What to do when you get a fake friend request on Facebook

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I often get a friend request on Facebook and scratch my head, thinking, “I thought I was already his friend.” What’s going on? What should I do?

I go to the search button on Facebook, and I do a quick search for the name of my friend. Often, a different acccount by the same name shows as already my friend. Aha! This tells me that the new request is fake. The one that is already my friend is the real account.

I usually take a look at the timeline of the person who is already my friend. Often they have already posted a warning saying, “Don’t accept a friend request from me! I’ve been hacked!” Technically, my friend has not been hacked; that is, nobody has gotten access to my friend’s password. Instead, somebody has taken his or her photos and created a new Facebook page by the same name, using the same pictures, and sent out friend requests to people already that person’s friend. They usually do this to send private messages under the pretend name and sell something or get money some way or another. But I digress…

So once I realize that this new friend request is coming from a fake account, what do I do? Facebook actually makes this easy. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Return to the friend request that you got from the fake account. Read this carefully: do not accept it, and do not delete the request, either. Instead, select the button to the right of the “accept” and “delete” buttons (usually it has some dots, but you can click on it), and select the third option, a menu of drop-down options that includes a link to Find support or report the profile. Click on that link, to report the profile.
  2. Next, select the option that says this person is pretending to be someone else. Notice that not only is there an option to report that they are pretending to be your friend, but there is also an option to report that they are pretending to be you. If you are the person being impersonated, you can use this option yourself to defend your account.
  3. Next, it will ask you to put in the name of the friend that the fake account is pretending to be. Put in the name of your real friend, and the real friend’s account should come up. Don’t worry about this being the fake account; you have not accepted the friend request from the fake account, so the only person who can come up as your friend who is being impersonated is the name of the real friend’s account. Click on the name of your real friend. This will allow you to submit the report to Facebook, letting Facebook know the name of the real account being impersonated.
  4. Facebook will then ask you if you want to do anything else, such as block the fake account. I usually go ahead and block the fake account, but if you prefer, you can simply delete the friend request from the fake account. Then I click that I’m done. That’s it!

As you can see, it’s a fairly easy process to report a fake account, and it is the best way for you to help your real friend. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?

The Baptist pioneer trek to Mississippi

Copyright by Robert C. Rogers and the Missississippi Baptist Convention Board

(In a previous post, I told how a group of South Carolina Baptists decided to flee the devastation of the Revolutionary War and make a new life in Mississippi. This post tells the story of how they got to Mississippi.)

   The Curtis family decided to establish their new homes along the Mississippi River near Natchez, in what was then called West Florida. After the French and Indian War in 1763, the British took Florida from Spain, (West Florida included the panhandle of modern Florida and the areas now in southern Mississippi and Alabama), and Englishmen from the colonies had begun to settle there. The stories of productive farmlands that were free to all settlers and the peace they would have from the turmoil of the fratricidal strife in South Carolina must have made the prospects of beginning again very enticing. In 1779, Spain took advantage of the British distraction with the American Revolution, and Spain conquered the Natchez district from the British and added it to West Florida. Despite this, the emigrants did not anticipate any difficulty from this source. As we shall see, they were wrong.

  The route the migrants followed to their new homes was the familiar one used by many who were a part of the great westward migration, but it was not an easy trek. Our source for this journey is John Griffing Jones, a direct descendant of one of the travelers, John Jones. He writes that they left their homes in South Carolina early in 1780, loading their horses with their clothes, furniture and tools, and traveled north by land, crossing the Appalachian Mountains, and arrived on the banks of the Holston River near the present location of Kingsport, Tennessee, a trip of about 300 miles. Primitive roads and mountains made the trip difficult, as they carried their supplies on pack horses, the men traveling by foot. They arrived on the Holston River in the early spring and immediately began the task of raising a crop of corn, hunting game to salt and preserve, while building flatboats for the river journey that lay ahead.

