You have probably heard me say multiple times that our job as the Watchmen/Watchwoman or Watchers on the wall will never be done until the Lord comes back to earth and takes us home. If you have ever heard me talk about the second coming, I would love to have it happen right now, even as I am typing this letter. I have always dreamed of the Second Coming happening while I am with my family, so we can enjoy the beauty and the majesty of His coming together. We are told we cannot even fathom what Heaven will look like and I can’t wait for that day. Think about it, our work of protecting Christ’s Bride will be done. We will no longer have to watch for the wolves in sheep’s clothing but be able to rejoice in peace. Knowing that no one will hurt another child of God and that no more tears will be shed over the atrocities that have plagued the churches for so long. But since the Second Coming has not happened yet (still hoping), I must continue to warn you on what we need to be watching for in protecting the flock.
As I write this I can’t help but wonder what He is thinking about us right now. Maybe not us who serve to watch over the church but the church itself. Seeing an article from the Washington Post “The Sin of Silence” by Joshua Pease causes me to think. I asked myself are we being silent about sins that are going on in our church right now where we should as the Watchers for the church be talking about them? Now before we get into this blog you may be saying “wait a minute; the Washington Post is really not favorable to the Christian belief”. Maybe, but this article speaks volumes of the sexual abuses that go on in churches across the United States and churches that stand by and let it happen.
Our daily Google Alert, advising us of things going on in churches across the country, has articles on sexual abuse at a church almost every other day. Let me repeat that, almost every other day. In 2017 I read at least 84 articles of sexual abuse or rape that had happened in different churches across the country. That is over one case a week. While reading these articles on these terrible crimes I would say that over 50% of those cases the suspect was staff or a well-known member of the church. The Washington Post article confirms it does not matter the size of the church or what denomination, however the article mostly directs its writings against the evangelical church. The author points out a disturbing trend showing that in many cases the church puts the blame back on the families and victims of the abuse and even told the victims they were “overreacting”. Victims feel betrayed because no one in the church believes them. Most of these stories reported that the church had a “blaming and disparaging attitude toward victims”. Other times when the victim reported these horrendous crimes to law enforcement or outside agencies, the church accused the victims of “tearing families apart and it was their fault” because of them coming forward and talking. Many of these stories that were told in this article point out the fact that most churches do not know how to handle these types of attacks on the church members or avoid the issue altogether. It goes on to say that some of the predators came back to the church and asked for forgiveness and were let back into the flock. Isn’t that what we as Christians are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to forgive? Do you feel caught between a rock and a hard place?
We are expected to protect our children however when we don’t, who can they trust from this point on? This abuse takes years to overcome as we see in this article. The article talks about victim Rachel Denhollander’s experience. At an early age she was abused by a college-aged church member and the church turned a blind eye and failed to protect her. In the article it states how “she blamed herself and if anyone ever abused her again she wouldn’t mention it”. Later, she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar the doctor for the USA Gymnastics program and because of what had happened to her as a child in the church, she didn’t report it at first. Why? Because she felt that no one would believe her because of what had happened to her at her church that said, “no one believes victims”.
When I was growing up, a part-time minister and high school teacher was accused of sexually molesting boys at my church and school. He had been a substitute teacher in my class on multiple occasions, and I had been to Bible studies with him. It was devastating to everyone involved. This person was well received and liked. Most people couldn’t believe the news but when stories started to come out about things this person had done, people began to realize that there were red flags everywhere. No one paid attention because most didn’t want to believe it or were afraid to say something because of how well he was liked, his family’s connections and his position in the area. The first couple of victims were told to keep quiet about it and when the truth came out, it was devastating for all. How could this have happened and why didn’t the students stand up to this teacher? Why hadn’t someone listened to those that were complaining about the incident? The thing I remember most is that the school and church where this monster had molested children didn’t ever talk about it. The very next day it was forgotten about, nobody talked about it and to this day I do not know how many were molested by this suspect and if they ever received the help they needed.
