Hunting Down The Disability Trolls

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(Drawn by Stan Clawson)

It stinks really. If coping with a new SCI (spinal cord injury) wasn’t challenging enough, there’s another whole layer of trouble for ladies facing such an injury. And the problem is that these ladies may not know about it until they are in the middle of it and hurt by it. To make it worse, we who love them may not even know to warn them. What am I talking about? Lurking in the virtual world are some sick men who prey upon these women at a most vulnerable point of life.

They are known in the SCI world as “devotees” or “devos”. Sometimes we simply call them wheelchair pretenders or disability trolls. Here’s how the perverted thing works. A man gets on a social website like Facebook and pretends to be a lady in a wheelchair. He steals some pictures of wheelchair users and takes them as his facebook photos. Next he starts sending friend requests to ladies in wheelchairs. These ladies, desperate to share with those who understand what the rest of us couldn’t possibly understand, embrace these friendships. After methodically building up an undeserved trust, they start talking shop. Perhaps they want to talk bath-rooming issues, which can be a great burden to one living with a SCI, or other such things at the most detailed, personal level. Need I go on? Remember the victim innocently thinks she is talking to another lady in a similar situation and so may talk frankly about it. Then, the pervert gets his kicks.

I’m trying to keep my cool as I type. I’m married to an attractive lady who happens to be in a wheelchair. She is vibrant, charming, and a lot of fun as well. I’m not surprised anyone would like her. I’m not even shocked another man might find her attractive and the wheelchair is, of course, a non-factor in all of that. But to be attracted to her only because she in a wheelchair…well, they don’t make adjectives strong enough for that!

You ask, well, how big a problem is this? Every month or so my Alicia gets a friend request from one of these pretenders. They are subtle and slick. A cursory glance would say it’s just a nice lady dealing with an SCI reaching out. A few have slipped by and had to be “unfriended” later. I doubt any lady living with a SCI has been able to be on Facebook without one of these men trying to weasle in. They are patient villains who might act normal for a long time before starting to go after what they really want.

Please don’t suggest that the answer is that ladies with SCIs just stay out of social media. That’s grossly unfair in that what would be fun for the rest of us should be open to them as well. In addition, the early days of an SCI may lead to a lot of time stuck at home. Then there are all those questions. Questions like “How do I do___ in a chair?” Questions that simply must be answered for life to go on. I am so grateful for what social media and disability forums meant to my wife, especially at the beginning. That and youtube videos challenged her and showed her what she could work toward. It really made a positive difference.

What I suggest is education. You and I don’t have to know all the ins and outs of these creeps, but must we must know this issue exists in case someone we love finds themselves with a SCI tomorrow. We must know to warn them when they are vulnerable and more easily taken advantage of. The cataclysmic change that comes on suddenly with an entrance of a wheelchair in your life would make the guard go down for the strongest of us. The younger the lady, perhaps the more likely to be fooled too.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but there is something of the protect-your-woman in me.  It’s not as simple as find these fiends and confront them since they are cloaked with anonymity in the virtual world. So we must arm ourselves with tools to protect. We are not experts in this situation, though Alicia and I have sat beside each other looking a person’s profile over and figuring out we had a “devo” on our hands. I want to direct you to the best tools I know of today.

If you know a lady with a new SCI, direct her to http://disabilitytrolls.blogspot.com/2012/09/disability-fakebook.html. Start there and read several other posts on how to spot these guys. It is run by Mr. Erik Kondo. We owe him a great debt for this and his Internet Security Network on Facebook. This site is not a Christian site, but I heartily recommend it to my Christian readers. Let our SCI friends and family enjoy social media like the rest of us. To ensure their safety let’s educate on the tools available and hunt down these warped disability trolls!

Guest Blogger–Pastor Mike Montegomery

mike and susie montgomery

I’m glad to have my friend Pastor Mike Montegomery guest blogging on Reagan Review. I’ve learned over the last few years that he is a dedicated Pastor who loves his people, is dedicated to preaching God’s Word, and has a passion for souls. He is as true a friend as could one could be. He was the one who moved in our home while we were in Tennessee a week soon after Alicia became paralyzed and tore a closet out of our bedroom replacing it with an accessible bathroom. He even raised the funds for the project. Needless to say, his Christianity is of the real variety. We love his entire family. He is also a reader and I love to hear his take on books he has read. 

