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10 Commandments of Social Media

Hands Holding Speech Bubbles with Social Media Words

Over the last 10 years, social media has become a big part of our daily interactions with other people. From the early entrants of MySpace and Facebook to newer models like Instagram and SnapChat, people of all ages have adopted some form of social media platform. As with any new idea that comes along, there are problems and abuses that follow. There is a learning curve on how best to use them and discerning their most useful purpose. In the Bible, the 10 Commandments were not given to be a set of rules of oppression, but were given so that the Israelites that had been set free could continue to live a free life. The use of social media seems to require such a set of rules. Social media has so many benefits. Many of which can only be appreciated when these mediums of communications are used properly. So here are my 10 commandments of social media.

Conversation over accusation
Social media implies we are meant to be social. In most of our relationships we engage in conversation when we are face to face with people. But for some reason, social media tends to bring out accusation instead of conversation. Everything we say is to make a point about something that we hold true; everything from politics to religion. Things that may be a small part of our personal conversations become the overwhelming part of what we have to say on social media. Because of limits in words and the difficulty in communicating emotions, we tend to divide instead of grow our relationships while on social media. Many of the issues that we are trying to reduce to a meme or 140 characters are much more complicated than that. Even if you disagree with someone, try to engage in a conversation and not make it about accusation.

Would you say that in person?
If the person you are talking to were standing in front of you, would you say what you are saying on social media? Often the answer is no because if we had said it to them personally, there would be no need to say it on social media. Cyber-bullying is a real problem among youth. We have a misguided belief that it doesn’t matter if they are not standing in front of us. Recently, I was watching a movie and one of the children on the movie was being bullied online. His dad made a statement that when he was in school, he at least escaped bullying when he went home. Now, it goes with you everywhere. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, social media is not the place to say it.

No gossip
If you are not sure it is true, don’t share it. If you are sure it is true, and saying it will not help in anyway, still don’t say it. Gossip needs to be removed from our conversation on and offline.

Don’t embarrass yourself
Keep your clothes on. Watch your language. If you share it, it can be shared and with your name attached to it. More employers are using social media prior to hiring. Would a prospective employer hire you based on your profile?

Don’t let it just be about you
One of the purposes of social media is for people to stay in contact with you and to know more about you, but don’t let it be just about you. Share words of encouragement. Let it be a place where others benefit from your presence. Share your own personal insights or something that is challenging you to grow or change in hopes that someone else can learn along with you.

Eliminate drama
Some things are personal. Keep it that way. It needs to stay between you and your spouse or children. It needs to stay in your workplace. It will never be solved on social media, so just keep it to yourself.

Think about it before you post it
One of the ways to eliminate drama is to think before you post. If you are angry or hurt, take a few minutes, or maybe even a few days, before you post something. If you have a question, ask someone completely uninvolved with the situation whether it is appropriate or not. As a follow up to that, if you have to ask, it probably isn’t.

Not the place to win an argument
Social media is a place to engage people in conversation. It is acceptable to disagree with others. It is not the place you will win a debate. Often, you will end up looking like a menace or a bully instead of making your point. Conversate. Debate. But stop trying to be the winner. It is not the place to win.

It’s a tool, it’s not your life
I view social media as a platform. It is an extension of who I am any other time. It is a tool I use to continue to influence people, stay in touch with people and allow other people to stay in touch with me. It is a tool, but it is a small part of my life. Almost all of my posts are scheduled early in the morning to post throughout the day using Hootsuite. I have to work not to get sucked into unproductive time watching videos and reading memes. Use social media. Don’t let it use you.

Don’t allow it to be your only means of communication
In relationships, nothing beats being face to face. Relationships flourish in person. Social media should promote those times, not eliminate those times. Don’t allow social media to be the only way you communicate with people. Let it be a tool to assist those relationships but try not to allow it to be a replacement. 

Maybe you have some other suggestions or “commandments” for social media. I would love to hear them. Share them in the comment section. Let’s make social media great.

Is It Offensive If No One Is Offended?

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I am a believer that each of us struggles with some sort of prejudice. We may not acknowledge it or recognize it, but we are all tainted with different biases. When we speak of prejudice we often think of race first. But there are many other biases that affect us as well. They can be related to economics, political persuasions, sexual preferences and gender biases just to name a few. Each of these affect our thought processes toward other people and events. Those biases also shape our vocabulary and our relationship choices. We tend to associate with people that support our beliefs and share our same biases, even if those are subconscious choices.

