Signs of a Predator in Your Church

4 09 2018

In light of recent news articles about sexual abuse coming out of Pennsylvania, I thought it appropriate to consider this subject in brief.

I sat in my counseling office with a counselee and her mentor (on more than one occasion) who was telling me about her years of growing up in a conservative church environment and how she was repeatedly sexually molested.  Some of the stories made my stomach ache and with others I found myself getting angry: angry at parents who didn’t believe their son or daughter, angry at youth leaders who did not address the danger, angry at church pastors and leaders that kept secrets and provided cover-up and, of course, angry at abusers.

Sex offenders will take years to infiltrate a place to carry out their sociopathic behavior.  They will slowly and methodically work on building relationships so they are trusted and believed.  Sex offenders’ scope out their victims, finding the one(s) whom they believe they can dominate.  They feel entitled to do what they do because they see their victims as persons who desire to be dominated, need to be dominated.  They take their time to target persons who need them for some reason, making them even more vulnerable.

Here are some signs to look for:

  1. They do not make themselves stand out or act creepy. They work hard at looking and exhibiting “normal.”  They work a normal job and live in a normal neighborhood.
  2. They are giving extra, special, generous and consistent attention to a victim they have targeted. They are charmers and gift givers.
  3. They will create an environment of need. They desire the victim to need them for some specific reasons.  This gives them power and control to manipulate.
  4. They play on emotions and will sulk, become “depressed,” express words of rejection, play the victim and could even threaten self harm all in an effort to take advantage of their victim and receive their pity.
  5. They lie a lot.They lie about where they have been, what they have been doing, what they’re thinking and almost everything else in an attempt to give their victims what they think they desire to hear or need.
  6. They will be steadily pushing boundaries. There will be suggestions of behavior that crosses boundaries that will lead to unwanted actions.
  7. They will disempower their victim by expressing love in an attempt to isolate and move away from other trusted relationships.
  8. Eventually, as the victim becomes more uncomfortable, the predator becomes more aggressive and even violent because they are feeling desperate.

We don’t spot them because they blend in and we’re not naturally looking for a predator.  In fact, most of us can’t even relate to such evil.  With the signs above you can watch out for your children within your extended family, your neighborhood, your child’s school, sports activities and yes, your local church.

 

Psalm 55: 21 says, “His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.”

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Have You Been Noticed Lately?

27 08 2018

My grandson often repeats, “Papaw, did you see me…” or, “Watch me…” You can fill in the blank with almost anything he does or desires to be noticed doing.  It can be a really small thing, however he still longs to be observed.  He lives for that voice of approval and praise.  It’s a child thing, right

 

Actually it’s a people thing.  Do you desire your spouse to notice you?  How about your boss?  Do you like it when your teacher notices your extra effort or when your neighbor compliments you on your landscaping?

 

Here is the troubling thing in longing to be noticed.  If it’s simply all about me, then I can’t be noticed enough. If being noticed connects to my personal need for security or affirmation, I can’t get enough.  In my desire to build some level of esteem, my need becomes insatiable.  

 

Did you know that God notices you?  Why wouldn’t He, He created you.  He longed for your time to be born.  He has always had a plan and a desire for your life.  He has never given up on you and He is continually watching you, noticing you and delighting in you.  All other approval can become lost and we can become deeply discouraged in our self-effort to be noticed, but He waits to show you His love and His approval.

 

No spouse, no child and no parent can satisfy your longing to be noticed. However, God knew you before you were even found in your mother’s womb. (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4) You have His eye!





How Often Are You Phubbing?

20 08 2018

There’s a new word in town. Have you heard of it?  That word is a combination of two words: phone + snubbing = phubbing.  Do you know a “phubber?”  How would one know if this describes them?  You can start by asking your friends.  Ask your spouse or even better, ask your children.  If people in your life are trying to get your attention while you’re looking down at a small hand-held screen all too frequently, you just might have a phubbing problem.

 

The actual definition goes like this: the habit of snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone. I’m not kidding. Google it. Seems odd to be writing about this subject, but it is a reality in our technology crazed world today.  Airport travelers run into me while walking and looking down at their phone.  It’s tough getting someone’s attention that actually works in a service department while they’re glued to their mobile screen.  We can forever notice how face-to-face relationships have taken a back seat to an email, a text message or a Facebook prompt.  It’s not unusual to hear bells, whistles, buzzes and other such prompts from mobile devices while in a meeting.

 

But here’s who I really feel for.  I am genuinely concerned for the children of the phubber.  These children are pulling on their parents’ arms, legs, saying “Mommy/Daddy” repeatedly, asking questions, trying to converse and the adults are either not responding or saying, “Wait a minute would you?  I have to finish this text message.”  I just want to scream, “PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN AND LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD!”  You brought them into the world to teach, train, listen to, care for, play with and love. PLEASE put your device aside and interact with your child.

 

Not too long ago I was watching the parents on the sidelines of a younger children’s sporting event. Parents, not too far back in the history of parents attending their child’s sports activity, would actually watch their kids on the playing field, yell and scream words of motivation and affirmation. Today, they’re looking down, addicted to a device that is causing them to miss watching their children grow up. And when that child asks, “Daddy did you see me…?” You can fill in the blank. That parent will lie and say, “Yea buddy, you were great!”

