Andy Savage, Who Molested Jules Woodson, Is Starting a New Church. The Church Doesn’t Need Him. #churchtoo #metoo


Jules Woodson and Andy Savage

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.― Dietrich Bonhoeffer


 

The conga line of disgraced pastors who think that God needs them to counsel the emotionally impoverished evangelical population has now grown longer. Andy Savage has joined the dances, giggling along with the likes of Tullian Tchividjian and Pete Wilson.

In January 2018, I wrote Jules Woodson’s story along with Amy Smith.I was disturbed and angry by what transpired at the hands of Andy Savage and the leaders and members of her former church. During that time, I wrote as a new acquaintance of Jules. Today, I write this as her dear friend. So, if Andy Savage is reading this, he needs to know that not only do I believe her, but I will stand on her side.

As many of you know, Amy Smith, Kenny Stubblefield, Brooks Hanson and I were involved in the initial conversations with Jules. Amy Smith and I both wrote posts on her molestation by Savage which attracted international attention. Then, Savage’s former church vaulted this story further into the public eye when they gave Savage a standing ovation after he admitted that he had a sexual experience with Jules….Well, he actually called it a *mutual organic experience*  but most people called it what it was: nonconsensual molestation. (The only thing organic that a youth pastor should share with a student is a salad.)

Andy Savage is disqualified from the pastorate for a number of reasons. He molested Jules Woodson, moved on, forgot about her, and then ignored her 20 years later.

How does one judge another’s character? Perhaps this quote sums it up:

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”― John Wooden

I think Savage was hoping that if he ignored her, everyone else would. Now let’s fill in some blanks.

  1. He admitted he molested Jules.

    He molested Jules Woodson and admitted to the act, although he claims it was consensual. If he had done this in 2019 as opposed to 20 years ago, he would have been arrested. That act is considered clergy abuse along with nonconsensual sexual molestation. Oh, he was a pastor alright. He was ordained in the SBC. A 22 year old man can be arrested for having nonconsensual sexual relations with any woman. I bet many people who defend Savage would call the police if a 22 year old man broke into their home. I bet they would call the police if a 22 year old neighborhood man exposed himself to their high school senior daughter. Here is what a TWW commenter said on the Tullian Tchividjian situation. It is apropros for Savage. 

  2. He moved on and never once called or cared for Jules.

    He moved on and started again in ministry within months of leaving Jules’ church for allegedly *kissing a student.* For the next 20 years he would become a church leader, reveling in his position as a role model of the faith. I wonder if Jules ever crossed his mind? Did he wonder how her life was going? Did he ever reach out to her? Well, the answer is a resounding, “No.” This man demonstrated that he has no remorse for his actions since remorse is expressed in repentance and in repairing broken relationships. Did he care that she suffered the after effects of his molestation? No! Is this the man who can care for church members who are needy? Would he be there or be more focused on his next invitation to speak somewhere?

  3. He would not answer Jules when she finally reached out to him.
    This one is the clincher for me. Jules shared her email to Andy on the first day we spoke. When I read it, I knew that this would be a major story. My husband remembers me saying “I think there is going to be an uproar when this comes out.” He often repeats that to me even now. Why does this disqualify Andy?( A.) He was denigrating another person (Matt Lauer) for doing exactly what he had done.  (B.) He never responded to her. Can you imagine a pastor who doesn’t respond to the pain of those he’s hurt? Is he the type of “two faced, pointing fingers at the world” pastor who ignores a woman whom he hurt? Seems so. Note the dates on the following.
  4. He is no slave of Christ, serving the lost and let down.

    Finally, the fact he is starting a new church is the sign of a self absorbed egotist. It’s all about him.he’s the man who should teach you, lead you, and watch over you.  I learned something during my trip to Greece to study Paul’s journeys. When I visited the excavations at Philippi, I learned that the word *servant* is better translated as *slave.* Savage should so care for the pain that he caused Jules, as well as the entire evangelical community, that he should step aside and be a slave, not a pastor. He needs to care for those who have been abused. He should work in a rescue mission and give up the microphone. He should be a sacrificial, humble slave, not just another ho hum *teaching* pastor who believes his own press.
    Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV)link

    “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
    And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himselfby becoming obedient to death—
            even death on a cross!”

 

Amy Smith broke the story that Andy Savage is starting a new church in Memphis!

Here is the link to his sermon.

Here are some things that I heard.

  • He claims he is a teacher. Was this another prophecy from the IHOP folks?
  • He claims he wants to care for people who are struggling. He claims he ignored them in the past.
  • He claims he is not out for himself
  • He claims this new church is not about him.
  • He claims he’s now free from caring about what *you* think. Is this another phrase for sc**w you? Sure sounds like it.
  • *Bob on a bike* is holding him accountable.

In this sermon, he showed, once again, why he should not be a pastor.

  1. He did not rebuke the audience which laughed out loud when he discussed that they could all read about him on Google.
  2. He also said that we all have gotten our hands on the wrong thing at one time or another. (Stop snickering.) Well, Savage sure did. I bet he didn’t have *Bob on a bike* vet that line.

Savage doesn’t discuss the fact that most youth pastors have never assaulted teens in youth programs.(Although, I’ve recently wonder just how high those stats are.) In fact, few of us have ever assaulted anyone. So don’t try to sin level your molestation onto the backs of the rest of us, Savage.

This story is getting around. I hope Andy Savage is ready *not to care* what the media writes about him. This thing could get big, once again.

The Commercial Appeal

Andy Savage looks to launch new church in Memphis after sexual assault allegations, resignation

In the recording he says, “It’s not hard to find out what I’ve done wrong. Just Google my name, it’s out there. It’s not hard to figure it out. And here’s the thing, we all have our story. Mine just got national news coverage.”

Reached by phone, Savage did not want to comment.

A website being shared for Grace Valley Church contains a form asking for contact information, family details, prayer requests, comments and questions. According to Google Forms, the form was created inside andysavage.com, Savage’s website.

Woodson said that it almost sounds like Savage makes light of her sexual assault in the audio recording — treating it like a “story” that everyone has.

“Not everybody sexually assaulted a minor under their care,” Woodson said. “Had Andy taught me science instead of religion, he would be in jail and he would never be allowed back in that workplace.”

…The case became an example of the #metoo and #churchtoo movements.

Now, Woodson says that she’s not denying Savage a normal life — nor is she denying him forgiveness and God’s grace.

“It sets a dangerous precedent for him to be back in the pulpit,” Woodson said. “God’s grace is amazing, but God’s grace doesn’t mean you get to be back in ministry.”

The Christian Post/Beth Moore

Pastor Andy Savage launches new church as Beth Moore offers comfort to his sexual assault victim

“Devastating news today. My abuser is back in the pulpit,” Savage’s victim Jules Woodson announced in a tweet Saturday. Her message also shared a tweet from Amy Smith, a sexual abuse survivor advocate, which included a recording of a recent sermon from Savage preaching at his new Grace Valley Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The website for the church is now just collecting information from potential members through a Google form.

