A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Sheep, sheep-like shepherds, shepherds, and wolves

Society and especially the churches are in perilous times. Therefore it’s imperative to discern the difference between shepherds and wolves.

There are three types of people in the church, as there are elsewhere. That’s a generalisation, but it can help us understand life. In Christian terms, those three types are Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves.

This is part 1 of a 3-part series.  Part 2  Part 3

Jesus is the good shepherd, the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep (John 10:11). Jesus is the chief shepherd (1 Pet 5:4).

There are under-shepherds who are doing their humble best with the gifts God has given them to help other believers learn and apply the truths of God.

But here’s the rub: Any under-shepherd who is respected by sheep may turn out to be more sheep-like than shepherd-like. And sheep-like leaders can pretty easily be manipulated to enable the wolves, which means they abandon the sheep.

Here is a sketch of Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves in a typical church:

The Sheep are told that if they come along on Sunday, behave just so during the service (e.g. wave their hands in the air, or not wave their hands in the air), sing the songs just so, and believe the things they are told, they will become the children of God just so and Redemption is assured. They’re told they are amongst all good people and the Wolves are prowling around outside in the ‘world’. So they feel safe and good about themselves in this fantasy world.

The Shepherds tell this story just so and feel mighty important preaching this Feel-Good News and all will be well. God is smiling down on them. The importance they feel becomes pride, and distorted perceptions set in. Soon the Shepherds are attached to this image of the good people safe inside being led by good Shepherds (themselves) and the bad people (the Wolves) are all outside. So the Shepherds feel important in this fantasy world and become reliant on it.

The Wolves love this story because, in this story, the Wolves do not exist inside the walls of this feel-good-social-club and are free to fleece and cull the sheep at will. They are invisible. And the Sheep and the Shepherds will cover for them whenever the reality threatens to break cover and become visible, because everyone is all too attached to this fantasy feel-good safe world within the church.

Then someone comes along to blow the whistle to alert and protect others from the Wolves in their midst, and gets attacked by all the feel-good Sheep and Shepherds who would rather live in a fantasy.

Well, there is definitely someone smiling down at all this fantasy (lies) and it is definitely not God.
comment by James at my blog The Mystery Of Iniquity

So-called shepherds in the church could be broadly categorised into two groups

1. True under-shepherds for Jesus Christ (Eph 4:10-12).

True under-shepherds in the church must personally know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. They must be following Christ and heeding the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

The office of under-shepherd (pastor, overseer, bishop, priest, elder) in the church requires character and capability.  I’m going to quote the passages in 1 Timothy and Titus which set out the qualifications for under-shepherds. (Possible trigger warning for victims of abuse who have had these passages used against them.)

And a preliminary note about the phrase “the husband of one wife”. That phrase probably means a church leader should have exemplary sexual morality. It may be similar to our phrase “he only has eyes for one woman”. In other words, no ogling, no nursing of illicit sexual desires, no illicit sexual relationships, no concubines, no use of prostitutes or pornography. It does not mean the person can only be married once. (more about this on p 60 of my book Not Under Bondage)

A bishop must be faultless, the husband of one wife, sober, discreet, respectable; who is welcoming toward others and giving of shelter; able to teach; not drunken, no fighter; not given to the love of money, but gentle, abhorring quarrels, abhorring covetousness; and one who rules his own house well, having his children under obedience with all respectfulness. For if a man cannot manage his own house, how will he care for the congregation of God? He may not be a young scholar, lest he swell and fall into the judgment of the evil speaker. He must also be well reported of among those who are outside, lest he fall into rebuke and the snare of the evil speaker. (1 Tim 3:2-7)

faultless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not known for running wild or disobedience. not stubborn, not angry, no drunkard, no fighter; not given to the love of money, but welcoming toward people and willing to take them in; one who loves goodness, sober-minded, righteous, holy, temperate; and such as cleaves to the true word of doctrine, so that he may be able to exhort with wholesome teaching, and to refute those who speak against it. (Titus 1:5b-9)

Those two passages say that a church overseer should be “able to teach” — a person who “cleaves to the true word of doctrine, so that he may be able to exhort with wholesome teaching, and to refute those who speak against it”. If someone is able to teach and lead sheep as a true under-shepherd, that person must be able to think logically and handle multiple variables. See Logic and Authority in the Church.

Some people have the character and natural capability to function as true under-shepherds but they are not given any formal office of leadership.

2. Hirelings / hired servants / hired men

A hired servant, who is not the shepherd, neither are the sheep his own, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep, and flees; and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. (John 10:12)

These people have been given the office of shepherd by a church or parachurch organisation. They are attracted to the office by status and pay; they are not committed to protecting the sheep. If they are deemed shepherds by an online community, they may not be paid for what they do, but they are attracted by the status of having a following.

These people do not understand Jesus’ saying, “What you did for the least of mine, you did for me”. (See Matt 25:41-46)

Some of these people are what I call “sheep-like shepherds”. Some them have believed in a Story Faith but do not personally know Jesus — they are not born again. Others are born again and know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, but, because they do not have the personal qualities to be a true under-shepherd, they are easily manipulated by the wolves and the wolf-master Satan. (See Logic and Authority in the Church).

Other hired servants are committed wolves, masquerading as shepherds but consciously working for their father Satan. Jesus warned us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt 7:15) The Apostle Paul said, “For I am sure of this, that after my departing, grievous wolves will enter in among you, who will not spare the flock.” (Acts 20:29)

Wolves always try to manipulate shepherds so that the wolves can get away with preying on the sheep. Furthermore, wolves will use blackmail and other devious arts to get the sheep-like shepherds to join in or go along with the wolfish evil agenda.

Sheep-like shepherds may be wittingly or unwittingly complying with the wolfish agenda. See Blindness exacerbated by individual choice and Blindness as a result of being deceived by others

But the sure foundation of God remains, and has this seal: the Lord knows those that are his. And let everyone who calls on the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim 2:19)

Sheep in the church, broadly speaking, also fall into two groups

1. Those who personally know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

These people have been born again. They may not possess (or yet have developed) the qualities required to be a true shepherd. They are happy and willing to be led by shepherds.

These people tend to read the bible diligently; scripture feeds them and helps them grow in Christ. But it’s important to note that some genuine believers who are survivors of spiritual abuse choose not to read the bible much, because it triggers them. Their abusers used scripture as a weapon against them. They are taking personal responsibility to manage their triggers without being flooded.

Because the church is heavily weighted with hirelings, and because many of the hired servants are either wolves or have been recruited or blackmailed into complying with the wolfish agenda, these sheep can have a hard time discerning between the true under-shepherds and the hired servants. See Blindness exacerbated by group choice and group-leader choice

2. Those who have believed in a Story Faith but who are not actually born again.

These people do not personally know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. They are happy with the church being a social club. They buy pretty much whatever the shepherds tell them.

These people tend to read the Bible rarely and then only skim it.

For all who care about humanity in these perilous times, and for all true Christians, it is imperative to discern the difference between true under-shepherds and hirelings.

Part 2: How can you tell if someone who has the office of shepherd is actually a hireling?

Part 3: What happens when sheep are led by hirelings and wolves?

***

Many of the ideas and words in this series come from James, an ACFJ commenter and guest poster. Used with permission.

Further reading:

Logic and Authority in the Church – by James

Why is the church so slow at responding rightly to the epidemic of abuse? – by Barbara Roberts

Jesus on Violence – by James. This addresses self-defence and defence of folks who are oppressed by wolves.

62 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    For me, a first series of thoughts on Sheep, sheep-like shepherds, shepherds, and wolves.

    Being an Asperger individual who thinks in pictures, I (often) need the words / phrases / etc. supplied by other folks (including commenters (etc.)) to hijack in order to (more) accurately express myself (hence my opening phrase “…..a first series of thoughts….”).

    For me, ^That hijacking process usually includes my use of italics / bold / strikethrough / etc..

    An example of ^That process might be summarized (hijacking Barb’s words from the original post 🙂 ): “Many of the ideas and words in this series come from James, an ACFJ commenter and guest poster. Used with permission.”

    Though a Christian for all but the first six months of my almost-six-decades-long life, it is only since the Holy Spirit led me to read / hear / watch / etc. the testimonies of Christians / “christians” / believers / “believers” (including abuse victims / survivors, advocates, etc.) that I started to understand how certain chapters and verses of MOST translations of the Bible could be used to abuse / manipulate / etc. the sheep and the (sheep-like) shepherds.

    ^That thought might be summarised by acknowledging that some Christians / “christians” / believers / “believers” might need a trigger warning before certain chapters and verses of the Bible.

    An example of ^That thought is the inclusion in the original post of the phrase “…….(Possible trigger warning for victims of abuse who have had these passages used against them.)” prior to citing the chapters and verses 1 Tim 3:2-7 and Titus 1:5b-9.

  2. Finding Answers

    From the original post “Here is a sketch of Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves in a typical church:”

    From the original post “The Sheep are told that if they come along on Sunday, behave just so during the service (e.g. wave their hands in the air, or not wave their hands in the air), sing the songs just so, and believe the things they are told, they will become the children of God just so and Redemption is assured. They’re told they are amongst all good people and the Wolves are prowling around outside in the ‘world’. So they feel safe and good about themselves in this fantasy world.”