   In the fall of 1780, the travelers were ready to begin their voyage downriver. The party included Richard Curtis, Sr., and his wife Phoebe; two brothers William and Benjamin Curtis and their wives; Richard Curtis, Jr. and his wife Patsy; John Courtney and John Stampley and their wives (Hannah Curtis Courtney and Phoebe Curtis Stampley, respectively, daughters of Richard Curtis, Sr.); John Jones, his wife, and son William; and others whose names are unknown.  On the second boat were Daniel and William Ogden and their families, and a Mr. Perkins and his family.  The records do not reveal the names of the occupants of the third boat.

   The emigrants knew from the experience of other travelers that they might have trouble with the Indian tribes. After all, they were planning to take lands formerly occupied by the Indians and make permanent homes for themselves. The natives did not want to give up their lands. The French had virtually exterminated the Natchez tribe in 1732, although other tribes such as the Choctaws were still in the area, but they knew they would encounter other tribes along the way, especially since the hostility of the Indians was encouraged and supported by the British against Americans during the Revolutionary War. In order to protect themselves, the emigrants always traveled in as large groups as possible.

    The migrants’ travel took them down the Holston River for 87 miles to what is now Knoxville. There, they entered the Tennessee River. The three boats had only traveled about 40 miles downriver, when they faced their greatest danger. This was the country of the Cherokees, who had been faithful allies of the British during the Revolution. These Indians attacked the flotilla on a bend in the Tennessee near the mouth of the Clinch River, near present-day Kingston. The Cherokee attack focused on the first flatboat, occupied by the Curtis and Jones families. Some of the women and children took over the oars while the men fired their rifles in defense. Hannah Courtney was grazed on the head by a ball, and Jonathan Curtis was slightly wounded on the wrist. While John Jones fired his rifle, his 12-year-old son worked the oars and his wife held up a thick stool made of poplar wood as a shield. A bullet hit her stool, and later Mrs. Jones laughingly remarked that “their guns were very weak, as they did not make a very deep impression on the stool.” The second boat floated by the point of attack unharmed, but the third boat was far behind, and became an easy target for the Indians. The occupants of the third boat had contracted smallpox, and so they were floating in the rear and camping at a separate place each night. The Cherokees killed everybody on the third boat except one woman whom they captured, thereby also contracting smallpox, which took the lives of many in the tribe.

   The survivors made the rest of their trip without further molestation. They traveled about 600 miles down the winding Tennessee River, riddled with rocky shoals and swift currents, until they met the Ohio River near the city of Paducah, Kentucky. A short trip of 44 miles on the Ohio River brought them to the mighty Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois. Then they traveled another 450 miles down the Mississippi River. They landed near the mouth of Cole’s Creek, about twenty miles north of Natchez, settling 3.5 miles eastward on the creek at “Curtis Landing,” and established a village known as Uniontown, west of the present town of Fayette. Given the distance they traveled, at the mercy of the flow of the rivers and resting each night, the trip should have taken several months. Jack Curtis, a descendant of Richard Curtis who has done extensive research on the family, estimates that they arrived in the Natchez District about March, 1781. By the grace of God, they had survived a trek through the mountains, an Indian attack and navigated over 1,000 miles of rivers to reach their new home.

Prayer Poem of Hope

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, may I not be dismayed, even when I feel betrayed.

May my heart be re-fired, even when I feel so tired.

May my praise be fresh and bold, when I feel timid and old.

When I struggle to cope, fill me again with Jesus’ hope.

Amen.

The Mississippi Baptist story begins in South Carolina

The Pee Dee River Valley of the Carolinas, from which the Baptists first migrated to Mississippi

Copyright by Robert C. Rogers and the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

   The story of Mississippi Baptists begins in South Carolina. The Baptists of South Carolina furnished the first Baptist migrants to Mississippi and thus are of special importance in the history of Mississippi Baptists. Historians record that Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr. was 25 years old when he traveled with his parents and a group of fellow Baptists, who migrated from the Pee Dee River Valley of South Carolina in 1780 to settle on Cole’s Creek, about 20 miles north of Natchez, which at the time was controlled by Spain as part of West Florida. The precise location in South Carolina where these Baptists came from is unclear. One theory seeks to connect Richard Curtis and Mississippi Baptists to the historic Welsh Neck Baptist Church in Society Hill, in what is now in Darlington County, South Carolina. However, the church minutes of Welsh Neck Baptist Church from the time period are available for examination, and they never mention any of the Baptists who first settled in Mississippi. It seems more likely that they came from the region of Florence, South Carolina. There Richard Curtis, Sr., father of Richard Curtis, Jr., lived on Lake Swamp of Lynches Creek, near modern Florence, South Carolina, in 1766. In addition, Richard Curtis, Jr. was ordained by Benjamin Mosely when he fled back to South Carolina in the 1790s; Mosely was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Florence, South Carolina from 1784-1794.