Woodson’s tweet attracted support from popular Bible teacher Beth Moore and others.

“Jules, I can’t imagine how devastating that must be. I am so sorry,” Moore tweeted at Woodson’s announcement.

“Thank you Beth. I am heartbroken and angry. Jesus weeps,” Savage’s victim replied. Moore responded: “Yes, He does, Darling.”

Rachael Denhollander

The Friendly Atheist

Pastor Andy Savage, Who Assaulted a Teen Girl, Is Starting a New Church

Savage appeals to grace. I say he appeals to cheap grace.

I am a Lutheran and I believe in grace. I also believe that we are all sinners. Luther said it well: “Simul justus et peccator.” Christians are simultaneously sinners and righteous. As another pastor said: We are positionally holy but we are functionally sinners.”

Folks, this means that sins have consequences. Some sins are also crimes. I hear lots of Christians claiming that we should show grace to Savage but few of these same people would ignore the thief who broke into their home and trashed it. They would be in court, asking for the maximum sentence, while claiming they are praying for the thief’s salvation.

What does restoration mean?

Poorly educated Christians who listen to light sermons, like those I think Savage preaches, think it means someone like Andy is forgiven and can jump right back into teaching because he “knows he is a teacher.” No consequences…except, there are always consequences. There are actions that we take in life that will permanently disqualify us from our positions. Counselors:having sex with patients…Teachers: Having sex with students…EMTs: having sex with those they are called in to help.

But far too many people believe Savage should get a pass for molesting Jules. Why? It makes no sense. What does restoration really mean? It means you can now return to church and be a church member. A former pastor doesn’t get to jump from sin to the pastorate. A real pastor who gets this would not try to do so. Grace is costly, not cheap. You must lose something. God can redeem it in a new work. For example, why not become a prison chaplain?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best

  • When Christ  calls a man, He bids him come and die.link
  • Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” link

Why in the world would Andy Savage choose Memphis to start his new church?

I don’t know if this info is true but I heard from 3 sources that Savage may have approached his former church about a job. Could someone confirm or negate this?

If Savage was an example of a true slave of the Christian body, one who willingly humbles himself, he should go somewhere else. I wonder why he claims he is  *called to teach* in Memphis as opposed to Niger, the world’s most impoverish country. Why is he returning to the place in which he lost his church? Why is he returning for people to dredge up all the old memories? But, like he says in that sermon, he doesn’t really care what anyone thinks except for maybe *Bob on a bike.* (But if Bob doesn’t play ball, Bob may get pushed off his bike.)

I think he says that he believes he’s a teacher in a rich community because:

  • Where else could he con people to actually believe he is a fantastic human being due to grace?
  • Where else could he control a group of people with no accountability except *Bob on a bike?*
  • Where else could he get people to pay him lots of money so he can live really, really well?

The evil Savage savages are already starting their attacks on Jules with nary a word from Andy or *Bob on a bike.*

Today, I became incensed when a man on Twitter began going after Jules, making claims that she was a party girl when she was a teen. I told him his Jezebel routine was abusive and decided to report his tweet to Twitter. I encouraged others to do so. It appears it worked. His tweet is no longer available. Here is a link to the thread of others who reported it.

Finally, this time around I will watch for each and every cry of slander, King David was forgiven, cheap grace and cheap repentance. These poor people exhibit to me what rotten Bible teachers there are out there. Perhaps one of those rotten teachers is the guy who claims he is *a teacher.*

Andy Savage, go to the poor and be a slave instead of dancing the conga with the rest of the discredited men.

For those of you who are interested in learning about what one Pastor had to say about Tullian Tchividjian and cheap forgiveness, here is a link to Great Stuff – Gottesdienst – Real Sin. Real Forgiveness. Real Faith. Real Fruits of Repentance.

(PS I have some pictures and bios of *Bob on the bike.* I may give him a call before I post them.)

#istandwithJules

 


Comments

Andy Savage, Who Molested Jules Woodson, Is Starting a New Church. The Church Doesn’t Need Him. #churchtoo #metoo — 143 Comments

  1. If you can’t find a church that’ll have you, PLANT YOUR OWN!
    (Because all others are apostate and YOURS is the Only True Church — with Benefits(TM)!)

    “If you want to make a million dollars, START YOUR OWN RELIGION.”
    — L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology

    “Cults are started so the cult leader can (1) get rich, (2) get laid, or (3) both.”
    — my old Dungeonmaster

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  2. “Why in the world would Andy Savage choose Memphis to start his new church?”

    The cost of living is pretty cheap in Memphis. And he probably already had followers.

    I have too many words. This makes me so angry, probably because it’s happening in my neighborhood. Here’s the thing, I’m really generally forgiving of stupid mistakes when you’re young. But this wasn’t that. Even if he wasn’t a “bad guy” when he was in his 20s (and I think he was), he should have welcomed the chance to apologize now that he’s older. But even when confronted, privately and publicly, he just doesn’t get it. I just…does he have no one in his life who could say something? Ugh. Gross. I really hope the Commercial Appeal sticks with him. I like local news and Memphis is better than this.

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  3. Andy Savage, was his last church a conservative church? The reason I ask is he spoke with Mother Jones, a liberal leaning publication. One moment their fake news, the next time their helping get his slick sales message out.

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  4. “And here’s the thing, we all have our story. Mine just got national news coverage.”

    We don’t “all” set ourselves up as pastors, assault a minor after driving them down a dirt road, move on, get called out, and then set ourselves up as pastors and religious authority figures again.

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  5. Looking at the link referenced by the Commercial Appeal:

    http://www.gracevalleymemphis.org/

    Just give them your name and birthday, and your kid’s name and birthday, and trust them with it.

    Also, they offer the privilege of volunteering in these areas:

    Guest services: greeting, welcoming, hospitality — coffee, etc.

    Infants – preschool children: caring for our little ones
    (!!!!!!!!!!)

    Elementary age children: building a foundation of biblical literacy for kids through teaching, small group discussion leader, hospitality for kids, fun leaders
    (Will that foundation include Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 and pastors needing to be above reproach? To quote him, ‘we all have our story’, and it should have people running from him in any form of trusted leadership here.)

    Student ministry team: building a ministry to middle and high school students
    (Or driving a dirt road with select students, perchance, ‘cuz he told us to google his story and…)

    Musical worship team: singers, musicians

    Sunday production team: helping craft holy moments – set up/breakdown, audio, lights, video
    (“Helping craft holy moments”, or exclamations of worthiness and standing ovations after something is found out?)

    Parking team: facilitating orderly entrance and exit from Sunday gatherings

    Sunday shepherding: prayer team, communion server, decision coaches, scripture readers, baptism coaches
    (Shepherding and coaching, though what’s written about pastoral conduct might not be featured too much in the playbook…)

    Would you open up your home and make it available for a group relationship building? If yes, how many people can you accommodate?
    (Yes, why not open up your home, where your kids are? Unreal.)

