Beliefnet
Cross Walking

There’s not much positive social interaction on social media these days — that is, unless you simply want to be heard. The problem with social media is that it’s made a great many of us anti-social. Here are a few tips on how to be social in an increasingly anti-social world. Let me know what you think, and I hope what you read helps you engage with people in meaningful, positively memorable ways.

1. REDISCOVER EYE CONTACT. Looking  at someone when you speak is one of the most fundamental ways we express interest in someone with whom we are conversing. Our social skills have been dumbed-down by our smart phone use. Put an end to that in your own life and make a concerted effort to look at someone in the eyes whenever you are speaking to them — or they are speaking to you.

2. ENGAGE. When someone is talking to you, pay attention. Don’t just look like you are listening. Really listen. When you catch yourself thinking about the next big thing you need to do, stop and put that to bed. Listen to and engage in the conversation right before your very eyes.

3. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. If you use your eyes and listen, you will be speaking volumes to your audience. Speak less and listen more. After all, God gave you one mouth and two ears. It’s a good thing to listen twice as much as you speak.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW CAN THESE SIMPLE TIPS HELP YOU BE MORE SOCIAL IN AN INCREASINGLY ANTI-SOCIAL WORLD?

Okay, it’s Valentine’s Day – time to improve your love life today and every day hereafter with a quick read that will change your life. Here are 5 tips to help you love the love of your life. Be sure to let me know what you think by commenting. If you know someone who would benefit from reading this, share it on your FB page . . .

I. smart-phone-icon-1236402-639x1381STOP TAKING YOUR SMART PHONE TO BED. Studies have shown that watching television in bed reduces a couple’s intimacy. If you’ve brought a smart device into your bedroom, and text, surf and email while the love of your life is right there beside you, you’re not behaving wisely. Text, surf the web, email people anyplace else but in your bedroom. You’ll be glad you did — and so will your mate.

valentine-002-1523677-639x426II. EXCHANGE VIRTUAL REALITY FOR . . . REALITY. Conservative estimates show that over 50% of married Christian men (and a growing number of women) have a problem with pornography. When we stop and think about it, it’s nutty. “Adult entertainment” is really very adolescent. If you have a problem with pornography, exchange your virtual fantasy for a real-life mate who God gave you — to love, honor, cherish and respect until death do you part. Feeling empty? Seek fulfillment in the mate God gave you, and let Him write the story of your love life.

love-1241392-638x423III. PRAY ABOUT IT. If you are having relationship problems, try prayer. Not as a formula, or to get God to change your mate, but as the expression of your own dependence upon God. Ask God to change your relationship, beginning with you. Prayer isn’t primarily about asking God to change people and circumstances – it’s about asking God to change you, regardless of anything else changing.

IV. GET BUSY. Don’t wait for your mate to be the change you can be. Set the example and be the mate you wish your mate would be. If you wait, your whole relationship will suffer. A great relationship is not a 50-50 commitment. It’s a 100% commitment. Give it your ALL, and you’ll see things begin to heat up for the best.

V. DON’T GIVE UP. If your love life has been lacking, it didn’t get that way overnight. It took a while. In the same way, it will take a while to get things back on track. Take things one day at a time. Remember that today ends at midnight — and what you do today can be a tile in the mosaic of your love life. Love your mate today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.

WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IN YOUR LOVE LIFE IF YOU PUT THESE FIVE TIPS INTO PRACTICE — TODAY? I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS.

 

DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOMEONE PUSHED THE “CRAZY” BUTTON, and America as we knew it no longer exists? Join the crowd. It seems like there is so much bad news in the world that it’s hard to stay positive, don’t you think? If there is one thing we cross-walkers need to do in these crazy times, it’s to rediscover JOY. If the Apostle Paul had deep joy while being imprisoned, you can, too — no matter what is happening your life and our nation. In fact, Paul was such a master at the art of joy that he wrote an entire book on the subject, the Book of Philippians — and he did it while in prison! Now, that’s what I call an expert. Here are a few important things to grasp about joy — so you can have it in your life no matter what is happening around you.

Rediscover JOY: How to live free in a world of bad news

Rediscover JOY: You can live free in a world filled with bad news.

