Step by Step to the Greatest Generation

ImageYesterday I received a phone call informing me of the death of Richard Shutt. He had been in declining health for some years now, especially after the death of his wife, Shirley. I reminisced with his son for a few moments and we said our goodbyes.

I sat there for a few moments more thinking about Richard and R.J. and all those Shutt boys growing up and becoming the people they are today. Richard and R.J. were part of what we call the “Greatest Generation.” These were people who pulled together during the toughest of times to make this country great. They gave their all to see that we fulfilled all our obligations and kept our word. They were also the ones we talk about when we use the terms like “his word is his bond” meaning you really didn’t need contracts written down… just take him at his word… it is as good as gold.

These are the people that built a great community, nation and world based on honesty, integrity, and hard work. They pulled together in war and peace with everyday, down to earth, practical thinking and caring actions.

Richard and R.J. were men of great faith and influence… but that greatness didn’t come overnight nor was it awarded lightly. It was earned through a lifetime of integrity, honest compassion for and work in the community. They cared and worked to build a better place for all people to live. Day by day, step by step they grew their faith and legacy in such an honest way that people started looking to them for leadership. The Shutt’s never let us down.

I am honored to have known such men as these. Just being around them, talking with them, learning from them helped to make me a better person. There are more generations of the Shutts coming along… step by step, day by day following in the footsteps of the greatest generation.

Saint Peggy

134657_10151311047841111_2010671885_o I have served in the United Methodist Church for 40 years. Every year has presented itself with many opportunities and challenges. Each church has had its wide variety of Saints and sinners. Of course, we are all sinners and some are more saintly than others.

I have been blessed to have served churches that were filled with Saints, people who were always willing to give, sacrifice, do the hard thing in order that others may experience the love of Jesus Christ. Every church – every church has blessed me by allowing me to work alongside these Saints.

You could always tell who the Saints were in every church. They were the ones who were more understanding, more quick to forgive, more eager to be involved, less put out by what seemed to be failures to others, more positive in their approach to all situations, more prayerful, more dedicated, and more loving in every way. They were the ones who seem to live on a higher plane, closer to God than us ordinary Christian people.

Last night I learned of the passing of one of those great saints of the church, Peggy Sizemore. If there ever was a saint it was Peggy. She was a hard worker, constant supporter, forever giver, who tirelessly gave her all to help the church be a better place. I will always remember Peggy’s smile and laughter, her great humor and her devotion to the Lord. She was always busy, always going, always helping.

At our church we had something called the pumpkin patch each year. We sold thousands of pumpkins over the years. People would stop by, look through the pumpkins, get a warm welcome from the patch workers, receive a little candy, buy a little pumpkin, and go on their way having been touched by the love of God. Peggy led the pumpkin patch for many years. It was a fundraiser for the before and after school program, and other missions of the church.

Yes I will remember her for the pumpkin patch. But most of all I will remember her as a kind, sweet, devoted Christian saint who took the time to allow Christ to live through her and touch the lives of all of us who came into her presence. Thank you God for your St. Peggy and the many ways she touched our lives and made us better. Amen.


You will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have ada Grieving Heartded the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.

Please also take the time to leave a good review with Amazon. After today, these books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.

Commitment to Christ

 This past Sunday I had the great privilege of attending worship service at a church I served for eight years. During the worship seven youth were confirmed and one was baptized. Several things were special to me in this service: the first being that I baptized most of these youth when they were infants. It was special to be able to watch them grow up and be involved in some of the events of their lives. And now here they are, all these years later, making this great commitment of their lives.

The second thing that was so very special was my grandson was one of the confirmands in this group, and that made it very special indeed. This was the day he stepped beyond the faith of his parents, stood on his own two feet, and declared: “This I believe! This I am! This is the manner in which I will always seek to live! I am a Christian… a follower of Christ!”

All the church celebrated this day of commitment… for all had participated in the Baptismal vows (all those years ago) to give these children every opportunity to grow up and make this decision for Christ Jesus on their own. Parents, mentors, family members, and the church stood behind each confirmand. Each have sought in their own way to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ before these children. This day we thanked everyone who assisted in their growth in faith, love and charity.

Isn’t it beautiful when the church works and people surround each other in the arms of a loving God? People lift one another and the language of love is spoken. Thank you for the gift you have prepared for these youth all these years and for sharing in this day when they said “Yes” for themselves.


a Grieving HeartYou will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.

Please also take the time to leave a good review with Amazon. After today, these books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.

The Church and Facebook

thA church that I have served in the past and dearly still love today has been going through some very difficult times. I am not all that sure what has gone on but I know that, like any church, things have been said, people have been hurt, and none of us really know how to respond.

Many have reacted by going to Facebook to air our concern, call out the bullies, and ask for prayer. Even as well intended as this has been I believe that it is not the best thing for us to be doing – that is I don’t believe it will accomplish what we desire but may very well produce just the opposite results. Instead of bringing us together it may, in fact, make the divide all the greater.

