The best way to discover a fake Christian

Woman in 20’s Holding Smile Mask in Front of Face
By Hermes C. Fernandes
Some time ago, I watched an interview by a blogger who created a fake character , with the aim of satirizing evangelicals. According to him, more than thirty thousand people visit his blog daily, and even with all the teasing (cartoon character, abuse of clichés, foul words and unlikely situations), many believe that all of that is real.
Like this character, there are thousands of fakes circulating on the internet, some so subtle that it is almost impossible to realize that they are not real people. However, worse than cyber fakes , are the flesh and blood that circulate freely in our lives, posing as what they are not. How to recognize them?
Would it be unacceptable to believe that even fakes pastors exist ? I mean those who go up to the pulpit shamelessly, pretending to be what they are not? Unfortunately, we cannot trust everything we see and hear.
Shortly before the fateful end of Orkut, a Brazilian pastor who was frequently invited to preach outside the country was unmasked for using people’s profile data as if it were divine revelations. People were astonished at the accuracy of the information he gave, as if God Himself had confided to him. It was necessary for someone to investigate such a ‘supernatural’ phenomenon to expose the hoax. A small dose of skepticism does no harm to anyone. What is true and sincere resists any survey.
How to realize that someone is in fact what he claims to be? How to measure the veracity of the experience told as a testimony?
A society based on appearance, will easily be deceived by those who boast a facade piety. It is enough that the subject uses half a dozen religious jargon, and that is it, he has already deceived half the people who assist him.
Writing to his pupil Titus, the apostle Paul denounces those who “profess to know God, but deny him by his works, being abominable, disobedient and disapproved of every good work” (Titus 1:16).
Talking about theology does not mean knowing God. Forge supernatural manifestations, ditto. Time at home also means nothing. I know people who have embraced the faith so recently, but who demonstrate to know God more deeply than some who were born and raised in the church environment.
So, how can we infer whether someone knows God or not, or whether he is a legitimate Christian or a fake ? From God’s point of view, there is no problem. After all, “the Lord knows those who are his” (2 Tim.2: 19a). But from the point of view of this side, there is only one way to know: “Whoever speaks the name of the Lord will depart from injustice” (v.19b).
We will try to understand this better through a curious episode not well known narrated in the Old Testament. We read that the sons of the high priest Eli were  “sons of Belial, for they did not know the Lord” (1 Sam.2: 12). How can one be the son of the high priest, be born and raised in the temple environment, yet still not know God? Not always son of fish, goldfish is. Although they were children of a correct and just man, in the eyes of God they were only children of Belial (name used in the OT in reference to the devil).

How would the sacred writer have come to this conclusion? Let’s see the report:

“ Now, the custom of these priests to the people was that, offering someone a sacrifice, while the meat was being cooked, the young man of the priest came with a fork with three teeth in his hand (the famous ‘trident’). He put it in the boiler, or in the pot, or in the cauldron, or in the lunchbox, and whatever the fork took out, the priest took for himself. So they did to all Israel who went to Shiloh ” (vv.13-14).

This was the priests’ means of subsistence. They devoted themselves entirely to worship, and depended on offerings to survive. However, there was a protocol to be followed.

“But even before they burned the fat, the priest’s young man came and said to the man who sacrificed: Give this meat to roast to the priest; he will not accept cooked meat from you, but raw. If the man answered him: Burn the fat first, and then you will take whatever you want, then he would say: No, you will give it now; if not, I will take it by force. The sin of these young men was very great before the Lord, because they despised the Lord’s offering ” (vv.15-17).