    ^That MIGHT indicate sheep in a cult.

    From the original post “The Shepherds tell this story just so and feel mighty important preaching this Feel-Good News and all will be well. God is smiling down on them. The importance they feel becomes pride, and distorted perceptions set in. Soon the Shepherds are attached to this image of the good people safe inside being led by good Shepherds (themselves) and the bad people (the Wolves) are all outside. So the Shepherds feel important in this fantasy world and become reliant on it.”

    ^That MIGHT indicate the shepherd is a cult leader, and, very possibly, a psychopath.

    From the original post “The Wolves love this story because, in this story, the Wolves do not exist inside the walls of this feel-good-social-club and are free to fleece and cull the sheep at will. They are invisible. And the Sheep and the Shepherds will cover for them whenever the reality threatens to break cover and become visible, because everyone is all too attached to this fantasy feel-good safe world within the church.”

    There MIGHT be a lone wolf on the inside who plans on taking down the (current) shepherd.

    From the original post “Then someone comes along to blow the whistle to alert and protect others from the Wolves in their midst, and gets attacked by all the feel-good Sheep and Shepherds who would rather live in a fantasy.”

    The whistle-blower MIGHT be a lone wolf on the inside who plans on taking down the (current) shepherd.

    If the story I have created by hijacking from James’ comment in the original post is true, than so, too, is: from the original post “Well, there is definitely someone smiling down at all this fantasy (lies) and it is definitely not God.”

    From the original post “….True under-shepherds for Jesus Christ”

    If the shepherd in the story I have created by hijacking from James’ comment is a true shepherd, than the battle is probably going to be ugly, and the fur will fly.

    The following statements could be made about the story I have created by hijacking from James’ comment:

    IF the fur flies and IF the shepherd is a wolf, the battle will get messy.

    IF the fur flies and IF a (lone wolf) sheep plans on taking down the (current) shepherd, the battle will get messier, especially as the battle lines within the church get drawn.

    IF the fur flies and IF the shepherd is a true shepherd, the battle will probably be the messiest battle, and the church MAY split (or even cease to exist).

    From the original post “Jesus is the good shepherd, the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep (John 10:11). Jesus is the chief shepherd (1 Pet 5:4).”

    ^That.

    The true shepherd might not lose his physical life (though losing his physical life has been known to happen), but the true shepherd might lose his original church (and its’ livelihood).

    On the other hand, the true shepherd might retain his original church, but his original church will probably get smaller, as all the wolves flee to other (sheep) pastures.

    • James

      Finding Answers, I find your observations very astute –
      “IF the fur flies and IF the shepherd is a wolf, the battle will get messy.

      IF the fur flies and IF a (lone wolf) sheep plans on taking down the (current) shepherd, the battle will get messier, especially as the battle lines within the church get drawn.

      IF the fur flies and IF the shepherd is a true shepherd, the battle will probably be the messiest battle, and the church MAY split (or even cease to exist)”

      But how to tell the Wolf from the Shepherd? Many people have trouble in doing this because both sides seem convincing. Here’s how you tell –

      The Shepherd will be talking about truth and justice. A wrong has been done and it needs to be fixed or a wrong direction is being taken and needs to be corrected. The Shepherd will seek to persuade using facts and reason. The Shepherd will focus on the issue.

      The Wolf will denigrate the Shepherd, calling into question their competence, morals and motives. They will avoid the facts of the Shepherd’s ‘message.’ They will seek to coerce using anger and fear. The Wolf will focus on the ‘messenger’ and not the ‘message’.

      An extraordinary number of public and private conflicts boil down to these two approaches to any conflict whether they are in the church, the business, the family or in politics such as the health issues now filling the news.

      • Finding Answers

        James,

        You commented (21ST MAY 2020 – 5:10 PM): “…….They will avoid the facts of the Shepherd’s ‘message.’ They will seek to coerce using anger and fear. The Wolf will focus on the ‘messenger’ and not the ‘message’…..” AND “An extraordinary number of public and private conflicts boil down to these two approaches to any conflict….”

        (Bold added by me.)

        ^That explanation is an apt description of what happens between the pictures in my mind and flashbacks / triggered memories / etc..

        ^That makes for some “interesting” experiences.

      • James

        “^That explanation is an apt description of what happens between the pictures in my mind and flashbacks / triggered memories / etc..

        ^That makes for some “interesting” experiences”

        I can just imagine, Finding Answers!

        It is a tired and familiar pattern. Wolves implicitly repeat Satan’s message (and drive) – “Either I control you or I will destroy you”

      • Helovesme

        I’m late to the game so no worries about reading and / or responding to my comment.

        I REALLY enjoyed Finding Answer’s insights and James’s response.

        As much as I get a lot out of general descriptions or optional scenarios, it’s a whole new ball game when it is experienced in real life—or at least it resonates with real life.

        I’ve found this to be true, over and over again. We can talk about spiritual warfare until we are blue in the face. It is quite another thing to be in the midst of one, and the deeper you are involved, the more bloody and brutal it can be.

        I loved James’s distinctions and Finding Answer’s reality-based thinking. “Fur flying” means people will get hurt, or their hurts will be brought out into the light.

        I was once targeted by a reviler and you guessed it—it exposed a LOT of things that I would not have seen, had this not occurred. They tend to stay hidden until there is nowhere to hide them. Reviling is quite hatred-based and hostility-driven. If you were a part of that college group, you couldn’t stay out of the drama. You had to face it.

        It seemed fairly black and white to me—how could this reviler be in the right, on any level for any reason?

        The person [pastor] in charge truly failed me. But as well divided AND well written James’s descriptions were (wolf and shepherd), I kept seeing this pastor in charge as “waffling” between the two. It’s a bit off key since I was a sheep, not a shepherd, but I still think it’s applicable here. I’m going to use James’s descriptions and try to illustrate the confusion I carried around for years. James said:

        “The Shepherd will be talking about truth and justice. A wrong has been done and it needs to be fixed or a wrong direction is being taken and needs to be corrected.”

        This pastor didn’t try to sweep it under the rug per se. HOW he conducted the mediation was not about facts and reason. He didn’t use it to call out evil for what it was. It was more like to get it all out there in the open, let everyone let off their steam, get it all of our chests—and move on. It was disastrous because of this person’s brutality that he endorsed in the name of “open and honest communication.”

        “The Wolf will denigrate the Shepherd, calling into question their competence, morals and motives…They will seek to coerce using anger and fear.”

        I didn’t realize that this was what was happening even though I felt like he was dismissing my pain and suffering in order to preserve “unity” (at least a unified front, not a real one). In emails, he wanted me to sit down with this reviler (again) to be apologized to, supposedly. I didn’t want to; the brokenness was brutal. He tried to play both sides by saying how he saw the look on my face and “understood,” but tried to persuade me that this was right.

        At that point I was so afraid of everyone that I had once trusted that I gave in. I was afraid of this reviler, of those around me who I thought knew me and would defend me (they didn’t), and this pastor who I had thought I knew. I was wrong about everyone. Who was I to take myself seriously, when no one else had?

        It took years to see that he was indeed calling my competence into question, even my motives. Using fear, not so much anger—although I was afraid of making him angry. Displeasing him. Didn’t I care about the body of Christ? Was forgiveness not a key part of Christianity? Shouldn’t I let this person ask for forgiveness, with the caveat that I was expected to accept the apology, no questions asked? If this person is sorry, won’t that bring a healing balm to my wounds?

        I don’t believe this person was sorry at all. I honestly believe this person got away with everything and never intended to be sorry for anything. I don’t even think this person’s walk with the Lord was ever questioned, while mine was.

        The group did not survive as far as I knew. I don’t think it could, not under that kind of leadership. You don’t unite the sheep with a sharp pointed staff, but a gentle curved one. That group represented blood, sweat and tears for me, but I felt very little that it had dispersed. Where there is no Biblical love feeding one another, the members likely bite at each other in a mad scramble for anything food-like (but is not food at all), until they are all devoured.

        As the previous comments indicated, the more that is at stake, the more the fur can and does and will fly. Your own fur might take a beating: I questioned anything and everything that I once believed, including the Lord Himself. Whose side was He on? The lone freak (aka me), or the group of supposed non-freaks, unified all right—-but against me. Bad things only happen to bad people, or to those that aren’t good enough.

        My personal belief about this pastor is that he may have been afraid himself. He had sacrificed much to get the group started. Possibly under pressure from those that supported him financially (you don’t start a ministry without tangible help). Perhaps those issues clouded his judgment, because there is no doubt in my mind that while he “dealt” with the reviler, he did everything he could to make it go away as fast as possible.

        I tend to think of wolves as dominant, aggressive and outwardly terrifying to behold, not to mention their behaviors. Talk about fur flying, when they descend on their prey.

        This reviler did NOT behave like a reviler at first, which caused me personally to warmly welcome and befriend them. This pastor did NOT behave as wolf-like, which again caused me to trust and depend on him. But it didn’t take much for him, this reviler and everyone else to turn on me, turn away from me, and turn me down when I silently or vocally begged for help.

        They were not respecting of the weak, which apparently I personified to them.

