VIDEO Does God want you dead? – A Tough Question

By Autumn Miles, CP Op-Ed Contributor

 

It seems like every time we turn on the news, we see anxiety-inducing tragedies. From the horrific loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter recently to the spreading panic of the coronavirus, it seems like something is out to get us. When faced with the encroaching darkness, some even wonder if there’s Someone who is trying to wipe us off the planet.

I’m certainly no stranger to this feeling. As a young woman trapped in an abusive marriage, I was sure God wanted me dead. I lived in constant fear that God would strike me down at any moment. I hardly left my home, isolating myself in my misery.

You see, I had made some mistakes in my youth, turning my back on my Christian upbringing and willfully entering into a sinful relationship with my high school sweetheart. Fast-forward a few years, and I was married to that same man, who turned out to be a horrific abuser. I was sure God was punishing me for my sin and that His ultimate plan was to kill me.

So when we face tragedy, frightening disease, or even abuse, does God want us dead? Of course not.

When I chose to walk away from God to choose my own path, I removed myself from communication with Him, therefore allowing Satan to use my external circumstances to warp the truth of God’s love for me. I had closed the door to God and accidentally opened the door to evil.

Satan used my fear and the brainwashing that takes place in abuse, and pointed it toward God. God never wanted me dead, but Satan did. And while I wallowed in my misery, God was patiently calling me back to Him.

Maybe you’re facing fear of death or wondering if God really cares for you. It’s hard not to think about death when the world is so rife with suffering. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to fear it.

One night, I was so convinced that God wanted me to die that I was considering taking my own life. I just couldn’t go on in my fear of my husband and of the Almighty. That night, God spoke to me, pointing me to Proverbs 16:31, “Long life is the reward of the righteous.” He spoke to my spirit, telling me he didn’t just want me to live, but to live abundantly, and invited me into a relationship with Him.

The next day and every day after, I felt peace and safety. Nothing in my external circumstance had changed. I was still trapped in a severely abusive relationship, and would not escape for months afterward. But my internal circumstances had changed. I knew God’s love for me, and I was not afraid any more.

We all face uncertain times. Like Kobe Bryant, we don’t know the date of our death. We could contract a disease. You might be facing your own secret battle, like I was. But don’t let your external circumstances speak for God. Listen for His voice, and rest assured in his love for you. We have nothing to fear from God when we turn to Him.

Autumn Miles is a Christian speaker, host of “The Autumn Miles Show” on Salem Radio Network, and CEO of Autumn Miles Ministries. She is the author of three books, including “Gangster Prayer” released by Hachette Book Group. For more information, visit www.autumnmiles.com.

https://www.christianpost.com/voices/does-god-want-you-dead.html


A Tough Question


How Does Death Rule Over Us?

December 9, 2019 hepsibahgarden

Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Psalms‬ ‭119:77‬

We need GOD’S TENDER MERCIES TO LIVE CONTINUALLY.

He did not call us to death. Rather, God called us forth from death and brought us into Life so that we may live eternally. We need to always keep “sin” in a dead state, and to do this we need God’s mercy. What does keeping sin in a dead state mean? It means to forsake the works of death immediately in our lives.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans‬ ‭6:23‬

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬

To be carnally/fleshly minded is death, therefore this also needs to be kept in a dead state. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6

If we hate our brethren, he is a murderer. The Scriptures says there is no eternal life for such a person. Where there is no Life, there death is present. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John‬ ‭3:15‬.

For mercy to remain upon us, we must perfect our works before God. If not, we are good as dead to Him. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Revelation‬ ‭3:1-2‬

If we aren’t found in the first love, we are in a dead state. Falling away from First Love is referred to being asleepHence St.Paul writes, Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians‬ ‭5:14‬.

If we are not in the Spirit, we are in God’s sight dead. This was why God asked prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind looking at the Valley of Bones. When the prophet did so, breath came into them and in no time the Valley of Dead Bones revived into an exceeding great army.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Ezekiel‬ ‭37:7-10‬. May God help us to preserve His mercies in our lives!

Be blessed 💕

Original here

‘Grinch’ group bullies elementary school into canceling live Nativity

Judge: Artistic performances don’t ‘establish’ a religion

December 11, 2019

A live Nativity scene in Stuart, Florida (Photo by Joe Kovacs, used with permission)

A “grinch” organization that flexes its influence each year during the holiday season, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, has “bullied” a school district in Oklahoma into canceling a live Nativity scene that had been part of the school’s annual Christmas celebration.

