9 things (May 23)

1. Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits.” And yet, so many organizations that go by the name “church” continually ignore, cover up, and deny the fruits, embracing the wolf. I think it is time to name these organizations for what they are. If “the least of these” are not safe inside your walls, you are not a church, no matter how your PR firm spins it.

2. When one is cast out of a wolf-embracing organization, or has fled for their own safety, they have not left the church. They simply saw the fruits and realized that what they were in was not a church.

3. The SBC hasn’t been a church for a long, long time. Ever, really. An organization founded for the purpose of keeping slaves under control might say some good things from time to time, but so does the devil. You can’t tell a church by what is plastered on their website or printed in their bulletins. You will know them by their fruits.

4. I pray that the people of God who are still in bondage in the SBC will be able to flee and find safety.

5. I also pray that we all would see the warning signs before the candlestick is removed. If our “ministry” is more concerned about culture than the gospel; if our “ministry” is more concerned about keeping women in their place; if our “ministry” is based on money, power, numbers, and privilege; NOW is the time to repent and return to our former love.

6. Is anyone else extremely disturbed that so-called Christian leaders are denouncing winsomeness and kindness because of the “hostility” of the culture?? There are so many problems with this I don’t even know what to say. The outright exchange of the ethics taught by Jesus (and all of scripture) for the ethics of Fox News should shake us to the core. But it does expose the god that so many serve.

7. Placing one’s trust in strength or riches will always lead to oppression and robbery (Psalm 62). You will know them by their fruits. If there is oppression or robbery, there is no Biblical faith.

8. We are all sinners. If a church is doing its job, we will be made uncomfortable by our sins and urged to find cleansing and healing in Christ. But if your person, your dignity, your body, your worth and your voice are not safeguarded and protected, then you are not in a church.

9. Everyone is continually being catechized. It is the nature of being human. If you are being catechized by porn, you will not have a healthy view of relationships and sexuality. If you are being catechized by the media (whether right or left wing) you will make decisions based on fear. If you are being catechized by right wing nationalism, you will not understand Christianity and will find yourself worshiping another god. We become like the idols we serve (Psalm 115).

Read the Psalms.

16 Comments

Filed under 9 things

16 responses to “9 things (May 23)

  1. joepote01

    “If our “ministry” is more concerned about culture than the gospel; if our “ministry” is more concerned about keeping women in their place; if our “ministry” is based on money, power, numbers, and privilege; NOW is the time to repent and return to our former love.”

    Amen!

  2. sarahknox91

    This, just ALL of this!! Its not just the SBC, it’s even Reformed/Presbyterian circles. I’ve not experienced SA but I have been made to feel as big as a cornflake and JUST a sheep who needs to toe the line and all that horse poo!

    Church, in whatever denomination, has NEVER felt like a safe place. When I was a kid, I was in the way, too loud, misbehaved, smug..as I’ve gotten older, it’s that I refuse to toe whatever ideological line, dos/donts, the right things, submission to authority w/o question, not being spiritually lead- just talked at for an hr once a wk. I just am SO FED UP WITH ALL THE BULLSHIT!!
    Currently I am working at a fast food chain as a prep/fryer person. It’s the only place I’ve ever been a part of, that treats me and the rest of the employees like we are REAL human beings. Patience. Communication. They have an open door policy. Thank God! Usually I’m in the middle of four things at once in a VERY BUSY location, it makes my head spin, I can’t stay hydrated, it makes my anxiety flare up…and they treat me with grace and dignity and humanity. I would say most of them would not consider themselves Christian, quite the opposite. It has been and is SO refreshing to be a part of a community that functions like God intended for creation to function. That is no bad thing.

    Perhaps, the ideas of people are more sinful than the sin they supposedly are against? Could that be a thing, because it’s *smh* detestable!

    • I agree that it is everywhere, in every denomination. The church today is going through a real testing.
      God always has his remnant – but they are often so, so hard to find. I wish you lived closer. I would love to fellowship with you.

