets (which again you probably got for a terrific deal)—are too beloved to you, then you're not in a good position spiritually.

136. If a dominant topic in your conversations is either the things you've gotten, the things you plan to get, or the things you wish you could get if you had the money or found the deal, then you're not in a good position. Even if you don't have much at all, but you really wish you did‚ and you're always feeling bad that you don't have such-and-such gadget or appliance or article of clothing or beauty product, or whatever possession you continually desire, you're still not in a good position.

137. The key issue here is not whether you have two pairs of jeans or twenty. Nor is it whether you own a good laptop, PDA, or MP3 player‚ or not. Nor is it whether you shop at a mall, a secondhand market, or go out and provision it.

138. The issue is: Where is your heart at? That's a lot harder to pin down, isn't it? That's what makes this issue complex. There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer as far as your possessions, as to what you should do or not do, or have or not have. And yet‚ there is a clear standard of what is or isn't right.

139. You all will need to pray and search your hearts in order to see what I want and expect from you after the renewal. It was clear during the renewal that you were meant to shop only for genuine needs, and that you should pray about each purchase or shopping session. Well, that's a guideline not only for the renewal, but that's a discipleship guideline for the rest of your life.

140. You're meant to be disciples‚ missionaries, people who focus on the things of the spirit and not on the things of the world and the flesh. So, renewal or not, you need to keep the things of the world—possessions, fashions, gadgets, appearance, and all the rest—in perspective. It really shouldn't be that important to you. You should not be spending a lot of time and money looking for and thinking about and acquiring things; you should not "love" your things so much that you are hesitant to share them or give them away to those in need; nor should you be accumulating tons of stuff and junk that just weighs you down and cramps both your spiritual freedom and your sample.

141. As Christians and disciples, part of your testimony is your simplicity. That doesn't mean you can't have nice things‚ and it doesn't mean you should never have gadgets or that you should each only have two pairs of shoes. It does mean, though, that if you have something you don't need, you should consider giving it to someone who does need it. Or if no one needs it and I confirm that you should sell it, that you do so for a reasonable price in a kind and Christian fashion.

142. If you have personal weaknesses along the lines of vanity‚ worldliness‚ or any kind of addiction to "keeping up with the Joneses" and having the latest, then you should be willing to get help and shepherding and counsel and safeguarding from others. It may mean in some cases that "others may, you cannot."

143. Someone who doesn't have a problem with materialism may have no problem going through a mall and spending a few hours there while looking for some particular needs, so I may give them the okay to do so. Meanwhile, someone else who tends to get tripped off and is excessively concerned with their possessions or appearance‚ I may instead ask not to go to the mall, but to some simpler store, or even to ask someone else to get their needs for them in some cases. Or I may give them the okay to go, but ask them to set a limit on the time they spend there‚ and perhaps caution them against going into certain stores—places where they won't find what they need, but will just find much to either lust after or waste their funds on.

144. There are no across-the-board rules to be put in place, such as: You may never go online to buy something; you may only go to a mall twice a year; you should have a maximum of three gadgets; you should be able to fit all your clothes in two suitcases; you shouldn't spend more than three minutes fixing your hair in the morning. That isn't the point. The specific circumstances will vary from country to country, person to person, and Home to Home—although Homes might want to decide together on some guidelines that they feel are needed for their particular people and circumstances.

145. The core issues are: Are you sticking to only acquiring what you need and will use? Are you unselfish with the things that I have supplied for you? Are you willing to give to those in need freely? Are you keeping your life simple? Are your priorities in place? Are you using your time wisely and refraining from wasting it in pursuit of material possessions? Are you imparting a good sample to your children and young people of good stewardship, of giving freely, of spending My funds wisely and well, and trusting Me for My supply? That is the standard for you as Family disciples in this post-renewal era.

In summary:

146. (Mama:) Keeping a revolutionary attitude toward the things of the world is an issue of personal discipleship‚ and something that you'll want to review the Word on, and desperately ask the Lord to punch through and expose your heart and where you stand. You'll want to ask for prayer and help and safeguards from your mates and co-workers if necessary to help you follow through. It's not something that we can or want to legislate righteousness on, because it's a matter of the spirit. It's something you need to determine in your heart with your Husband, keeping in mind that the decisions you make in this area of your life will be part of determining how healthy and strong your spirit will be.

147. The Lord gives some good questions in the last paragraph of His message that you can ask yourself. Here are a few others, with some practical application of the principles the Lord brings out:

148. —Do you have anything you're not using that you can give away to those in need?—Whether extras of things you're keeping for a rainy day, storage, or just too much personal stuff that you don't need, but that could be a blessing right now, today‚ to someone else? Make a vacuum for the Lord to give to you—in every way, and just exactly what you need when you need it! The key is to pray and ask the Lord what to keep and what not to keep. In some cases the Lord might tell you to hang on to something for the future. And in some circumstances it's prudent to have survival stocks of basics for an emergency. That's why you need to ask the Lord, to find out what a godly balance is in your case. And remember, if the Lord tells you to give something away, you can know without a shadow of a doubt that when you need it in the future, He will supply miraculously, or return it to you, or raise up something better. He never fails!

149. —When you have something you don't need, do you look around for someone who might need it and either give it to them‚ or sell it for cost price? Or do you hang on to it, or try to make a profit off of it somehow?

150. —When you have a need, do you pray it in and ask the Lord how He wants you to go about finding or getting it? Sometimes the Lord might show you to sell something you have in order to upgrade, or He might give you an idea of how He wants to give it to you that involves some footwork on your part. But your first reaction should be to pray for it, and also to pray about how you should go about trying to get it, if at all. It's a good test of whether you're trusting the Lord for His supply or depending on the arm of the flesh.

151. —Look at your possessions not as things to make you happy, but things that should enhance your service for the Lord. Ask yourself, "Does this thing contribute to my discipleship by helping me do a better job or be a better testimony, or is it something I can use for the Lord's glory, etc.?" Sometimes the Lord does give us things that make us happy, but it's still important that we keep them in their proper place. Ask yourself‚ "Do I have things that detract from my discipleship by wasting my time‚ distracting me from the true priorities, or hindering my unity with my mates and loved ones?" When you find things that detract, get rid of them!

152. —Do you have too much clutter around? Could you simplify your life more?

153. —Do your possessions waste your time? For example‚ if your closet is too full of stuff, it takes more time to keep it organized. Could you cut down on wasted time by having less?

154. —The life of a disciple is a life of giving and sacrifice. Ask yourself: Am I living that kind of life?—Giving when there is a need, willing to sacrifice when it would help someone else, or even simply when the Lord asks it of me?

Key promise:

155. I've called you out from the world, and the keys turned to swords have the power to keep you free from all the ties that would seek to ensnare you.

Dig deeper:

*"Spirit Tree‚" ML #194, Vol. 2 (excerpts of poem)

*"Revolutionary Women," ML #250:39, Vol.2

*"War And Peace," ML #255:67, 95, 97-99‚ Vol.2

*"Listening? Or Lamenting?" ML #320:53,54, Vol.3

*"Dad's Christmas Message," ML #954-8:17, Vol.8

*"Whose Slave Are You?—God's or Mammon's?" ML #1332, DB 1

*"Revolution!—For Jesus‚" ML #1963:17-21, 43-46, 50-51, 53, DB 8

*"Call to the Rescue!—Part 1," ML #3114:28-30, Lifelines 24

*"Man Looketh on the Outward Appearance—Part 2," ML #3125:139‚ Lifelines 24

*"Trash Your Trinkets and Head for the Hills," ML #3186:19-20, 25–29, 31-34, 36-38, 43-48, 62-73‚ GN 791

*"Worldly?—Or Free?" ML #3233:17–19‚ 21-25, 30, 34, 36, 38, 42, 54, 57-59, 61-62, GN 836

*"Be Ye Separate," ML #3363:110-111, 117-119, 122, 124-125, GN 959

*"Issues‚ Part 14," ML #3442:115-121, GN 1026

*"Putting 'Skin' on Sin," ML #3453:37-40, GN 1038

*"Renewal: Q'As," ML #3490:44-50, GN 1074

*"Discipleship," 4, Word Basics

Challenging Thot:

156. (Jesus: ) Although the things this world has to offer may seem enticing, enjoyable, and even thrilling, they are still only for a moment. They are cheap thrills, costume jewelry when compared to the thrills of the spirit and the genuine diamonds of true value that are yours as you put Me first. When you realize this, the world will lose its allure. When you realize what the true riches are, the true thrills that will last for an eternity, you won't even notice the things of this Earth that previously interested you.

Text box:

157. (Jesus:) You can have the pleasures of this world, but I want to ask you, do you have them or do they have you? Are you a slave to the world and its mastery? Or do you enslave the world and make these things work for you?

158. You're the master of the house! Get control of your slaves, and don't let them control you! Take control of the earthly possessions and enticements that have gotten a grip on you, and make them work for you. Make them do your and My bidding. If they aren't working for you and for Me, kick them out of your house! Don't let them dictate to you what you can and can't do. You're greater than them, you own them, you are their master—stop letting them run the house.

159. Take control by the power of the keys and I will make them slink back into their proper place and the house will begin to take on a much cleaner and organized appearance. Put down the revolt of worldly enticements and take control of your life again.

End of text box.

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