   The Revolutionary War period was one of great disturbance throughout South Carolina. There was a large group of Tories who were fanatical in support of England, but there was an equally powerful and more numerous citizenry who were American patriots. The conflict of these two groups stifled the economic development of South Carolina and brought fear and frustration into many parts of the colony. Over a hundred battles between American patriots and the British were fought in South Carolina alone. In 1774, Richard Curtis, Sr., and two of his sons, Benjamin and William Curtis, and his step-son, John Jones, enlisted with the American forces of Francis Marion, nicknamed the “Swamp Fox.” The records reveal that they served in three campaigns against the British, and then they were mustered out in 1779. In 1779 conditions had become almost unbearable, especially when British forces occupied Charleston. From this center, the British began a campaign to bring all of the colony under their control. The British were eventually overcome by General Nathanael Greene and his forces, but the turmoil and distress created by the war were undoubtedly a factor in encouraging some South Carolinians to seek a more peaceful place to live.

   The Curtis family decided to establish their new homes along the Mississippi River near Natchez, in what was then called West Florida. After the French and Indian War in 1763, the British took Florida from Spain, and Englishmen from the colonies had begun to settle there. The stories of productive farmlands that were free to all settlers and the peace they would have from the turmoil of the fratricidal strife in South Carolina must have made the prospects of beginning again very enticing. In 1779, Spain took advantage of the British distraction with the American Revolution, and Spain conquered the Natchez district from the British and added it to West Florida. Despite this, the emigrants did not anticipate any difficulty from this source. As we shall see, they were wrong.

Prayer when you don’t “feel” forgiven

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Heavenly Father, You said that if I confess my sins, that You are faithful and righteous to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.1.  Yet I still feel dirty. You said that even if my sins were red like scarlet, You would wash them white as snow.2 Yet I still see the blood-guilt on my hands. You said that You will remove my sins as far as the east is from the west.3 Yet other people still bring them up. So teach my heart to listen to You. Remind me, God, that if my heart condemns me, that Your truth is greater than my feelings.4 Reach down to my lowest depths with Your covenant love, and lift me up.5 If You say that I am forgiven, then I am forgiven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scriptural references and allusions:

  1. 1 John 1:9
  2. Isaiah 1:18
  3. Psalm 103:12
  4. 1 John 3:20
  5. James 4:10

The Mississippi Baptist heritage of survival amidst persecution

Artist rendering of Obadiah Holmes, Baptist pastor in Massachusetts who was whipped publicly for his beliefs. He fled to Rhode Island for religious freedom, where he established the Baptist church at Newport, Rhode Island.

Copyright by Robert C. Rogers and the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

   Baptists have been the predominant faith in Mississippi so long, that nearly a century ago historian Jesse L. Boyd referred to Mississippi as a “Baptist empire.” Today, it is difficult for Baptists in the Magnolia State to imagine a time when their spiritual ancestors suffered hardships and persecution for their faith, but they did, even in Mississippi.

   John Smyth established the first Baptist church in Amsterdam, Holland in 1609, after he fled persecution in England for being a Separatist Puritan. Thomas Helwys founded the first Baptist Church in England at London in 1611, and he landed in jail shortly thereafter for speaking out for religious freedom [McBeth, 38]. Roger Williams fled persecution in Massachusetts when he opposed the Congregationalist state church, so he started a new colony in Rhode Island with complete religious liberty, where he established the first Baptist church in America at Providence, Rhode Island in 1639. William Screven was banished from Maine for his Baptist faith, and he established the first Baptist church in the South at Charleston, South Carolina in 1696. Richard Curtis, Jr., migrated from South Carolina to the Natchez area in 1780, where he established the first Mississippi Baptist church in 1791, but he was arrested by Spanish authorities who only tolerated Catholicism, and he had to flee the region for three years.