Liberty Counsel said it’s prepared to represent the school if officials decide they want to restore the holiday display.

LC said FFRF not only was wrong to insist such displays aren’t allowed, it mischaracterized a court ruling on the dispute.

FFRF wrote to Supt. Bret Towne of Edmond Public Schools in Edmond, Oklahoma, declaring “the Chisholm Elementary School Christmas program may not include a live Nativity scene in the performance.”

Liberty Counsel, which has handled many such disputes, said that while FFRF cited a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the atheist organization failed “to accurately describe” the decision.

“The 7th Circuit simply did not make the sweeping ruling claimed by FFRF. FFRF has once again selectively related what actually happened in a suit, in order to frighten a school district into compliance,” Liberty Counsel explained.

The ruling stated clearly, “We are not prepared to say that a nativity scene in a school performance automatically constitutes an Establishment Clause violation.”

FFRF had said, “While a public school can hold holiday concerts, religious performances and instruction that emphasize the religious aspects of a holiday are prohibited.”

It continued, “Please note that including a live nativity performance in a school’s holiday concert remains illegal even if participation in the nativity scene is ‘voluntary.'”

FFRF cited a previous dispute in which it wanted to ban a 20-minute Nativity within a program that covered about 90 minutes.

The appeals court said: “The district court found that the Christmas Spectacular program. … A program in which cultural, pedagogical, and entertainment value took center stage – did not violate the Establishment Clause.

One judge wrote: “It is not sound, as a matter of history or constitutional text, to say that a unit of state or local government ‘establishes’ a religion through an artistic performance that favorable depicts one or more aspects of that religion’s theology or iconography. [The school] would not violate the Constitution by performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor or Handel’s Mesiah, although both are deeply religious works and run far longer than the nativity portion of the ‘Christmas Spectacular.’ Performing a work of art does not establish that work, or its composer, as the state song or the state composer; no more does it establish a state religion.”

“Liberty Counsel therefore stands ready, along with our affiliate attorneys in Oklahoma, to provide assistance at no charge to Edmond Public Schools, if the district desires to resume a live Nativity in a school Christmas program,” the organization promised.

 

Original here

How you Can Become a Better Person Starting Now

Can you Really Change?

Most people wonder if it’s possible to become a better person after maturity. The answer is a resounding yes. There’s actually room for change at every stage of our life. With a willing spirit, you can transform your personality. Once you figure out the best and easiest approach to take, you can decide the most important personal aspects to work on. Taking into account the best interest of others and your well being, below are some of the most important things you’ll need to work on, in order to make the changes.

Photo by Freshh Connection on unsplash

Help Others:

Good people support and encourage others to do and become their best selves. I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have is to support ourselves and others to live as close to their unique potential as possible. Because everything we say and do has a negative or positive influence on others. We should always take into consideration the words we speak to and about others.

How you can show Support?

  • Have some faith in others.
  • Hold high expectations.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be honest.
  • Share yourself.
  • Set the best example.
  • Challenge them.
  • Be mindful of your questions.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Acknowledge them.

Let go of Anger:

Your relationships can create a haven from stress as well as help you become a better person. But if you walk away from unresolved conflicts, they can become a significant source of stress. Let’s face it, conflicts are common in our society. They happen with our families, neighbors, friends or colleagues. You have to face them in the right manner and come up with a fair solution. The best way to improve in this area is to learn conflict resolution strategies. Let’s take a look at 5 of this tools that are more effective:

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

  • Recognize that all of us have biased fairness perception.
  • Avoid escalating tensions with threats and provocative move
  • Overcome an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Look beneath the surface to identify deeper issues.
  • Separate sacred from pseudo-sacred issues.

You can also identify what your anger triggers and eliminate them as much as possible. Also learn to let go of any grudge and residual anger.

Be a good Listener:

Listening to others and is one of the best things you can do for another person and yourself. It shows them that you value their opinion and allows you to develop closer connection with others. You also get to hear perspectives you might otherwise dismiss. It is important to engage in active listening with the people in our lives. Being an active listener can change your life for the better. It fosters deeper relationships and exposes you to thoughts, ideas world wide views beyond your own experience. You never know what you might learn from someone.