  3. Z

    Just WOW! I don’t know much about other Christian denominations prevalent in other parts of the country. I was raised in an “evangelical” environment and it was a non-denominational church my entire “clan/cult” attended. My violent, perverted, child abusing and DV violent parents and my extended family who enabled them all my life professed to be born again. (They’d all repeated the Sinner’s Prayer once but never changed their fruit. “Not necessary” they’d say. “Grace is ours”. It now covers all our known, repeated, habitual sins forever! Free pass into heaven! No change of heart or fruit needed! Yay!) But even as a child I knew their fruit was so rotten! All of them! They’d heard our screams for help and the beatings as little children-they lived in the same building. They’d pass by our door (ignoring our screams) with Bibles under their arms going to Wed night Bible study. I knew it was hypocrisy at the very least and now I know it was and still is much more sinister. The church’s Pastor welcomed the abusers and their allies in crimes with open arms. As a teen I tried speaking to the Pastor about what they really were doing to us at home. He told me to just behave and honor my parents. He made an idol of “family”, sacrificing grave harm to children in his flock. (Like many pastors do with abusive marriages. They idolize the marriage and throw the abuse victims under the bus.”Suck it up. Anything but ending the marriage”.) Basically he said to take the sufferings I was dealt in life as Christ would have done. Silently I guess? Not a word was ever asked of or said to my abusers or the many enabler relatives in his church. Wolves were allowed to roam loose and free to sink their fangs into God’s beloved children with no fear of God or of losing the Pastor’s esteem. They put on their usual grooming and bribing act for him. Invited him to soup to nuts dinners at their house…I guess being brutalized regularly was the price we child victims had to pay for a the pastor to have a few good meals. I’d seen that act SO many times used to groom, bribe and dupe church people who’d maybe heard a bit about their abuses or possibly could have noticed something like a bruise,…Over the top obsequious acts. My stomach turns when I think of all this now that I am in 100% No Contact with my former family after a violent weapon attack on myself and my husband in retaliation for us placing boundaries on their continued abuses of both of us. A preplanned bludgeoning. We called police and we sued them for the serious injuries suffered. And the clan/cult all saw US-the victims-as the bad guys/bad fruit-for the outrage of us “calling police on family”! I suppose the ambush felony weapon bludgeoning of a “family member” was OK fruit in their eyes. That was the point where we went No Contact with all of them. Abusers and their complicit enablers. (We’d long exited the bad fruit church and pastor for our mental health, dignity and safety.)
    And then the typical vile smear campaign waged by my siblings to defend their own abuser parents was relentless. They and their other allies made sure their lies and fabrications turned everyone we’d known all our lives against us. They were meticulous in not missing any opportunity. These people all knew our good character and sincerity all our lives. It made no difference.
    So I am now an orphan as well as an outcast by all professing Christian relatives and church “friends” who have been groomed and bribed even more since the attack became somewhat public. And their silence towards us was deafening. Backs turned on us based on known lies. They are cowards who fear abusive people more than they fear God Almighty. So certainly they deny God’s power to send them to hell by their actions no matter what they profess to believe or what act they put on to fool people who willingly align themselves with known abusers for fear of the cost to themselves. Unpopular? No more dinners? No more money gifts in birthday cards? Can’t have that! The long groundwork of bribes worked like a charm when they were needed.
    All that to simply say, church has not been Christ’s home for me and has been an unsafe place for me all my childhood and then again as an adult victim of “Christian abusers” (no such thing!). I’d rather be on our deserted island with my husband and me and our dog. I read the blogs and sermons of godly pastors who “get” abuse and evil within the church and its tactics and aren’t afraid to call it out. And I am comforted by reading the comments of many fellow Christian victims of Christian abusers. I now know how NOT ALONE I am, unfortunately.
    I so appreciate you, Pastor Sam. I’ll never forget your kind words about my battle now with trauma anxiety. You acknowledged you also have had anxiety at times and you gave me helpful advice. You normalized it as a normal reaction to ABNORMAL PEOPLE all my life. Until God said, “Enough!” and during the attack He gave me the clear eyes to see the depth of evil I wrongly thought I HAD to associate with as they were my only “family”. Hogwash!! They are the opposite of “family”! Enemies of me and of God. And He led me out of that bondage and false teaching for good.
    I have scars. Mental and physical. So does my husband who took the brunt of the weapon attack and physical injuries. But now we are free. And God is the ultimate Just Judge and our Avenger. He will finish what He started by first removing us from evil and next to judge and avenge every single act, thought, motive, plan, conspiracy, lie, false accusation…each of them by each person who perpetrated them against us. Blessed be His Name and His promises.