Within those circles of similar people, certain language or vocabulary patterns seem to evolve. Often those comments are meant as humor and to entertain or make others laugh, but they are also comments that we would not say if someone of that persuasion were present. We may joke about a certain political party being communists or Nazis, using stereotypes to describe extremists. We may use slang referring to another race or group members of a gender together to describe a tendency among them such as, “All men are pigs”. The truth is no man is a pig. Some men may act inappropriately, but not all men. But the grouping of them together gets a laugh out of everyone.

When everyone in our circle believes or thinks as we do, there is rarely any pushback from those who are present. There is a lot of knee slapping and laughter that can often surround these types of conversations. Rarely is there any acknowledgement that someone could be offended by it because those people are rarely present. If we were to bore down into each person’s heart, we would probably find out that they desire to be much more inclusive than exclusive and really value other people in spite of differences. They often do not mean harm or have ill feelings toward those they speak of, but their language of bias or prejudice has become a normal part of their life.

So the question that I have posed to myself recently is this: if no one is present that is offended, is what we are saying offensive? If we make a racial joke but no one is present to be harmed, is the joke harmful? If we offer a slur toward a politician or political party and everyone present is of the same persuasion, what or who does it hurt? Everyone gets a good laugh. No harm, no foul, right? I am not sure. There actually may be several problems with it.

First, every time we emphasize a difference between us and other people, it tends to widen the gap instead of finding some path to relationship or reconciliation. It is difficult to have influence with people if we cannot find common ground for relationship. Even though we genuinely may not harbor ill will toward those against whom our comments are aimed, every emphasis on those things only works to reinforce our prejudices or biases that we should be attempting to out grow.

Second, each time those views are expressed and we get affirmation through laughter or words of reinforcement, it makes us less sensitive to the issues and problems that sincerely do bother others. It makes us insensitive to racial issues, socio economic problems, political divides and gender inequalities that actually do exist. It makes us less likely to change or attempt to understand someone else’s point of view.

As I was writing this, I overheard Steve Harvey in the background on television say, “more of us need to be concerned about the rest of us”. Just because someone is not present to be offended does not mean what we say or how we act is not offensive. We must learn what offensiveness is without someone telling us. We must be concerned about others even when they are not present. Our beliefs and behaviors are constantly being reinforced. Eventually those thoughts and behaviors will show up in places they are perceived to be offensive. It is much less painful to learn that without harming someone else or needing to be corrected by someone we have offended. Practice makes perfect. Private practice will reduce public pain. Our private conversations must reflect who we desire to be and what we desire for others to see.

30 Years Changes Your Perspective

Class of 1985

Today I am preparing to attend my reunion for the Washington High School class of 1985. Thirty years would have appeared to be an eternity in June of 1985 as we walked across the stage at Kugler Field. It is odd that as time passes we gather to celebrate something we were so anxious to pass so quickly. Sitting in those metal folding chairs that June evening were hopes, dreams and plans of more than 200 students. In the 30 years since, some of those hopes, dreams and plans were lived out while others changed over time. As most graduating seniors are, I was so consumed with my own ideas of life that I did not appreciate the value of the hopes and dreams of those sitting around me.

As these 30 years have passed, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of people’s lives have been touched and changed for the better because of those boys and girls that surrounded me in 1985. Some became teachers and have dedicated their lives to offering students the best education they could give them. Some devoted their lives to serving and protecting our country. Businesses have been started. Loving family units have been created. The world has been entertained through the performing arts. Faith has been shared. Communities have been improved. Lives have been changed.

The advent of social media has given us all an opportunity to stay a little more connected than our previous reunions allowed. That should lend itself to making the evening that much more enjoyable. Tonight we will celebrate the fact that we survived 30 years of adult life. There will be stories told. Lots of memories will be shared. Laughter will fill the room. Some may have changed little. Others will have changed a lot. We will be reminded about the brevity of life as we remember those who we have lost in the last 10 years. For me personally, I want to celebrate the fact that the world is a better place because of the people in that room.

Today brings two things to mind. The first is hope. Barbara and I have four children and three grandchildren. They too can make a difference in this world. There is no dream out of reach or goal that is too lofty. Hope that this year’s graduating class can make the world a better place as classes before them have. Hope that the world is not doomed but greatness arises from all walks of life.