According to the priestly protocol, the meat of the sacrificed animals should be placed in the cauldron until the fat is burned, and only then, the priest would put his fork in and remove his part.
Eli’s children did not have the patience to wait for the fat to burn. The fat represented the best part, and it belonged to the Lord. But they were not satisfied with their share.
They were ensnared by the same proposal made by the serpent to the first couple in Eden, taking up what belonged exclusively to God.
Remember: Whoever knows God, loves justice and escapes injustice. Justice is giving each one what is his right. To God what belongs to God, to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, to the employee what is his right, to his spouse his part (1 Cor. 7: 3-5), and so on.
Instead of fighting for profit, those who know God fight for justice. It doesn’t matter who gets the best part of the cake, as long as it’s fair.
In the words of the apostle, “give to each one what you owe: to whom tribute, tribute, to whom tax, tax; to whom fear, fear; whom honor, honor. You owe nothing to anyone, except the love with which you love one another ” (Rom.13: 7-8a).
Giving honor is the reverse of wanting to take advantage .
What denounced that the sons of Eli were in fact “sons of Belial”, and therefore, fakespriests , was the fact that they wanted to take advantage of everything, even of what belonged to the Lord.
There are those who try to take advantage of the suffering of others, without the slightest constraint. Others know how to capitalize on their most bitter experiences, taking to the letter the favorite adage of some: if life gives you a lemon, make lemonade. 
Of course, we have rights, but the rights of others always come first. We have to wait for the fat to burn, to take what is ours. This is what Paul speaks of in Romans 12:10: “Love one another cordially with brotherly love, preferring them in honor of one another.” To be cordial is to give in to the turn, putting the interest of the other above ours, as Paul instructed us in another passage: “Do nothing by strife or vainglory, but out of humility, each one considers the others superior to himself. Do not pay attention only to what is yours, but each also to what belongs to others ” (Phil.2: 3-4).
There will always be a cauldron before us, and our posture when we put our fork down will reveal whose children we are. It is as simple as this :  “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10). 

Justice is giving others what is theirs. Love is giving others what is ours. Those who follow Christ must be willing to give up even what is rightfully theirs, for the benefit of others.

Before following someone on social media, or introducing someone to your circle of friendship, try to check their behavior towards others and how eagerly they put their fork in the cauldron of life. Remember that it was not the kiss that identified Jesus’ traitor, but the fact of putting his hand on his master’s plate without any modesty.

Day to Combat Cristobofia or Gospelfobia?

By Hermes C. Fernandes 
Forget Christmas! As of this year, the traditional Christian date is celebrated as the “Day to Combat Cristophobia”, at least in the largest city in South America. The bill 306/2015, authored by councilman Eduardo Tuma (PSDB) was approved by the São Paulo City Council in a symbolic vote on the night of last Tuesday, 7. Depending on the sanction of Mayor Fernando Haddad (PT), the day will become part of the official calendar of events in the Municipality.
Tuma, who besides being an elder at the Bola de Neve Church, is also a member of the Human Rights Commission of the São Paulo Lawyers Institute (IASP), and claims to be fulfilling his role of defending minorities from persecution. He cited as an example the case of transsexual Viviany Beleboni, who staged the crucifixion of Christ in the middle of the LGBT Parade last year in a demonstration against homophobia. “If homophobia is considered a crime, and it is a crime that should be punished, Cristophobia is also a crime and should also be punished,” said the councilman.
“You have a minority being restricted from your rights, such as freedom of speech and, even, sometimes, freedom of worship. The Christian, today, cannot say anything related to homo-affectivity that he is characterized as a homophobic. In other words: he said that he is against the practice of homosexuality, he is homophobic. You have this issue being very imprisoned ”, said Tuma, who also defended that evangelicals should not be prevented from discussing politics during religious events (I have the impression that here lies the real reason for the proposal). If you take SP, it will probably have repercussions throughout the country; it doesn’t take long, it will become law at the national level. 
As a Christian, I see no reason for celebration. On the contrary, I feel ashamed. By departing from the original proposal of Jesus’ message, we lose the sense of ridicule, becoming a cartoon church, very different from the one that its founder dreamed of. 
There is no Christophobia! Not even the scandals perpetrated by Christianity throughout history have managed to tarnish the image of Jesus. Even cultures most hostile to Christianity have a deep respect for the figure of Christ. Even atheists admit the high level of ethics proposed in their teachings. Ask an Umbandist, a Candomblecist, or even a Muslim, what he thinks about Jesus. Ask an LGBT activist the same question. Despite us Christians, Jesus remains unscathed.
Gandhi, one of the greatest pacifists of all time, although Hindu, considered himself a profound admirer of Christ. In one of his hard-hitting statements about the Christian religion, Mahatma confessed: “I don’t know anyone who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity. The problem is you, Christians. You haven’t even started to live up to your own teachings. ”
Society’s reaction to abuses in the name of Jesus is more like justified gospelfobia. How can we not be gospelfobic in front of an evangelical group that is associated with the most backward, physiologist and corrupt in Brazilian politics? How can we not be gospelfobic in the face of the fundamentalist discourse that refuses to recognize any type of family that does not conform to traditional molds? How can we not be gospelfobic in the face of exorbitant fees charged by gospel singers? How can you not be gospelfobic when pastors are on Forbes magazine’s list? How not to be gospelfóbicowith the frequent boycotts of products, stores, and novels proposed by prominent figures in the evangelical world? I could cite many other reasons, but I prefer not to dwell.
Peter, the apostle, had already warned us, that just as there were “false prophets” in the past, there would also be among us “false teachers” and that many would follow their dissolutions, and because of them the path of truth would be blasphemed (the reason why we have been a laughing stock and jokes), and that, “moved by greed, and with fake words” these would make us business (2 Peter 2: 1-3). Nothing more current, right?
And now you see with this story of Cristophobia? Hypocrites! Do they negotiate all the time in the name of faith, exploit the suffering of others, boycott any social advancement, distill hate and prejudice in their speeches, always eager for temporal power, and now pose as poor, persecuted, wronged people? 
If they truly suffered for the love of Christ and the Gospel, they would be as happy as the first Christians, because they would remember the Master’s famous words: “Blessed are those who suffer persecution because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and, lying, say all evil against you because of me. Rejoice and rejoice, for great is your reward in the heavens, for thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you ” (Matthew 5: 10-12).
Note this: the suffering resulting from persecution should only be a cause for joy when it happened “because of justice” and “because of me” (Jesus). Therefore, anyone who is persecuted for defending what is just is included there. This even includes the segments that many Christians are opposed to, including homosexuals, transsexuals, feminists, as well as blacks, Indians, and other minorities. The followers of Jesus should be in solidarity with any group that is persecuted “because of justice”. Instead of going around in self-defense, proposing a day to combat Cristophobia, a genuine disciple of the Nazarene should engage in the fight against all types of discrimination, reinforcing the chorus of those who cry out for justice.
Instead of proposing a joint reaction against the persecution unleashed during the beginnings of Christianity, the same apostle who denounces the false teachers who negotiated in the name of the faith preferred to console persecuted Christians:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the burning fire that appears among you, destined to prove you, as if something extraordinary was happening to you; on the contrary, rejoice to the extent that you are co-participants in the sufferings of Christ.. ” 1 Peter 4: 12-16 