 

One day those same children will have their own device and then the snubbing of a parent will quickly and sometimes, most deservedly take place.





We’re Always in Agreement; We Do What She Says

13 08 2018

At first I was a bit taken aback by the expression that was just spoken half jokingly. It went like this, “We’re always in agreement; we do what she says.” Do you find yourself all too often acquiescing to your spouse’s desires in order to head off an argument?  Should you be doing that?

 

Perhaps there’s a deeper issue.  It might be fear.  Or, it could be the more hidden root of mistrust.  Being fearful of push back, being wrong or feeling shamed is not a good sign in a marriage relationship.  Also, where there is fear present in a relationship, there is a lack of love and where there is mistrust, there is a root of unresolved past issues with hurts attached.

 

This leadership couple honestly confessed and was willing to talk about past issues with disagreement. They were willing to disagree. But what I think they were really saying was sometimes it’s more biblical to overlook an offense or a difference of opinion.  Proverbs 19:11 states, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

 

If we’re avoiding communication thinking that it will lead to a heated disagreement, then we’re not doing the two of us any good.  You have to be committed to work through the differences.  After all, it is those differences that in the end will create a better decision. Truthfully, both of you with your collective opinion, input and insight are necessary for healthy communication and dealing with conflict.  By the way, it’s not wrong to have conflict; it’s wrong to not resolve the conflict.

 

It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.  Proverbs 20:3





A Life Too Young To Leave This Earth

6 08 2018

Recently Mary and I, along with an auditorium full of people, attended a memorial service for a 19-year-old woman.  She lost her earthly life in the recent Lancaster County, PA flooding.

The service was worshipful and honoring to her, albeit extremely emotional.  There is that mixture of sorrow and joy surrounding a time of tragedy like this one, but she and her family loved Jesus and that love was passionately evident during the service.

No one would have thought this beautiful, vibrant and loving teen would have gone to her eternal home this early, too early.  No one was prepared for the loss of a life full of joy, love and caring for others. Even her Italian restaurant owners where she found employment shared through tears that her love and care for the other staff was like no employee they’ve ever employed.  She was a light to all who knew her.

Besides honoring this lovely young lady, what’s my point?  Imagine if this family would have not prepared their daughter for her eternal home.  Imagine if they just never got around to sharing and living the truth of the gospel. Imagine if she never heard the life-giving Scriptures and applied them to her walk on earth.  And, imagine if she would have chosen to walk a different way than her family taught her.

The greatest gift that you can give your children, a child or those around you is Jesus.





Those Little Irritants in Life

30 07 2018

I was awake at 3:30 AM in order to catch an early morning flight.

Almost immediately after boarding the plane, the gentleman behind me started snoring LOUDLY.  About every minute or so, he would catch his breath and then suddenly make a sound like a neighing horse.  This went on for the full 35-minute flight.  So happy he could get some sleep, BECAUSE NO ONE AROUND HIM DID!

 

On my next leg of the journey, the gentleman beside me decided that he needed more and more seat space.  After five and a half hours, I was half way into the aisle getting my elbow hit by the drink cart. 

 

Life can be full of these kinds of little irritants.  They’re inconvenient, uncomfortable and, well, down right uncalled for sometimes.  And yet, it’s not fully the experience as much as it is a test.  It’s a test of what we tell ourselves, our self-talk. It ‘s a test of personal frustration levels.  It’s a test of the amount of compassion in our heart.  And it can be a test of how much grace we walk in.

 

We like things our way – the convenient, comfortable way.  But that’s just not real life is it?  So here’s a tip when one of those life inconveniences comes you way: pray and give thanks.

 

“Thank you, Father, that I can be on this plane to minister Your life to those that You have assigned to me.”

 

It will keep your heart right.  Besides, the next time you become an inconvenience or an irritant to someone, you’ll hope they took the aforementioned advice.

 

PS  On the final leg of my journey, I was given a free upgrade to first class…”Thank you, Father for this comfortable seat.”





I Catch Only Green Lights

16 07 2018

There was a study conducted by professor emeritus Robert Rosenthal of Harvard University in which he told elementary school teachers that some of their students were “intellectual bloomers.”  Then the teachers were told the students names, who had been randomly selected, and also told that those particular students would excel in the forthcoming year.

 

It was all spurious information and those “bloomers” were actually no different from any other student in the class.  The only difference was their teachers’ expectations and because of that expectation those students did significantly better than the other students by the end of the year.

 

Expectations, we all have them.  I was sitting at a red light one day and queried myself as to why I seem to catch all the red lights.  Immediately I sensed a voice asking, “Do you expect to catch all red lights?”  I knew instantly that the message was about expectations and what I speak over myself.  From that point I changed my speech and declared, as well as thought, I receive mostly green lights.

 

I was telling my wife this story the other day while driving back from Massachusetts and we laughed and laughed as I actually received green light after green light.  Now I am not saying there was any divine intervention on the road with traffic lights, but I am saying my expectations changed, my thoughts changed and my speech changed while there was a necessary shift in my life. It may sound trivial, but I really do believe that our expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecy.

What are you speaking over yourself?








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