  4. Z

    Just WOW! I don’t know much about other Christian denominations prevalent in other parts of the country. I was raised in an “evangelical” environment and it was a non-denominational church my entire “clan/cult” attended. My violent, perverted, child abusing and DV violent parents and my extended family who enabled them all my life professed to be born again. (They’d all repeated the Sinner’s Prayer once but never changed their fruit. “Not necessary” they’d say. “Grace is ours”. It now covers all our known, repeated, habitual sins forever! Free pass into heaven! No change of heart or fruit needed! Yay!) But even as a child I knew their fruit was so rotten! All of them! They’d heard our screams for help and the beatings as little children-they lived in the same building. They’d pass by our door (ignoring our screams) with Bibles under their arms going to Wed night Bible study. I knew it was hypocrisy at the very least and now I know it was and still is much more sinister. The church’s Pastor welcomed the abusers and their allies in crimes with open arms. As a teen I tried speaking to the Pastor about what they really were doing to us at home. He told me to just behave and honor my parents. He made an idol of “family”, sacrificing grave harm to children in his flock. (Like many pastors do with abusive marriages. They idolize the marriage and throw the abuse victims under the bus.”Suck it up. Anything but ending the marriage”.) Basically he said to take the sufferings I was dealt in life as Christ would have done. Silently I guess? Not a word was ever asked of or said to my abusers or the many enabler relatives in his church. Wolves were allowed to roam loose and free to sink their fangs into God’s beloved children with no fear of God or of losing the Pastor’s esteem. They put on their usual grooming and bribing act for him. Invited him to soup to nuts dinners at their house…I guess being brutalized regularly was the price we child victims had to pay for a the pastor to have a few good meals. I’d seen that act SO many times used to groom, bribe and dupe church people who’d maybe heard a bit about their abuses or possibly could have noticed something like a bruise,…Over the top obsequious acts. My stomach turns when I think of all this now that I am in 100% No Contact with my former family after a violent weapon attack on myself and my husband in retaliation for us placing boundaries on their continued abuses of both of us. A preplanned bludgeoning. We called police and we sued them for the serious injuries suffered. And the clan/cult all saw US-the victims-as the bad guys/bad fruit-for the outrage of us “calling police on family”! I suppose the ambush felony weapon bludgeoning of a “family member” was OK fruit in their eyes. That was the point where we went No Contact with all of them. Abusers and their complicit enablers. (We’d long exited the bad fruit church and pastor for our mental health, dignity and safety.)
    And then the typical vile smear campaign waged by my siblings to defend their own abuser parents was relentless. They and their other allies made sure their lies and fabrications turned everyone we’d known all our lives against us. They were meticulous in not missing any opportunity. These people all knew our good character and sincerity all our lives. It made no difference.
    So I am now an orphan as well as an outcast by all professing Christian relatives and church “friends” who have been groomed and bribed even more since the attack became somewhat public. And their silence towards us was deafening. Backs turned on us based on known lies. They are cowards who fear abusive people more than they fear God Almighty. So certainly they deny God’s power to send them to hell by their actions no matter what they profess to believe or what act they put on to fool people who willingly align themselves with known abusers for fear of the cost to themselves. Unpopular? No more dinners? No more money gifts in birthday cards? Can’t have that! The long groundwork of bribes worked like a charm when they were needed.
    All that to simply say, church has not been Christ’s home for me and has been an unsafe place for me all my childhood and then again as an adult victim of “Christian abusers” (no such thing!). I’d rather be on our deserted island with my husband and me and our dog. I read the blogs and sermons of godly pastors who “get” abuse and evil within the church and its tactics and aren’t afraid to call it out. And I am comforted by reading the comments of many fellow Christian victims of Christian abusers. I now know how NOT ALONE I am, unfortunately.
    I so appreciate you, Pastor Sam. I’ll never forget your kind words about my battle now with trauma anxiety. You acknowledged you also have had anxiety at times and you gave me helpful advice. You normalized it as a normal reaction to ABNORMAL PEOPLE all my life. Until God said, “Enough!” and during the attack He gave me the clear eyes to see the depth of evil I wrongly thought I HAD to associate with as they were my only “family”. Hogwash!! They are the opposite of “family”! Enemies of me and of God. And He led me out of that bondage and false teaching for good.
    I have scars. Mental and physical. So does my husband who took the brunt of the weapon attack and physical injuries. But now we are free. And God is the ultimate Just Judge and our Avenger. He will finish what He started by first removing us from evil and next to judge and avenge every single act, thought, motive, plan, conspiracy, lie, false accusation…each of them by each person who perpetrated them against us. Blessed be His Name and His promises.