While reading this article I felt sorry and cringed for the innocent in these churches and other Christian organizations as the names of their churches were posted in print for what they did and didn’t do. How would your flock feel if they turned on Bay News 9 and there was a picture of your church and the TV commentator describing to the public, “Sexual misconduct by minister or member at local Bay area church”. If in fact, you were a part of the church leadership that gave bad advice or looked the other way, be prepared for the firestorm that is going to hit your church. I don’t know how your church will survive the onslaught of reporters on your property and your members not wanting to be associated with the church anymore. The sad thing about this situation is the people that were seeking answers on believing in Christ will probably walk away, telling everyone about the hypocrites going to your church. And of course, the incident may have happened in one local church but every house of worship in the area must answer for this churches’ sins. In Matthew 12:35-37 “The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
So, what are we as the Watchmen\Watchwomen on the wall supposed to do in situations like this?
The first thing we must do is protect and provide help to the victims and their families, not ridicule or blame them. At the same time, we should demand the church to get local law enforcement involved; that is not an option. How do we handle a request for grace from the convicted and do we just place that person back into a situation where they are doomed to fail? The answer to this is NO, not just NO but Heck NO. We would no more put a person who has been convicted of embezzlement or grand theft in charge of our offering and accounts than we should put this type of offender back in a position of power. When you look at it, the position of power was the start of the downfall of the offender in the first place. So, we as the Watchers on the wall must advise and make recommendations to the church on how to handle these situations. I would recommend that if the victim still comes to your church that you consult the victim and pay attention to their needs. You may want to recommend that the offender go to another church and even help them to get to know someone at that church, while advising the leadership of that church of the situation so they may handle appropriately. If you accept the person back who repented, guidelines must be discussed. In our Verbal De-escalation course, we talk about setting limits. If a person who has sinned against Christ repents and wants to come back to the church we must set limits. The purpose of the limits is not to punish, but rather help the person that sinned. Pray on the limits and understand if we set these limits too high, there is a greater chance of failure than success. We must be firm and supportive but sometimes it takes a little time to build that trust and both sides must be patient in the process. We need to explain to the church that allowing this type of behavior to go unchecked is only going to hurt the church and other church members. We need to make the church understand that if this person does the same thing again and they have knowledge of this type of activity and did nothing about it, get their checkbook ready because you will be sued.
These types of articles are hard to read because of the history of churches. Church supported colleges and other religionist organizations have hidden, covered up or even denied sexual abuse on their campuses. These places of worship eventually fall and fall hard. This type of activity will leave a scar on your church for years and will be hard to overcome. Now let’s talk about the victims. Talk with any sexual abuse victim and they will tell you it takes years to recover, it will rock their religion, and effect their relationships with other people. If the right steps would have been taken in the beginning to protect these victims, their soul would not have been shaken to the core and the perpetrator might not been able to abuse someone else. You must understand, we in law enforcement know a predator does not stop until it is captured. They continue to prey on the weak and when churches enable them by not reporting the activity, the church is an accomplice, just plain and simple. Christ Himself said “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:2-16. I don’t know about you, I am looking forward to seeing my Savior, not a millstone.
Protect your church, watch out for these wolves in sheep clothing and when caught, do the right thing for Christ’s Bride. We must start explaining to our churches that we are either the predator or the prey when this activity is happening in our church. We must draw a line in the sand and say no more. We are searching for those that want to come to the church and fellowship and worship the Lord. We must protect the church from the wolves looking for sheep to slaughter. When Christ comes back and we all get to go home, I am hoping for a great celebration for all of you who have protected Christ’s Bride. At this festivity I pray to hear Christ say “well done good and faithful servants.”
“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” Nehemiah 4:9
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be putting together a training session on how to read and deescalate a possible dangerous situation. There are so many books you can learn this from but until you actually have the hands-on training it is difficult to really know how you will react where just one word can send you or the person you are talking to right off the deep end. I just read a good piece and will pass on some of the highlights from an article written by Eric Barker, “This Is How To Be Charming: 5 Secrets From Research”.