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  6. From Savage Andy’s responses, which are classic for an abuser/predator, there is no reason to think Jules was his only victim. I wonder how many women would need to speak up for his predation to matter currently. I suppose the answer is always, “At least one more than has spoken up so far.” Just like Hybels’ victims.

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  7. Brian:
    Andy Savage, was his last church a conservative church? The reason I ask is he spoke with Mother Jones, a liberal leaning publication. One moment their fake news, the next time their helping get his slick sales message out.

    See this:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2018/03/21/jules-woodson-andy-savage-highpoint-church-lessons-learned-and-still-to-be-learned/

    And this:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2018/03/16/the-international-house-of-prayer-will-highpoint-church-jump-out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire/

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  8. The Evangelical machine rolls on. I was physically ill reading this news yesterday and your article is dead perfect, Dee.

    The only light I can even try and pull out if this is that we get to better see people and their supporters for who they are, and hopefully other people do too.

    Ugh.

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  9. Andrea: Even if he wasn’t a “bad guy” when he was in his 20s (and I think he was), he should have welcomed the chance to apologize now that he’s older.

    Yes. I can look back and things I did in the past and say ‘that was a mistake, that was rude, I would change that’. He’s not sorry in any real way, if it might affect his life. He just thought it all went away and is miffed it didn’t. This is his profession not his calling, and he’s not willing to find another.

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  10. This equalization of wrongdoing is so infuriating. “…we all have gotten our hands on the wrong thing at one time or another.”, and “we all have our story…”. Yeah, we all have things that we’re not glowingly proud of. But for most of us it’s stuff like, “Shouldn’t have gotten snippy with that person…” or “I should’ve asked that new person sitting out to dance, instead of dancing with my friend.” There’s a world of difference between “should’ve done better” and “sexually assaulted someone under my care as a minister”.

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  11. To indirectly answer Rachel D.’s question as to where the “go home” crowd is on this, the hardcore P&P website has reported the story, and in what isn’t bipartisanship as much as both disliking him (though for different reasons), they concur that Savage has DQ’d himself from the pastorate.

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  12. Well done as always Dee, excellent summary.

    I am enraged and sickened at this whole thing, and I ache for Jules. I will continue to speak out and to stand for her.

    I remain stuck on the point that If he were a school teacher he would have been arrested and would be seen as vile and would receive anger and no mercy. If he were applying to be a teacher or teachers helper, he would be rejected and disqualified. YET Pastoring? Why sure!

    No use for this and I’m tired of watching people cheapen grace and God!

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  13. Brian: Andy Savage, was his last church a conservative church? The reason I ask is he spoke with Mother Jones, a liberal leaning publication. One moment their fake news, the next time their helping get his slick sales message out.

    I think Andy’s the kind of guy who who would take advantage of any news source to get the word out-his word. I don’t think the politics ofvthe venue matter to a disgraced self-promoter like Andy.

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  14. Oh, I am on record as saying I will go to Memphis and picket this “church’s” opening service. Of course I will obey all laws, but everyone who enters will know that Andy Savage sexually assaulted a teenage girl and WHY IS THIS GUY CALLING HIMSELF A PASTOR?

    Please keep me up to date on this travesty.

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  15. Lois,

    Unfortunately, these people have been taught about cheap grace and knee jerk forgiveness. I put the blame for this on them, as well as their pastors. They want in easy peasy Christianity that makes them feel good. Well, they’ve got it and they come off sounding like a bunch of idiots.

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  16. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    Oh, I am on record as saying I will go to Memphis and picket this “church’s” opening service. Of course I will obey all laws, but everyone who enters will know that Andy Savage sexually assaulted a teenage girl and WHY IS THIS GUY CALLING HIMSELF A PASTOR?

    Please keep me up to date on this travesty.

    Dee-Ive already informed my husband to prepare to see a round trip ticket to Memphis on our credit card. I’m coming. I’ve spoken with Jules and she is considering coming. Other have also expressed an interest. There is quite the involved crowd in Memphis as well who are down for a repeat of 1 1/2 years ago. Also, SNAP is interested. I will keep you informed. The problem currently is the secretive nature pf the location of the church. We have some leads but they are not firm. I would love to protest with you!

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  17. I witnessed this man give a sermon on pastors being due double honor. He thinks his behavior is worthy?!? How about he get a secular job and serve others in his spare time like the rest of us do and work towards being an being worthy of the most basic human respect? This is audacious.

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  18. Magistos,

    I was pretty upset on Saturday when I learned about this. Jules was deeply hurt by Savage’s move to start a church. I truly believe that the media is going to be reporting this. Already a number have contacted Jules. Amy has received a call as well. Savage forgets that Jules has the ear of major media in this country. he knew this would be the respond.

    So, I have a question…Why is Andy sticking around Memphis? My guess is that this is not going to end well.

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  19. Brian:
    Andy Savage, was his last church a conservative church? The reason I ask is he spoke with Mother Jones, a liberal leaning publication. One moment their fake news, the next time their helping get his slick sales message out.

    As of now, Oceania has always been at Peace with Eurasia, Comrades.

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  20. Andy Savage is utterly disgusting! He almost seems proud of what he has done and wears it like a badge of honor and dares anyone to defy him. I hope people DO Google his name and have their dim eyes opened and see him for the deceitfully wicked man that he truly is. The church needs to quit being so willfully ignorant and naive!

    He is unfit for the Lord’s service and makes an absolute mockery of God’s grace by insisting that he should have no consequences for sexually exploiting Jules Woodson (and any other victims that have yet to come forward.) He is the living embodiment of those mentioned in Romans 1 who were handed over to a “depraved mind” and he is to be avoided at all costs. My hope is that his attendance on the opening day of his new ‘church’ is ZERO!

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  21. Folklore has it that even when cockroaches are flushed down a commode, they can still make their way back up to the bowl rim, dry off their wings, and take flight to set up shop elsewhere.

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  22. dee: I’ve spoken with Jules and she is considering coming. Other have also expressed an interest. There is quite the involved crowd in Memphis as well who are down for a repeat of 1 1/2 years ago. Also, SNAP is interested.

    SNAP is good news. They have numbers and media.

    I will keep you informed. The problem currently is the secretive nature pf the location of the church.

    As if they’re HIDING from something?

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  23. Root 66: He is the living embodiment of those mentioned in Romans 1 who were handed over to a “depraved mind”

    Which was probably poetic language for “He’s a PERV!” in the first place.
    A PERV who operates under cover of Divine Authority.

    Doesn’t the phrase “Taking God’s Name in Vain” originally mean “Doing Evil and claiming God’s Sanction for it”? As if God is saying “You Do Your Own Dirty Work! Don’t drag Me into it! Not even by mentioning My name!”

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  24. dee: Savage forgets that Jules has the ear of major media in this country. he knew this would be the respond.
    So, I have a question…Why is Andy sticking around Memphis?