      • Helovesme, thanks for describing that experience of yours in such detail.

        The reviler was a wolf — a clever wolf who could sweet-talk his prey before reviling the prey.

        You said:

        My personal belief about this pastor is that he may have been afraid himself. He had sacrificed much to get the group started. Possibly under pressure from those that supported him financially (you don’t start a ministry without tangible help). Perhaps those issues clouded his judgment, because there is no doubt in my mind that while he “dealt” with the reviler, he did everything he could to make it go away as fast as possible.

        It sounds to me like that pastor was a hireling. I think one of the reasons for your confusion was because in Christendom we are all trained to see pastors as shepherds. Institutional churches drill into us us that pastors = shepherds. So we just tend to assume that all who have the title of pastor are shepherds.

        The hireling who was in charge of that college group had no clue how to deal with the wolf in the group. The hireling only knew how to mediate. He probably had no idea that mediating with a wolf will never promote righteousness. But if the hireling DID know that mediating with a wolf is dangerous, he was all the more culpable for the pain and confusion and fear he caused you.

        I would also say the hireling was a wolf-by-proxy in how he coerced you to forgive the reviler when the reviler’s repentance was not genuine. The hireling coerced you to meet with and forgive the reviler in order to preserve a false unity.

        “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.
        ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”

        — Jeremiah 6:14

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (8TH JUNE 2020 – 12:01 PM) “I didn’t realize that this was what was happening even though I felt like he was dismissing my pain and suffering in order to preserve “unity” (at least a unified front, not a real one)…..”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “At that point I was so afraid of everyone that I had once trusted that I gave in…..” AND “…… Who was I to take myself seriously, when no one else had?”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….calling my competence into question, even my motives. Using fear, not so much anger—although I was afraid….” AND “….I was expected to accept the apology, no questions asked? If this person is sorry, won’t that bring a healing balm to my wounds?”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “I don’t believe this person was sorry at all. I honestly believe this person got away with everything and never intended to be sorry for anything. I don’t even think this person’s walk with the Lord was ever questioned, while mine was.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “As the previous comments indicated, the more that is at stake, the more the fur can and does and will fly……” AND “…..I questioned anything and everything that I once believed…..”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..Bad things only happen to bad people, or to those that aren’t good enough.”

        NOT ^That.

    • Thank you, Finding Answers. For my own sake (to help me mull it over) I’m going to rewrite your conclusion a bit. Here goes.

      If the fur flies, and if the titular shepherd is in fact a wolf, the battle will get messy.

      If the fur flies, and if a lone wolf posing as a sheep in the congregation plans on taking down the titular shepherd, the battle will get messier, especially as the battle lines within the church get drawn.

      If the fur flies, and if the titular shepherd is a true shepherd, the battle will probably be the messiest battle, and the church MAY split (or even cease to exist).

  3. Sister

    Barbara,

    Excellent post! I’ve been wanting to comment, but my mind is going a million directions with this at the same time and I’ve struggled with how to organize my thoughts into a coherent comment. The timing of this is apropos as I have witnessed so much sheep following wolves in the last couple weeks.

    For example, the adulation of Ravi Zacharias, with the news of his death yesterday, a good logical speaker, but complete fraud (no integrity).

    I believe Franklin Graham to be a fraud as well and was reminded of that in a tweet of his today.

    Further, I’m witnessing division in the advocacy online social media world between wolves in advocacy disguises that are manipulating sheep to target other sheep, the wolves pretending to be the victim.

    One of the links you included led me to another of your posts where you said we must be fruit inspectors. I loved that expression the first time I read it and now as I read it again. In the examples I mentioned, I know who the wolves are. In all cases except one, I originally thought they were sheep or shepherds, but you have to study patterns. That’s the way to be come a good fruit inspector. I also think it may be deeper than that… as in the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I like to think I’m pretty smart, but psychopaths know just what to say to be compelling. I’ve been fooled by them before and I hate to admit it, but I probably can be and will be again. Isn’t that the first step to being able to stop following a wolf, though, the realization that you are susceptible to being duped? I hope and think the fooling of me will be only temporary and hopefully for shorter amounts of time before I realize I’m dealing with a wolf, not a sheep or shepherd.

    I understand what you are saying about some shepherds being more like sheep than shepherds, as in they’re susceptible to being manipulated. I’m not certain I agree with that distinction per se. It’s an extra biblical concept. That does not make it wrong though. There’s a lot of facts that are not stated in the Bible. I’m just having a hard enough time trying to wrap my head around the distinctions that are in the Bible, trying to figure out who’s a wolf in sheep’s or shepherd’s clothing vs. a hired hand. Some I think are hired hands not wolves. Yet they aren’t fleeing when the wolves come in. They enjoy hanging out with them rather than fleeing. So are they are a hired hand or a wolf? Or does it matter as the outcome is the same? Sheep are devoured.

    Anyway, I could go on and on. Thanks again for this thoughtful post!

    • Finding Answers

      Sister commented (20TH MAY 2020 – 9:51 PM) “…..They enjoy hanging out with them rather than fleeing. So are they are a hired hand or a wolf? Or does it matter as the outcome is the same? Sheep are devoured.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Sister commented: “For example, the adulation of Ravi Zacharias, with the news of his death yesterday, a good logical speaker, but complete fraud (no integrity).”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Sister commented: “Anyway, I could go on and on…..”

      ^That. 🙂

      • Sister

        Thank you Finding Answers. 🙂

    • I agree with Sister’s view that Ravi Zacharias had no integrity, and Franklin Graham is a fraud. Both those men are (IMO) prime examples of titular shepherds who are in fact wolves.

      I have witnessed — and I myself have been at the pointy end of — division in the advocacy community between people who present as and are accorded respect as advocates but who turn out to be manipulative liars. For example, Dee Parsons from The Wartburg Watch is reporting that she is currently being targeted by a woman who she first thought was a victim but who now appears to be a manipulative liar. The SBC had given that woman a platform at their Caring Well Conference. And so far the SBC is not publicly repenting of having given that woman a platform.

      I could attempt a reply to your second last paragraph, Sister, but I won’t, because Part 2 of this series will dealing with the issues your raised there.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. 🙂

      • Finding Answers

        Barb commented (25TH MAY 2020 – 12:12 AM) “….Dee Parsons from The Wartburg Watch is reporting that she is currently being targeted by a woman who she first thought was a victim but who now appears to be a manipulative liar. The SBC had given that woman a platform at their Caring Well Conference. And so far the SBC is not publicly repenting of having given that woman a platform.”

        My own (personal) quirky sense of humour: Perhaps the SBC will practice nouthetic counselling on themselves.

      • “Perhaps the SBC will practice nouthetic counselling on themselves.”

        🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Sister

        Thank you Barbara. I, too, thought of Dee and the woman targeting her as well as what you went through.

    • Helovesme

      “Isn’t that the first step to being able to stop following a wolf, though, the realization that you are susceptible to being duped? ”

      Absolutely. Proverbs 4:7: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

      Perhaps others might think of that as a sign of weakness (I lack discernment). Or, I’ve been duped before and I may be again—I know I must keep being trained in His righteousness, dividing the truth accurately. This is a motivator to grow, not an admittance of defeat.

      Evil often masquerades as charismatic and is therefore compelling. Attractive. Enjoyable, even. Their strong, seemingly sincere personalities distract those around them—keeping the focus on their witty anecdotes or entertaining mannerisms so that the dire need for “fruit inspection” is either diminished or dismissed altogether.

      Only fools think they know everything, and have no need to learn—only teach others who aren’t as high minded as they are. The Bible finds such persons to be rather ridiculous, and often times beyond rebuke—they’re too full of themselves to make room for a much needed wake up call.

      “I understand what you are saying about some shepherds being more like sheep than shepherds, as in they’re susceptible to being manipulated.”

      You don’t have to be a shepherd, in official leadership, to exercise a strong influence over the sheep. A lot of manipulation is among the sheep themselves, not necessarily always coming from the top. Sometimes I believe the ones at the top are sincerely trying to quell or calm the unruliness among the sheep themselves!

      My testimony reflects this. I now believe I was too sheep-like to be put into positions of influence or leadership, whether they were unofficial or official. I usually didn’t have a “title” to go by, but stood out too much for my liking. And I was easily manipulated, or not as sober minded in judgment—too inexperienced both in spiritual and actual age.

      You brought up something that I picked up on right away from the post:

      “I’m just having a hard enough time trying to wrap my head around the distinctions that are in the Bible, trying to figure out who’s a wolf in sheep’s or shepherd’s clothing vs. a hired hand. Some I think are hired hands not wolves. Yet they aren’t fleeing when the wolves come in. They enjoy hanging out with them rather than fleeing.”

      It may be too much to expect to neatly categorize people into those three options: sheep, wolf, hired hand. It’s important to not welsh or waffle in the seriousness of these descriptions, but also acknowledge the many layers and complexities of humanity.

      It’s fair to ask if those hired hands who didn’t flee when the wolves came in, actually opened the doors of the pasture for those wolves to come in. Working in concert with the wolves means they’re going to hang around to gather their spoils from conspiring with the wolves.