He has his own blog at

http://philippians216.blogspot.com/

Brothers We Are Not Professionals

Boardman Holman Publisher

By: John Piper

First Published in 2002

286 pages

Overview

This book is a thought provoking look at the ministry and the personal walk of the pastor. Mr. Piper writes with passion and beauty. He does a great job of keeping your interest and always makes you think.

The purpose of the book is clear in the preface. Pg. xi “The aim of this book is to spread a radical, pastoral passion for the supremacy of and centrality of the crucified and risen God-Man, Jesus Christ, in every sphere of life and ministry and culture.” As far as this reader is concerned he hits what he aims at.

High notes

Mr. Piper repeatedly encourages the study of the pastor. He challenges you to be well read and well prepared. His writing reminds me often of A.W. Tozer in that it is often passionately spiritual and deeply rooted in the Word of God. He exalts the Scripture and calls for the Scripture to speak through the preacher in the pulpit. He leaves the reader with the understanding that the source of a sermon is Scripture, not the mind of the preacher. This book is never boring and will stir your soul as well as your mind. He willingly and boldly confronts misconceptions within the local church polity and theology.  He also emphatically stands on the Scripture for men only in the pastoral ministry. Mr. Piper closes the book with a strong plea for pastors to strengthen their own marriage, and in light of times, this cannot be echoed too often.

Low Points

Mr. Piper is a staunch Calvinist and it does come through in the book. Most of his emphasis is for the sovereignty of God and of course we can agree that God is sovereign. Chapter Fifteen I felt he had waded into a realm of doctrine that I believe is quicksand. In Chapter Eighteen he covers the importance of baptism. Though we agree on the time and method I feel he gives too much wiggle room to paedobaptism.

Summary

All in all, the entire book is a great read and any pastor will walk away from each chapter with at least one convicting and stirring truth. I would put this book at the top your stack!

 

I’ll Never Understand It

I have watched the scene play out many times. Someone stares the reality of not being acceptable to God in the face. The truth of sin can not be avoided any longer and yet Christ is rejected. I don’t get it. I’ve been born again for 32 years now so maybe I am too far removed to remember what might entice someone to resist the Person of Jesus Christ.

Here’s how it looks to me now. I’m wrong with God, I’ve chosen darkness over His light, and my deeds are inexcusably evil. There is no way I can atone for my sins, no way I can bridge the chasm that I caused between me and God, and my future is eternally horrible.

In that helpless state, He moved to rescue me when I am the one in the wrong. Rescuing me came at tremendous cost to Him. Jesus left the splendors of heaven, came and suffered the humiliation of taking on a body, lived a giving life of hardship, came to a grotesque cross, bled, died, was buried and rose again–all for me! If I but accept His payment made on my behalf, my sins are forgiven, my eternal future secure, and the rift between us is healed.

To top it off, He offered to me at no cost. No cost to me at least! He even went so far as to send others to tell me about Himself and what He wants to do for me. So, to reject that–I’ll never understand!

I watched many people, though, do that very thing. Like as told in this poem:

JESUS WEPT

I saw a man

With Christ on the veranda of his soul

As gentle as a mare over a coal

Jesus knocked.

I heard a man

Who ignored the overtures to his heart

And said that he wanted no part

Jesus sought.

I watched a man

With no sense of impending doom

And of the judgement that did loom

Jesus pleaded.

I saw a man

Who thought he could delay

As if there were always another day

Jesus tugged.

 I heard a man

With all around him a swirling flood

And then trifle with the Blood

Jesus gave.

 I watched a man

Who could have triumphed over strife

And have received eternal life

Jesus loved.