Self Care:

Self care is vital for building resilience when facing life’s unavoidable stressors. Making sure that you get enough sleep is important for your physical and emotional wellbeing. Less sleep can make you less able to brainstorm solutions to problems you come across. I don’t know about you, but when l don’t sleep enough, it makes me very edgy the next day.

Eating a proper diet is also essential in keeping your body and mind healthy. When you eat healthy, problems like bloating and constipation are never going to be on your worry list. That means you will be in optimum shape for handling stress – which gives you added resilience to manage those challenges that come up unexpectedly.

Be Polite:

Being polite is an act of kindness. We can show politeness to everyone we come across. It is not a trivial thing. This little act instill positive feelings in the people around you. Maintaining a certain level of politeness and civility is appreciated because it shows thoughtfulness, considerations, and kindness.

Live with Integrity:

Personal integrity is a cornerstone of whom we really are. It also shows what we stand for. Integrity is part of our mortal foundation. Integrity shapes the person you become with time. Living with integrity means being true to your ideas. It means that your outward actions reflect your inner beliefs and values. It means making necessary changes to live up to your standards. Take time to understand what integrity means to you and how your decisions align with your values. These things can help propel you towards becoming a better person.

Original here

 

VIDEO A Christmas Story

December 7, 2019   By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

 

 

The Christmas Story is story of a hero. The greatest evil the world has ever known made the greatest hero the world has ever known. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of torture and execution man devised or used.

Not every hero since has given up his life for another. Heroes generally take no concern for their own life while trying to save the lives of others.

The acknowledgement and veneration of heroes has existed for centuries. It was the ancient Greeks who are accredited with first coining the designation.

A very recent tragedy brought to light another hero.  A young graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, whose dream was to become a pilot, is a hero after he reportedly related crucial information about the identity of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola shooter to first responders, despite having been shot several times, a family member revealed.

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who were killed Friday morning when Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire on a flight training program for foreign military personnel, Adam Watson revealed in a Facebook post. (1)

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who was killed Friday morning.

“Today has been the worst day of my life. My youngest brother gave his life for his country in a senseless shooting. Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own. After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. When we were little I gave Kaleb the name little poot and it stuck. It eventually evolved into pootis and finally uncle poot. Just wish I could talk to him one more time or wrestle with him one more time even though he could probably take me now. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. “(2)

Simply put, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.

Philip Zimbardo: What Makes a Hero?

 

Christians who helped Jews during the Holocaust were in the same situation as other civilians who helped imprison or kill Jews, or ignored their suffering. The situation provided the impetus to act heroically or malevolently. People choose one path or the other.

Some choose a path to meet the needs of others. For example there is New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson will use his custom-made “My Cause, My Cleats” cleats to bring attention to his One More Foundation. H e created the One More Thing Foundation to spread the love and hope of Christ to one more soul.

“And, we do that by following the three charges that are given in Micah 6:8 when it talks about doing justice, loving-kindness, and walking humbly with our God,” he explained.

Watson said that, for the last decade, the foundation has given him the opportunity to meet people with “real needs” and “to know the one who can meet their needs forever and ever.”

“Whether it’s promoting and giving food to those who are hungry, doing events around the holidays, promoting education, standing against injustice — whether that be sex trafficking, abortion, or racial injustice … and also, just bringing kindness to people,” he continued. (3)

Courtesy of Eric J. Adler and the New England Patriots

Heroes | Restoring Faith in Humanity | 2017

 

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe, professional tennis player.

There have been thousands of unnamed and unknown heroes over the centuries. Heroes include those who stood ready, who fought and who died for the cause of freedom, first responders, those who served others, and the many that have helped someone without regard to their personal safety,

The true Christmas Story is an everyday story.

The real reason for the season was born to die and save us all.

——-

(1) https://www.foxnews.com/us/naval-academy-grad-shot-5-times-hero

(2)  https://www.facebook.com/adam.watson.397/posts/3471855006187806

(3)  https://www.foxnews.com/media/patriots-benjamin-watson-one-more-foundation-my-cause-my-cleats

——-

Below are a handful of links to heroes

https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/local/2019/11/14/sons-american-revolution-honor-first-responders-heroic-acts/4193217002/

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/08/05/soldier-praised-for-heroic-act-at-el-paso-shooting-what-i-did-was-what-i-was-supposed-to-do/23788523/