    • I can’t even fathom the amount of evil that was so prevalent in your growing up – It leaves me speechless.
      As I look back on my childhood, I now know that there were many kids in my home church that suffered similarly. Brutal beatings, cruelty, shaming…It is no wonder that so many have left the church – and the rest of us kids had no idea.
      But Jesus never fails us. Jesus never shames us or abuses us or treats us with contempt. “Though my father and my mother forsake me, yet the Lord will take me up” – and you have experienced this first hand.

  5. C

    Thank you! I appreciate that you keep untwisting all the lies that have been told in the name of “God”, misusing Scripture. It has been really helpful for me, and very needed in these days.

    My experience is different, and confusing at times. I know Christians that want to reject privilege and power, in order to preach Christ crucified. They also have small churches and help the inmigrant and the poor. I know they want to please God.
    But sadly, on the other hand, they follow those big conservative ministries*. Those big ministries claim to preach sound doctrine, but there are things they say that sound “almost right”. In the last couple of months, I got realized that those “almost right” teachings were actually a twisting of Scriptures, used to preserve power and silence victims, oppresing them so they wouldn’t tell the truth, lest they “give God a bad reputation”. And if they are confronted or their bad deeds come to light, they call it an “attack from Satan”.
    Sadly, the well intentioned Christians I know swallow and preach those teachings, because, as I said, they sound orthodox, and also because they want to have weapons to fight the teachings of the world. But they don’t realize that those bad teachings harm people under their care, especially if they are in abusive situations or have mental health issues. And that has really ugly consequences. I pray that they will open their eyes, that they will see the bad fruits and the rotten root of those teachings, and will abandon them in favor of a good understanding of Scripture, that has love and truth.

    Again, I’m thankful for your ministry!

    *Note: I’m from outide the US, from a country in which Reformed doctrine was rare to find, until the last 10 years, when sermons from Paul Washer, John MacArthur, John Piper, etc. started to become translated into our mother language. That’s the first approach we had to Reformed-ish doctrine, and for us it was like a breath of fresh air. This also means that the information about those ministries (like abuse reports) in our language is limited, so it’s hard for us to access to all of it.

  6. The recent SBC news is horrifying, but not surprising. I’m honestly shocked it hasn’t come out sooner.
    In regards to your blog: how do you make sense of non-Christians who show more fruits of the spirit like compassion and kindness than many of those who are within the church or call themselves Christian?

    • Unbelievers are often kind and generous, because of God’s common grace. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.
      And “believers” are often cruel and vindictive – many times because what they are truly worshiping is not Christ at all, but power and privilege.
      There is a similarity between modern “Christianity” and baal worship of old.