WHAT IS JOY? IT IS TO BE CONTENT REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH . . .

1. JOY IS NOT SOMETHING WE ARE BORN WITH — IT’S SOMETHING WE LEARN. The imprisoned Paul wrote, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”  (Philippians 4:11-13, NIV).

2. JOY IS BASED ON JESUS CHRIST, NOT YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. If you fixate on what’s happening to you, you’ll miss Jesus in the midst. Again, Paul says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV). Real, lasting joy, is found in a Person, not a thing. It is found in Jesus Christ, the One who alone can make us content.

YOU can do all things through him who gives you strength, the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. TO INCREASE YOUR JOY, SPEND TIME IN GOD’S WORD, THE BIBLE. There are a lot of things we turn to these days to fill the void in our lives that only God can really fill. We need to stop doing this. If you want joy, you want Jesus Christ — and the way we spend time with Jesus, the Giver of joy, is to spend time in His Word. Romans 10:17 says this: “. . . faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.To build your faith — and your joy — lift your Bible.

It’s not possible to spend time in the Bible without spending time with Jesus. When you do, you’ll see your joy increase, regardless of your circumstances. No, your circumstances may not change at all — but a new you will begin to face those circumstances, and that’s what will make all the difference in the world, and the world to come.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? IS BAD NEWS GETTING YOU DOWN? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR JOY? HOW HAVE THESE THREE SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS HELPED YOU?

One of the most important things a Christian needs to learn is how to lovingly confront someone who is making life miserable for others. Nobody in their right mind (and right state before God), enjoys being critical. Today, everyone loves to recite the “Jesus didn’t judge” mantra – but the entire Bible is about judging behavior, morals and values so they align with God. There are times when constructive criticism isn’t just important, but necessary — when helping someone see how their behavior is wreaking havoc for people around them is not just important but also imperative. The truth is that Jesus judged — and you should, too, if you are following in His footsteps. The alternative is to allow sin to reign, people to be hurt, and God to be dishonored.

If you are going to follow Jesus you are going to have to pass a lot of judgment in the course of your life — beginning with yourself. Judging people isn’t the issue – the issue is how to judge in God-honoring, Christ-like ways. Judging should always be done with respect for God, for people, and a serious dose of humility. Galatians 6:1 (NIV) says this about judging others:

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

 

There are two things you have to learn to practice if you are going to really follow Jesus Christ. You must reach out to people who are sinning — and seek to bring them to their senses so they stop. By nature, this requires passing judgment – gently. In the flesh we pass judgment with a critical, self-righteous spirit – but in the Holy Spirit we can recognize sin in the life of another, help them recognize the same, and repent. This is a lost art these days. The truth of the matter is that we are to be our brother’s keeper. We can be, and will be, when we live by the Spirit.

Can you imagine what might happen in your family if you lived by the Spirit when it comes to conflict resolution? Imagine how your church would be transformed if the people within were characterized as such. America would be transformed if we who bear the name “Christian” began to live by the Spirit of Christ. We would become catalysts for reconciliation, unity and the outpouring of the Spirit across the nation.

Social media has accelerated America’s march away from God – but we Christians could turn that around if we were to bring the Spirit into our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Next time you post something on your Twitter feed or Facebook page, ask God how you can do it with gentleness, so that others are won over, not driven away. Yes, there are times when someone needs the social media equivalent of a bucket of water tossed in their face, to stop them from spreading falsehoods, anger and hatred. We’ve have to do this from time to time on our social media venues when someone waltzes into our living room with mud on their shoes. But we always reserve doing so for only the most extreme circumstances. We’ve found that if we respond kindly to a harsh post, people sometimes reciprocate with kindness. Gentleness can be an antidote for abrasiveness. It can warm up a very cold heart and lead people to repentance.

Jesus judged. If you are going to follow Jesus — really follow Jesus — you have to judge – beginning with your own life. You have to deal with your thoughts and your actions that are out of alignment with God. In the process of God developing your character, you will more easily recognize the character flaws of others. It’s inevitable. But what is also inevitable is the transformation of how you judge. You will begin to do it with gentleness, because that’s how Jesus did it. He mastered the art of loving the sinner while judging the sin. The ultimate example is found in the cross. That’s the place where justice and mercy embraced. If you’re following Jesus, you’ll grow in doing the same.