    Some possibilities:
    1) “This Can’t Ruin Me! Nothing Can Ruin Me!”
    2) He wants to fight it out and see how much damage he can do to Jules & you.
    3) Play the “PERSECUTION!!!!!!!!” Card and use you to prove how Righteous and Godly he is.

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  25. JDV,

    I get how this looks when you’re aware of the predatory history of the senior pastor. But I can also see those same words used by any number of churches who are simply looking for volunteers to help “do church” however that particular Jesus-loving church “does church.” I attended a church that included birthdays in their monthly newsletter, for example. (Which is no more weird than Facebook doing it, at least in my mind.)

    May I ask, out of honest curiosity, what do you think the non-predatory churches need to do or say differently when asking for help?

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  26. dee:
    JDV,

    Classic sin leveling. he’s making a case that breaking the law by speeding in a car is equivalent to him having is dad blasted “organic experience” with Jules.

    “Organic”?
    More like ORGASMIC at Jules’s expense.

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  27. dee:
    JDV,

    Classic sin leveling. he’s making a case that breaking the law by speeding in a car is equivalent to him having is dad blasted “organic experience” with Jules.

    You find sin-levelling everywhere.
    Levelling UP for others, Levelling DOWN for self.

    “FOR GOD HATES SIN WITH SUCH A PERFECT HATRED…”
    — key phrase from tract/booklet from my time in-country

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  28. Andy Savage is from Memphis ( parents etc ) Sadly, he probably already has a sizable following from HP and other churches here. Most of the people at HP saw the whole Jules situation as a “witch hunt” and viewed her as a woman scorned wanting retribution.
    I’ve lost many friends due to wanting him to be permanently barred from ministry due to the assault and Abuse of Power.
    Narcissism is the only reason he could possibly want to start a new church. His kids were bullied relentlessly after all of the publicity and anyone who would subject them to more is only concerned for himself

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  29. Perhaps in an alternate universe, a ministerial perpetrator of abuse attempting to regain a ministry role — such as starting a new church — would be considered intentional/reckless infliction of emotional abuse on former victims. And those parishioners who supported him would be equally liable for damages in a civil lawsuit.

    Maybe financial consequences to congregants would stop the “hypergrace conga line” of self-restored abusers of pastoral positions.

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  30. dee: M husband often says that the church seems to have lower standards than secular society when it comes to this stuff.

    Certainly there are churches that do have low standards — but not all of them. Plenty of churches that I know of where he is DQ. Even if there was only one that had lower standards, that would be one too many.

    On a side note, his byline “Making God Make Sense” really sounds egotistical. Somehow God is unable to make sense without him?

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  31. Erp,

    It doesn’t matter if they approve or not. He got his well crafted thoughts out through a news organization that was willing to sit down with him. Some people may look at it as a hit piece on him, being it was Mother Jones.

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  32. Thank you, Dee, so very much for all the good work you’re doing—this post in particular. And much gratitude to anyone who will go to Memphis with signs, hopefully alerting the Memphis media ahead of time. YES, it wasn’t always true, but certainly since #MeTOO that we’ve had higher standards for teachers than preachers. Here in Grand Rapids, we still hear local stories about professions and others who know they’ll have supporter no matter what they do. And, of course, that’s the case with our President.

    MOD: Reminder. No politics. Or jokes about current politics. GBTC

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  33. Brian: It doesn’t matter if they approve or not. He got his well crafted thoughts out through a news organization that was willing to sit down with him. Some people may look at it as a hit piece on him, being it was Mother Jones.

    Any publicity is good publicity for these types.

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  34. Brian: Some people may look at it as a hit piece on him, being it was Mother Jones.

    Why would they do that, if they read the actual words?

    We can’t stop all tribalism, but that doesn’t we should contribute to it either.

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  35. Dee hit on a key concept of hypocrisy about this whole situation… Andy Savage hammered on Matt Lauer before this all blew up on him… and he ignored Jules e-mail…
    Also, what was not mentioned above is that a few weeks after the infamous “organic moment”, Andy Savage gave a talk to kids on “purity”.

    It has been my experience that many kids are not naive, and that some of would have wondered about this whole situation…

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  36. Erp: Good reporters interview all sides if possible and the quoted bits from Savage were set in such fashion in the original article as to imply the reporter didn’t believe it.

    TWW also contacts accused abusers and churches that allegedly harbor abuse. Dee has been known to criticize churches for ignoring her attempts to reach them.

    In this very case, the survivor herself contacted the man, and Andy Savage was unresponsive.

    It might be a shame to give a platform to an alleged or admitted abuser. However, we also need to trust readers to size the person up.

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  37. Wild Honey:
    JDV,

    I get how this looks when you’re aware of the predatory history of the senior pastor. But I can also see those same words used by any number of churches who are simply looking for volunteers to help “do church” however that particular Jesus-loving church “does church.” I attended a church that included birthdays in their monthly newsletter, for example. (Which is no more weird than Facebook doing it, at least in my mind.)

    May I ask, out of honest curiosity, what do you think the non-predatory churches need to do or say differently when asking for help?

    The proximity to October 31st brings to mind a parallel. Back in the days where kids used to take off by themselves and come home at dinner time, their getting a candy haul themselves was the norm. The razor-blade and Tylenol scares moved the needle on how the day was approached, as well as greater awareness (and fear) of overall safety. Some answers were to X-ray candy, some to have your haul tossed out and replaced (seemed like a wasted exercise, but there you are), others to have supervised events, and many to have supervised neighborhood walks without letting the kids out of sight.

    We’re at what should be a similar turning point and shift for churches. Our host has noted how many of these abusers can fool people, often for long periods of time. It’s on the churches to be as transparent and accountable as possible, to levels at least rivaling and hopefully exceeding those in the business world and in public and private institutions such as schools.

    My cautionary comment about sharing birthdays certainly applies here, but in the modern world where info is currency, the norm needs to shift to guarding info and to have vetting and oversight means over those receiving it. This is especially apt when any person can set themselves up as a spiritual authority with special exemptions and privileges related to $$$ gathering, tax status, info sharing, and usage of volunteer labor.

    Locally, some place has set up what purports to be a mission center but looks like in practice it could be run simply as a hostel for which “interns” provide all manner of custodial functions for those staying there and call it “missions” while certain parties take in the monies and pay down certain debts. Be shocked and stunned that the procedure of how this place got started appeared anything but transparent.

    So many (to borrow a phrase from here) Christian Industrial Complex enterprises run things — including what is taught about the faith — via business models, yet might happen to conveniently exempt themselves from ethical practices such as financial transparency, conflicts of interests checks, authority checks and balances, and so forth. And how many places are going to do so unless incentivized to do so?