Read this blog, as I will continue to unfold the story.

Prayer when feeling spiritually dry

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, I am in a spiritual desert. My soul is dry. I thirst for You. How I need Jesus, the spring of living water. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Pour Your living word into me.  I desire to stand under Your loving presence, as a man stands under a waterfall, mouth open, drinking it in, letting it soak my heart and spirit. Then may I splash Your Spirit all around, that I may refresh those whom I meet this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Life lessons from hospital patients

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

In my hospital ministry, I often ask patients what lessons they have learned. Here are a few of the wise words that I have heard, with limited details about the patients to protect their identity:

Elderly man with COVID-19. “They almost lost me, but the Lord still has a plan for me.” He was discharged a few days later.

Middle-aged woman who survived a car wreck, hit by a drunk driver: “Don’t take life for granted. It could all change in a moment.”

Elderly man with terminal cancer diagnosis: “Be ready to meet God.”

Elderly woman, retired educator, with congestive heart failure: “Do the right thing, treat people right; let be and let God.”

Elderly woman with kidney failure: “Live one day at a time.”

Elderly man in therapy, unable to move legs: “I don’t need money; I just need friends, and people to pray for me.”

Elderly female with multiple medical problems: “Accept what you get.”

Recently retired female pt who may need heart by-pass. “When I was little and there was a storm, mama put us children in a room together and said, ‘When God is doing His work, we be quiet.’” The patient explained that this became a motto for coping with trials: “When God is doing His work, we be quiet.”

Middle-aged female pt who nearly died in the ICU, slowly recovered and went to a room. “Just because life is hard, don’t give up.”

Younger middle-aged female pt who had a seizure and wrecked her car, and went through months of surgeries for broken bones. “I choose joy.”

Recently retired female pt who was told two months ago that she has breast cancer. “Don’t feel sorry for me. God’s got this. I’m not taking God down off His pedestal. What God can’t do, there ain’t no doing.”

Teenage male pt who had surgery for torn ligaments from football practice. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Middle-aged female pt who had a blood clot in the brain. “You can get glad or mad in the same pair of breeches.”

Middle-aged female pt who was in the hospital for a long time, recovering from COVID-19. “Learn to lean on God.”

Younger middle-aged female pt who spent over a month in rehab after spine surgery. “Don’t sweat the petty stuff. Prayer gets you through.”

Senior adult female who had a stroke. “The same God who did miracles for people in the Bible is getting me through this.”

Elderly man with leukemia, going home on hospice. “Money doesn’t mean anything when you leave this earth, and I have some money. The only thing that matters is that you know Jesus.”

How to represent the gospel in the Christmas tree tradition

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

The Christmas tree tradition originated in Germany, apparently from several traditions, some pagan, some Christian. Some German towns brought an evergreen tree to the town square on Christmas Eve, set it on fire, and danced around it. Later these towns put lighted candles on Christmas trees. Other Germans remembered Adam and Eve’s fall into sin by hanging apples on an evergreen, and then hanging wafers for the bread of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, and candles on the tree for Jesus as the light of the world. As the feast of Adam and Eve was on December 24, this also became associated with Christmas. These traditions merged into the Christmas tree as we know it today.

A tree is mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when foretelling the coming of the Christ. Jesus, our Messiah, is prophesied in Isaiah 11:1 as the descendant of Jesse, father of King David: “Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” This “tree” also died on a tree for us: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.” (1 Peter 2:24). That tree was the cross, where Jesus took our sins. So today, we can let the Christmas tree represent the gospel by putting Christian symbols on the tree, such as an angel or star on top, a manger scene underneath. Some Christians put a nail with a purple ribbon on the tree, reminding us that Jesus, the king of kings, was nailed to the tree of Calvary for us.

Two prayers for Thanksgiving

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Reflection on how to give thanks

Lord, how can I thank You enough for all You have done for me? Should I offer a thanksgiving offering like the ancient Israelites in their temple? Should I offer a song of thanks, or tell others of your wonderful works? Yes, Lord, I will do all of these things. Because of all that You have done for me, I will bring an offering of my time and money to You in church. I will offer You praise with my voice in song. I will give a testimony of Your goodness to me.

