Can’t Quite Figure This Out?

There is a question on my mind today that I can’t quite figure out. Perhaps you can help me. I don’t understand why people ignore other people. I’m not talking about hiding two isles over in the grocery store making sure you go a way to avoid that person of interest. I am talking about a person who sits near you for a half hour or so, walks right by you up and down the hallway several times while not looking your way, smiling at you, or acknowledging you in any way. It would be understandable if it were done only once but it has become a regular behavior. My wife talked to this person and the only comment returned was a terse, matter-of-fact, no feeling of concern statement. It could have been computer generated… no personality included. And the point is we can’t remember anything we might have done to insult this person or get them all up in the air.

Image 5-21-17 at 5.51 PMNow, all of you know that I put some rather frank comments on Facebook awhile back about my political leanings and my love for Donald Trump. Some people didn’t take to kindly to that, including my brother. Some de-friended me on Facebook while others asked me to leave their group. It was a hot time. Some of my friends in the church we attend once in a while (a church we use to serve), are dyed in the wool republicans, with whom we have simply agreed that we are not going to talk politics and let it ruin a good and lasting friendship. We have too much invested in each other to care so little for each other. I do know this person responded to me rather negatively about this matter back then… but now, after all these months… as Disney says (if that is it) “Let It Go!” Holding on to this stuff will eat you alive… but you already know that.

The reason I say we need to let it go is that if we let things like this push us off into our own little philosophical corners to put up barricades and keep the enemy at bay… then Lord help us if something really seriously happens. Who will we have left to lean on.

As far as I know I have sought to support this family ever since the first day we met. I haven’t said anything bad about them. Haven’t always agreed with everything they have done… but my support is there. I would never do anything to hurt them. And yet to be almost demonstratively ignored… like I am carrying this huge sign saying “I am walking by you and ignoring you.” Or I am sitting near you but I am not going to acknowledge you, speak to you, just look over and around you. I am not going to even share the peace of Christ with you. That simply baffles me.

Here is the deal: after I write this piece I will be over this and you can ignore me all you want. It will not bother me again. I will be sad that you have chosen this very awkward path of expression (being educated and all that). All you will be doing is hurting yourself and the influence of your family. People will notice and do notice how you treat others and the little games you play. Because what you do to me, I bet you are already doing to others… unless it cost you some political points. When they ask me did you notice how they ignore you, I will answer: “You know, I haven’t noticed. Perhaps they have something on their mind?”

Good luck to you my friend. If you are reading this and know it is about you, let’s talk and work this out. We don’t need this.

Grace and Peace

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Lucky Ducky… That’s Me

I have just got to share with you this bragging word: “I am the luckiest guy in the world.” The reason I say this is I had the best vocation in the world… I was a United Methodist Pastor. I got to spend forty years serving churches all over Western North Carolina – from Murphy in the west to Greensboro in the east – Eden in the north and Midland and Asheboro in the south. I have served a church that had seven (Yep 7 members) and some having six hundred members. I have had some mighty good times and some horribly bad experiences. I have witnessed great joy and unbelievable sadness. But that is the life of a pastor. You win some, lose some, and some get rained out. Do you know that as lovable as I am, not everybody agreed with my own personal opinion of my gifts and graces. Through it all I found that not taking myself so seriously was a grace that all pastors need to understand and develop.

Image 5-20-17 at 10.05 PMWhat brought all this to my pea brain tonight was today I was honored to be asked to return to a former church and celebrate the wedding of a young lady who was just one of the precious children we enjoyed at that church. She was funny. She was her own person. We all just loved those kids. I made it a habit in those days of having a children’s message. I loved doing that… felt like Art Linkletter at times – because I loved these kids and I loved the wonder in their eyes and the honesty of their thoughts. Many a Sunday I have had my sides hurting from laughter from something one of the children said. It not only happened in that church but in every church I served where I did a children’s time. I know some pastor’s do not do that and that is fine… but we lose a lot when we do not spend time with the children. Take the time to laugh with them, visit with them, talk with them about stuff they enjoy. I know you will be amazed by what they know and what they say.

Today, as I said, I returned to a church I served over twenty years ago to celebrate the wedding of one of those children who sat at my feet during five years of children’s messages. And believe me she was a hoot… on top of her game… ready for me every Sunday. Today she is all grown up and marrying this very nice young man she met in college. You can see in their eyes and in the way they speak with each other that they are really in love and really respect one another. Boy was I ever honored to be able to participate in her life in this special way.

All of this got me to thinking about the good times we had in that church. What a great spirit of love, family and cooperation in that place all those years. We were a growing congregation – not by great numbers – but a steady growth each year. There were a few people that were real characters who got my goat all the time. One was and man named Buren. At the parsonage on moving day… Shirley and I were moving in. Buren was there along with some other men from the church to help us move in. I noticed burden was gathering up some boxes. He looked at me and said: “Preacher, we are going to keep these boxes in a safe, dry place. Just in case we don’t like you there will be plenty of boxes for you to use moving out.” I almost fell on the floor laughing. The second thing he did (which I can share) happened during Sunday school assembly one Sunday morning. Carl, the superintendent, was leading us through some thoughts on stewardship saying: “I’ve always heard that if you are experiencing a drought it is because you aren’t paying the preacher enough.” Buren chimed in saying: “We are paying him he just ain’t sending it in.” Again, rolling in the pews. Another man in the church was a big time fisherman. Thurmond would always brag that he once caught a fish who’s shadow weighed two pounds. He took me fishing one day at the city lake in Asheboro. We were in his little John boat. I was fishing with a cork, sinker and hook. He was fly fishing. That meant that in this little six foot boat with us sitting opposite ends, I had this fly (a feather weight lure with a hook hidden in it), swinging back and forth over my head. All of a sudden he caught me in the ear with that lure. That kinda finished the day. The next Sunday I made the announcement that “Thurmond was indeed the greatest fisherman I had ever seen. Just the other day, out at city lake, he hooked a two-hundred pound big mouth bass.” Everybody got a kick out of that.fullsizeoutput_14a7

There were plenty of other people and many experiences that continued to bring us together as a family and attract people to our congregation. We were all the time doing fun and exciting things. We were also involved in greater and greater outreach and ministry. It was a good church with great people. We hated to move but we knew it was time.

I will always remember this place with great appreciation that they allowed Shirley and me to spend five short years in their midst as they accepted us into their hearts and homes. Thank you, Guys… for all the great times.

God’s blessings on Colby and Ginny as they begin their new home and new life together.

Grace and Peace

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