    The first thing for a “non-predatory church” to do is look at the reality of hirelings and grievous wolves (i.e., predators) as realities that can challenge any church. As such, provable safeguards of info must be clearly and proactively developed, conveyed, and maintained. What next steps are involved in a brick-and-mortar enterprise is a huge matter unto itself Also, 1 Timothy 5:22 comes to mind: “Lay hands on no one hastily, nor share in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.” How many people in modern western churches are leading with that mindset, especially those on the authority/leadership side of things, as seminaries churn out many taught essentially to demand salary subsidy out of the gate as a given and anyone else can just hang a shingle and claim a vision — on which he’s unlikely to be significantly checked? As with other realities of modern life, people need to be wary about key aspects of the modern church experience more than ever.

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  38. JDV: Also, they offer the privilege of volunteering in these areas:

    What amazes me is that they use an online form to solicit this help. That suggests a certain lack of boundaries.

    Except they are not asking for volunteers to count the money after services…

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  39. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    Dee hit on a key concept of hypocrisy about this whole situation… Andy Savage hammered on Matt Lauer before this all blew up on him…and he ignored Jules e-mail…
    Also, what was not mentioned above is that a few weeks after the infamous “organic moment”, Andy Savage gave a talk to kids on “purity”.

    It has been my experience that many kids are not naive, and that some of would have wondered about this whole situation…

    And don’t forget he had a book called “The Ridiculously Good Marriage” in the pipeline available for more-order at the time:

    http://www.andysavage.com/blog/posts/5-ways-to-make-your-marriage-ridiculously-good-in-2018

    One of the five ways:

    “3. Surprise with an intimate touch. This may seem obvious, but most couples fall into ruts in marriage and their inmate life is certainly not immune. When you break the norms of your intimate life, it can add a freshness to your marriage. This is especially true if you tend to be the less sexually motivated spouse. Your willingness to initiate and even surprise your spouse with intimate touch could be a connection breakthrough your marriage has been waiting for.”

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  40. And another way:

    “4. Give the overdue apology. Offenses in marriage can stack up over time. We are all guilty from time to time of letting the cobwebs of conflict exist in the corners of our marriages. If you owe your spouse an apology (even if it is long overdue), give him or her the apology they deserve. This suggestion always generates the reaction, “But they don’t deserve an apology!” Emotionally healthy people understand that an apology is deserved because I have done wrong, regardless of what my spouse has or has not done. If you caused harm (or even think you might have), give your spouse the grace of an apology.”

    And then, there was this shortly after things broke last year:

    https://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/highpoint-pastor-announces-leave-of-absence-following-sexual-assault-allegation/

    “For an hour Thursday, Highpoint Church Teaching Pastor Andy Savage shared his story on the “Ben Ferguson Radio Show.” He told the host and viewers what had happened in 1998 was consensual. Savage apologized for what happened, but this is the first time he’s characterized the encounter. “I do not believe I broke the law,” Savage told Ferguson.”

    “He did admit what he did was wrong, but not illegal, citing Jules Woodson was 17-year-old at the time and consented.  Savage told Ferguson her account of what happened in Texas was not how he remembered it. Woodson wrote Savage was driving her home when he turned a dirt road and sexually assaulted her.

    “The atmosphere was very flirtatious. That flirtatious environment uh, continued to uh, move forward um, which led to um, uh, us making out, some heavy petting. Uh, it was a very uh, mutual, spontaneous, physical uh moment and our hormones were obviously uh, very much in that moment and uh, she performed oral sex,” Savage said during the interview.”

    Both Savage and Woodson told church leaders what happened, but no one called police. “It was a very mutual, spontaneous, physical moment. Our hormones were obviously very much in that moment, and she performed oral sex,” Savage said.”

    “He told the host Thursday, “I am in full cooperation with our leadership at Highpoint. I’m going to be  taking leave of absence for the purpose of cooperating with a third party, independent firm that will come in and do an audit of my ministry, the policies that we work with at Highpoint.”

    And now he’s evidently taking it on the road, where I don’t know that any third party auditor of ministries and policies will be speaking anything into the new situation. Meanwhile, “we all have our story”. Water finds its own level.

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  41. Lea:
    Friend,

    It just seems weird they are looking for volunteers seemingly before they even have a church…unless I’ve misread all of this.

    Would you volunteer for a church you’ve never attended?

    Since churches today treat new members as employees on indefinite probationary status, members have gotten wise and treat churches as employers. If they can’t move up the ranks where they are, they might try to volunteer at the new one opening up next month, to get in on the ground floor.

    If the church decides they fit, they may end up moving up the ranks. If not, they move on to the next opportunity.

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  42. I have watched this video twice, once with my husband. It is well worth 19 minutes of your time. I understand things about this issue that I never did before. I am so very sorry Jules has to endure these latest shenanigans. My favorite part of this video is at the end where the speaker reminds Andy (pray God he or someone he knows is listening!) that all is not lost for him if he cannot be a pastor, but he MUST trust God to find another occupation, and stop revisiting harm on victims; and she chastises (RIGHTLY SO!) those who are encouraging his return to “ministry”.

    Praying for peace and healing for Jules tonight. Christ have mercy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvnlXwlVn80&feature=youtu.be

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  43. “Why in the world would Andy Savage choose Memphis to start his new church?”

    Guess he didn’t hear about Dustin Boles’ attempt to start a new church in his former haunt. That idea backfired on Boles – it will for Savage. I suppose Savage, like Boles, counts on “sympathy” members coming over from his precious church to get things started.

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  44. “He claims he’s now free from caring about what *you* think.”

    Doesn’t sound very pastoral, does it? When the church at large gets to the point of not caring about folks like Savage in the pulpit, then he will truly be free from caring about what they think. In the meantime, we need to continue to give him something to think about.

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  45. Brian: Would Andy Savage be trying to create an allusion of an established, large operating church?

    I have no insight into the guy, but his comments do strike me as self serving. All of these pulpit returnees seem convinced that God is writing their letters of recommendation.

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  46. Another thing that is rarely talked about is the matter of putting barely adult boys in positions of spiritual authority, i.e. as youth leaders. I don’t know any stories quite as bad as this one, but I can think of many inappropriate youth leader/youth group member relationships from when I was at that age. I don’t say this in any way to absolve the guys from responsibility, but churches should definitely be more careful about putting young, hormonal boys as leaders and role models over women just a few years younger than them.

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  47. Lea: Would you volunteer for a church you’ve never attended?

    Would you allow someone to volunteer that you don’t know? The blogosphere is replete with horror stories of church volunteers who preyed on the flock, who had a open door to volunteer without vetting.

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  48. imc: I can think of many inappropriate youth leader/youth group member relationships from when I was at that age

    I’ll say this again … the American church needs to seriously rethink its youth ministry model. Putting a flesh-baby in charge of other flesh-babies is an accident waiting to happen; Christian watchblogs have reported on many of them. You will not find examples of “youth pastors” in Scripture … what you will find is clear instruction that senior saints are to instruct/mentor young folks. In my 70+ years of doing church, I’ve never met a spiritually mature youth leader. Our youth need to be offered more than shallow Bible studies, pizza parties, and movie outings. When a young man exits seminary, we are putting them (inexperienced) in charge of youth – or worse yet, letting them plant a church as “lead pastor”!