According to the above passage, there is nothing extraordinary about suffering for your faith. It is not a question of diminishing its importance, but of equating it to any other human suffering. Shortly after, in the same epistle, the apostle says: “knowing that the same sufferings are being fulfilled in your brothers who are in the world” (1 Peter 5: 9).
Any human suffering is counted as being imposed on Christ Himself. Therefore, Peter talks about being “co-participants in the sufferings of Christ”. It is not in vain that Jesus said that the criteria by which we will be judged by God are the way we deal with our neighbor’s suffering. Those who inherit the kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world will hear: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you dressed me; sick and you visited me; arrested and you came to see me. ” When they ask when they would have done such things, Christ will answer them: “When you did it to one of these my little brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25: 34-40).
Therefore, taking a stand for human rights and working to alleviate the suffering of anyone is to reach out to God Himself. To oppose this, without a doubt, is to oppose the divine agenda.
If suffering for what is fair should be a cause for celebration, suffering because of an unethical and inhuman stance should be a cause for shame. Hence, the apostolic admonition: “But do not suffer any of you as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as someone who meddles in someone else’s business.” It may even be that there are not among those who profess to be Christians who are murderers, thieves, or criminals, but certainly what else is there is someone who intrudes on the lives of others, imposing their morals, customs, and values, as well as their political agenda. 

What the Bible says about corruption

By Hermes C. Fernandes
There are those who think that corruption is a recent phenomenon in society. If it were, there would not be so many biblical warnings against it. 

