Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"I need more hands"

That was what Curtis, the deputy fire chief at Stumpy Point said to me yesterday as we were nailing tarps on the roof of a church in that little village.

Most of the homes in Stumpy Point were flooded. Some lost their roofs. All have suffered damage. Many of the residents evacuated and are just now returning to find all they own destroyed by water. Curtis and his dad, who is the fire chief, are doing their best to help out. As I looked at Curtis and listened to him tell the stories all I could see and hear was his own exhaustion and sense of being the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike.

Little communities on the Outer Banks like this have no real local government infrastructure. They're rural communities, who are communities in the real sense. Stumpy Point is our most "isolated" community here in Dare County, separated by miles from the rest of us and surrounded by water. On a normal day it is a most beautiful spot. After a hurricane, it more resembles something from the Apocalypse.

Roads have just been opened. Cell service is pretty much non-existent. Mosquitoes, snakes and turtles are abundant. And so is the need. These are proud watermen, the kind of people who have been self-sufficient for centuries. Hard working and resilient they are. But now they are in something they never imagined and the likes of which no one can remember.

County-wide the needs are overwhelming. Great resources are being put to work to restore power, water, food, ice, and especially roads down on Hatteras Island. Ferries loaded with necessities are going throughout the day to supply them, and I'm glad for it. But right before the ferry dock is a little village that seems to be neglected and has enormous needs as well.

If your church or group is looking for somewhere to go, please consider Stumpy Point. You'll meet some wonderful, God-fearing people who have lost all their material possessions but not their spirit.

And I'm with you, Curtis. I could use a few more hands this week myself.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In the Aftermath of Irene

We are partnering with NC Baptist Men's Disaster Relief agency to make a difference.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Gracious Response to the "Disciples of Intolerance"

Once again, those who want everyone else to tolerate them demonstrate how intolerant they are. This time they put pressure on a leading business executive to not speak at Willow Creek's Leadership summit. And he bowed out.

In the video, Pastor Bill Hybels graciously explains the position of his church. I hope you'll watch and listen carefully. I've used the same explanation, that at Nags Head Church we don't ask anyone at the door their beliefs or about their sexual lives. Everyone here, as they are at Willow Creek, is welcome to attend and hear the Gospel.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

If you know me, you know I love to laugh and have fun. But on those rare days when I’m angry and, as we say in the South, “ill” in mood, it’s often because I’ve allowed negative or critical people to ruin my day. Note I didn’t say they ruined my day. No, I allowed them to do it.

But there are some folks who seem to thrive on being offended by the most insignificant things. Another driver cuts him off and he takes it personally – personal enough that he speeds up beside the offender to look at him (or her) with a menacing glare or one-finger salute. The server at the restaurant waits on the table that arrived after they did first and now the entire meal is ruined.. Her covered vegetable dish at the church dinner somehow was mixed in with the desserts and was largely ignored. She’ll never speak to the covered-dish-table committee again.

So, here are ten lessons I’m learning from experience about how to avoid being easily offended.

1. Don’t be so quick to judge another’s motives. In fact, realize that unless you can see within another’s heart (something only God can do), judging their motives is impossible.

2. Not everyone is like you. Some people assume that everyone else thinks like them – especially those who are dishonest and untrustworthy. So, if I’m a liar, I believe everyone else is as well, so I trust no one. If I’m a thief, I expect people to steal from me. Not true.

3. Figure out something else to do with that chip on your shoulder. Daring the rest of the world to look at you or challenge your thinking can’t be a fun way to live. The chip is there because you have some warped sense of needing to be defensive. Find a way to get rid of it.

4. No one enjoys walking on eggshells. Life’s too short to constantly be scared of being taken the wrong way by a thin-skinned narcissist. I’m going to have fun and attempt to be myself. Here’s a fact of life: neither you nor I are the center of anyone’s universe (except maybe our own…).

5. Really, who actually lives to offend others? I’m sure there are some truly mean to the bone people in this world. But I don’t know any. Well, I remember one guy in college. But I think he was just immature. But if I did, I’d just steer clear of them. Most people don’t mean to offend or hurt. So, if you’re offended consider that maybe it isn’t them that has the problem, but you.

6. Be confident in who you are. God created you to become a person of significance. Unless you’re a total jerk, it’s doubtful that everyone is in a conspiracy against you. Guess what? They’re not. Until you grasp that, you’ll always think there’s a target on your back. Isn’t that paranoia? Get real. Be reasonable. Chances are the vegetable dish wound up with the desserts accidentally. Isn’t it possible that you have simply taken something the wrong way?

7. Learn to laugh at yourself. Life’s too short to take everything so seriously. If everyone is laughing at you, maybe you should join them. And if they’re laughing, it’s because they can see the humor in life. Most of the dumb things I do are trivial, not life altering. One of my oft quoted sayings is, “Rick, you’re such a dufus.”. Really…is your name Charlie Brown?

8. Get the burr out of your saddle. If you’re easily irritated, get up and find out the root of your irritation. And likely you won’t have to look beyond your own dissatisfaction with yourself. It the source is avoidable, then avoid it. If not, then get to work on making the situation better.

9. Even if your day is ruined that’s no excuse to ruin someone else’s. Nobody wants to hear your whining. Sorry, but it’s true. Don’t be surprised if people head the other direction when you walk into the room.

10. If what somebody said/did seems out of character, it probably was. Give them the benefit of the doubt. But maybe your interpretation totally doesn’t match their intent. Everyone has a “bad day”. Maybe they just slipped. Extend some grace. Let it go. Get over it and move on.

Oops. I think I hear egg shells cracking…