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  49. V,

    “His kids were bullied relentlessly after all of the publicity and anyone who would subject them to more is only concerned for himself”
    +++++++++++++++++

    well, that’s sick.

    who would bully his kids? other kids? adults bullying in the form of passive aggression?

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  50. TS00: Parking attendants? Does he expect thousands?

    When a circus comes to town, everyone wants to go see it. Thousands in Memphis will want to observe the reinvented Andy Savage … how will he act?, will he cry and sling snot in a show of repentance?, what will he preach? This is exciting stuff, much better than the old dry church down the road! When the God of Entertainment is on the throne, actors are kept on stage by those willing to buy a ticket. Yep, they are going to need plenty of parking attendants!

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  51. NanaB: My favorite part of this video is at the end where the speaker reminds Andy (pray God he or someone he knows is listening!) that all is not lost for him if he cannot be a pastor, but he MUST trust God to find another occupation, and stop revisiting harm on victims; and she chastises (RIGHTLY SO!) those who are encouraging his return to “ministry”.

    Forgive a repentant Andy Savage? Certainly. Restore him to ministry? NO! There are no examples in the New Testament of pastors who failed morally restored to the pulpit. Chris Conlee was wrong for allowing Andy to pastor at Highpoint – he knew about his ministry failure in Texas; Savage was wrong for pursuing ministry after fleeing Texas; and is wrong for seeking ministry again. There are plenty of ways to serve in the Body of Christ; Andy forfeited his right to lead God’s people. To continue down this road cheapens grace; God requires purity and holiness in the pulpit – characteristics that are seldom mentioned these days.

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  52. dee,

    Dee, since you have been tracking this stuff, like Boles and Savage, do most of these predatory pastors go back to the place of their defeat, to start new churches, to show everyone else that they can’t be kept down?

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  53. Progressive pastor kills himself:

    “It was alleged that Fulwider raped the girl more than 100 times beginning when she was 14, and started grooming her at 13 while she attended First Congregational Church of Winter Park, which is a progressive congregation.”

    “Prosecutors cited by Tampa Bay Times said their case against Fulwider was ‘extremely strong,’ due to a nearly hourlong recorded call between Fulwider and his accuser, in which he admitted his accuser was a victim and he was a predator in the ‘eyes of the law.’”

    “Fulwider, however, appeared to justify his actions by suggesting his accuser as a girl was just ‘too damn mature for your own good.’”

    This is not just a problem in conservative churches: https://www.christianpost.com/news/church-in-shock-after-florida-pastor-father-of-2-facing-rape-allegations-kills-himself.html

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  54. When I see lower standards offered for church leadership and accountability than I see in secular concerns and businesses it makes me think of this verse: Eph. 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.”

    I see very little discussion on this blog about the above verse for most everyone appears very content with contending with other evil people as if their is no bigger spiritual conspiracy behind them. Yet, to me it is obvious that Satan is the god of this world and so he does not spend much time or energy on things that are completely already under his control. The only thing that is not is the real Church. So, no surprise, this is his strategy to get his fingers into that and to make it very corrupt and evil in his own image.

    This is why standards are so low and there is so much evil brewing just under the false image presented for the unsuspecting to fall into. Savage is living down to his namesake. He is a savage white-washed septic tank who is full of scum and villiany. We are not just fighting against men, but spiritual forces that move them around like pawns in a supernatural chess game. To ignore this fact is to so badly misunderstand the battle and our true opponent that we have no hope of victory at all.

    All this has become possible because few Christians I have met actually believe and practice a personal relationship with the risen savior Jesus Christ. If you have that, then all men and especially our leaders look very bad, and then you will not look to them as any kind of role models. This position can only be held by Jesus. It is the idolatry of usual western Christians that looks for a priest of sorts to have a personal relationship with God for you and to tell you how to think and what to do. That system just sets up its followers for abuse as that is all it could ever produce. Jesus said that we have to “know Him” in order to be sheep and get in to paradise. No middleman is needed and they only get in the way and narcissists like Savage want that position for evil purposes for themselves.

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  55. Max: When a circus comes to town, everyone wants to go see it.Thousands in Memphis will want to observe the reinvented Andy Savage … how will he act?, will he cry and sling snot in a show of repentance?, what will he preach?This is exciting stuff, much better than the old dry church down the road!When the God of Entertainment is on the throne, actors are kept on stage by those willing to buy a ticket.Yep, they are going to need plenty of parking attendants!

    In the words of the Prophets Emerson, Lake, and Palmer:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwSTe9uit48

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  56. Brian: They hope one day to go from volunteer to paid staff, having access to the money flow from the tithing units?

    Oh, some of them desire better than that … to be an elder sitting at the right hand of the dudebro, with unlimited power to manipulate, intimidate and dominate the savage followers.

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  57. Staring a church in Memphis – he doesn’t have to uproot his family, he gets sympathy members and name recognition, and he already has an in town network to call upon financially politically and emotionally.

    In sum, it’s the easiest, most convenient, and least disruptive way to attempt to keep the lifestyle with which he has become accustomed.

    That’s my cynical take on it.

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  58. Magistos: he gets sympathy members and name recognition

    Andy Savage has worldwide name recognition; he was ‘the’ church abuse poster boy in mainstream media for months! He may get some sympathy from his dudebro bud network in Memphis, but not much from the church at large. I don’t mean to come across too rough on him ‘if’ he is truly repentant, but Good Lord!, Mr. Savage brought shame and disrepute to the church and needs to provide for his family another way. As a gifted communicator (he self-professes to be a teacher) and a proven marketer of himself (with a college marketing degree before he went into ministry), he could find a good sales/marketing job in corporate America. I suspect that he wants to redeem himself by making another go as pastor – having learned a tough lesson in a tough way – but shouldn’t he have redeemed himself 20 years ago and made things right with Jules and the church (would he try now if he hadn’t been exposed?).

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  59. Great post, Dee! Although the subject matter is enough to turn my stomach.

    I enjoyed all the contributions you included from Twitter. Especially this from Rachael:

    “You who teach that if only women would submit and men lead, abuse would be solved, where are you?”

    I’m glad that she’s calling out this quasi-prosperity gospel pabulum, which the gender comp gurus love to churn out. I think more and more believers, and in particular those who subscribe to complementarianism (thanks Rachael!) need to question it.

    The situation reminds me of so much of a quotation from a recent Magic: The Gathering card:

    “They said obey and you’ll be happy. They said you’ll be safe. But we’re not safe. We’re not happy. And we will not obey.”

    (Sorry, had to let my inner geek out. 😉 )

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  60. MrJesperson: I see very little discussion on this blog about the above verse for most everyone appears very content with contending with other evil people as if their is no bigger spiritual conspiracy behind them.

    Probably because people constantly use that verse to try to say it’s not their fault that they did bad things, it was the ‘devil’.