The second is determination. Based on statistics, I have more years behind me than I have ahead of me. That being the case, I want there to be more life ahead of me than I have behind me. I want to finish well. I want my finishing years to make more of difference than ever. That is my wish for all of my classmates. That our next 30 years be life-giving and we make more of a difference than ever; that what has been will diminish in light of what will be.

Class of 1985, tonight I celebrate with you. Tonight I celebrate you. I am thankful that each of you had a part in my life. The world is a better place because you are in it!

Give Thanks….Always?

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As a pastor, one of the common questions that I get is “How do I know God’s will?”. There are many ways I think we can know, discern and understand what His will for our life is, but the first place where we have to begin is in the Bible. We can start by understanding the things that are clearly identified as God’s will for all of us. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica and in his closing remarks he said, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT). There are several things we can learn from this verse that are relevant to all of us, especially on during Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful
This is not a suggestion, but more of an emphatic command. In the words Paul writes prior to and immediately following this verse, he is addressing how to live our lives. He tells us to encourage others and not harm them. He says we should be joyful and prayerful, not critical and impatient. As a part of that full life that he is describing, a large part of that is to be thankful. Webster’s dictionary defines thankful as “conscious of benefit received”. The origin of the word suggests that we would express gratitude for blessings or benefits. Henry Van Dyke said, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Being thankful is something that must be intentional.

In All Circumstances
There is a clear distinction that must be made between being thankful “for” circumstances and being thankful “in” circumstances. There are some situations where we find ourselves, sometimes not of our doing, that we would prefer to not be a part. However, in every circumstance we can find something for which to be thankful. Learning to be thankful in your circumstances requires you to stop seeing things only from your perspective. You may need to look at the bigger picture or see the greater benefit for others involved and how it changes their lives. Numerous times throughout the Bible we are reminded that things work for good and what was meant for evil God used for good. Our thankfulness takes a turn when we begin to see things from God’s point of view instead of our own.

God’s Will
I am no different than you when it comes to wanting to know exactly what God desires of me in every situation. Sometimes that is difficult, especially in a decision making process. Paul takes all of the guesswork out of this one. He says this is God’s will. His desire for your life is for you to be thankful in every circumstance. Being thankful is the reflection of Himself that He wants people to see in our lives. Intentional focus on gratitude.

Thankfulness is achieved much easier when we understand that ultimately God is in control. Our circumstances may not change, but our attitude about them will change our understanding of each situation and help us to reflect Christ better. God’s will is for us to be thankful. Today is a good day to practice. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

My Personal Refugee Battle

 

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I usually find there are two valid sides to most issues (with limited exceptions). When I see people, especially followers of Christ, being so abrasive and arrogant about their point of view, it disturbs me. It bothers me when I fall into that trap. The last two weeks I have preached from John 1:14-17 where it describes Jesus being full of grace and truth. Full of both. Two things which at times the church seems to be only on one side or the other. When the two are combined, it brings a certain messiness to the situation. Most things we consider black and white suddenly become some other shade.

The people of Syria are facing a real dilemma. A civil war is ravaging their country and terrorists are using large portions of their country as a base. Millions of Syrians are fleeing their homeland looking for a place of safety for their families. At the same time, there are terrorists blending in with innocent refugees looking for cover to carry out their evil plans. This creates a real problem for the rest of the world. It is not as clear as anyone would like to make it. Grace and truth, compassion and expectation, create a tension that we struggle to manage. In this refugee discussion, most of the comments I read are all or nothing. I have not arrived there yet. I am wrestling with this. Somehow I hope this expression of writing will assist in clearing my own understanding.

My compassion pushes me to make room for everyone. Grace, or unfailing love, is inclusive not exclusive. I am reminded to love the poor and care for them. The New Testament teaches that true religion involves the care of orphans and widows. I have been challenged recently as I have grown to make an attempt to understand people and their situations better. I did not get to choose where I was born. I was favored to be born in the United States. Frankly, that was a measure of grace in itself. My heart breaks for these people who are only looking for a safe place to raise their family. I passed through the airport in Moscow recently and there was a family from Syria living in the airport that had a problem with their visa and could not clear customs. They had spent 50 days of living in a terminal the day I came through. My heart broke for them, but I was limited in what I could do. We are a nation of immigrants. My grace wants to help those that are in need. 