      • The common grace explanation just doesn’t sit right with me. It seems to imply that God is able and willing to positively influence the behavior of some unbelievers while allowing others to shoot up schools. I just don’t understand why a good god would stop halfway. If he has the ability to withhold some unbelievers from succumbing to their evil nature under total depravity, why stop there? It’s maddeningly inconsistent.
        And I know Christians are supposed to respond with “well we should be grateful that god restrains any of us from our darkest inclinations at all. We all deserve to suffer in depraved anarchy.” But it’s really hard to feel grateful to a god who apparently can restrain some people and calls it “grace” while choosing not to restrain others and shrugging off their atrocities with “well, there goes my depraved creation again…what can you expect?”
        If god can’t do anything about human atrocities, that’s fine. I’d honestly feel more comfortable with that answer than with a god who can do something about it and chooses not to. Or only chooses to save some and not others.
        I know you won’t be able to say anything that makes this make sense to me. Humans have been having this conversation for centuries and no one has come up with a good answer yet. I’m just sad and tired and frustrated.

      • The struggle that you are having is that you have switched places with the judge. You have defined goodness by your own terms and then held God to your standard.
        But it doesn’t work that way. God never, for example, shrugs and says, “Well what can you do?” Just because we cannot even fathom what he is doing doesn’t mean that he is not good, not all-powerful, and not all-wise.
        In fact, because he is good, powerful and wise, we shouldn’t expect to exhaust his ways, for they are higher than ours.
        God CAN do something about atrocities, and he has already done it and will continue to do it. And the day will come when that work will be final.
        But perhaps it is good to find a way to end atrocities without casting the entire human race into hell.
        Perhaps there are things we don’t know. Maybe in the past 2000 years, God permitted a wicked man to live because he wanted my wife to come into the world and be introduced to me.
        In the almost infinite bits of possibilities and choices of the whole human race, perhaps I, a guy who can’t seem to even infallibly vote in elections and have a history of getting ripped off by people I shouldn’t have trusted – maybe I can leave the governing of the universe to the one who is perfectly good, perfectly wise, never has regrets and never changes his mind.

        When we start by saying, “I wonder if God is good. Let’s look at the evidence.” We have already failed, because goodness is not an abstract quality that even God must submit to. Goodness is God himself. That which conforms to God’s revealed character is good. That which does not is not good.
        So we start with “God is good.”
        Here are some extremely difficult concepts that seem to contradict that statement…kids with guns. wicked men. tornados. criminals…etc.
        But those things don’t change the presupposition, “God is good”.
        The only conclusion possible is “Maybe there are some things I don’t know, but I know that God will come in judgment when the time is perfect and bring this to an end.

        Eve used her ratiocination to conclude that God didn’t know what he was doing, rather than believe his word. She got it backwards, and we have all be following her example ever since, to our detriment.
        There have been countless people who thought that they could fix this better than God could, and the result is always mass graves and suffering on a grand scale.
        Better, I think, to wait for God’s time, trust in the provision that he has already sent into the world (Jesus Christ) and continue to pour out our laments to him.

        The only way that we can think of to stop bad things from happening is by force. But force always ends the same way.
        God doesn’t play by our rules, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing anything.

      • I’ve been thinking about your comment and trying to identify the heart of the issue we’re discussing. I keep coming back to the part where you say “That which conforms to God’s revealed character is good.” That’s the crux isn’t it?

        How do we know about God’s character? The Bible? Well, God condoned a lot of things in the Bible that make God’s character pretty questionable. I know you’re well aware of what I’m about to list, but for the sake of the point, I’ll list it anyways. For example, we have slavery, slaughtering entire populations (while of course allowing the Israelite men to save the surviving young women for themselves), and punitive rather than restorative consequences, etc. There’s also the part where God says “thou shalt not kill” with a *wink wink subtext of “except for all of the surrounding tribes who don’t look and think like you” and then then sends them on their merry slaughtering way so that they can take the land.
        When that kind of God and book is the basis for morality, is it any wonder that so much evil has been done in the name of this God (colonization of entire continents, genocide of the American Indians, slavery, ongoing hatred and violence towards children, women and other races & religions, etc.)?! This isn’t just a modern evangelical problem. This is a systemic issue dating back hundreds, even thousands of years through church history.
        God, as represented in the Bible when read literally, is a very inconsistent, punitive, vindictive character.