    There is a real person here making bad choices, now and in the past. I’m not a fan of minimizing that.

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  61. ServingKidsInJapan: The situation reminds me of so much of a quotation from a recent Magic: The Gathering card:

    “They said obey and you’ll be happy. They said you’ll be safe. But we’re not safe. We’re not happy. And we will not obey.”

    (Sorry, had to let my inner geek out. )

    LOL at you quoting magic the gathering!

    But yeah. I get irritated at the men who say we should just ‘go back to the time when everything was great, before feminism!’. Why do you think feminism happened? EVERYTHING WASN:T GREAT BEFORE. Sheesh.

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  62. Mr. Jesperson,

    The article brought up a memory, post abuse at age 14. As a teenager, I always thought if an adult male was convicted of molesting a child or teenager, that they should get the death penalty. After sentencing, they would be taken behind the courthouse, a sheriff’s deputy taking his service revolver, putting it to the molestor’s temple and pulling the trigger.

    I finally dumped my anger years later, coming to Jesus.

    It was the number of times that he raped her, 100, that triggered that memory.

    I hope her church handles it right, when helping her, not avoiding her because they don’t know how to approach her. And I hope she doesn’t get to the point where she becomes as angry as I was.

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  63. Lea,

    Reference Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-14; Ephesians 2:2; 5:2.

    Satan tempted Jesus for the 40 days He was in the wilderness. Jesus made the decision not to take the bait.

    Man also has that choice. To say Satan, the prince of the world, has no hand in the evil choices of man is wrong.

    Some do try to hide behind the verse in Ephesians that Mr. Jesperson. But, man will openly take the bait that Satan puts in front of them. They made the choice to do so.

    With Gods help we can resist Satan’s bait by keeping our eyes on God.

    Respectfully Lea, if I’m wrong, please find the proof within the Bible.

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  64. Mr. Jesperson,

    Do you have a sense of how this crime was discovered? I’ve been trying to track the stories backward through Florida newspapers. Looks like the denomination itself might have started the investigation:

    Fulwider told the victim that he had gotten a letter indicating the Florida Conference United Church of Christ was investigating a possible yearslong sexual relationship with a minor when he was First Congregational’s minister.

    He told the woman that, if she were contacted by someone about the investigation, she had the right to say whatever she wanted — adding she could say there was no truth to the allegations.

    “That for me would be the best thing,” he said, according to the affidavit.

    He promised he would keep what had happened between them a secret, police said.

    https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/crime/os-ne-bryan-fulwider-sexual-battery-arrest-recorded-call-20191004-qj2vxdlrtbgjvox6vpqupmjycy-story.html

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  65. Max: There are plenty of ways to serve in the Body of Christ; Andy forfeited his right to lead God’s people. To continue down this road cheapens grace; God requires purity and holiness in the pulpit – characteristics that are seldom mentioned these days.

    Or risks misapplied grace, as extending what one thinks of as grace to restore someone who is not above reproach to a position calling for that appears to be in conflict with Scripture.

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  66. Brian: Some do try to hide behind the verse in Ephesians that Mr. Jesperson. But, man will openly take the bait that Satan puts in front of them. They made the choice to do so.

    With Gods help we can resist Satan’s bait by keeping our eyes on God.

    Respectfully Lea, if I’m wrong, please find the proof within the Bible.

    It sounds like you agree with me that people hide behind that verse, so…

    People make choices. The original comments asked why people don’t cite one verse out of the whole bible and I gave a possible reason why. I don’t see the point digging out verses to make it, but then I don’t see every comment section as a research paper that needs a citation.

    Not for nothing, but especially a lot of people like to think of women (and in this case girls) merely as ‘temptations’ so the talk of ‘bait’ seems doubly wrong here. Women, Men, Children…we are not temptations or bait. We are people and should be treated with respect and dignity, not used. We talk on this blog often of the practical ways to ensure this, and the mentality that ensures it, hopefully. And ‘satan’s tempting me’ seem to me, to be used to excuse not prevent.

    YMMV.

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  67. Max: Oh, some of them desire better than that … to be an elder sitting at the right hand of the dudebro, with unlimited power to manipulate, intimidate and dominate the savage followers.

    The Inner Ring of the Inner Party, Court Favorite du jour.

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  68. Brian: Satan tempted Jesus for the 40 days He was in the wilderness. Jesus made the decision not to take the bait.

    I take Matthew 4:1-11 as seriously as anything in the Gospel, but I have never experienced anything like Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. Jesus refused to abuse his own power—power that I don’t have.

    C. S. Lewis does a perfect job in The Screwtape Letters. Evil is inspired by demons, but just as cleverly read as petty, self-centered human behavior with the capacity to ruin lives. Whether the evil begins in the human mind or elsewhere, people can just do what’s right.

    (Here I am describing ordinary temptation, not mental illness, addiction, personality disorder, etc.)

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  69. Lea: Not for nothing, but especially a lot of people like to think of women (and in this case girls) merely as ‘temptations’ so the talk of ‘bait’ seems doubly wrong here. Women, Men, Children…we are not temptations or bait. We are people and should be treated with respect and dignity, not used.

    Sounds like you believe that the Bible should be tempered with reason, common sense, and an appreciation of who it was written for, its specific context,and what if any, application it has for the here and now.
    What a concept huh?
    And I heartily agree.

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  70. Brian,

    The “devil made me do it” is no excuse. I am looking at the bigger picture than one individual snake preying on sheep. Who do you think sends evil men into churches to do such evil things? Again, to ignore the bigger picture is to lose the war. The verse I quoted is right in the middle of the “Armor of God” we are ordered to put on so that we can withstand the enemy. This verse recently came to me as my response to a clear attack on me on my wife by forces that are behind things going on with the devil’s servants. I write as a disciple of Jesus Christ and not as some outside skeptic of Christianity. They do not believe in any spiritual world typically, so they wonder how things get so bad. I do not wonder, I know why…

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  71. Andy Savage’s repeated statement that it was consensual ignores the fact that under Texas law, then and now, it could not possibly be consensual legally since he, as her youth minister (and the law is explicit about ministers), was in a position of authority (much like a doctor or teacher) over her. It was his legal requirement given his position to not have sexual relations or anything approaching that with her (short of her drugging him or pulling a gun on him and thereby raping him). Instead he committed even when taking his version of the events a felony and got away with it due to statute of limitations and that the other ministers at the church failed to report it to the authorities immediately.

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  72. dee: The problem currently is the secretive nature pf the location of the church. We have some leads but they are not firm.

    This puts a new spin on the idea of secret church, doesn’t it…

    Good for all of you who are going out there! I admire and respect you so much!

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  73. Muff Potter,

    “…the Bible should be tempered with reason, common sense, and an appreciation of who it was written for, its specific context,and what if any, application it has for the here and now.’
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    my criteria now includes ‘is it cruel; destructive to self, others; is it unfair.’

    on the conviction that these concepts do not get lost in translation in being created in the image of God.

    and as an expression of resolution for the troubled feeling i’ve had for so many years, that i didn’t know what to do with, which is: my religion forces me to subscribe to beliefs that bring harm and devastation to others. beliefs that i simply didn’t share.

    being able to have faith in God, Father-Son-&-Holy-Spirit, with my conscience intact… there just isn’t a word for the pure goodness of it.