The tension I have is that I also have some expectation. With my compassion comes certain caution. There are those that do not want to assist anyone because of someone. I refuse to take that position. I am a preacher, but I am not Jim Jones. I am an American, but I am not Timothy McVeigh or Jeffrey Dahmer. I am a North Carolinian, but I am not Velma Barfield. I cannot join the camp that puts all Syrians in the same basket. However, I can’t eliminate certain caution or expectation for those coming to our country. I do have an expectation that we are making reasonable attempts to keep our country and it’s people safe. I am not looking for perfection, but I do believe their should be reasonable vetting.

Grace and truth get messy. My experience tells me that it is impossible to offer grace without experiencing pain. To remove the chance of being hurt would mean to eliminate grace. I know some of you will read this and you have already settled this issue; many of you are all or nothing. I just hope to encourage some people who are not finding it as cut and dry as many want it to be. I don’t think this is a tension that can be eliminated, but it is one I have to manage.

I generally am not a person that lives in fear. I would rather suffer for making a difference than to accomplish little while remaining safe. Just to put things in perspective, I am traveling to Turkey in December to train leaders and pastors, some of which are probably fleeing Syria. There are millions of Syrian refugees flooding Turkey. I am taking my son, son-in-law and Family Pastor with me. We are going to make a difference. I am not afraid of going to them. I am working through my tension of them coming to me.

This Sunday I will finish the sermon series where we are covering the first 18 verses of John. John says that God is revealed to us through Jesus Christ. One of the supporting passages that we will take a look at is found in 2 Corinthians 5:16-19. It has many applications, but here are two: 1) we have to stop evaluating others from a human point of view, and 2) he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. My goal is to learn to live both of these out. This seems like a good place to start. 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I recently read a quote by Ray Edwards about his reflections on a year as it winds down. He said he makes two lists: 1) What am I thankful for this past year?, and 2) What do I want to be thankful for next year at this time? Those two questions pressed me to think about certain things in my life. It seemed easy enough to make a list of things for which I am thankful. However, there had to be some intention if I was going to create a list of things I wanted to be thankful for next year at this time. There is an often quoted passage from the Bible in a book the Apostle Paul wrote called Philippians that says No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” There is some danger because looking back can often lead to going back. A desire for the “good old days”. When our focus is constantly on the past, we often miss what bright future that lies ahead. I have heard it said that the greatest hindrance to our success tomorrow, is our success today. We cannot relive yesterday, whether it was good or bad. We can only use it for perspective. Paul is not discounting what has happened previously in his life because on several occasions he recites some of that. He does, however,  have a clear understanding of where he is headed and what his final destination should look like. I want to give offer some assistance in your two lists and see if we can gain value from where we have been and begin to be intentional about where we are going.

What am I thankful for?

One of the best attitudes we can cultivate is the attitude of gratitude; learning to be gracious in all of our circumstances. Paul wrote to his protege Timothy “to be thankful in all circumstances”. We do not necessarily have to be thankful for every circumstance, but we can find things to be thankful for in every circumstance. He is reminding us that our attitude about every situation and circumstance is critical. Cultivating the right outlook is imperative. Our quality of life improves as our gratitude improves. 

When you begin making a list of things you are thankful for over the last year, try not to be in a hurry. What you will often find is that one thing you are thankful for will lead to another. Often, I am surprised at the list and how it will change my ideas, thoughts and emotions as I read over the good things. Reflection also gives me a perspective I may not have had in the middle of certain situations. It is during that reflection that I have time to see something good come from what appeared to be a difficult situation. It is difficult to prepare for good things ahead until we have the right attitude about the things that have already passed.

What do I want to be thankful for?

This is not a daydreaming exercise, but an opportunity to set the bar for the coming year and be intentional about what is going to take place. When I think about twelve months from now, what do I want to be thankful for? This allows us to think about the things that will need to take place over the following year that will allow other things to happen for which we want to be thankful. For example, if you want to be thankful for a better marriage, what steps do you need to take for your marriage to improve? If you want to be debt free, what actions must happen for that to be on your “thankful” list in twelve months? You may want to be thankful for being a better leader or parent, have more income, attending church regularly, starting a new business or losing 10 pounds. Whatever you want to be thankful for, prepare and plan so those things take place. 

In the verse we quoted from Philippians, Paul uses the expression “I focus on this one thing”. He does not overload himself with trying to accomplish everything. He is committed however to one thing. Every problem you have or every goal you desire cannot be accomplished in one year. But at least one of them can. Take the time to think about what you want to be thankful for and then be intentional on making that happen.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a good time for some reflection and planning. Looking back to improve our attitude and looking forward to change our direction. Be thankful for what has happened. Plan for the things for which you want to be thankful. Intentional gratitude will change your life.