If we were asked (all of us) what we want right now, I believe most all of us would say: peace and understanding, forgiveness and restoration, and a new direction that will place us on a higher plane. I don’t want things to go back like they were before all this stuff happened because apparently something was brewing underneath it all. I want something new – a new spirit from which, through which we can build the church in a way where Jesus is indeed the sweet, sweet Spirit in our midst.

Plow Point Ministries is coming in to help us find that place where we can be the church again. I have known Reverend Beth Crissman for many years now. She is one of the most spiritual persons I know. Her calling is to help us (the church) find a way to settle our differences in a Biblical and Christian manner, and start us on a path to where we actually treat one another in a Christian way all the time. Please look forward to her being with you and don’t fear the process.

In order for us to prepare our hearts and minds for Plow Point and all that it has to offer, as your friend, I think it would be better not to post anything to Facebook about any of the problems at the church. Instead, let me suggest that we start preparing our own hearts and minds for what we seek: peace and understanding, forgiveness and restoration, and a new direction that will place us on a higher plane, by spending daily time in prayer and meditation.

To prepare ourselves to be receptive to the Spirit of God through Plow Point let me suggest that we use this prayer as our daily meditation:

The Prayer of St. Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen”

Allow this prayer to guide your thoughts as you prepare for that which is to come, and even as you prepare for each coming day as you pray it several times a day.

Grace and Peace to all of you. Amen.

Need A Laugh

12790_1661833254046103_6774329231874474_nA few years ago I was visiting in the home of one of my members after she returned home from the hospital. It was my first visit to their new home. I was in the den with John and we were talking about all sorts of stuff. Over their mantle is this large flat screen television, and beside it is a little hole. Being inquisitive, I asked, “John, what is that? (pointing to the hole.) John replied in very slow, deliberate words: “Steve, that is a Teeee Veeee.” Man did I leave myself wide open for that or what. To this day I can never think of him without thinking about the Teeee Veeee episode.

Last night, Shirley and I went to Kernersville for dinner. There is a nice place on 66 named the Plaza Restaurant. We have found it to be a really nice place with good food. We had eaten there once before. At the previous trip I had their baked pork chops. They had some kind of different taste to them that I couldn’t quite figure out. Last night, not wanting the same surprised taste, I inquired from the waitress; “Do the pork chops and the country style steak have the same taste?” (I was looking for her to say that there is a special seasoning they add to the chops.) Instead she says very plainly… almost like John said Teeee Veeee… “No, they have a different taste because the pork chops are pork and the country style steak is beef.” I just said “thank you” and bowed my head. Now I am not sure I can go back to that restaurant because there is a waitress who knows me as the man who doesn’t know the difference between pork and beef.

With all the woes in this world and all the ones that seem to surround and influence our own personal part of it, we need some time to lighten up, chill out, and laugh. I am fortunate to have grown up in a family that loved to laugh, and to be married to a woman who laughs at me and with me every day.

Take some time today to laugh… it will do you good!!!


a Grieving HeartYou will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.

Please also take the time to leave a good review with Amazon. After today, these books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.

Appointment Time

10835225_10206374849470969_680204431049334370_oIn the United Methodist Church pastors are appointed to their places of service by the Bishop. Our appointments are usually one year at a time. I spent 40 years in the ministry and I am still sure I have no clue what goes into the decision about who is appointed where. It has always seemed like baseball teams trading players. Someone needs a fastball pitcher another team needs a good second baseman. Somehow the players are traded. Or it is like trading cars. Someone wants a cool sports model while another needs a mini-van. If the players and the cars all work in concert with the team… then it is a good match.

Honestly, I know that the cabinet tries their best to match up the needs of the churches with the gifts and graces of the pastors… and then prays for them to work out a good marriage.

A good friend and colleague of mine, Reverend Mark Reisinger (my former Duke Student) will be moving this year after a seven year stay at his present church. I remember back all those years when he came to our church and brought with him a love for Bishop Story, the South African people, and a heart for missions. He was such a kind and thoughtful person. We had many good Duke interns and a couple who just wanted to skate by. We were thankful for them all… for we all learned and grew in each time of ministry together.

This is a tough time of the year when we, as pastors, have to say good bye and prepare to be welcomed into the hearts of another congregation. It is a time when the past must find its place there and the present come to the forefront so that authentic ministry may take place.

Grace and peace to all the clergy moving this year and to all the churches who will be receiving new pastors. May both enter into this new chapter with an open heart, a loving spirit, and the real grace of Jesus Christ. God’s Speed to all.


a Grieving HeartYou will notice at the bottom of the header (above) are a list of my books. I have added the last one so you can order The Grieving Heart in paperback form. All the other books are eBooks. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read these and I hope they will help to bring you comfort and grace in time of need.

Please also take the time to leave a good review with Amazon. After today, these books have been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.