Prayer testifying to God’s goodness

O, give thanks to the Lord! He has saved me from sin and sickness. He has heard my prayers and answered me. He has given me peace in trials, and hope to overcome despair. He has filled my heart with joy through a loving family, and an encouraging church. I have seen Him change lives; I have seen Him rescue people who seemed beyond hope. He has opened my eyes to His truth through the Bible, His word. Let everybody join me in thanksgiving; let us give thanks to the Lord!

Guest blog: Prayer in anger and pain

Copyright by Vance Moore. (The following prayer is shared with permission from Vance Moore, staff chaplain and my co-worker at the same hospital. He wrote this prayer after the tragic attack in Waukesha, Wisconsin.)

Our Father,

       This world’s problems are so complicated that I cannot comprehend the hate and sickness that permeates society today. No matter how much I try to understand, I cannot begin to understand how anyone could take an innocent life, whether it is terrorism or some other irresponsibility. Help us/help me to understand how to come along side these people in the time of their egregious actions and serve them in their time of need. Help me to set aside my anger, pain, hurt and serve in a way that pleases you.

In the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray.        Amen

Announcement: I will be revising and updating A History of Mississippi Baptists

Left to right: Dr. Shawn Parker, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, Dr. Anthony Kay, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Historical Commission, and myself. We are standing by a painting of the first Baptist church in Mississippi, Salem Church (Coles Creek) in Jefferson County, by retired Mississippi Baptist pastor Robert Mamrak. Photo by Barri Shirley.

I am pleased to announce that on November 3, 2021, I signed a contract with the Mississippi Baptist Convention to revise and update A History of Mississippi Baptists by Richard Aubrey McLemore. The book was published by the convention, which holds the copyright, in 1971.

I expect the project to take a few years, as I will be doing a thorough revision of the original work, checking it for accuracy and rewriting in a more narrative style. After the revision is done, I will add two more chapters to update the last 50 years. You can read the full news story about the book here.

Follow his blog for stories that I learn and share along the way!

A prayer of thanksgiving

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

O Giver of good gifts, I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for Your abundant blessings. I thank You that You opened my eyes this morning, You filled my lungs with air, and kept my heart beating. I thank You that You have given me sufficient food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof over my head. I thank You that You loved me so much that you sent Your only Son to die for my sins. I thank You that You filled my life with Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that You breathed upon Your word, the Bible, and gave it to me as a lamp to guide my way this day. I thank You for giving me a family who love me, and brothers and sisters in Christ in the church who encourage me. I thank You most of all, that because You opened my spiritual eyes to faith in Jesus Christ Your Son, I know that there is a morning coming, when I will open my eyes in heaven, and I will see You face to face. Until that day, may I live a life of gratitude, by serving others in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord.

Guest blog: Prayer when life is not all sunshine and cotton candy

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Copyright by Rodger Moore. (The following prayer is shared, with his permission, from the coordinator of the pastoral care department at the hospital where we both serve as chaplains.)

Lord, sunshine, cotton candy, joy and happiness are not always the paths of life. There are also those moments of shadows, sorrow, grief and indecision. Regardless of the path which my journey may be taking in these moments may I be reminded of your presence and words:
• Be still,
• Slow down,
• Listen,
• Peace Be Still,
• You are not alone,
• I am with you,
• Come to me,
• Joy comes in the morning
As the Shepherd, protect, look out over me and provide for me;

As the Light of the World illumine my path and bring guidance to my heart;

As the Comforter envelop me in your arms and warm my heart;

As the Physician reach out to touch my mind, body and spirit bringing wholeness and healing.

In all moments of life bring your peace, calmness, serenity and trust. Amen.

Prayer of hope in time of suffering

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, we despair under the dark clouds of suffering. We cannot see You or feel Your presence. Yet, we believe there is a light behind those clouds, because we have seen it before. Give us faith to hold on and trust You in the dark, until the day that the clouds part and Your light shines through again. In the name of Jesus, the light of the world, I pray. Amen.