3 Reasons You Have A Spouse

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In the story of creation we find in the Bible each time God created something He said that it was good. The skies, the water, the animals, the stars, they were all good. Then He created man and this was God’s response in Genesis 2:18 NLT Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” For the very first time, God said it was not good. Something needed to be added. It was not sufficient by itself. So God created a relationship that we call marriage. There are some very specific things here that should help us gain some understanding of the importance of marriage and the value it brings.

 

It is not good to be alone

God created us to be in relationship. When He looked at man alone, He recognized that it was not good. There is a difference between seeking the solitude of being alone and the reality of loneliness when we have no other options. Adam did not have any other options. For human relationships, there was no other person. God immediately recognized that for Adam to be complete, he could not be alone. Our spouses are there so we do not have to be alone. They are the most important earthly relationship we have. We must learn to be there for one another. One of our jobs as a spouse is to be a companion so our partner is not alone. 

 

Created by God

After His recognition that man did not need to be alone, His response is to make a solution. He made it. Not only did He make it, but He made it just right. There should be comfort, peace and real expectation to know that God has created someone for us. And not just someone, but someone who is just right for us. That is why it is critical for us to pray and seek wisdom when looking for a spouse. God has created someone specifically for you that is just right. Why take a chance in the lottery when we have been given the ability to seek the Creator and know who He created for us? Your choice in marriage does not have to be a gamble. God has one specific person for you.

 

Helper

Not only has God created someone who is just right for us, but they are also our helper to come along beside of us and to help us become everything we were designed to become. There are certain things that we need to know and learn that can only be learned in the context of relationship, and some more specific things that can only be learned in the context of the marriage relationship. The wise King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT  Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Success comes from the help of others. There is success that you will only achieve with the help of the person that God designed for you in the covenant of marriage. Be thankful for the success you achieve with the help your spouse brings.

The marriage relationship serves many purposes. Though these are not the only purposes of marriage, they are three specific reasons that are made clear in the very first human relationship at creation. Do not discount the value that they bring to your life. Your spouse brings value to you that no one else can. As we understand better the reasons why God places us together in the relationship of marriage, we can understand better how that relationship is to work and how we can support one another. Marriage was intended to be for mutual fulfillment and that is achieved as we become aware of why we have this relationship.

Why I Hugged A Homeless Man

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In my lifetime, I have known a reasonable amount of privilege, though mostly unacknowledged. I was born in the United States which brings with it a certain amount of privileges that the majority of the world does not know. I was not born into a wealthy family, but I was born into a family where both parents had employment and both were committed Christians. My dad had a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University and had a job working for a large corporation. He became a minister soon after I was born, so I was raised around people of generally good moral character who had significant influence on me. My parents worked hard to support our family and others. By nature of my conservative religious upbringing, I found myself growing up to be politically conservative as well. I was afforded numerous learning experiences and usually found myself in above average circles academically.

As I became a teenager, certain things became almost intuitive. I knew to get a job. I knew to work hard. I knew to provide for myself and my family. There were times I failed to do some of those things, but I knew what I was supposed to do. I was instinctively generous because I had seen my parents model that all of my life. Though they were probably poor by American standards, it never stopped them from doing their best to assist people. So as I got older, I knew that I should help others. Sacrificing financially seemed second nature at times. However, I had a disconnect between the giving and the understanding of why people needed help.

I have been guilty of many of the assumptions that others make. Things such as “They just need to get a job” or “Why don’t they apply themselves” or “ They could change if they wanted to”. I don’t recall it slowing my willingness to help those in need, but I did begin to recognize I was disconnected from those people. As I grew older, I began to see things through a completely different lens. I began to understand that if just one of the things I listed in the first paragraph had been different, my entire life could have been drastically different.

I started to ask myself questions and look at the plight of others and realize how their circumstances were a collection of many other things, some of them for generations, and I started to become aware that someone changing their life is not always as simple as “if they wanted to”. I started trying to place myself in other people’s shoes and comprehend how education or family background was affecting someone’s plight. Was their location a factor? Though helping financially was necessary, what other things needed to take place to change someone’s life? What could I do to relate better to people in need?

This has been a journey that has taken years. Years for me to begin to understand and appreciate the plight of others. It is still an ongoing journey. Recently I experienced a new part of that journey. I will admit it stretched me, but it is changing me.