      As the Bible states, they don’t care about the sheep at all. It’s about the money or some other form of personal gain. And wolves, while not known for their loyalty, have ways of making promises or overtures to the ones they are only exploiting for their own personal agenda: descend upon and devour the sheep.

      Think of Judas, who was by NO means a real deal sheep, more like a hired hand (dipped his hand into the money bag as a disciple, betrayed the Lord for a meager sum of money).

      But it’s not always about money. If I were going to do something as serious as betraying a leader, I would have asked for way more than 30 pieces of silver.

      I personally wonder if Judas expected to gain prestige and a position with the Pharisees, the power hungry, money loving, religious cloaking “admirable” ones. That is worth more than money to some hired hands. Since they were quite pleased with Judas initiating contact with them to accomplish their purpose—imagine how that went to his head, but in the end it only sickened his soul.

      I advise no one to feel pity for Judas, but I know I can identify with his plight. The drive to belong, to be accepted and included—-don’t underestimate the power of that pull.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (8TH JUNE 2020 – 12:41 PM) “…..Proverbs 4:7: “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..I know I must keep being trained in His righteousness, dividing the truth accurately. This is a motivator to grow, not an admittance of defeat.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Evil often masquerades as charismatic and is therefore compelling…..” AND “….Their strong, seemingly sincere personalities distract those around them—keeping the focus on their witty anecdotes or entertaining mannerisms so that the dire need for “fruit inspection” is either diminished or dismissed altogether.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “You don’t have to be a shepherd, in official leadership, to exercise a strong influence over the sheep. A lot of manipulation is among the sheep themselves, not necessarily always coming from the top…..”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “It’s fair to ask if those hired hands who didn’t flee when the wolves came in, actually opened the doors of the pasture for those wolves to come in…..”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..gain prestige and a position with the Pharisees, the power hungry, money loving, religious cloaking “admirable” ones. That is worth more than money to some hired hands. ….”

        ^That.

      • So nice to hear from you, Helovesme. 🙂

        Yes, the categories are not watertight. The categories (sheep/ shepherds/ wolves, OR sheep/ hired hands/ wolves are only models to help us think about life and how we can understand life. There are indeed many layers and complexities in humanity.

        You wrote: “It’s fair to ask if those hired hands who didn’t flee when the wolves came in, actually opened the doors of the pasture for those wolves to come in. Working in concert with the wolves means they’re going to hang around to gather their spoils from conspiring with the wolves.”

        Yes indeed! When hired hands work in concert with wolves, hired hands become wolves-by-proxy.

      • James

        “I personally wonder if Judas expected to gain prestige and a position with the Pharisees, the power hungry, money loving, religious cloaking “admirable” ones. That is worth more than money to some hired hands. Since they were quite pleased with Judas initiating contact with them to accomplish their purpose—imagine how that went to his head, but in the end it only sickened his soul.”

        Hi Helovesme, I’m glad to see you posting comments. You were missed!
        As for Judas, my guess (and it is a guess, though based on behaviour I’ve witnessed during my life) is that Judas developed a contempt for Jesus and the apostles. He was keeper of the purse and had been helping himself to the funds.

        Even bad people need to feel good about what they are doing so they invent rationalisations which turn into justifications. Those justifications turn into judgements of their victims which morphs into contempt eventually. Once someone is worthy of contempt, any action against them is justified.

        But to seal the judgement of contempt, one needs external confirmation. Judas would have found this confirmation in the contemptuous attitude of the Pharisees towards Jesus.

        So in betraying Jesus, Judas not only gets the money he lusts for but he gets confirmation of his contempt from the Pharisees attitude towards Jesus to justify not only his betrayal but also his thieving in the past. It’s a twofer, a double win, until it isn’t.
        ”—imagine how that went to his head, but in the end it only sickened his soul.”
        Such a good line, Helovesme!

        The temptation of contempt is an invitation to disaster because anything and everything, past and present, is then justified – until it isn’t, when Satan rips the veil of delusion away and damns you with your own eyes.

      • Thank you James for your insightful thoughts about Judas. You wrote:

        my guess … is that Judas developed a contempt for Jesus and the apostles. He was keeper of the purse and had been helping himself to the funds.

        Even bad people need to feel good about what they are doing so they invent rationalisations which turn into justifications. Those justifications turn into judgements of their victims which morphs into contempt eventually. Once someone is worthy of contempt, any action against them is justified.

        But to seal the judgement of contempt, one needs external confirmation. Judas would have found this confirmation in the contemptuous attitude of the Pharisees towards Jesus.

        Some commentators suggest that Judas hoped Jesus would lead a rebellion against the Roman rulers, oust the Romans from Israel, and then the Jews would make him king of the newly independent nation of Israel. The commentators I have read say that fits with the historical fact that in the first century AD: there were some Jews who were hoping that the promised Messiah would kick out the Romans and immediately assume his throne. This expectation of a political Messiah attracted those Jews who hated the Romans and liked to foment civil rebellion and violence. Judas could well have got ‘external affirmation’ from this movement.

        Hey, if Jesus is the promised Messiah, as he keeps hinting he is, why doesn’t he kick out the Romans and take his throne? — That kind of mentality would have served Judas’s need to justify himself.

      • By the way, all our various suggestions about Judas could be true. They are not mutually incompatible.

      • James

        I’m sure the justifications changed as needs be. Anyone who lies to himself is not going to be consistent in their thinking.

        Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem days before to popular applause would have seriously spooked the Pharisees. Their position was dependent on them controlling the populace on behalf of the Romans. The Pharisees wanted neither a political nor a spiritual messiah. In their culture, it was the same thing, in any case.

        Even the apostles for the longest time didn’t get what Jesus was about. They didn’t get the distinction between a political and a spiritual messiah. So very likely, Judas saw Jesus as a ‘failed messiah’.

        I doubt Judas was a psychopath because, as a psychopath, Judas would not have felt the remorse that led to his suicide. So what can induce a non-psychopath to behave in such an appalling way? I suggest it would have to be contempt. We see it often enough in war atrocities.

        Moral of the story? Do not allow yourself to harbour contempt for anyone and ‘watch out’ if someone demonstrates contempt towards you!

  4. where2or3r

    Yes, very helpful descriptions by James! The pastors who are basically kindhearted but used by wolves as the unwitting allies of evil are such a grievous thing.

    Also, goats would have some place in this scenario in churches, it seems: unregenerate and thinking they are doing God’s work, but are not really, and He “never knew them.”

    • James

      Where2or3r you wrote –

      “Also, goats would have some place in this scenario in churches, it seems: unregenerate and thinking they are doing God’s work, but are not really.”
      (Matt 25:32-33)
      That’s a very good point, indeed.

      “, and He “never knew them”.
      (Matt 7:22-23)
      Sobering stuff!

    • Goats do indeed have some place in this scenario. Thank you for pointing that out, where2o3r. 🙂

      Off the top of my head I would say that goats are included in what I characterised as Sheep type 2, i.e. those who have believed in a Story Faith but who are not actually born again. Would you agree? Any further thoughts?

    • Helovesme

      There are no more frightening words to hear from Him, IMO, than just that, in response to their cries of, didn’t we do many works in Your name?

      “I never knew you…depart from Me workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21)

      Paraphrased a bit: oh, you did works all right, but not in My name. You only thought you did.

      When someone tries to associate my name with something that I do not endorse, my first response is to insist they take my name off. Or to make it clear that I’m not in agreement with them. Exclude me from it, and I want to be separated from it. I don’t want to be associated with something that does not represent me or who I am.

      I don’t want to be known with these people. Or known for agreeing with them.

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (8TH JUNE 2020 – 12:48 PM) “When someone tries to associate my name with something that I do not endorse, my first response is to insist they take my name off. Or to make it clear that I’m not in agreement with them. Exclude me from it, and I want to be separated from it. I don’t want to be associated with something that does not represent me or who I am.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented ““I never knew you…depart from Me workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21).”

        ^That.

        Helovesme wrote a lovely interpretation of Matthew 7:21.

        Perhaps Christian folks will NOT (to quote Helovesme): “….want to be known with these people. Or known for agreeing with them.”

      • Helovesme wrote:

        When someone tries to associate my name with something that I do not endorse, my first response is to insist they take my name off. Or to make it clear that I’m not in agreement with them. Exclude me from it, and I want to be separated from it. I don’t want to be associated with something that does not represent me or who I am.

        That is pretty much what Megan Cox, Valerie Hobbs, Rachel Miller and Jeff Crippen did when I refused to stop sharing survivor testimonies that they disapproved of.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you again Barb for the kind words and for reaching out to me.

        Yes, I imagine you have plenty of painful testimonies of distancing and / or separating yourself from people and / or their views—in order to maintain loyalty to the Lord first and foremost. I am so sorry—if you’re like me, you don’t regret those choices, but you surely wish it could have turned out differently.

        Everything and everyone else is not necessarily secondary to Him—I’d say that nothing else matters except that personal yet most powerful bond between an individual and their personal Savior. You put yourself into His hands like no other. There is a trust that is whole and complete and is never broken (He never betrays your trust)—-your trust in Him (hopefully) only grows as you abide in Him, and He in you.