        But here’s what’s important. I don’t think that this God that I’ve just described based on the Bible is the God that kind and loving Christians like you know and talk about. Every time I bring up these objectively evil biblical atrocities, Christians seem inclined to rationalize them to get them to fit in with their own understanding and experience of a God who is loving and good.

        I can agree with your presupposition that god is good while disagreeing about the version of god in the Bible and modern evangelical Christianity being good.

        From what I’ve read, it seems that most people who have ever been deeply, truly spiritual across most religions have encountered a spirit of goodness and a deep well of love. There’s moments where you see that in the Bible too, but this isn’t limited to Christianity. The god of love and justice that I always hear you describe is the same one that I’ve heard Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Sikhs, Native Americans, Buddhists and other non-affiliated spiritual people describe.

        I don’t claim to understand how that works. I’m getting used to not having answers and I hold my beliefs (which seems too strong of a word to use at this point) very loosely these days. There’s always new information that changes things for me.
        But the one thing that I keep coming back to is that, if god is good and loving and restorative, then they must be bigger than the god of the Bible. They must be concerned with people throughout all of time and human history, not just a small tribe of Israelites over a couple thousand years in the Middle East and then a bunch of European Christians for the last 2000 years. If a god truly created humans with all of the color and variety and beauty that we see in the world, then that god must not expect or desire conformity to their own image under one religion. Certainly, that god must be more than capable of showing up in different times and cultures and languages and interpretations.

        Please don’t think that I’m trying to force any ideas on you. I’m well past trying to convert anyone to a belief system. I’m just trying to describe how I see things at this moment in time. You know that I love and admire how much you help others and how you fight against a corrupt system from within. And if you find peace and joy in your beliefs then I am truly happy for you. Those beliefs just didn’t do that for me.

        As an aside to your comment about Eve: I actually just wrote a blog a couple of days ago on the topic. I’ve thought a lot about that story and in the blog, I make the case that Eve trusted God’s goodness the entire time, even when she ate the fruit. I don’t think she ever doubted his goodness.

  7. Just one comment – on the “wink wink except the tribes that don’t think like you…”
    This is a straw man argument. The first thing that you really need to do in order to engage with a position is to present that position honestly, so that the people who hold that position can say, “Yes. You have presented that accurately and fairly.”
    So I will just respond to that one. God never commanded Joshua to destroy everyone who didn’t think and act like him. God commanded him to leave the Edomites, the Ammonites, and Moabites alone and at peace.
    It was just Canaan.
    Now – imagine a person who continually and only thinks in terms of death, destruction, pain and the infliction of sorrow.
    Think, for example, of the doctor who practiced vivisection in America on African women. The doctor who practiced it in the concentration camps.
    Think about the description of the men of Sodom – not their homosexual attraction, which wasn’t the point. But their hatred and violence.
    Now, suppose you have the ability to know the heart and you see the blackness that is in that heart and what it will take to stop the burning of infants alive, the slow torture of the weak just for fun…
    And then you see that same black heart – not just in one or two people. But in every single member of the whole population. Where the “iniquity is complete”. They have been given every chance for 430 years and the pain and torture that they inflict is now universal and there is not one single spot of goodness in the whole lot.
    Is it then a good act or a bad act for God do order their destruction?

    Remember that he has perfect knowledge, that he knows exactly what every single one of them would have done had he given them further chances.

    Even then, though, he had mercy on every one that asked him for mercy. Every single one that pled for their lives was spared – Rahab and her family. And the Gibeonites.
    and that was all of them.