In this article Barker states “Harvard research shows 80% of our judgments about people come down to warmth and competence. And the more important quality is warmth. We’ll take a lovable moron over a competent jerk more often than not.” To a Safety Team Member warmth is a valuable tool to have and use, who doesn’t want to talk to someone that appears to be listening and interested in the issue at hand without being judgmental. But a Safety Team Member also needs to be on alert of a person that walks in with a big smile on his face but yet the more and more you talk to this person the hairs on the back of your neck continue to stand up. Wolves in sheep clothing can be cunning and dangerous, especially if they feel that they are safe in their actions. David wrote in Psalms 64, “1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. 3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. 4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.” We as Watchmen/Watchwomen need to repeat this prayer everyday we serve. David goes on to say “5 They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it?” 6 They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.”
A few years back we had a person come into our church with a smile that could “charm the skin off a snake”. Warm and personable to the point where everyone fell in love with this guy. Watching him I noticed things, that not only myself but other Safety Team Members noticed, that caused us major concerns. When he told his testimony, there wasn’t a dry eye in the worship center, but we kept seeing holes in his demeanor, his statements and the way he carried himself around the church, especially around the female church members. We had to be careful with our concern because most of the members and staff of the church felt this guy was the real deal. The Safety Team Ministry was still new, and some members and staff didn’t feel we needed this ministry and was waiting for us to make a mistake. I remember the pastor contacting me and telling me that this person was going to be baptized and wanted to make sure I was okay with this. That he really wanted me to welcome this person into the church but knew of my anxieties. I explained to my pastor that if this person was truly coming to the Lord and had changed then I would be happy to work with him in his walk with the Lord. As we started to finish our phone conversation that pastor said to me that he appreciated what we and the Team were doing and please keep up the excellent work. Then he told me he still wanted me to keep an eye on this new member. This caught me off guard, but it appeared that even the pastor has some concerns.
Before the baptism this person gave his testimony on the big monitors in the church and once again there was not a dry eye in the house. There was celebration in the church for this person’s change of heart, accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior. If WE could save this man, the world was the limit! It wasn’t even several weeks later that the sheep’s clothing came off and the wolf in him took advantage of one of our trusting members. We, as the Safety Team didn’t jump up and yell “We told you so”, no that is not our job, our job was to pray for those that had been hurt, ask the Holy Spirit to help us with forgiving this person and then praying for him that God would show him his wrong ways or as David finished out in Psalm 64, “7 But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. 8 He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. 9 All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. 10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!” We as Safety Team Members must not judge, let us leave that to the Lord. But we must make sure that we “give ourselves no rest”. For Satan is out there, looking for his next victim or victims to devour.
So back to Eric’s article, he goes on to say to work on:
• The Fundamental Dynamic: Warmth is more important than competence. Better to be seen as a lovable idiot than a cold competent Evil Genius (this is my addition to this remember Columbo, loveable idiot but always got his man).
• Put in some effort, willya?: They will judge the interactions by how they feel they did. So, help them do good. Gracious host make and effort.
• Small talk – seek similarity: And once you’ve found it, offer a sincere compliment, show vulnerability, and ask for advise.
• They need to know you’re listening: Ask open-ended questions, be active and constructive, and contribute but don’t one-up.
• Give them the thing we all want: We all want to feel understood. Understand?
We all want to share God’s love, but we need to be a great listener and show them that you care before we can get to the root of the problem and be able to pray the right way. Listen but remember that during this time we have to be alert to things that may cause us issues and concerns. We will be training on just how to do this in the future. Watch for the dates.
Be safe and thank you for your valuable effort in this most important ministry of protecting Christ’s Bride.
Your brother in Christ,
I have a secret that a lot of people don’t know about me. Most people take me as that serious type of guy that is always on the hunt for that person that is lurking in the dark. The one that could hurt my family, my church family and all those around me. Yes, I am that guy, however here is the secret; I am a little boy when it comes to Christmas. I love the season. I love to watch the faces of the little children when we talk about whether they were naughty or nice and did they get to see Santa. I love the lights in the neighborhood. On my morning runs through the neighborhood one of the homes has a Christmas light canopy that covers the sidewalk and I run through it every time I go down that street. I love looking for that perfect gift for my wife and girls. Yes, I am that guy that would love to have a white Christmas and enjoys Christmas carols (while writing this email I am listening to Manheim Steamroller Christmas). I love going to church and hearing the heart felt Merry Christmas wishes from my church family, feeling the warmth of the Spirit when we talk about Christ’s birth and how it is such a special time for the world. Peace and goodwill toward all men. I am reminded of the unofficial ceasefire between the British and German soldiers that took place during World War I. In the trenches on Christmas morning of 1914 carols could be heard between the two enemies and before long soldiers who had been fighting against each other the day before met in no-mans land and traded food, tobacco, cigarettes, drink, badges, buttons and caps. Before long a game of football broke out between enemies that 24 hours earlier had been shooting at each other.