 I felt for a man

Who stood on sinking sand

And overlooked a nail-scarred hand

Jesus wept.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes A Day by Garry Morgan

Do you ever catch yourself wondering what exactly other religions believe? Do you  wonder if your one sentence understanding is actually accurate? Do you then go look at a bookshelf of books on world religions and notice that they are all 500 pages or more and chicken out? Well, likely this is the book you have been looking for. It’s given in 180 readable, easy pages and as the title implies, your time is taken into consideration.

He begins by defining “religion”. He keys on a systematic set of beliefs that speaks to ultimate questions about life’s meaning. He will with this logical definition be able to legitimately address secular humanism as a religion.

He addresses Christianity first in one short chapter accurately focusing on the fact that Christianity isn’t a religion but a relationship. Well, according to his definition, it is one, but I appreciate how he found a way to show that the Christian “religion” is fully unique in how it answers life’s questions and the dealing with sin. When looked out from this vantage point, it is amazing, at least to me, what puts all other beliefs in the same fold-a solution tied up in works.

Then he dives into Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical Christianity. I might find it a weakness in his trying to present Christianity objectively to the point of not overtly stating its superiority, but I’m sure it was so designed to reach a broader audience. You do see, though, that covertly he is a believer.

He gives the most detail on Islam as it is on our minds these days. Six chapters cover the variety that is out there in the Muslim world. He makes the complexities digestible and is all most would want to read on it. He also explains the confusing differences with Hinduism, Buddhism and the Baha’i faith.

He also covers eastern religions that, though rarer, make their way to us in popular culture in movies and current bestselling books. New Age and transcendental meditation are even covered.

He tries to define the difference in a cult and a religion. Some groups called cults in our day are addressed as well.

This book is a solid addition to Bible study. It’s length is a winner and it is understandable without being heavy. It’s most cases it will answer your questions satisfactorily. I recommend it to Christian laymen, homeschooling families, and pastors who need a quick review or overview.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 . 

What Is The Future Of Guys?

Well, what is the future for us guys? For men in general? And finally, since it naturally follows, society in general? I can’t get away from the subject. I just did a book review about a book that addresses the struggles of Christian men         (Man Alive by Patrick Morley). Then I read a couple of interesting blog posts by Marc Cortez that brings to light some surprising information he gleaned from psychologist Philip Zimbardo among others.

Would you believe that your daughter is now more likely to get a college degree of any level than your son as well as do excel in school from start to finish? If you view those stats from 1970 to the projected amounts for 2020, an alarming shift is underway. It’s nothing against daughters (I have 3 of them), but what does this bespeak of my sons’ future (I have 3 of them too)? I don’t want to be obsessed with the idea that manhood is under full-scale attack, but something is up!

What I read only got more disturbing. Beyond academic chaos, guys are “wiping out relationally with girls, and sexually with women.”  Mr. Zimbardo is a little blunt in his remarks, but makes sense. To what does he attribute this downward slide? He says “excessive internet use, excessive video gaming, and ‘porning'” are the real culprit.

Mr. Cortez, in his fine blog post, focused on “arousal addictions” as the common thread of those 3 reasons. It’s the unreality of the virtual world overtaking the reality of life, the inability to find fun in real life activities, and the inability to distinguish an encounter from a relationship or what intimacy even is. For example, it’s much more work to make a relationship thrive than to satisfy a desire. The sad misunderstanding is that real relationship and intimacy even pays off in most thoroughly fulfilling desires.

The problem is I want it now. It wreaks its way through our society. We don’t want to invest time into anything no matter how worthwhile. I want arousal of my senses on every level. He even spoke of men spending more and more time together even if it costs them romance with a lady. (I’m for keeping the women myself, but that’s just me.) He said that there’s a trend of men preferring games over intimacy with a woman!

It takes effort to get a degree for your life’s work, but  we are not into the long term. You know, that’s so non-arousing! This only serves to push men away from the very roles where they are most needed. Irresponsibility murders responsibility.

I suppose here you would expect a pastor to begin a list of do’s and don’t’s, but that will not be the case. Our high-speed, connected world is here to stay. To wax eloquent against it would be like carrying on about electricity a generation or so ago. Moderation, or a Spirit-led life, would, I suppose, be in order. I’ll not define that for you, and I’d prefer you not define it for me, but it is a fair question between me and the Lord.

