Sunday, October 23, 2011


Any garden enthusiast like me understands the importance of "deadheading"
--especially when growing geraniums, petunias, and other similar flowers.  Deadheading is the process of removing the old, withered, faded blooms from the plant to make room for the new flowers. If the dead flowers are not removed from the plant, the petals can actually cover other buds and, besides just looking really ugly, can prevent the buds from blossoming. Dead flowers are a hindrance, holding back the true beauty of the plant.

While deadheading my plants, I realized I needed to "deadhead" my life. Of course my body doesn't have a bunch of dead flowers all over it, but negative thoughts from the past can cover up the new happy moments trying to emerge.

As most of you know, I am the grandson of Dr. Max Barton. A preacher who is nationally recognized as a great leader by everyone with the exception of a few people from my old church. The past year has been very tough and it started with my grandfather retiring from the church I have attended for the past 16 years of my existence.

In his retiring, there were many people who said horrible things about him. I guess they felt much more comfortable talking trash to my face because they were too cowardly to confront him themselves with their disapproval. Things such as, "I can't wait for your granddad to no longer be pastor here!" "I'm only staying if your grandfather leaves!" "Things are going to be a lot different if Pastor Barton would actually retire" and many more hurtful things. I just couldn't help but to think that if you were so displeased with my grandfather being pastor, then why wouldn't you move your church membership somewhere that will make you happy? Why stay if you are so miserable?

It is just simply amazing what all has been blamed on my grandfather... how dead the youth group is, how dead the music is, how ineffective the Sunday school classes are, even the musical choices in upcoming weddings were turned down "because of my grandfather." My grandfather is no longer pastor and is still being blamed! At what point will people begin to accept responsibility for themselves and realize that ineffectiveness is from them not taking the initiative?

Besides the hurtful things said, it's been hard to live on Rountree Road (aka People's Baptist South). It's hard walking your dog, and people come out in the yard and say that they miss seeing you in church and your youthful edge that you brought to the music ministry (of which my grandfather LOVED the new music I sang, just throwing that out there). I would respond with "I do miss everyone, but I believe that this is God's will for me to be at Unity and believe it whole heatedly" just to receive the response, "Well, I'm pretty sure it's God's will for you not to be at Unity!" While I have excellent neighbors (Mr. Richard and the Swanners--you know you're awesome!), many of them- I feel- would rather pull out their teeth with pliers in their garage than to acknowledge I am outside. It's hard when you yell across the street "hey neighbor!" just for them to continue walking away. Maybe the first time they didn't hear me, maybe the second, I mean... it happens. I don't always hear everything. But after almost a full year of my attempts, you think at least one of the hello's would have been heard.

This is where the deadheading my life comes in. I am choosing to no longer dwell on these hurtful saying and events in my life-- Removing the constant negative thoughts to make room for beautiful new growth. God has allowed me to attend an incredible church where people have fire to advance His kingdom. Passions in every area- at least for what I can see. I LOVE the sermons! I LOVE the music ministry and actually being allowed to be serve! And I actually LOVE my Sunday School Class!  *Gasp!* WHAT!?! Yes, I actually enjoy Sunday school. I have never been in a Sunday school class that is taught as a lesson that allows personal interjections and searching for other verses that correspond with our teachings. I LOVE being able to have a prayer request time to share our concerns for other people and for ourselves. It's such a blessing, so freeing. 

Of course, I don't mean to paint a picture that people who attend People's are fake. They really aren't! There are many excellent people who truly desire God's will for their life. There are many excellent people who want the best for the church and give their absolute best! It just was no longer a place for me, and that is OK.

God sometimes allows us to go through change to rejuvenate us. We are the plant. He is the gardener. He wants us as Christians to be rejuvenated! He wants us to be rid of those dead flowers in life that prevent us from blooming to our full potential. As plants, we simply cannot deadhead ourselves, we need help from our Lord, The Master Gardener, to help us not focus on those past events but to focus on those beautiful new buds that He has allowed to grow into our life.

These experiences have definitely shaped me into the man I am today. I am sure God has allowed these events to happen to teach me that I can't make everyone happy, to teach me to live according to His word and not just be a "people-pleaser." So, I am going to say to those who have said hurtful things, thank you for allowing me to grow, I'm sorry for holding on to this hurt for so long, I forgive you.

Then Peter came to him and asked,
“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!"

Matthew 18:21-22

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