Jesus judged, and you should too. It’s simply a matter of how it’s done.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THAT THE ENTIRE BIBLE IS A BOOK THAT JUDGES ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS? HOW ARE YOURS COMING INTO ALIGNMENT WITH GOD – AND HOW CAN YOU BE A CATALYST FOR GENTLE CONFRONTATION THAT LEADS PEOPLE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH JESUS CHRIST?

WHAT IF YOU, AS A CHRISTIAN, WERE TOLD YOU COULD SPEAK ABOUT ANYTHING — EXCEPT ONE THING? Would that be fair? How would you feel? You would probably feel like your civil rights were being violated. In fact, you’d be absolutely right. You would be a victim of discrimination. Did you know that religious institutions in America are being discriminated against, and have been, for decades? It’s time we stand up and speak out for our civil rights — not some time in the future, but right now, today.

Our First Amendment is first on purpose. From it, all the other Amendments rise or fall. Did you know that the phrase “separation of church from state” appears nowhere in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence? If fact, it does not appear in any United States law. But the Johnson Amendment forbids churches from endorsing legislation or a political candidate. It eradicates the First Amendment for churches – and this is a violation of our God-given rights.

Remember, our Constitution does not give us our rights, it protects rights given to us by God Almighty. The First Amendment says this:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The unconstitutional Johnson Amendment is a law that hinders religious freedom, the free exercise thereof, and the freedom of speech – and you, as a Crosswalker, should care – BIG TIME. It’s time to put the Johnson Amendment to rest, once and for all – and you can help do that in the few three minutes.

Acts 5:27-29 shows us the courage Crosswalkers when filled with the Holy Spirit, facing with the choice of either standing for God or being intimidated by people:

“The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!‘” (NIV)

Peter and the Apostles were concerned with far more than simply preaching and teaching about Jesus. The early Church was concerned about fulfilling the Great Commission without compromise. It’s not only about merely baptizing people, but about teaching people “to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s about teaching people to learn and obey Jesus’ teachings about morals, conduct and living. 

If any legislator or branch of government attempts to pass a law that violates what the Bible teaches about morals, ethics and living, Crosswalkers have a God-given obligation and right to stand up and speak out about it. The illegal Johnson Amendment prevents religious non-profits from doing that, under the threat of losing their non-profit status. In other words, it tempts us to do the exact opposite of what Peter and the Apostles modeled. It tempts us to obey human beings rather than God. Have you really thought about this? Most likely, you haven’t. Our lack of thinking has raised up a generation of us sell-outs who are more afraid of people than respectful of God.

As a pastor of a large church (GraceYork.com), I know the temptation the Johnson Amendment creates these days, while politicians and politics have taken over religious, theological issues. Many pastors and churches have succumbed to the temptation, and avoid politics altogether – even when politics play with the Bible and our theology. We need to regain our spiritual fervor for God. In many cases, we need to get it for the very first time.


WHAT’S A CROSSWALKER TO DO?

1. PRAY AND THINK LONG AND HARD about how politics and politicians have now become openly entrenched into religion in America. They want to be able to speak out religious issues while ironically forcing us to be silent. Now, more than ever, they openly dictate matters about marriage, gender and sexuality. All of these are theological, not political issues. Why should politicians be allowed to delve into our world, and propose and pass legislation on such matters — while we are forbidden from doing so? In social media terms, that is a #doublestandard. Biblically, there is no area of life that a Christian does not have a right – and an obligation – to stand up and speak out about.

2. PRAY that President Trump tactfully, courageously works to rescind the Johnson Amendment – because it conflicts with the 1st Amendment, which protects our God-given right to free speech and the freedom of religion.

3. TAKE ACTION. TAKE 3 MINUTES, contact your senators and representatives by phone or email and simply say “I support the complete repeal of the Johnson Amendment, and want you to do everything within your power to work toward that end immediately.” It’s as simple as that. To contact your senator, take click here. To contact your representative, click here. and make your move:  and . Three minutes of action could literally help change our entire country. Go ahead, do it.

4. IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN LEADER, AND YOU HAVE FEARED PEOPLE MORE THAN GOD, IT’S TIME YOU REPENT. Pastors, elders, deacons and other leaders need to humbly stand up and speak out for religious freedom. In many cases, we have cared more about our 501(c)3 non-profit status more than our heavenly reward that comes by being obedient to Almighty God. Stop being a sell-out. It’s time to be sold-out for Jesus Christ. We are wasting precious time – and that is going to affect us for all eternity.

It’s time God’s people start standing up and speaking out, with humble courage. Not tomorrow, but today. Be salt and light – NOW. If we ignore our freedoms they will go away.

SHARE THIS BLOG WITH YOUR FRIENDS. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? I’D LOVE TO KNOW, AND I BET OTHERS WOULD, TOO.

I feel like America has more in common with a kindergarten playground than a nation, complete with crybabies adept in the art of emotional outburst. Can you identify? Dare to wade into the hot waters of the immigration debate, for instance, and you run the risk of being called a racist, a hater or xenophobe. Many common sense, level-headed people have completely withdrawn from the debate – because we have better things to do than risk having our heads chewed off by some tantrum-throwing ideologue bent on name-calling. This nonsense needs to stop, or our country will be obliterated from the inside out. What is a Christ-follower to do in the midst of this nonsense? It’s time for a common sense approach to America’s immigration problem, and it needs to begin with you and me.

My wife is not an American citizen, yet she is here legally. My grandfather was an immigrant, along with my great grandparents. All came to America with the necessary legal documentation, or they would have been labeled “WOPS” (Without Papers) put back on a boat, and returned to Italy. They understood the principle of being a positive contributor to society, and modeled it well. We’ve allowed the real issues about American immigration to be totally destroyed – and we can’t afford to allow it any longer.

America does not have an immigration problem. We have an illegal immigration problem. That one word, “illegal,” makes all the difference in the entire debate, and we need to start inserting it to prevent the distortion and distractions from continuing.

The problem with the current immigration debate is that it’s been taken over by extremists on both sides of the issue. There can be – and must be – a middle ground approach to our illegal immigration problem. This is what I am proposing. We all need to take a deep breath, relax for a moment, and get our wits about us. Extreme views are keeping us from using our minds.

One one hand, I appreciate President Trump’s concern to make America safe again. Over the years, the U.S. border has come to resemble Swiss cheese. It’s full of holes. (Nations, by definition, have borders). Many people want our borders made more secure – but are afraid to say so because they run the risk of being called a slew of names. The opposite of a secure border is an insecure border. Immigrants need to be here legally or else we are toying with the very existence of our nation. We will be of little use to anyone if America disintegrates into a land of chaos, anarchy and rebellion.

A great many people see the foolishness of having borders that aren’t borders, especially in light of the ongoing threat presented by radical Islam. If you are not familiar with the Muslim doctrine of “tawriya,” (situational lying) Google it – and wake up. It is unlike anything understood in Christianity or Western culture. It still amazes me that so many Christians are ignorant of tawriya. Our ignorance could lead to the undoing of Western civilization – and this is no exaggeration.

On the other hand, I appreciate the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, which stands on Liberty Island, near where my ancestors landed, on Ellis Island, after crossing the Atlantic:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

We need to continue to be a nation that welcomes immigrants, but we need to be wise to how our sympathies could be used against us by people with ulterior motives. Not all people are simply tired, poor and yearning to breathe free. We know for a fact that there are those who are angry, well-funded, and yearning to wreak havoc upon Americans. That’s a major fact many are forgetting. Our amnesia could cost us dearly.

