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Old habits sure are hard to break

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I like to talk to people. It doesn’t matter to me if they’re young or old, male or female, or what nationality they may claim. I find people interesting, and I enjoy striking up a conversation with them.

I’m that guy who goes to Walmart with his wife and disappears for a few minutes, only to be found two aisles over talking to someone he’s never met before.

Yep, that guy.

If I see someone just moving in the neighborhood I’ll probably strike up a conversation with them the first chance I get. Just did that a few days ago as a matter of fact.

The ladies in my house think my talking to complete strangers is a bit odd.

They may be right.

What’s funny (to me) about this is that until I was in my early 20’s I was extremely shy and socially awkward. Even looking someone in the eyes was a major struggle for me. Maybe some of you can relate?

It wasn’t until I became a Christian and began to grown in my faith that I actually began to see myself as “good enough” and on equal footing as the rest of the world. Oh sure, I had plenty of people telling me that I would never be more than the shy, introverted country boy I’d always been, but I was determined to be more than that.

By the grace of God and the support of the best wife in the world I went farther than what anyone ever thought I would or could. Along the way I found my voice and God opened many, many doors for me to use it. Again, it was nothing I did. To God be the Glory for every good thing that has come my way!

So, as I said, I enjoy talking to people. I’m finding out however, that I’m not supposed to be doing that any longer, at least not without some restraints. Let me explain.

A few months ago I was out walking and the school bus dropped off a young lady and as the bus pulled away, I said hello to her. She didn’t respond, which I took to mean she didn’t hear me. So I said something to the effect of “I bet you’re glad to be out of school for the day, aren’t you”? This time she murmured something that I couldn’t understand. With that, she seemed to pick up the pace and hurried to get home.

Odd, I thought.

Just last night I was wandering around Target and I hear the familiar sounds of SuperMario coming from the electronics section of the store. I used to love playing Mario when it first came out, so I was naturally drawn to the sounds.

As I round the corner I see a young boy about 10 years of age intently focused on the game he was playing. He was pretty good at it and I complimented him on his skills. In response he barely glanced over his shoulder at me. I watched a few more seconds and told him that I too used to love to play Mario, and this time he didn’t even look at me. The silence felt very awkward, so I quickly left.

Recounting these events with my family I was told that I was probably thought of as an old creeper. In other words, I cannot strike up a conversation with children I don’t know, because I will be thought of as a potential predator.

As I listened to my daughter(who works with kids at a day care)tell me about how I should keep to myself when I’m around strange kids, it all started to make sense and I knew she was right. After all, no telling how many times these kids have been told about “Stranger Danger”. To them, I’m just another old guy that wants to harm them.

I get it.

Still, none of this sits well with me. I don’t like not being able to smile at a child or make over a baby in the store without it stepping over some line that society has deemed uncrossable. It’s just an automatic, natural thing to want to say “hi”.

Honestly, I get it.

Sadly, I get it.

Actually, tit’s kind of heartbreaking if you want to know the truth about it.

So I guess I’m left to wander around the store, hands in my pockets, eyes straight ahead, wearing blinders so I don’t notice the children. I’m to pretend there are nothing but grown ups within 100 yards of me. Which really stinks, because I seem to get along much better with kids than people my own age.

And that my friends, is the society we have descended into. Not much more to say about that I suppose.

Old habits sure are hard to break…I wonder how long it’ll be before I smile at some kid and ask “how ya doin”?

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

What are YOU good at?

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The other day my wife handed me a piece of paper on which she had quickly written something she had heard somewhere. Here is her message:

“In the church we’ve gotten really good at worship, but not so good at service to the Lord.”

As I reflected on this it struck me in a profound way that what she said was very true. For so long our churches have focused so much of their resources on creating the perfect “worship environment”(whatever that is), that it’s come at the high cost of neglecting others, and more importantly, Him.

If we aren’t serving others, how are we Christlike?

If ministry is not our primary purpose, what exactly is our purpose?

If we aren’t being salt and light in this world, why does this world even need us?

If we aren’t anointed and equipped for service, then who is doing the work of the ministry?

Father, as David prayed, so do I.

Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Teach me that serving others is serving You. Take the blinders from my eyes that I might see the needs that are all around me. Help me to understand that my neighborhood is my mission field, that souls hang in the balance, and that yes, I am my brothers keeper. Instruct me in your ways Lord, and let me not fail to praise you for the untold blessings that have been given to me. Amen

Ron

 

 

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”

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Hi neighbor!

How many of us remember that tune from the “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” TV show?

Mr Rogers Neighborhood

photo from Amazon.com

Just a few days ago Fred McFeely Rogers would have turned 90 years of age were he still alive. A lot of things were unique about Mr. Rogers. For one thing, he always changed into a sweater when he came through the door, and he could often be seen changing into comfortable tennis shoes as well.

Another thing that always stood out about him was how gentle and kind he was. He never spoke harshly about anyone, and he could put a positive spin on just about anything. You could always count on him smiling for most of the show too!

You also may not have known that he was a gifted musical composer who wrote over 200 of the songs that were performed on the TV show, including the iconic theme “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”.

The one thing that stands out above all of these tidbits though is that Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, and he used his call to minister to children everywhere. He felt a special bond with his young audience, and considered it his mission to provide programming that reflected his own gentle spirit.

“Those of us in broadcasting have a special calling to give whatever we feel is the most nourishing that we can for our audience,” Mr. Rogers said. “We are servants of those who watch and listen.”   Fred Rogers

Of course, he had his detractors as well. Some people cannot stand the fact that there are kind, considerate, and gentle people in the world and therefore have to find something negative to say. Through the years I’ve heard just about everything possible said about Mr. Rogers, and I dare say his reputation far exceeded that of his harshest critics.

Every day people made fun of him. Names such as wimp, sissy, gay, and others much, much worse were ascribed to him. He was the butt of endless ridicule for his soft spoken manner.

To countless children however, he was a friend. A friendly, smiling face that came into their homes and offered encouragement and hope.

I don’t know about you, but I believe an awful lot of people could sure use a friendly, smiling face to come and offer hope and encouragement to them today.

Mr. Rogers passed away on February 27th, 2003, but the driving force of his life lives on eternally. While he did his best to teach children about many things, he taught a lot about friends and friendship. He himself had a Friend like no other.

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.    Proverbs 18:24

If you need a friend today, I encourage you to call upon the Lord Jesus. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. I’d call that a pretty special friend, wouldn’t you?

Oh, and before I forget, Jesus will make your neighborhood more beautiful than even Mr. Rogers could!

Ron

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, might as well say
Would you be my, could you be my
Won’t you be my neighbor?     

Fred M. Rogers