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2019/09/17/hero-westchester-cops-honored/2354177001/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bradley-plane-crash-heroic-acts-saved-lives-in-deadly-b-17-bomber-crash-official-says/

https://www.usla.org/page/HEROIC

https://publicholidays.la/anguilla/national-heroes-and-heroines-day/

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/a-christmas-story/


In Abuse Cases, Don’t Trust Your Gut

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book leans too much on private interpretations of truth.
In Abuse Cases, Don’t Trust Your Gut

It’s understandable if you think Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book Talking to Strangers is a foray into the subtle art of conversation and bridge building in an increasingly fractured society. After all, the subtitle promises to clarify “what we should know about the people we don’t know,” and for readers familiar with Blink! and Outlierssuch positive fare would be natural fit for Gladwell. But Talking to Strangers is a surprisingly darker book. Gladwell’s main focus is on underscoring the limits of our ability to make sense of strangers in the first place.

Coming almost six years after his last book David and Goliath, Gladwell can be forgiven for his more pessimistic tone. After all, the western world is a markedly different place where public trust is increasingly vulnerable and the sinister forces of racism and sexism have taken center stage. In fact, Talking to Strangers emerged from Gladwell’s own struggle to make sense of the 2015 arrest of Sandra Bland in Prairie View, Texas, after failing to signal a lane change—an arrest that eventually led to her death. While Gladwell hopes to understand what escalated the encounter between Bland and police, he also views the story paradigmatically, illustrative of the ways we misunderstand strangers in our increasingly polarized, fear-driven society.

In classic Gladwellian fashion, Talking to Strangers takes readers on an expansive and winding journey through history, psychology, and media headlines in an attempt to weave the threads of seemingly disparate histories. I say “attempts” because Gladwell often loses the thread, leaving readers tangled in conflicting advice about how to relate to those around them.

Gladwell begins by exploring the sociological necessity of “defaulting to truth.” In other words, we need to believe people (even strangers) are telling us the truth until evidence to the contrary becomes undeniable. Batting second is the concept of transparency, or the assumption that body language and facial expressions accurately convey and correspond to what a stranger is truly thinking and feeling. And third is the concept of “coupling,” or the recognition that human actions are strongly shaped by place and immediate context.

Gladwell argues that these three hidden forces—either by presence or absence—explain what happened that day in Texas. His point is not to blame police so much as argue for greater humility and trust in our dealings with strangers. “To assume the best of another is the trait that has created modern society,” he writes. “Those occasions when our trusting nature is violated are tragic. But the alternative—to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception—is worse.”

While Talking to Strangers unearths some of the hidden forces behind Sandra Bland’s arrest and by extension, other similar cases, it obscures the dynamics inherent in sex abuse cases. In so doing, the book itself becomes Exhibit A for how relying on our own judgment can lead us to disastrously misinterpret the actions of others.

In the section devoted to “defaulting to truth,” Gladwell uses two high-profile scandals to illustrate our human tendency to trust that people are telling us the truth: the Jerry Sandusky case and the Larry Nassar case. Bringing his cool, analytical style to emotionally-charged conversations, Gladwell parses case files, courtroom testimonies, and eye witness accounts. Some readers may object to such detachment, but the problem with Gladwell’s treatment of these cases is not one of tone but of substance.

Whereas the rest of the book includes interviews and expert testimony, Gladwell does not include the perspective of sex abuse experts, opting to interpret and handle the public facts of these cases himself. Were we to hear from a sex abuse expert, however, we’d learn that the majority of abuse cases sit outside the bounds of Gladwell’s thesis: 90 percent of children who experience abuse know and trust their abuser. In other words, most abusers are not strangers, to either their victims or the communities around them.

A sex abuse expert would also tell us this startling insight: The reason we mishandle sex abuse cases is not because we default to truth or don’t know how to talk to strangers but because we default to truth with the wrong people, and also because we fail to follow investigative procedures that are meant to help us identify the victim and the abuser.

Gladwell suggests it was entirely natural and human for Penn State officials to “default to truth” when questions were raised about Sandusky. But he doesn’t explain why they did not default to the evidence right in front of them—or at the very least, establish protocol. Sandusky’s behavior had long been flagged as unusual. Friends and colleagues had even warned him to change some of his habits—like showering with young boys—lest it make him look like a predator.

In fact, when an eye witness saw in him such a situation, school officials took the ridiculous route of trying to themselves ascertain whether the encounter was sexual or not. Unbelievably, no one stopped long enough to recognize how profoundly abnormal it is for a grown man to be showering alone with a young boy in the first place. Had Sandusky actually been a stranger, administrators would have defaulted to the truth that he looked and acted like a pedophile because he was one.

While Gladwell may be right that we need a basic level of trust with strangers in order to function as a society, he misses the extent to which sex abuse is an entirely different conversation because of the proximity of abusers to their victims. Such a misstep is so glaring that I initially wondered if I’d misread him. But near the end of the book, he returns to abuse cases to argue for greater trust as a society:

We could start by no longer penalizing each other for defaulting to truth. If you are a parent whose child was abused by a stranger [emphasis mine]—even if you were in the room—that does not make you a bad parent. And if you are a university president, and you do not jump to the worst case scenario when given a murky report about one of your employees, that doesn’t make you a criminal. To assume the best of another is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature is violated are tragic. But the alternative—to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception—is worse.

But is the choice really so binary? Is the choice really between abandoning public trust and improving our ability to prevent and respond to sexual abuse? It is, in fact, ignorance about how abusers manipulate established trust that leads us to misjudge and fail to act. It is ignorance about the nature of abuse, not our inability to read strangers well, that leads us to arrogantly rely on our own judgment when allegations surface.

The answer, then, rests not in becoming either more or less trusting of other people or more or less trusting of ourselves. Both of these place the locus of truth within the individual. No, instead of simply assuming the best or trusting our guts, we must move the locus of judgment toward external, objective facts, established protocols like mandatory reporting, and the guidance of experts.

As believers, we also move the locus of judgment to God’s righteous goodness.

Scripture speaks a lot about interacting with strangers, arguing for an openness and compassion toward them. Whether it’s the story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37) or Old Testament commands to welcome the stranger (Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:19), the Bible consistently calls us away from fear-based isolationism. But it also speaks a lot about learning to make wise decisions and exercising discernment in a broken world—one where both stranger and family member has the potential to harm us.

Perhaps this is why Jesus himself calls us as his disciples to be both “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). As Gladwell suggests, we must not ricochet into cynicism. We must not become hawkish or abandon common trust. At the same time, however, we cannot collectively shrug our shoulders when we are walking among wolves. In a world as dangerous as ours, we must learn to judge righteously and base our judgments on shared facts rather than private feelings. We must learn to recognize the ways in which our personal relationships can blind us to reality. And we must learn to judge impartially, not on social status, power, or wealth.

In this respect, books like Talking to Strangers are helpful in illuminating our hidden motives and giving us greater clarity on our epistemological limits. As Gladwell himself writes, the only way forward is by accepting that “the stranger has real limits. We will never know the whole truth. We have to be satisfied with something short of that. The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility.”

But ironically enough, practicing caution and humility with strangers means understanding the limits of our ability to correctly understand a situation by ourselves—whether we are a police officer at a traffic stop, a leader wrestling with an allegation of abuse, or a writer writing a book about the topic. Embracing humility means learning to rely on the expertise of others and testing our conclusions and perceptions by external measures.

Ultimately, humility means moving away from private interpretations of truth to a place where behaviors and actions are tested in the light of God’s own goodness and justice.

Hannah Anderson lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of Made for More and Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul(Moody). You can find more of her writing at sometimesalight.com, hear her on the weekly podcast Persuasion, or follow her on Twitter @sometimesalight.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october-web-only/malcolm-gladwell-book-sexual-abuse-dont-trust-your-gut.html

SBC President: We Failed to Heed Victims’ Voices

At the recent Caring Well conference, J. D. Greear said the denomination mistakenly saw abuse claims as “attacks from adversaries instead of warnings from friends.”

SBC President: We Failed to Heed Victims’ Voices

ABBY PERRY IN GRAPEVINE, TEXAS OCTOBER 07, 2019

Southern Baptist Convention President J. D. Greear acknowledged that while sexual abuse survivors have pleaded with leaders for years, the denomination had failed to act on their claims and in some cases, sidelined them as attacks.

“It is wrong to characterize someone as ‘just bitter’ because they raised their voice when their warnings were not heeded,” Greear told the crowd at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)’s Caring Well conference last weekend. “Anger is an appropriate response, a biblical response, in that circumstance.”

Greear praised the outspokenness and ongoing courage of SBC abuse survivors, naming from the stage both those who spoke at the event in surburban Dallas as well as others who have continued to critique the denomination’s response.