        It’s a bit hard to articulate it just right. I don’t trust Him first, humanity second. I trust Him like no one else. I would never trust anyone exactly like I trust Him. I would not want anyone to trust me exactly how they trust Him.

        Some of the hardest and harshest trials I have experienced is realizing that even though we might profess a mutual Savior, which formerly indicated to me that we must be of one mind (or close enough)—aiming to or being aligned with His mind—-that is not always the case. The shock and disappointment, not to mention the extreme discouragement that follows—really takes the wind out of your sails.

        I don’t subscribe to the “lone Christian” route—we need to mutually encourage one another—but no doubt being a Christian has often left me feeling very, very lonely at times. Something that Elijah lamented about—feeling alone and isolated—-but the Lord made it clear to him that that was not the case at all. Many people had not bowed to Baal. Elijah was not the only one left.

        There is no one that understands me like He does. Way back when He first started drawing me to Him, I couldn’t believe how well He seemed to “get” me, because up until then I felt like a freakish enigma, an outcast on the lowest of scales. Either the world looked right through me, or singled me out to ridicule me. No one ever bothered to talk to me, only talk at or talk down to me.

        Perhaps this is what is lacking in our fellow sheep and those that sincerely strive to be: “true under-shepherds for Jesus Christ” (from the original post).

        Take the time to hear from them, not say only what they want to hear (or what you think they want to hear). Perhaps that is a part of that “fantasy world” that the post spoke of.

        Different testimonies from pastors have indicated feeling “enslaved” to their flock (my ministry depends on their favorable opinions of me). Or, the flock may feel “enslaved” by their pastor (he dangles his so-called anointing from God to keep us in line).

        Either way, it’s a world within a world that either cushions or controls you.

        The description Barb provided from James was so packed with insights that, along with Barb’s own writings, it will take me some time to dissect. 🙂

  5. Finding Answers

    James,

    You commented (21ST MAY 2020 – 6:13 PM): “It is a tired and familiar pattern. Wolves implicitly repeat Satan’s message (and drive) – “Either I control you or I will destroy you””.

    ^That, which applies to the secular AND non-secular communities, so one may need to change words like “Wolves” and “Satan” to get the point across.

    For me, I MUCH prefer the “control” of the Holy Spirit, although my absolute obedience to Him frequently generates some, um, rather “heated” exchanges. 🙂

    I would have replied to your comment sooner, but I was preoccupied with counting down to a particular finish line. (Omitting details for my safety and protection.)

    • James

      Yes, Finding Answers, you are quite right. I guess words like abusers, perpetrators, predators, psychopaths could be used instead.

      The names change but the ‘game’ is always the same!

      • Finding Answers

        James,

        You commented (22ND MAY 2020 – 6:43 PM): “……the ‘game’ is always the same!”

        The “game” is to lead humanity (by whatever means possible) to (eternal) destruction.

      • James

        “The “game” is to lead humanity (by whatever means possible) to (eternal) destruction.”
        Indeed, Finding Answers. Well said!

  6. Finding Answers

    James,

    I wrote (23RD MAY 2020 – 12:16 AM, and you quoted 23RD MAY 2020 – 6:02 AM): “The “game” is to lead humanity (by whatever means possible) to (eternal) destruction.”

    ^That sentence is actually a combination of two pictures in my mind, but I did not make the connection until late this morning.

    First sentence. The “game” is to lead humanity (by whatever means possible) to eternal death.

    An individual does not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, but chooses (sometimes unknowingly, sometimes unwillingly, sometimes temporarily, etc.) to accept Satan as as their “lord” and “master”.

    Second sentence. The “game” is to lead humanity (by whatever means possible) to destruction

    A Christian individual is driven (for any number of reasons) to take their own life.

    I KNOW there are WAY more pictures in my mind that include WAY more complex combinations of variables than I mentioned in my simple breakdown of my combination sentence. It was only later that I realized that, for me, there is a distinction between the words “death” and “destruction” when used in the context of eternal life.

    I just wanted to clarify my wording. My apologies if I unintentionally hurt anyone or unintentionally cause anyone any offense.

    • James

      Finding Answers,
      I knew (perhaps intuitively) what you meant. And, yes, there is a profound difference between “death” and “destruction”.

      For me, at least, that difference is not easily explained in a sentence or two. Perhaps, it takes a picture with all its interwoven and interactive information.

      • Finding Answers

        James,

        You commented (24TH MAY 2020 – 7:15 PM): “For me, at least, that difference is not easily explained in a sentence or two. Perhaps, it takes a picture with all its interwoven and interactive information.”

        Amen to ^That!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Finding Answers

        James,

        You commented (24TH MAY 2020 – 7:15 PM, and I quoted 24TH MAY 2020 – 7:54 PM): “For me, at least, that difference is not easily explained in a sentence or two. Perhaps, it takes a picture with all its interwoven and interactive information.”

        ^That was percolating in the back of mind, and a ton of connections snapped into place in the pictures in my mind – believe it or not, I could “hear” the snaps.

        You commented (22ND MAY 2020 – 6:43 PM): “The names change but the ‘game’ is always the same!”

        ^That.

        I commented (23RD MAY 2020 – 2:05 PM): “I KNOW there are WAY more pictures in my mind that include WAY more complex combinations of variables than I mentioned in my simple breakdown of my combination sentence. It was only later that I realized that, for me, there is a distinction between the words “death” and “destruction” when used in the context of eternal life.”

        Combining all the excerpted comments: The Bible covers pretty much everything in this comment, although the words we use today differ, and the words we use today differ between the secular / non-secular communities.

        ^That makes for a really big, very convoluted picture in my mind (and some components are continually at war). 🙂

      • James

        Finding Answers
        “^That makes for a really big, very convoluted picture in my mind (and some components are continually at war). 🙂 “

        I guess I have some appreciation of what you’re saying. The ‘overwhelm’ can be pretty . . . overwhelming . . . but the “aha’s” can be pretty rewarding when they come.

  7. Hi everyone, I know I am behind in responding to comments. I’ve been doing many other things in the last ten days or so. I’ve received help to solve some of my longstanding tech problems with how I use my laptop and phone. And I’ve done some hard physical work cleaning out a fishpond — as a result some of my fingertips are red raw and it hurts me to type!

    I’m getting back to the blog slowly but surely. Thanks for all your wonderful comments. 🙂

  8. Finding Answers

    From the title of the post “Sheep, sheep-like shepherds, shepherds, and wolves”

    ^That.

    I commented (25TH MAY 2020 – 7:16 PM): “…….the words we use today differ, and the words we use today differ between the secular / non-secular communities.”

    ^That.

    Jeremiah was (by some folks) called The Weeping Prophet

    The words in Jeremiah may differ from the words in use today, but surely Jeremiah is still weeping.

    When will mankind stop worshipping false idols (which are different for each individual, church, etc.), including the false shepherds (wolves)?

    From the original post “But the sure foundation of God remains, and has this seal: the Lord knows those that are his. And let everyone who calls on the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim 2:19)”

    ^That.

    From the original post “……it’s imperative to discern the difference between shepherds and wolves.”

    ^That.

    From the original post “Part 2 of this series will be titled “How can you tell if someone who has the office of shepherd is actually a hireling?””

    ^That might help folks “…..discern the difference between shepherds and wolves.”

    • Finding Answers

      Adding on to my own comment….

      (Omitting details for my own (personal) safety and protection.) I have been watching Christian institutions follow secular institutions in cover-ups, and also in sweeping abuse / sexual harassment / etc. under the proverbial rug.

      (Omitting details for my own (personal) safety and protection.) I have been watching Christian institutions follow secular institutions in grossly over-compensating individuals in the upper echelons of the institution for their (the upper echelon’s) “work”.

      (Omitting details for my own (personal) safety and protection.) I have been watching Christian institutions follow secular institutions in ignoring the folks who do the majority of the actual work.

      Perhaps it’s time the Christian institutions stop following the secular institutions and return to their (the Christian institution’s) roots.

      From the original post “A bishop must be faultless, the husband of one wife, sober, discreet, respectable; who is welcoming toward others and giving of shelter; able to teach; not drunken, no fighter; not given to the love of money, but gentle, abhorring quarrels, abhorring covetousness; and one who rules his own house well, having his children under obedience with all respectfulness. For if a man cannot manage his own house, how will he care for the congregation of God? He may not be a young scholar, lest he swell and fall into the judgment of the evil speaker. He must also be well reported of among those who are outside, lest he fall into rebuke and the snare of the evil speaker. (1 Tim 3:2-7)”

      ^That.

  9. Finding Answers

    James,

    You wrote (9TH JUNE 2020 – 7:29 AM): “……to seal the judgement of contempt, one needs external internal confirmation…..”

    (Strikethrough of the word “external” / addition of the word “internal” done by me.)

    ^That (if one has lived with abuse).

    You also wrote: “Even bad people need to feel good about what they are doing so they invent rationalisations which turn into justifications…..”

    ^That.

    You also wrote: “….Those justifications turn into judgements of by their victims which morphs into contempt eventually. Once someone is worthy of contempt, any action against them is justified.”

    (Strikethrough of the word “of” / addition of the word “by” done by me.)

    ^That (if one has lived with abuse).

    You also wrote: “….to seal the judgement of contempt, one needs external confirmation….”