 

WHAT’S A CROSS-WALKER TO DO?
For starters, you can be level-headed. Resist the temptation to give in to extremist views, and determine to be a person who thinks, prays, and acts accordingly. Be someone who really follows Jesus Christ. Here are a few practical things to consider when it comes to your views on immigration in America:

1. Remember that all races are equal at the cross. Racism is wrong. We should judge people not by the color of their skin, but by the conduct of their character, as MLK, Jr. once dreamed, as the Bible makes clear – repeatedly. Revelation 7:9 says this: “. . . before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” One race is not more important than another. No race is superior to another. This is the end of the discussion when it comes to racial equality

2. Authority, and law, matter. Romans 13:1-2 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” Would you hire an employee without doing a background check? Would you not get reference checks before hiring a baby-sitter? Do you leave your front door unlocked at night? Do you not check the front door to see who is there before responding to the door bell? Why throw caution to the wind when it comes to checking the backgrounds of potential American residents? Immigration law matters – because it exists to protect citizens from crime, chaos and anarchy.

3. A peaceful society is not developed by accident. It can only be cultivated on purpose. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” A peaceful, godly and holy society is not just a good thing we should pursue – it’s a matter of God’s will and our being responsible to work toward this end. Christians have a divine obligation to do all we can to make sure we don’t just talk about this, but make it a growing reality.

4. This is not a #MuslimBan, as social media extremists, and others in the mainstream media, are trying to brand it. There are forty-six “Muslim” nations that are not among the list of seven that the Obama Administration labeled as terrorist threats. If this were a #MuslimBan, people from all Muslim nations would be banned from entering the U.S., including Indonesia and India, the countries with the first and second largest Muslim populations in the world. Travel is not, however, restricted from either of those nations, and dozens more where Islam reigns. Don’t allow people to brand this as a religious war when it is not.

5. The President could have done a much better job explaining to the American people the reasoning behind his immigration action. Often, it’s not what we do that causes waves, but how we do it. President Trump could stand to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the timeless classic from Dale Carnegie. It would help him act a bit more Presidential. We may very well need to secure our borders, but there are a great number of Americans who need to be patiently, tactfully educated about why this needs to be done and done quickly. Failure to do so has caused waves that could have been largely avoided if only there were a bit more tact, patience and diplomacy.

6. Get your news from multiple sources – and stop relying on mere headlines to understand what’s happening in the world. In the same way we mustn’t judge a book by it’s cover, we mustn’t judge an issue by a headline we may read. Stop reading only the headlines, Twitter feeds and Facebook chatter. Do your homework, which takes work, and read multiple news sources. You should be reading the news with a Bible in hand, so you can filter everything through a biblical lens. Understand what is truly happening by being well-informed – then make it a practice to pray that God’s will is done. By reading multiple news sources — thoroughly — you will be better informed of the truth and better enabled to pray. Have we forgotten that prayer is one of the powerful ways we can influence society toward God? I think we have.

7. Our nation needs real revival, genuine spiritual awakening. We Christians in name need to become real cross-walkers, people who daily take up our crosses (death to self) and follow Jesus closely. Being Christian in name has become all too common in America — and our fake faith needs to come to an end. Are you really following Jesus Christ? Do you read the Bible often — and put it into action? Has your reading of the Bible simply become part of your routine, but not a matter of your transformation? Do you look more like Jesus Christ in character this year than you did last year? America needs a bath, and it needs to begin with those of us who say we are following the Jesus of the Bible. If we are, we will be characterized as people who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). So far, I don’t see a whole lot of that happening in the immigration debate — or much of anything we are debating in America these days.

 

If I were bent on destroying America, I would encourage people who do not embrace the Constitution, the rule of law and Judeo-Christian values to enter without any hindrance whatsoever. I would label anyone who opposed this approach a “racist,” a “hater” and a “xenophobe,” knowing it would most likely get the majority of law-abiding, peace-loving people with common sense concerns to sit down, shut up and focus on other things so I could get my way. So far, that approach has worked brilliantly. If we allow this practice to continue, I suggest we replace our National Anthem with a new American’ dirge – because a peaceful, godly kind of culture that honors God will be impossible.

America does not have an immigration problem. We have an illegal immigration problem. Moreover, we have a problem discussing issues with tact and kindness. We Christians need to (re)discover what cross-walking is all about. It’s all about really, truly, passionately, following the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s time we start encouraging everyone we know to do the same — now, while we still have time to turn America around.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HOW CAN YOU BE A BETTER CROSS-WALKER IN THE MIDST OF OUR IMMIGRATION DEBATE, AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME?