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NOTE: What follows is a letter which was written to some members of our community. It deals with the problem of followers functioning more out of fear than from personal conviction. We know that this dilemma occurs in other communities as well, where people more or less need to be kicked out of the nest in order to start flying.

I want you to know that your latest letters (like so many of your earlier ones) are greatly appreciated, just because you keep trying. Jesus says for us to forgive our brothers 70 times 7 (in one day, if I'm not mistaken), so we haven't come anywhere near that figure with you guys. Because of that, there is no good reason for me not to forgive you for your latest problems. You are forgiven.

However, there are some things that are irreversible. Not unforgivable, but irreversible. And one of those things is the relationship that now exists between me as leader and you as followers. I'm not saying that it's not humanly possible for me to revert back to the way we were before; but rather that it is not right for me to revert back to the way we were before.

There seems to be evidence that you are not able to hear (or comprehend) what I am saying... at least not when it is coming from me. Yet, I am supremely confident that you would be able to see most of these issues without my help, if you would simply stop trying to figure me out and start working on figuring yourselves (and God) out.

I have to ask myself whether there is any real need for me to even to point some of these things out to you. You know what you need to do, and when you decide to do it, it will get done... but not before.

What you need to aim for is not peace with me, but rather excellence in your own spirit. Your efforts to return to a kind of parent-child relationship with me are proving to be counterproductive. So now it is more a matter of getting serious about correcting yourselves and forgetting about what I happen to think about what you are doing.

You say that you wanted independence for the wrong reason - because it was an escape from criticism and accountability, and that you have now decided that you want to be accountable once again. Great. So start by being accountable to one another and to God. Ask God what he thinks of the things that you say and do.

The conclusion I have come to is that God himself is going to keep on frustrating all my efforts to think for you, by letting you continue to miss the real issues until you stop looking to me as your crystal ball and start looking to God personally.

In terms of membership in an organisation it's handy to have little tags to stick on people. But it's not easy to say exactly where the line exists between a full-on disciple and someone who is only an associate (or a rehabilitation case or a potential or a babe, etc.) Because of this, I would encourage you not to worry too much about what your exact status is within the community.

It's interesting that [one member who was more or less "kicked out"] has gradually slipped back into full status in the community, and yet he never questioned what his status was along the way. He was too busy trying to learn the lessons that God was teaching him... which is the requirement for full discipleship anyway.

You have more or less been kicked out of the nest too. It has forced you into making some serious decisions about where you are going to head. As you have already pointed out, the temptation is very strong to just be selfish and lazy. But it sounds like you may be starting to see that you need to develop some serious strategies for overcoming the spiritual suction that would drag you away from God's best for your life. And that's great.

When you start getting your act together with regard to strategies for accountability, discipline, and criticism within your own little community, then you will truly be "graduating" (not in the sense that you know more than the rest of us, but in the sense that you are full adults, totally responsible before God for all that you do). That is the positive vision and hope that I have for each of you.

One of the things that I have been praying for for many years is more disciples. I think it is becoming more clear to me now that one reason we are not getting more disciples is that we have become a clique... a happy little family that outsiders have a very difficult time of breaking into. The "family" may need to be destroyed in order for the kingdom of heaven to grow. When you feel more "alone", you may start working on learning lessons that God has been wanting to teach you for years... lessons which may one day make you prophets in your own right... founders of the new Jesus movement in whatever country you find yourself.

It certainly helps to get a lot of lit out to the masses. But it also helps to have unity amongst yourselves, to be dependable, to be unselfish and considerate, to hear from God and obey him instantly, to know how to discern problems quickly in others and to deal with them before they become bigger, to keep accurate budgets, and to be able to organise complex projects without becoming confused, or losing touch with what the real issues are. These are all parts of production too.

Perhaps one reason that so much of what I have been saying has gone over people's heads is because they do not see it as being relevant to their role as distributors. But when you see the whole load as being on your shoulders, you should start seeing the importance of other areas of growth as well.

We'll be praying for you and rejoicing with you as you progress along this trail.

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