“The one who walks injustice, and the one who speaks with righteousness, who throws away the gain of oppressions, and who shakes all bribes from his hands, who covers his ears to keep from hearing blood, and closes his eyes not to see evil; he will dwell in the heights, and the strongholds of the rocks will be his high refuge. Your bread will be given to you, and your waters will be certain ”. Isaiah 33: 15-16 

“Truly oppression makes the wise man mad, and bribery corrupts the heart.” Ecclesiastes 7: 7 

Warning against corruption in the civil service

“Tax collectors also came to be baptized and asked him: Master, what should we do? He replied, “Ask no more than what is commanded of you.” Luke 3: 12-13 

Warning against police corruption “Then some soldiers asked him, ‘What about us? He said to them: Treat no one wrong, do not give false accusations, and be content with your pay ”. Luke 3:14 Warning against Corruption in the Judiciary “You will not root for justice, nor will you show respect for people. You shall not take bribes, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous. Follow justice, and only justice, so that you may live and possess the land that the Lord your God gives you ”. Deuteronomy 16: 19-20

“You will not accept bribes either, because bribery blinds those who have sight, and perverts the words of the righteous.” Exodus 23: 8 

“The wicked hid a bribe in secret, to pervert the paths of justice.” Proverbs 17:23 

“Woe to those who … justify the wicked by bribery, and to the righteous they deny justice.” Isaiah 5: 22a, 23 

“How long will you defend the unrighteous, and take sides with the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and the orphan; protect the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Deliver the weak and needy; take them out of the hands of the wicked. They know nothing, and understand nothing. They walk in darkness ”. Psalms 82: 2-5a 

“You shall not do injustice in judgment; you will not favor the poor, nor be complacent with the powerful, but with justice you will judge your neighbor ”.Leviticus 19:15 

Independence between the powers

“The godly man has perished from the earth, and there is no one among men who is upright. Everyone is trapped for blood; each hunts his brother with a net. His hands do evil diligently; the prince demands condemnation, the judge accepts bribes, and the great one speaks of the corruption of his soul, and so they are all disturbing ”. 
Micah 7: 2-3 

Warning against Corruption in the Executive Branch 

“Your princes are rebels, companions of thieves; each of them loves bribery, and runs after gifts. They do not do justice to the orphan, and the cause of widows does not reach them ”. Isaiah 1:23 

“For justice the king establishes the land, but the friend of bribes upsets it”. Proverbs 29: 4

“Abomination is for kings to practice wickedness, because with justice the throne is established”. Proverbs 16:12 

Warning About Corrupt Accessors 

“Take the wicked out of the king’s presence, and his throne will be established in righteousness”. Proverbs 25: 5 

Warning against Corruption in the Legislative Branch “Woe to those who enact unjust laws, and to clerks who write perversities, to deprive the poor of justice, and to snatch the right of the afflicted from my people, stripping widows, and stealing the orphans! But what will you do on the day of the visitation and the desolation, which will come from afar? Who will you turn to for help, and where will you leave your glory, without each one falling among the prisoners and falling among the dead? ” Isaiah 10: 1-4

Warning against corruption and greed in the business world 

“In your midst bribes are accepted to spill blood; you receive usury and illicit profits, and you use greed towards your neighbor, oppressing him. And you have forgotten me, says the Lord God. I will certainly clap my hands against the dishonest profit you have made … ” Ezekiel 22: 12-13a 

“ Better is a little, justly, than great rents, with injustice ”. Proverbs 16: 8 

“Whatever oppresses the poor in order to increase his profit, or what gives to the rich will certainly become poor”. Proverbs 22:16 

Warning against absurd interest practiced by the Financial System 
“Whatever increases your farm with interest and usury, brings it together for what the poor feel for”. Proverbs 28: 8

“Being a righteous man, and doing justice and justice (…) not oppressing anyone, making the debtor his pledge, not stealing, giving his bread to the hungry, and covering the naked with clothes; not giving your money to usury, not taking too much, turning your hand away from injustice, and making true judgment between man and man; walking in my statutes, and keeping my judgments, to act according to the truth, this just man will certainly live, says the Lord God ”. Ezekiel 18: 5,7-9 

“If you lend money to my people, to the poor who are with you, you will not have him as a creditor; you will not impose interest ”. Exodus 22:25

“Light is born of the upright even from darkness, for it is compassionate, compassionate and just. He will go well to those who have compassion and lend, who conduct their business fairly. (…) He is liberal, gives to the poor, his righteousness remains forever; his strength will be exalted in glory ”. 
Psalms 112: 4-5,9 

Warning about Labor Rights 
“If I have neglected the right of my servant or my servant when they contend with me, then what would I do when God arises? And when he inquired about the cause, what would he answer? ” Job 31: 13-14

“I will come to you for judgment, and I will be a swift witness against sorcerers and adulterers, and against those who swear falsely, and against those who defraud the worker, and pervert the widow’s and the orphan’s rights, and from abroad, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts ”. Malachi 3: 5 

“You, lords, give to your servants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Lord in heaven.” Colossians 4: 1 

“You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor steal from him. The worker’s salary will not be in your possession until the next day ”. Leviticus 19:13 

Warning against dishonest profits 
“The merchant has a deceptive balance in his hand; he loves oppression ”. Hosea 12: 7

“You won’t have two pesos in your bag, one big and one small. You will not have two measures in your house, a big one or a small one. You will have only exact and just weights, and exact and just measures, so that your days may be prolonged in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. For the Lord your God abhors anyone who does such an injustice ”. Deuteronomy 25: 13-16 

“A deceptive balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his pleasure.” Proverbs 11: 1 

“The just weight and balance are the Lord’s; your work is all weights of the bag ”. Proverbs 16:11 

“Am I to be able to clear up false scales with a bag of deceptive weights?” Micah 6:11

“You will not commit injustice in judgments, in measures of length, weight, or capacity. Fair scales, fair weights, fair ephah, and fair you will have. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. ” 
Leviticus 19: 35-36. 

Imagine if our politicians had the Bible as their bedside book, instead of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. They would see that corruption does not pay.

Facebook Privacy: Everything You Need to Know

You can use it on your smartphone, your tablet, or your laptop. It is available whenever you like and you won’t be any special skills to use it. You can post comments and pictures, view content and like, poke and follow to your heart’s content. It’s Facebook.

Originally created as a way for students at the university to stay in contact with one another, Facebook is now used by millions of people all over the world for a range of different reasons. It is a tool that has allowed people to keep up to date with what friends, family, and even strangers are up to.

It has helped people to reconnect and spawned Facebook groups that have been created for the purposes of both support and derision alike.

However, once you are on, it can be difficult to extract yourself completely.

The social media platform may give the impression that it gives you control over privacy, but some have found that this is not the case. Especially since Facebook changed its policy in respect of privacy, many people found that their details were exposed when they were not meant to be. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook privacy concerns all of us due to the fact that all of us are using one of the social media service every day. 

Using your account on a standard basis will give everybody that uses the website access to the full extent of the information that you upload. This may be enough to put many people off.

If you do not want to give it up completely then you need to be proactive in protecting your privacy, otherwise the website that the assumption is that you want all your information made available to everyone. Accordingly, if this is not the case, you have to specifically make this known.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that your privacy requirements are met whilst you are using Facebook:

  • Log in to Facebook as normal
  • Move the cursor to the aspect you want to change
  • Hover until you see the Edit option and click
  • Within Edit, change who can see your information with Audience Selector

Due to the different features on the website, there are also other ways in which you can control what you keep private, such as:

  • Go to Privacy Settings in the top right corner to adjust as desired
  • Go to Timeline Review to determine what posts and photos in your timeline are visible and to who

Everything that is deemed public information on Facebook can be seen by anyone that uses the social media platform, such as name, profile photo, and username. Remember that you can always edit your profile and remove information that is unnecessary though you initially added it.

The overall result of making the relevant selections in Privacy Settings is to create a profile and timeline that only your friends can see. With this in mind, it is important to bear this in mind when you receive a friend request and, rather than automatically accepting, consider whether you want this person to be able to see everything.

In addition to the privacy aspect of the Facebook account that you create, it will also be necessary to consider that created by your relationship with the company. Not only will they use your information in order to make contact with you when necessary (or not) but can also use it for other purposes, such as tailoring adverts visible on your page to make them appropriate for you.

The information that you view and upload can guide you to content that aligns with your point of view, ensuring that Facebook plays a part in creating a filter bubble that can lead you to be subject to fake news.

It is important to recognize that if you create a profile on Facebook, you are never going to be able to achieve complete privacy. Even if you advise them that you want to close your account, they will still have your details but they just lay dormant.

If in doubt, take the time to review the terms and conditions relating to privacy that can be found on the website. Take the time to check all the available privacy tools before posting.

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