Even though I would love to see the world take a moment and celebrate Christmas I know that we as the watchmen and watchwomen on the wall must be on constant alert for those that would love to make a statement against Christianity during this sacred time. Sutherland Springs has put all churches on alert of the dangers the church faces today in dealing with domestic violence. The more and more we get into this tragedy the more we find this was nothing more than a mentally deranged person with a dangerous grudge against his ex-in-laws. The shooter had sent threating text messages to his ex-mother-in-law who attended First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. I can’t fathom any other reason the shooter to pick that church other than he wanted to kill her. It just so happens she was not there that Sunday. As the investigation goes on there were so many red flags on this shooter that someone somewhere should have been paying more attention to him. I don’t like being a Monday morning quarterback but we in the church safety business have been screaming from the church’s steeples for years that domestic violence and mentally ill people are one of your biggest threats to our church yet we as a church continue to turn a blind eye to this issue. In Carl Chinn’s studies over 46% of your deadly force incidents against churches are from domestic spillover, personal conflicts, mental illness and religious bias (Carl Chinn).
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner and that equates to more than 10 million women and men. Please read that last sentence again, 10 million women and men. We have had two incidents in our church over the last two years where the women of the relationship were violent against their spouses and children to the point that police were called, and restraining orders were placed against the women. In our scenario training we emphasize this fact. Reports across the United States shows this number increases during the holiday season, yet we continue to think that when couples come into our Christmas service all is right in their world. We pray for Christmas miracles in families going through tough times and that the abuse will stop but fail to realize Christmas puts so much pressure on families and can be a catalyst to an increase in domestic violence.
We, the church need to be that beacon of light that helps those that are hurting and one step away from doing something they will regret for the rest of their lives. Remember, we the Safety Team, are not only looking for the wolves in sheep’s clothing, but we are also looking those in need. Our ministry is to expand the Kingdom of God, and not keep those out that need help. From our training we need to point out those that come up on our radar needing special attention to our ministers. If we, as the ones on the walls of our church, don’t point out the hurting to those that can help we have failed as the watchmen/watchwomen of the church. Ours is not a position of power or war but a position of love and serving those we protect. Remember Christ came to this world to bring peace and goodwill to all men and we must do what we have been called to do and protect those that come into our churches looking for that peace and goodwill.
So, this is my wish to all of you that have been called to this most important ministry. Do not forget what this season is all about. Remember this is the celebration of our Savior’s birth, shout it to the mountain tops, sorry forgot this is Florida, shout it to the beaches that in the little town of Bethlehem our Savior was born to bring the promise of everlasting life to all mankind. He came to bring peace and goodwill to all and we the sheepdog of our churches must keep an eye out for the wolves and those hurting and protect the flock.
Merry Christmas and God bless,
PS: **Save the Date**January 21, 2018 5 pm – 7 pm: Trinity Security Allies 2-year Celebration.
Register at: http://www.trinitysecurityallies.com/events.html
In my last blog, I wrote about the Christians in Egypt canceling Easter and I am sure most of your said to yourself it wouldn’t happen here, oh really. “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Cancels His Easter Egg Hunt Due to Manhunt”. What!!! Governor Walker runs the Wisconsin State Police, he can call out the National Guard in a crisis of this proportion, what in blue blazes just happened. If you haven’t been following the news, a lunatic broke into a gun shop, stole a bunch of weapons and sent the President a manifesto talking about attacking the government and maybe some churches. A massive manhunt began and because he had not been arrested the Governor of Wisconsin cancelled their annual Easter Egg hunt. Now let’s think about that for a moment. This madman had threatened the government and churches, the Governor with all his protection cancelled the annual Easter Egg hunt. What do you think some of the Wisconsin churches are thinking? If the Governor can’t protect his own activities what chances does an unprotected church have against these types of lone wolves. We are only talking about one man. Okay let’s not paint me as a raving lunatic. I do understand the need to protect everyone, and in a sense, I don’t blame the Governor for what he did, however do you see the slippery slope that starts? If one crazy can shut down an event like that what do you think it does to church members who start to worry about coming to your churches? I was in DC when the DC sniper started their carnage, I remember how scared people were to go out in public while that was going on. With that said, if a madman was loose in your area what action would your church take? The good end to this story was the lunatic was arrested and everyone in Wisconsin gets to take a deep sigh of relief.