    ^That (if one has lived with abuse).

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

  10. Finding Answers

    James commented (10TH JUNE 2020 – 3:22 AM) “….the apostles for the longest time didn’t get what Jesus was about….”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, James commented “Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem days before to popular applause would have seriously…”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, James commented “….a political nor and / or a spiritual messiah. In their culture, it was the same thing….”

    (Strikethrough of the word “nor” / addition of the phrase “and / or” done by me.)

    ^That.

    All ^That (up to this point in my comment) would have had EVERYONE question Jesus’ role as the Messiah.

    Judas had been in Jesus’ physical presence, but he (Judas) did not personally know Jesus as his (Judas) Lord and Saviour.

    From the original post “True under-shepherds in the church must personally know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour….”

    (Strikethrough added by me.)

    ^That.

    In the same comment, James commented “Moral of the story?….”

    While Judas might have had a conscience, he (Judas) was NOT a true under-shepherd.

  11. Helovesme

    Replying to James
    9TH JUNE 2020 – 7:29 AM:

    Thank you very much and for the wonderful response. I didn’t want to dive TOO much into Judas since part 2 dived more into the discernment aspect.

    Absolutely agree about the contempt aspect regarding Judas. My hunch is that it certainly didn’t start out that way, unless he had been planning on betraying Him from the very start. I don’t think there is any indication of that.

    BUT, I do think it’s fair to wonder if Judas thought being in His ministry, a very CLOSE part of His ministry—could only lead to success, both worldly and spiritual. By the time the Last Supper came around, Christ made it clear that His kingdom didn’t work that way.

    When one is disappointed, crushed even (I wasted 3 years of my life and I feel like I was lied to)—imagine what riding that wave of contempt, anger and disillusionment can do.

    This highlights your observation well: “Once someone is worthy of contempt, any action against them is justified.”

    I don’t think this is an uncommon thought, both back then and today. The Pharisees were clearly labeled as money lovers and seemed to feel no pang of remorse in using their spiritual stature as a way to both be religious AND be rich.

    I once read a wonderful insight—Christ washed the feet of ALL of His disciples (including Judas!). Next to dying for our sins, that was the most profound and potent act of love for us.

    Apparently Judas didn’t see it that way. Didn’t “feel” the love. Especially when Christ mandated that they wash each other’s feet as well. Judas may have thought: are you kidding me? I thought I was going to be ABOVE such a low down task, only given to the most inferior of servants.

    By the way, it wasn’t that long after that Peter denied knowing Him, three times. The two disciples are different and distinctive from each other, make no mistake. But, He washes their feet and two of those feet walk all over Him. Ouch.

    I did like how you noticed how Judas, likely contemptuous of Christ, gravitated towards those that felt the same way about Him. This isn’t uncommon, either. In a good way, I’m drawn to this site because of mutual pain and personal experiences of being abused. I’m drawn to Barb’s writings because of her passion for the Lord.

    It MATTERS who we are drawn to, and it’s fair to ask why we or aren’t drawn to certain persons, or groups, or whatever the case may be. It is something Christ asked over and over again: do you want Me, do you only want something FROM Me? What is drawing you to Me, exactly?

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme,

      You commented (11TH JUNE 2020 – 10:32 AM) and I modified: “….Christ washed the feet of ALL of His disciples (including Judas!)…” AND “…. that was the a most profound and potent act of love….”

      (Strikethrough of the word “the” / addition of the word “a” done by me.)

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you commented “Apparently Judas didn’t see it that way….”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you commented “….it wasn’t that long after that Peter denied knowing Him, three times….”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you commented “….The two disciples are different and distinctive from each other, make no mistake. But, He washes their feet and two of those feet walk all over Him…..”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you commented “It MATTERS who we are drawn to, and it’s fair to ask why we or aren’t drawn to certain persons, or groups, or whatever the case may be. It is something Christ asked over and over again: do you want Me, do you only want something FROM Me? What is drawing you to Me, exactly?”

      ^That.

  12. Helovesme

    Replying to Barbara Roberts
    10TH JUNE 2020 – 1:43 AM:

    Thanks for what I will call “sticking up for me,” even though I don’t think it’s about me, per se, but you are seeing what no one else saw at the time. And you are seeing me as they did not.

    This pastor was not just any pastor, and certainly not by title alone. I didn’t call him “pastor,” I called him by his first name. I met him as a non-Christian and he witnessed to me, plus he was leading the meeting where I did make a big step in becoming born again. He also baptized me, and after college I moved across the country to help pioneer a new ministry. I even saw him after the catastrophic trauma, and he was the pastor who married me off. He also did premarital counseling with us.

    I kept up those strong and personal aspects with him because I did not know how to stop seeing him as a person, a friend, even after he had no pastoral “official” authority over me. He STILL had a strong form of authority over me, as well as influence. This was even clear as he counseled us before marrying us.

    It was only after he moved away that the hold he had over me started to fade, but that was partly because I had no more part of his ministry, or in financially supporting him. As much as I don’t hold him 100% responsible for our now total lack of connection (it would up to me as well as him to stay connected), I ended up feeling more used than anything else.

    He really was more of a peer than a pastor to me, although I never fully forgot that he was in charge. But it was not AS intimidating to me, as was the norm for me previously. Authority CAN be frightful, even under the best of circumstances, but he really seemed to come across (and made the effort) to NOT be a fearful authority figure.

    Which again plays into the HUGE irony of how everything unraveled. I don’t know why I sat down to that mediation with this very fearful reviler, but I must have thought that his presence would be a form of protection. Shamefully, I opened the “talk” by APOLOGIZING to her. That is how fear of a reviler, fear of authority can do to you. Perhaps I thought my pastor would side with me if he saw me “humbling” myself?

    I thought his authority, and the strength of it—would work to make this reviler a little afraid as well—-a leader is not only supposed to be held accountable, but hold others accountable. There is not only a witness, but one with the power to “do” something, so watch yourself.

    By the end of it all, I was afraid of BOTH of them. I couldn’t believe how this person used the opportunity to revile me even MORE (it took years to undo the damage that was done), and I couldn’t believe my pastor had just sat there. No defense of my character, but let’s say my character wasn’t up to standard—then not even a defense of my humanity. You don’t do this to a person of character, and I don’t fit that? Fine. You don’t do this to a human being, period.

    I believe I saw my pastor as a father figure as well. I had burned a lot of bridges with my family and feeling orphaned, I sought to find any sense of protection, acceptance. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it DOES open you up to being exploited, treated as expendable (as I was), and worst of all—excluded from the only “family” environment you thought you were a part of, which ended up being NO “family” at all, and certainly not a safe environment.

    It is terrifying to now understand what fear does to a person, especially when it comes to power struggles within a family, church family or any other close-knit environment. I was so desperate to belong, so desperate of losing the approval that is tantamount to belonging.

    Barb alluded to something important: I truly and honestly did NOT know what that pastor was or wasn’t thinking. I don’t even know how he found out about the reviler. This wasn’t the first time he had sat down with me and a troubled person (happened once before, that person wasn’t AS bad as this one). I wonder if he started to think that maybe I was the troublemaker; why were people drawn to reviling me?

    With the reviler’s repentance, I had no idea beforehand if it would be real or otherwise. I didn’t care, to be honest. If the repentance WAS genuine, this person should have respected my absolute desire to not hear it. My pastor should have done the same, if he insisted on being a go-between.

    After about a year or so after this, this person “found out” how damaged I was, and left me a message on my answering machine wanting to get together, with another person there if I wanted to. Apparently this person was “moved” that such brokenness had been caused. I never answered.

    I started to wonder if had been afraid of my pastor the whole time, but buried it under a cloak of normality (it was normal for me to be afraid of authority) or at least—willing to accept the fear as long as I felt accepted.

    But forget about the two of them—they don’t live inside of my head like I do. It was my OWN character, or lack of—that made me wonder if I was a hireling. If I was not real, genuine, authentic and truly born again.

    Reviling is basically a clear, consistent and systemic tear down and taking down of someone’s worth, both as a human being and / or as a child of God. They chip away at you (think of a lumberjack using an axe to chop away at a thick tree trunk). They yell “timber” when it starts to fall down, possibly as as yell of victory as well as a warning that something huge is coming down.

    The tree has no choice about being hacked at. It is alive, but stationary. It is stuck in its place. Even though it’s huge and towers above us, it can’t grow legs and run away. You don’t treat human beings as if they are alive, like a tree, but you have decided it’s your right to chop it down.

    No matter what, I couldn’t stop anyone from reviling me, NOT defending me, and worst of all—giving me more and more messes to clean up. And like a tree, I couldn’t fight back. The best I could do is leave the group, leave them behind and try to start over. The reviler was allowed to come back to the group as if nothing had happened, but I couldn’t face this person, as well as everyone else who likely knew what had gone down. It wouldn’t be long, I wondered, if someone else started to target me, knowing how weak and defenseless I was.

    I’ve been targeted and used since then, when I thought they were sincere and wanted to be relational with me, then I found out it was only because I was useful to them. So they’re still “out” there. They still know how to appear faithful, but in reality they are fearful.

    • James

      Helovesme,
      You wrote –
      “I don’t know why I sat down to that mediation with this very fearful reviler, but I must have thought that his presence would be a form of protection.”

      If the meeting was at your instigation, you would remember it and why you instigated it. So I would say it wasn’t at your instigation. And I suggest that you would remember if it was at the Reviler’s initiative. The only other possibility then is that it was at the pastor’s instigation.

      “By the end of it all, I was afraid of BOTH of them. I couldn’t believe how this person used the opportunity to revile me even MORE (it took years to undo the damage that was done), and I couldn’t believe my pastor had just sat there. No defense of my character, but let’s say my character wasn’t up to standard—then not even a defense of my humanity. You don’t do this to a person of character, and I don’t fit that? Fine. You don’t do this to a human being, period.”

      This situation reminds me very strongly of an experience I had except it involved a lawyer I paid for rather than a pastor. I was led into a trap by this lawyer who sat back and remained silent. I found out later that this lawyer was secretly working for my attackers.

      “I thought his authority, and the strength of it—would work to make this reviler a little afraid as well—”

      But she wasn’t afraid – so why not? I think there is a strong possibility that they had both arranged beforehand to set you up. Even your apology to begin with, as with the whole meeting, may have been at the pastor’s suggestion. From what you have said, he certainly had the ability to ‘get into your head’ without you consciously realising it.

      Recall this sentence of yours –
      “I don’t know why I sat down to that mediation with this very fearful reviler, but I must have thought that his presence would be a form of protection.”

      Clearly, you would not have sat down with the Reviler without the pastor’s encouragement and support and then he abandoned you to the wolf. The way I read it, he was in your head and he set you up. They both used your trusting nature against you.

      • Helovesme

        Sorry, James, kept wanting to reply and kept getting distracted!

        Thank you so much for attempting to help me piece together how events may or likely unfolded—from this nearly 20 year ago incident! I think I see how your mind was working to help me untangle those knots, and while my memory can’t confirm or deny your suggestions, they DID make a lot of sense.

        It is honestly one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of trauma. Certain things stand out and you never forget them, other things fade out and you can’t remember them.

        Some days those unforgettable memories will not leave you alone, other days the holes in your memory will drive you insane—and the questions (and lack of answers) won’t leave you alone. Constantly reminding you of how badly we are capable of hurting one another. So bad, that your very mind and / or memories are damaged or altered or so shocked and stunned—you can’t think or see straight.

        Oh, and I’m VERY sorry about your lawyer incident. Thank you for sharing. It reminded me that whether it’s personal or professional or pastoral—your trust is the most precious thing you can give someone. When it’s abused, the pain runs deep in a way that is indescribable.

        I find myself (still) asking myself the questions that perhaps aren’t always being entirely fair: How could I have been so stupid? Or naive, or immature or inexperienced or simply clueless? Take your pick, there are many ways to condemn yourself—when in reality it is the one who took advantage of your trust who should bear the entire brunt and burden.

        It is the height of evil to take the trust of someone and not treat it as the treasure that it truly is. How and why did you do something like that?

      • Finding Answers

        Helovesme commented (14TH JUNE 2020 – 12:28 PM) “….one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of trauma. Certain things stand out and you never forget them….”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Some days those unforgettable memories will not leave you alone, other days the holes in your memory will drive you insane—and the questions (and lack of answers) won’t leave you alone…..”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…. So bad, that your very mind and / or memories are damaged or altered or so shocked and stunned—you can’t think or see straight.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….trust is the most precious thing you can give someone. When it’s abused, the pain runs deep in a way that is indescribable.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….there are many ways to condemn yourself—when in reality it is the one who took advantage of your trust who should bear the entire brunt and burden.”

        ^That.

        In the same comment, Helovesme commented “It is the height of evil to take the trust of someone and not treat it as the treasure that it truly is….”

        ^That.

      • Sister

        Submitting a comment on behalf of my Sister:

        James, what you said happened to you and lawyers happened to me also, and the judge was in on it for him as well and there were even eyewitnesses. Mindblowing, triggering and totally powerless feeling.

        What you suggested happened to Helovesme and ex, same happened to me with witnesses. Mindblowing, triggering and totally powerless feeling.

        Then along come Crippen and Powell with their putdowns, minimizing, and drivel, ugh – I am completely of the camp that one must look at “patterns of behavior and talk” for what goes on in a person’s heart, filth those two are. I really want nothing more to do with organized church after trying multiple times and types. The only thing helpful in all this horror has been people on this blog, i.e. Barbara and Sister and someone named Gary W. who hasn’t commented in a long time and a couple others along the way of getting through school and to safety.

        In other words, thank you to Barbara, James, and everyone at the ACFJ blog who have helped me survive. It helps to know someone else has had similar experiences.

      • Thank you so much Sister, and Sister’s Sister!

        The last few days I’ve been feeling very low…sad and weepy. Your appreciation is helping me.

        I’m glad you mentioned Gary W. For those who don’t know, he wrote this guest post:
        Jericho Road Fundamentalist Church — by Gary W

        He also wrote 76 comments at this blog back in 2014-2015. If anyone wants to find them, type into the Google search engine cryingoutforjustice.blog Gary W

      • Dear Sister’s Sister, if you want to share more details about how those two pastors used to put you down, feel free.

      • James

        Helovesme, you wrote –

        “—your trust is the most precious thing you can give someone. When it’s abused, the pain runs deep in a way that is indescribable”.

        Well said. It has been proposed that betrayal is the worst emotion we can feel. I agree with that sentiment.

        “I find myself (still) asking myself the questions that perhaps aren’t always being entirely fair: How could I have been so stupid? Or naive, or immature or inexperienced or simply clueless? Take your pick, there are many ways to condemn yourself—when in reality it is the one who took advantage of your trust who should bear the entire brunt and burden.”

        Yes, indeed! I believe we kick ourselves for being trusting because we believe (often rightly) that others will condemn us so. Yet, if we are sceptical of everybody (often rightly) we are accused of being cynical.

        Christians could do a world of good for the cause of Christianity if they would just stop judging victims and start to seriously support them and stop supporting perpetrators and start seriously judging them.

      • James

        Hello Sister’s sister, I’m glad my words were helpful.

        Wherever you have power aka ‘authority’ (as in church leadership), you are likely to get corruption in the form of delusion i.e. ‘the power has gone to his head’ type of delusion. The critical factor with this type of corruption is that everything becomes about their ego.

        Where you have a lot of money involved and a lack of accountability (as with corporations, cardinals, lawyers and other professionals), you will get corruption that verges on the criminal. This corruption is all about the money; not with every person, but a sizeable enough proportion where the playing field becomes a minefield.

      • Helovesme

        Just wanted to say to Barb that I will be praying for you. And am glad some encouragement gave you a boost.

        My intention to comment is to not just support Barb’s writings, which are exemplary, but also support her as a believer. Those who write or run the blog can easily become faceless to us (although we know them by their work).

        It is interesting how Barb rightly warns us, time and time again: you will know them by their fruits.

        It’s not that I know them by their fruits, I know what they are LIKE by their fruits, and I know something of the character content of the fruit bearing person as well.

        One of the strongest encouragements I think we can give one another isn’t—I know who you are, what you’re like.

        It’s more like: I know Who you trust, Who is working and shining through you. I know more of what He is like, because your life demonstrated it to me.

        The one-on-one direct connection to the Vine is the strongest and most significant way to get to know Him. But no doubt I get a good, strong glimpses of what He is like through fellow believers. Barb is absolutely one of them. And NO, it’s not because she never makes a misstep or misses the mark—it’s because she is determined to grow and not let them define her, or permanently discourage her.

        I used to be told (and rightly so) to not let your sin define you—if you are in Him and He in you, His righteousness speaks for you and therefore defines you.

        In the subset of abuse, the same principle applies (don’t let abuse define you), but with a caveat: it doesn’t have to own and condemn your life, but it does change your life and it does change you as a person.

        After that horrible mediation long ago, I was angry at myself for allowing it to change me so drastically. I wasn’t as fun loving and trusting and outgoing as I used to be. I tried to act as though I was, but inside I was screaming. I resented those changes but I didn’t know what to do about it. I wanted to be the person I used to be.

        Then it occurred to me that perhaps the person I used to be needed to change. And why was that the most horrible thing in the world, anyway? Perhaps the person I used to be was not the end result the Lord had in mind.

        I have the benefit of hindsight since it’s been nearly two decades. It’s a mixed blessing: I noticed the Lord tempering me, mellowing me out, smoothing out rough edges and my personality became more quiet, introspective, among other things.

        The persons that used to be around me didn’t seem to take to those changes well. I was no longer as energetic and clown-like as I used to be. My health had taken some hits as well, which does change a person.

        It’s interesting how your so-called “friends” are only interested in you if they can keep you as the person they want you to be. Growing, changing, maturing? Well, how are we supposed to look down on you if you dare to abide in the Vine, and He in you?

        Oh, I found out what they were like, and parts of their character stood out nice and obvious to me.

        Barb isn’t like that. I’ve never seen her discourage growth in herself, and in others. She wants people to change—for their good and of course, for His glory.