Then there is what you watch. Pornography, I hope we all agree, is out of bounds and safeguards in our one-click age are a must. Beyond that, the need is not that I tell you what you can watch or where you watch it. The first issue is no help at all because you’d be stuck if I had never said if it were fine to watch or not. The second misses the point because it holds up the appearance of my reputation over the reality of my character. If I keep my character I’ll probably be able to hold on to my reputation to some degree.

We lament these trends among men. The best thing I can do is be a real man. Next I can raise my sons to be the opposite of the age. Finally, I can encourage many of you who are fighting to keep Biblical manhood where it should be. May the Lord help you and me.

The Other Side Of The Valley

 

Today is a key date in my life. A date when a weight lifted like a little bird that flew away. Before today, it wasn’t a little bird, but a morbid-looking vulture that perched in a nearby bush squawking just often enough to unnerve me. My sweetheart Alicia got some key answers today. (Click here to let Alicia explain it in medical terms).

You see when your wife wakes up paralyzed you always wonder what condition she could wake up in next. You wonder if a little ways down the road she might not even be there to wake up at all. When your wife is as key to your life, and really to who you even are, that is the proverbial elephant in the living room. I was nervous about today’s doctor’s visit. My family even told me I have been especially grumpy the last few days.

First of all, we are no more important than anyone else on the planet. Second, even though the Lord loves us (this we do not doubt), He does not make all such situations turn out so well. In other words, some men far better than me, heard worse news after bad news. Three and a half years ago we got bad news–today it was good. If you haven’t read Alicia’s blog yet, that good news is not that she will walk again, but that she has no progressive disease like MS. With no evidence showing up at this point on a MRI scan, that is a settled matter!

I realize that either of us may die tomorrow, but now we at least statistically have a chance to grow old together. The thought of growing old without her is not one I could face very well. It still may not happen but I can hold out hope as I have as much hope as anyone else my age. I praise the Lord for that!

About walking? I still think that it will never happen. I’d love to be wrong, but I have peace either way. She does too and that is even more important. I know He can heal, but I have seen bigger things He has in mind since this happened. I remarked the other day that healing is not about the power of God, but the plan of God. There’s no question of His power for me, but I can only come to see His plan over time.

So paralysis is still here and I assume here to stay. So there is still a chair to load, still a need to think through if our activities may be too overtaxing for her, still  spasms and a stretching routine, and still a danger of her hurting her shoulders over time. But I can only say that it is nothing (to me at least). I’ll carry her, lift her, tote her chair, anything as long as I have her. What many of you think is an overwhelming trial for the Reagan family is nothing compared to those of you who carried your loved one to a lonely grave. I’m ready to go forward. This will all be fine.

Thank you Lord for carrying us to the other side of the valley where the sun can shine brightly again. Thank you Alicia Rue for being so much for me. I draw a strength from you that few could understand. You still live in that chair, but if you are going to be OK, there is no more valley for me.

Man Alive by Patrick Morley

Here’s a winning addition to the growing shelves of Christian books for men.  There’s no lack of need since men as a general rule are lagging behind in spiritual advancement. Frankly, we need the help.

Mr. Morley talks a language you can understand. It’s where we live–good or bad.  He says “…as many as 90 percent of Christian men lead lukewarm, stagnant, often defeated lives. They’re mired in spiritual mediocrity–and they hate it.” True on both counts, wouldn’t you agree?

The book arranges around what he calls the seven primal needs of men. You might think some of them selfish, or addressing brokenness, but they are undeniably the fabric of men’s lives. We don’t want to live life alone despite the male tendency for aloof isolation. Our actions, like being swallowed by a career, pull us away from meeting our real need. See the difference in approach? Not spend time with your family because it’s a good thing, but because it meets your own deepest needs. We so often misunderstand ourselves.

In our complete misunderstanding we run from God and the fellowship of other believers in a local church when that is our very need. We need the “transforming” mentioned in Romans 12:2.  He distinguishes between heart transformation and behavior modification. Which do we need? But where do we put our emphasis? No wonder we have such a hard time. Learning that the Father really loves me, individually me, is another. He explains how the tendency for macho behavior among men is at its core just a cover up in this area.