But remember we cannot let our guard down, ever. We are here, our most celebrated Christian event of the year (please Christmas lovers don’t get mad at me because I said Easter), He is Risen!! Let us rejoice of this wonderful time but let us also be diligent in our watch. Listen to what David said in Psalms 144:1-2 NLT “Praise the lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him. He makes the nations submit to me.” I pray this weekend none of us must go into battle but understand there is a war on Christianity, the devil is just hoping for a sign of weakness; where people are afraid to come out and worship. Look what almost happened in Wisconsin.
Be safe and alert and let us all celebrate the end of death and the gift of forgiveness, grace and everlasting life,
He is Risen!!!!!!!
What if you were to open your local newspaper and the headline read “Churches in the Tampa Bay Area will not celebrate Easter after ISIS attacks”? What would your first reaction be? I know mine would be one of disbelief; one of anger because someone had scared churches so much that they wouldn’t open the doors on the second most holy day of Christianity. I know that I would be calling friends together and celebrating Easter no matter what the paper said. I hope there would others that would join as we show the world that no one cancels our worship of Easter. We will celebrate Easter till Christ comes back to take us home. You’re thinking - this couldn’t happen. Really? Are you following world events? I just saw the headlines across the Internet “Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter after ISIS attacks”. It has happened; churches in southern Egypt are closing on one of the churches most attended day of the year except Christmas. Your response might be - but it can’t happen here. I hope it never does, however it almost did. Ask Andy Willis of Bellevue Baptist Church about Easter 2016 “Man brings handgun, assault rifle into church”. If were not for Andy and the training he has done with his church we would still be talking about the lone wolf that went into their church and did the unthinkable. Other lone wolves would only continue the cause for their 15 minutes of fame that the world would read about over and over again. Charleston is still reeling from their church shooting and that was back in June of 2015. We would be able to move on but the scars are permanent.
Over the recent months in our own church we have had multiple anomalies that have caused us concern; a person with a large backpack that seemed to be surveying the church and when one of our small group leaders went to talk to him, he did a proxemic push on him and refused to have a conversation with him (and for those of you that don’t know what a proxemic push is, invite me to your church for our “Threat Profiling” training). We are going to attach his picture to this email in the event someone knows him. Then over the past several months we have had a female come into our church, get very close to the pastor only to be combative with one of our female church leaders. She has changed her appearance on us and now is waiting till our part-time deputies leave the church property before she comes into the church. She moves to the seat behind the pastor in the worship center. After service starts, she starts to sob, looking for someone to come over to her. Her statements to the volunteers are vague and confusing and this last weekend she didn’t want to leave church until we ushered her out. She was later caught taking pictures of the church. I will attach her picture to this email in the event one of you has had dealing with her and knows her name.
Over the last few months we have been doing some new training that we want to get out to everybody. The training comes from the Marine Corps “Profiling and Tactical Tracking” using “Combat Profiling”. We have successfully done it over the past few months and it is a powerful tool. If you've missed this training, contact us, invite your community churches and we'll bring this training to you.
He paid the price for our sins and now we have been guaranteed a life with Him that we can’t even begin to imagine. Do not miss the opportunity to rejoice and celebrate His wonderful gift but be on alert, cause 14. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” 15. When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to their own work. Nehemiah 4:14-15 We cannot take the risk of letting something like what happened in Egypt happen in our churches so we must be diligent during this Easter Season and on watch at all times.
He has Risen!!!!!!!!!!
Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.