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  74. I remember a time, long ago, when going into the ministry was seen as a sacrifice, as a step you took to serve God’s people because you believed God had called you to it. It was most often a step to a life of obscurity and tight finances.

    Nowadays, it is seen as a road to celebrity, an outlet for the ego, an entitled person’s chance to stand on a stage and be applauded, while having no real skills but the gift of gab and enough narcissism to think he deserves it. The people are just props to be used for your own gratification, not God’s people to be cared for and supported through the trials of life.

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  75. Mr. Jesperson: All this has become possible because few Christians I have met actually believe and practice a personal relationship with the risen savior Jesus Christ.

    For decades, the church has been operating under the model of doing anything it takes to get people into church, as if church attendance is what makes a Christian. Is it any wonder churches are full of people who have not really had an encounter with God? There are so many motivations to go to church on Sunday, to become a member or aspire to offices like deacon or elder.

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  76. Max: I don’t mean to come across too rough on him ‘if’ he is truly repentant, but Good Lord!

    How could he be truly repentant when he has snubbed Jules, the victim he should have first sought forgiveness from and to make reparations to? No, I see no actual evidence of repentance, just a facsimile performed on stage.

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  77. Mr. Jesperson: This verse recently came to me as my response to a clear attack on me on my wife by forces that are behind things going on with the devil’s servants. I write as a disciple of Jesus Christ and not as some outside skeptic of Christianity. They do not believe in any spiritual world typically, so they wonder how things get so bad. I do not wonder, I know why…

    That situation sounds painful, and I don’t want to pry. Are you willing to share how you know you’re dealing with the “devil’s servants”?

    Separately, the following point does not apply to you. As a Christian, I get alarmed when Christians recklessly claim that people who are Not Exactly Like Them are servants of Satan. That accusation gets thrown at women who work outside the home, men with long hair, people who go to college, unmarried adults, all non-Christians, and on and on it goes. While I do believe in a spiritual world, there are way too many people in pulpits and on TV whipping Christians into a frenzy. Again, that’s not about you.

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  78. SiteSeer: For decades, the church has been operating under the model of doing anything it takes to get people into church, as if church attendance is what makes a Christian.

    The seeker-friendly model for church growth (Willow Creek, etc.) leaves folks still seeking in the end … it is not friendly to their souls. “Tell me which way you want to go, and I’ll get out in front to lead” was never in the divine plan. Seeker-Sensitive, Christianity Lite, Easy Believism, Church as Entertainment, etc. fall far short of God’s intent for His people. A touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick are all it takes for a man to grow a church … no Holy Spirit required.

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  79. Erp: got away with it due to statute of limitations and that the other ministers at the church failed to report it to the authorities immediately

    … and received a covering by other ministers when he fled to Memphis.

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  80. Friend: Are you willing to share how you know you’re dealing with the “devil’s servants”?

    I do not want to sideline the discussion away from the main topic but I can give an example that likely most people here will not actually believe happened. I do not share these things often as I neither want to glorify Satan nor share personal things with an audience likely to merely scoff at them. But spiritual warfare is real and so are the attacks.

    Years ago on our anniversary my wife drove her little electric scooter to work. As she was driving, a man driving a former meter reader vehicle passed her as she was driving slow. The man had an accident years before that left him partially physically and mentally disabled. He once showed up at the church I was attending and during a time of public discussion had to be told to be quiet by the pastor because of crazy religious things he was saying. He was paranoid and acting in a manner similar to what you stated in the rest of your comment.

    Back to the drive. As he passed my wife he looked right at her and my wife said that a demon appeared over and on top of his face and glared menacingly at her. It spooked her just as she was driving on the shoulder next to a sharp embankment as the road had been brought up above the flood plain below. Next things she knows she is driving down the embankment and ends up kissing the concrete sidewalk below losing her front teeth in the process. Soon I get a call from the hospital emergency room and I go down to see my wife on our anniversary bloody and crying like crazy, without front teeth and with nasty road rash burns. The bill from the hospital and ambulance drained our savings to zero, along with her two weeks of no income because she could not work.

    In addition, I became saved when I was only 5 after being visited by an evil spirit in the middle of the night after pushing me to the ground and threatening me “to not follow God.” With things like this going on, when people claiming to be Christians start talking like enlightenment era Modern philosophy preachers and denying that these things exist and are real, I know what they are saying is foolish and a major lie. You cannot defeat an enemy you do not understand. And recently my wife and I have been under attack in order to try to starve us out and cutting us off from income and work. This is a Biblical issue as we are warned that Satan’s plan is to create a world system–The Beast–that prevents true followers of Christ to buy or to sell. This is not a future thing either as you can find many instances in history where people stood for what was right and then were blackballed and lived lives of dire poverty as wicked leaders stoled what they owned and did everything to prevent them from being able to buy or sell.

    So, for anyone who is a scoffer reading this, please keep your scoffing to yourself. To scoff is to be like the men that we blast here who deny the truth and say the evil that they did do never happened. It is the opposite of loving the truth and showing compassion to people who actually lived through really rough things.

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  81. Max: The seeker-friendly model for church growth (Willow Creek, etc.) leaves folks still seeking in the end … it is not friendly to their souls.

    One of my brother’s mentors is a retired Anglican priest. That priest described evangelicalism as a building where there is always another door to go through – and after you strive to go through all the right doors you suddenly find yourself in the back lot next to the dumpsters wondering what happened. His mentor says he now spends much of his time meeting with people by the dumpsters as they work on rebuilding their faith.

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  82. “…retired Anglican priest. That priest described evangelicalism as a building where there is always another door to go through – and after you strive to go through all the right doors you suddenly find yourself in the back lot next to the dumpsters wondering what happened.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    as in, have-to’s, obligations,… things required of you if you want to be legitimate christian? and even more things if you want to be a super christian? a never-ending chain of milestones or perfections to have to reach?

    and it gets you no closer to God?

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  83. Ken F (aka Tweed): One of my brother’s mentors is a retired Anglican priest. That priest described evangelicalism as a building where there is always another door to go through – and after you strive to go through all the right doors you suddenly find yourself in the back lot next to the dumpsters wondering what happened. His mentor says he now spends much of his time meeting with people by the dumpsters as they work on rebuilding their faith.

    That describes my own experience with it pretty well. They lure you in with lots of promises but you can never quite arrive, you’re always a little short of what is required and you can never “enter that rest” as the book of Hebrews puts it.

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  84. I am a Church Planter. I assess potential Church Planters. I coach Church Planters. And let me tell you this… Andy Savage has absolutely no business planting a church or serving in any form of pastoral leadership. Period.

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