    If you would like to make an honest study of what the law of Moses was and what it was not, then I will be happy to engage you on them, but first you need to commit to understanding what the bible is actually teaching.
    God told us why he drove the Canaanites out. Their iniquity was complete. That is chilling.
    Thank you for the engagement. I know that there is anger there, but it needs to be resolved honestly.

    • I want to apologize for the tone in my last two comments. I realize that they probably came off as derisive and caustic. It was rude of me to talk about something that is so important to you in that way, and I am truly sorry for that.
      Also, it wasn’t my intention to present a strawman argument. I didn’t realize that the Amonites and Moabites were spared at that time. I think I conflated the Canaanite conquest with the wars in Kings & Samuel. If I overgeneralized, then I acknowledge my mistake. I still think that a restorative God who loved and actually desired mercy and justice for his creation would have taken a different action in regards to the Canaanites and Midianites. Justice doesn’t always have to be punitive and violent.
      I know you said that we are not supposed to judge God. But we are supposed to judge his people to some extent when we seek to “know them by their fruits.” And if the fruits in the past and present continue to be rotten, then I have to wonder: maybe there’s something wrong with the tree? Whether that tree is the theology or the institution or God himself is murky. But most days, it really all seems like the same thing.

      • Thank you for that, C. I appreciate it.
        Your last paragraph is right on – but the ugliness has come from the bad theology that has always infiltrated the good. Jesus said it would happen just like that.
        In my lifetime, the dominionism and the “culture wars” as well as the environment of white male supremacy, racism and misogyny that infiltrated sound theology brought forth much of the rotten fruit that you have experienced.
        It was and is ugly, and still very much with us.
        But it has nothing to do with Christ.
        Thank you for the comments and for the apology. We’re good. I understand the anger and the pain behind it.

  8. Anu Riley

    So appreciated this messaging. As I read, I kept thinking about those poor souls in Texas who lost their lives or lost their innocence :-(. And Buffalo, and the handful of places where it is 100% reasonable to expect to be kept and feel safe. Public schools are obviously drastically different than churches, but a TON of your messaging is just as valid for both institutions.
    One of the many reasons I eventually chose to not create or post on a personal Facebook page was simple: If the goal is to really get to know me, that is really not going to be the way to do so. It’s just not possible, even if I am diligent and determined to express myself sincerely, and wiling to be vulnerable. I would certainly guard large portions of my privacy and keep and maintain strong boundaries.
    But if I am known by my fruits, that kind of thing can only be truly seen for what they really are (or aren’t) away from the “PR” that a personal page tends to revolve around. This is NOT meant to criticize anyone who believes and behaves differently, by the way!
    I just found myself realizing that even in group face to face settings, I can only catch glimpses of who people really are, what they are really like. Fruits like kindness can certainly be evident, but only the test for their authenticity occurs in the one on one interactions and/or conversations.
    By the way, it’s good to review what the fruits are and are NOT (according to the Bible) so that you dare to give an accurate review. News flash: If you profess Christ, you better profess the fruits that matter to Him.
    I remember a scene in “Aladdin” where Aladdin and is dressed up as and us trying to act like a prince to impress Jasmine: Only my servants go to market, never me! I i have so many servants that even my servants have servants.
    I’ll never forget the look of absolute boredom and complete lack of impressiveness at his words. This was a woman of wealth who was not one bit impressed by wealth.
    Sometimes I wonder if Christ has a similar look on His face when He sees social media posts and pages from churches and professing Christians, who attempt to impress Him with anything but what really impresses Him.
    I’ll readily admit that He is still quite a mystery to me, but there are many things about Him that are by no means a mystery. I’ve never seen Him impressed by power, prestige, pomp and pretentiousness—and it’s certainly no secret in the Word as well.
    You do not have to be a church rich in money, huge in size, large in followings, in order to be seen, in order to shine His light. Churches that see the need to scream in order to be seen and heard, make me suspicious that they also see the need to silence those that are unseen, but desperately need to be heard.

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