We also must believe our life has purpose. Sadly, most of us do not. He gives practical insight that can help. He progresses to explain our need to break free from destructive behaviors, which likely spring from the aforementioned. Needs 6 and 7 seem, to me, to be found in the earlier mentioned ones, but they are critical enough to be worthy of the extra effort to grasp.The 8th one is a good summary–To make a contribution and make the world a better place. That’s not as selfish as it sounds, and I imagine, is where Christ would be glad (on His terms of course) to help us. There’s psychology here, but the Bible lurks in the wings as well. I recommend the book.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 . 

My Visit To The Disabled World

I found myself here. I felt the frustration. I didn’t chose to come, but there I was. That is likely how many in a wheelchair would describe it. In an usual way, I was there.

Since my sweetheart has been in a chair, I’ve tried to imagine how it feels. I watch  her struggles. I rejoice in her triumphs that I know were hard won. I pry till I learn the nerve pain is really bad. Still, I do not know how it feels. I’ve never been naive enough to think so.

I suppose I know what a spouse could know. I know what someone not living so closely to someone in a chair could never know. I can walk in a room and in a 5-second glance tell if my Alicia is having a bad day. But I don’t know how it feels.

I stumbled into the closest discovery I’ve had so far. It came here in London, England during one of the greatest trips of my life. When I get to go somewhere I am the type who will study what interests me and figure out how to see it. Sometimes it’s a hot tourist spot, often it’s more out of the way. Many told me the best sites to see, particularly for one interested in Christian History. So, as always, I had my list and nothing would stop me. Drive, public transport, whatever it takes.

So off we went. In London it’s not a good idea to drive because of lack of parking and congestion, so the Tube, or London’s subway system, was the best option. Did we see most things? Yes, but with what difficulty!

Then we found out. Not even a third of the stations are accessible. You can get to most places but at twice the effort. Olympic Park could be done from where we stayed in a little over an hour usually, but it took us two. The real kicker was that a Tube station is next door to our hotel, but we had to go farther and catch a city bus back to the hotel. Our hearts would sink as we passed the Hatton Cross station knowing that we’d be back upstairs at the same station unloading from the bus in 20 or 30 minutes depending on the bus schedule!

It’s not fair! It’s not right! But it is what it is and there is nothing we could do about it. We saw parts of London that no visitor ever sees to get to what many do see. Alicia was interviewed by a few TV stations and newspapers about what she thought about accessibility in London. All I can say is that city officials better be glad they asked her instead of me! As much as I loved the city, I did not like their ridiculous lack of accessibility.

Finally, I saw the truth. It was a parable of my best friend’s life, a microcosm of my wife’s daily existence. Every day is a day with double the effort to do what others do. Does she go ahead and live life? Yes, like we went ahead and saw the sites, but it was (and is) harder. For the first time ever, I had the same limitations she did. Since we wouldn’t separate, I was stuck as well. Yes, this happens in small ways in the Reagan family often, but never of this magnitude. It so dramatically affected our time getting anywhere.

Today, she had to recover from overdoing it the last few days and stayed in the hotel while I worked and then saw a few sites on my own that were important to me (Charles Spurgeon sites). So off I went running out of that disabled world back to my able-bodied existence. I made my way through multiple sets of stairs in old Tube stations and covered territory we could never have covered as easily had she been with me. My entire route was inaccessible!

It hit me how I was more frustrated about the inaccessibility than she was. (We are both overjoyed at the trip overall). When I asked her about it she said she has had over 3 years to get used to it. My emotion, on its small scale, is one she has faced in multiple crashing waves over and over. This is true for all in a chair or facing other disabilities.

So I tip my hat to all in a chair who are living life for all its worth. I still don’t know how it feels, but I respect its challenges even more. I thank the Lord my Alicia never lets the frustrations conquer her, or ultimately, us. I’m glad I had my little trip into the disability world to see just a little clearer.