        Such a goal is lofty, yet does require a lowliness of mind (as He is described in Philippians). I am not surprised at all that she deals with ups and downs. It is a reflection of Christ’s own range of emotions in His ministry: joy, weeping, sadness, gladness, but always determined, always driven to do what He came here for.

        No wonder He is a perfect Savior. He really does understand what it’s like to aim to be more like Him! It comes with a lot of challenges, but with so much compassion as well.

  13. Helovesme

    Recently I had a Facebook friend post about being called a “false Christian.”

    I don’t believe that is true about him, by the way. The comment section agreed, but a fair portion of them “jested” in that being accused of being a false Christian means you must be doing something right. You must be in the right when it rubs people the wrong way, or offends them so much that they rush to attack and demoralize you.

    This isn’t uncommon. It’s called “killing the messenger.” You hate the message they are bringing so much, that you blame the bringer of that message. You may not like what they have to say, or they bring unwelcome news, or they simply offend and anger you. That justifies the subsequent actions: remove the messenger by any means possible, and the message will disappear. Then we don’t have to hear it anymore.

    This happened with the prophets in the Old Testament. Every time they thought they had removed the “troublemaker” who brought a troublesome message, the Lord made it clear–the message remains the same. It never changed, and it never went away. He kept finding ways to articulate this.

    No wonder Jeremiah was seen as the “weeping prophet.” Being faithful to the Lord, as he was determined to be, meant that he would say what needed to be said, and not alter it in any way. But that’s not always the case.

    I don’t believe that just because you are being attacked, you must be in the right. You must be doing something right, or else why is everyone so angry at you?

    That’s dangerous. Sometimes we are calling out evil, which is the right thing to do. The right people are being called out because they were in the wrong.

    I recall a short documentary about a pediatrician who was a pedophile. He had molested many children under his care. When he was exposed, a person close to him (at the time) said to take away all his guns, because he was afraid he’d hurt himself.

    That does not sound like a man who is in the wrong. He sounds like he’s being falsely accused, even victimized. He had spent years taking care of these kids, and now he was being turned on. One of his victims (or a parent) spoke of how he was a good doctor; he knew how to heal childhood diseases and ailments. The parents took their kids to him for all the right reasons—a capable, well known and well liked person in the community. He was truly more like a family friend than a mere professional.

    I’m not sure if people rushed to his defense (aka they’re attacking him so that must mean they just want to take down a good man, for money, fame or some other pettiness). But you see what I mean.

    Bad things happen to bad people, or to those that aren’t good enough (that’s the mantra towards the oppressed).

    Bad things happen to good people, or to those that are too good, good enough and then some (that’s the mantra towards the oppressor).

    That doctor was accused and he was NOT in the right. It was right to expose him, regardless of how wrong it may have seemed to some. This is regardless of him being a good enough doctor, MORE than good enough we might say.

    (Comment will continue in another comment)

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (11TH JUNE 2020 – 12:17 PM) “This happened with the prophets in the Old Testament. Every time they thought they had removed the “troublemaker” who brought a troublesome message, the Lord made it clear–the message remains the same…”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….He [the Lord] kept finding ways to articulate this.”

      (For clarification, [the Lord] added by me.)

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “No wonder Jeremiah was seen as the “weeping prophet.” Being faithful to the Lord, as he was determined to be, meant that he would say what needed to be said, and not alter it in any way…..”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….He [Jeremiah] kept finding ways to articulate this.”

      (For clarification, [Jeremiah] added by me.)

      ^That.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (11TH JUNE 2020 – 12:17 PM) “….“killing the messenger.”….”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “This happened with the prophets in the Old Testament. Every time they thought they had removed the “troublemaker” who brought a troublesome message, the Lord made it clear–the message remains the same. It never changed, and it never went away. He kept finding ways to articulate this.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “This happened with the prophets in the Old New Testament. Every time they thought they had removed the “troublemaker” who brought a troublesome message, the Lord made it clear–the message remains the same. It never changed, and it never went away. He kept finding ways to articulate this.”

      (Strikethrough of the word “Old” / addition of the word “New” done by me.)

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….You hate the message they are bringing so much, that you blame the bringer of that message. You may not like what they have to say, or they bring unwelcome news, or they simply offend and anger you. That justifies the subsequent actions: remove the messenger by any means possible, and the message will disappear. Then we don’t have to hear it anymore.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….He [Jesus] sounds like he’s being falsely accused, even victimized. He had spent years taking care of these kids, and now he was being turned on…..”

      (The addition of the name Jesus in square brackets done by me.)

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “That’s dangerous. Sometimes we are calling out evil, which is the right thing to do…..”

      ^That.

  14. Helovesme

    Finding Answer’s wonderful imagery of “fur” flying stayed with me.

    If and when fur starts flying, it’s fair to say you might not be able to discern whose fur is flying more or less, and whose fur has CAUSED the fur to fly. And which fur deserves to fly? And who started it all? Did it start off a certain way, and it escalated? Could there be blame on both sides? It depends on how vicious things are, or become. A more mild, mellow encounter is easier to observe, easier to assess proper assessment.

    If you’ve ever been bullied in school (I’m trying to find a relatively common experience that we’ve either experienced OR witnessed)—maybe you can understand this.

    Bullies are almost always the ones that start the fur flying. They are the aggressors. BUT, the harsh spotlight almost always falls on the target. How will he or she react? Do they fight back, stand still, or cry for help? Do they ignore it or try to stand up for themselves? Do they “tattle,” risking making it worse, or remain silenced—either way, someone will likely tell you that your fur deserves to fly, or your fur could have been spared.

    All the while, it is largely ignored that you didn’t initiate the attack, but you’re responsible for how much the fur does or doesn’t fly.

    One might think that if fur is flying, stop fighting and the fur will cease to fly. Walk away, and you’ll remain largely undamaged. Didn’t Christ “shake off the sand” and move on?

    Or, fight back and vanquish your opponent—God didn’t give us a spirit of fear. If you walk away, you must not be standing on His righteousness. Don’t you trust Him?

    Or, go to the authorities. Talk to the ones in charge, secular or spiritual. If your fur is flying, you have the power to report the one who caused your fur to fly. If you don’t, that fur flying must not have been much flying as you made it out to be.

    OR, no one is defending or protecting you as your fur flies. You must be weak or cowardly (can’t find any allies). Perhaps God is using them to discipline you, to call out your lack of character. Doesn’t the Bible say He tries us in a furnace to refine our faith?

    I’ll use myself as an example. I DO have a hard time standing up for myself. You might call it: commanding respect. I don’t tend to come off as fearful. I’m not seen as a super smart, confident and tough minded person. My “life” resume is virtually nothing, at least compared to those with lists of accomplishments.

    There are talented, successful born again Christians of power and prestige, by the way—but too often we get our worldly resumes mixed up with our spiritual ones. A worldly one has every right to focus on your strengths and accomplishments. A spiritual one isn’t interested in any of that. It’s all about what He has done for you, and is virtually uninterested in your doings, no matter how prized you are in the world.

    So my fur flies rather easily. Fur is often a form of protection, as well as providing a nice coat to bump up your appearance. A lot of layers of fur have to fly before you are able to hurt the skin and bones of what is underneath!

    I have very little fur so what is there is easily accessible. It’s been very hard for me to fight fair when the other person is fighting dirty—-and in the midst of all of that, there are many spectators, ready to judge as the fur flies. The ones that only care about winning, will side with the stronger party. The ones who care about fighting fair, or not fighting at all (not for any valid reasons), just might think differently. Maybe they’d even come down from the stands and join the fight—in order to make it fair, or diffuse the fighting, period.

    I can tell you that most people seem to be interested in winning, and want to side with the winners. Winners are not always 100% evil sinners—it’s hard for the targeted one to remain 100% sinless and therefore treated as 100% innocent. I’ve been there often, which usually adds to my condemnation.

    But anyone with that mindset of “winning is the same as Biblical victory” or “being accused must mean you are standing in His righteousness” is way off from the Bible.

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (11TH JUNE 2020 – 12:52 PM) “If and when fur starts flying, it’s fair to say you might not be able to discern whose fur is flying more or less, and whose fur has CAUSED the fur to fly. And which fur deserves to fly? And who started it all? Did it start off a certain way, and it escalated? Could there be blame on both sides?….”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “So my fur flies rather easily….” AND “I have very little fur so what is there is easily accessible….”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “I can tell you that most people seem to be interested in winning…”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, Helovesme commented “….Winners are not always 100% evil sinners….” AND “But anyone with that mindset of “winning is the same as Biblical victory” or “being accused must mean you are standing in His righteousness” is way off from the Bible.”

      ^That.

  15. Finding Answers

    Helovesme,

    You wrote (15TH JUNE 2020 – 11:47 AM): “It’s not that I know them by their fruits, I know what they are LIKE by their fruits, and I know something of the character content of the fruit bearing person as well.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, you wrote: “The one-on-one direct connection to the Vine is the strongest and most significant way to get to know Him…..”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, you wrote: “….if you are in Him and He in you, His righteousness speaks for you and therefore defines you.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, you wrote: “….It comes with a lot of challenges, but with so much compassion as well.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, you wrote: “No wonder He is a perfect Savior. He really does understand what it’s like to aim to be more like Him!….”

    ^That.

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