After hearing his remarks, “I actually choked up,” tweeted Tiffany Thigpen, whose story of allegedly being attacked by pastor Darrell Gilyard in the early 1990s was recently featured in the Houston Chronicle.

She wrote on Friday, “Yet there is no apology for [church leaders not rushing to defend abuse survivors from the start]. There are hundreds of victims out here in great agony from the secondary abuse & you still haven’t said, ‘We all have taken part and we all failed greatly, and now we are going to show you.’”

At the three-day event, more than 1,600 Southern Baptist pastors, leaders, and laypeople gathered to hear abuse prevention experts and survivors share on topics from how to screen church employees and volunteers to how to recognize grooming behaviors and respond to abuse disclosures.

Sexual abuse survivors Megan Lively, Mary DeMuth, and Susan Codone took the stage along with prominent leaders who are also survivors themselves, such as Beth Moore, Kay Warren, and Jackie Hill Perry.

Greear’s statement came during a Thursday night keynote to address myths about abuse in the church. He called out the idea that “Sexual abuse in the church is not really a problem; it’s simply the latest leftist attack against the church,” saying:

Friends, you understand that the problem of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention did not begin in February with the publication of an article in a newspaper.

Survivors and advocates have been calling our attention to this for years. And many, like Megan [Lively] just now, have shown great courage in doing so. Honestly, [it’s] courage they should not have needed to show.

Believing this myth has caused us as a convention to miscategorize the words of people like Christa Brown and Tiffany Thigpen and Mary DeMuth and Anne Marie Miller and Dave Pittman and Jules Woodson and Megan Lively and so many other victims as attacks from adversaries instead of warnings from friends.

It is wrong to characterize someone as “just bitter” because they raised their voice when their warnings were not heeded. Anger is an appropriate response, a biblical response, in that circumstance.

Survivor Christa Brown, whose memoir This Little Light of Mine documents her account of sexual abuse and subsequent coverup in the SBC, tweeted, “For me, the only truth resides in the reality of their deeds. Action is what matters. Action is what will protect kids and congregants. Action is what shows care. I think my view is similar to what [Greear] himself acknowledged.”

Author Anne Marie Miller—whose abuser, Mark Aderholt, went on to become an International Mission Board missionary—tweeted, “Thank you, @jdgreear. As I told you and @ToddUnzicker last year, I will choose to believe the best about what you say. I’m grateful you acknowledged many of us by name, and hopefully you see the thousands of other survivors that walk with us. #CaringWell.”

Southern Baptist Bible teacher Beth Moore led a session where she brought up the question of whether complementarian theology fosters abuse.

“The answer’s no,” she said. “Sin and gross selfishness in the human heart cause abuse. Demonic influences cause abuse.” However, she added, complementarianism shaped “a culture prevalent in various circles of the SBC” that has contributed to abuse.

“Complementarian theology became such a high core value that it inadvertently … became elevated above the safety and well-being of many women,” she said.

Sexual abuse wasn’t the original theme for the ERLC’s annual conference. But after the Houston Chronicle reported on over 700 cases of sexual abuse in the SBC, convention leaders changed the theme.

The SBC passed a resolution at its annual meeting in June that names pastoral sexual abuse as grounds for disfellowshipping an SBC church. It also released a 52-page report detailing the failures of the denomination to adequately respond to abuse allegations.

Earlier in the year, Greear requested internal investigations of ten churches, but a subcommittee determined that all but three did not have credible claims of wrongdoing to investigate in the first place. Survivor and advocate Rachael Denhollander said at the Caring Well Conference that this response “undermined everything [Greear] had done … and no one said a word.”

In the eyes of Denhollander and many fellow survivors, the SBC has yet to take sufficient action against sexual abuse. The denomination has made more resources available to churches, but the training is voluntary. As of August, about 750 churches (less than 2%) had signed up.

While attendees received a copy of the Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused guidebook, which accompanies the free, video-based Caring Well curriculum, many survivors have also voiced frustration that the resources are provided by an institution that is itself inundated in scandal.

“Behind every statistic, there is a story,” said Phillip Bethancourt, ERLC executive vice president, during his message at Caring Well. According to survivors, the time to listen to each and every story is now.

Abby Perry is a freelancer writer. Her recent Prophetic Survivors series at Fathom Mag featured profiles of survivors of #ChurchToo sexual abuse. She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/southern-baptist-president-greear-caring-well.html