One of the things I have struggled to understand is homelessness in America. We are a wealthy country with lots of opportunity, Why are people homeless? Recently, I was visiting New York City with a few members of my family. There are plenty of homeless people there begging for help from passersby. That seems understandable due to the enormous number of people from whom you can ask for help. While there, I asked Barbara, “What would make someone want to continue to be homeless? Could they not change towns and find employment where there may be jobs and lower starting costs? What has to happen to a person for them to accept this as a lifestyle?” As with most of the questions that we ask ourselves, it seemed logical to me. After asking the question, I felt prompted in my spirit that while I was in New York City, I needed to hug a homeless person. I am a person of faith and I believe at times we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to do certain things that may benefit others, but usually it is also a part of our own personal growth.

If you know me, you know I am not a hugger. I know plenty of people who are, but in general I prefer to shake hands. The hugging alone has been a journey for me as I have come to understand that it offers affirmation and comfort to people who need that. Add to that the fact that I prefer to stay clean. Forgive me if I admit that it crossed my mind. Not only would hugging someone challenge me, but hugging someone who may not have bathed in months or whose clothes had not been washed in months would challenge me even more. The thought of that pressed every sensibility that I had. As we journeyed each day around New York City, each time we passed a homeless person I was reminded of what I needed to do and wondered exactly how that was going to happen. Was I just going to walk up and ask for a hug? Would they think I was trying to harm them? Would they say no? Would we have a conversation? What do I say? What was I supposed to learn?

On Saturday night before we were supposed to leave the city the following day to fly to Moscow, we were walking down 8th Avenue near my favorite burger place in New York City, Shake Shack. It was crazy busy as most Saturday evenings are. It was a mild fall evening and people were enjoying being outside. As we strolled along to our hotel, we passed by a homeless man begging on the sidewalk. He was squatting, holding his head with one hand while holding a small sign requesting money with the other. The sign was so small and illegible that you would need to stop to read it. There was a small Dixie cup in front of him to collect money, but only a few coins were inside. He never looked up as we passed by, but as we did, I felt that prompting again. We continued walking to the end of the block and I could go no further. I asked everyone if they could wait a few minutes and I turned around to go back to the homeless man.

When I got to him I introduced myself and extended my hand as I would anyone else. He said a name, but I do not recall what he said. He did not offer his real name. I didn’t know that at the time, but he would later tell me his real name. I got down on the sidewalk beside this man while people hurried by and I asked him to tell me his story. At first he said he didn’t have much of a story. I really think he thought I was the police. But I asked him to tell me how he ended up homeless. He recognized that I really wanted to know and he began to tell me about himself. He had been a tattoo artist for 25 years. He was from New Jersey. He had tried to open his own tattoo shop and had put everything he owned into it. Something happened with other partners or investors and he lost everything. He had been homeless, on the streets begging for about six months. He was looking for work hoping to change his plight, but for now he had to resort to sleeping on the streets, eating food that people gave him and begging for spare change. He talked about the emotional toll that it was taking on him which he described as worse than the physical toll. I told him my name again and I told him that I was a pastor and from that day forward I would pray specifically for him. I was there for a reason and I knew I couldn’t leave just yet. I asked him if I could give him a hug. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and surprise on his face. We looked so different but we weren’t that different at all. There on 8th Avenue in New York City, a wall came down for me. I needed the hug as much as he did. As people passed by, many of my own prejudices and lack of understanding came crashing down as I had taken a few moments to understand someone else’s circumstance.

“Jesse,” he said, “ My name is Jesse”. That is not what he told me when I first introduced myself, but suddenly once he knew that I wanted better for him and was sincere about praying for him, he trusted me with his name. He had not even trusted me with his name until he knew I cared about him.

 So every day now I am praying for Jesse. Before I left I told Jesse that I understood that he needed more than prayer at that moment, so I reached in my wallet and gave him money. He was grateful. So was I. The money was easy for me. The hug required me to grow.

The Holy Spirit prompted me so I could grow and Jesse could be comforted. I understood more about a single person because I engaged them instead of passing judgment. What a different world we would live in if we would engage one another instead of living in our assumptions and judgments when we have never sat down beside them in their situation to find out why they were there. I hugged a homeless man because I needed to learn something. People want to be understood. People want to be loved. They just want to be heard. And for a brief moment on 8th Avenue in New York City I was the Jesus that Jesse needed to see. 

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.