Saturday, January 12, 2019


You Can’t Go Home Again; But You Can be a Positive Force in Town

I grew up in Ash Grove from the 1960s to the 1980s. I managed a newspaper in Willard during the early 1990s. I have lived in Republic the past 15 years. I can confirm that these towns have changed in the last 30 to 15 years.

“You Can’t Go Home Again” is a book written by Thomas Wolfe. In it, he tells the story of an author who returns home only to discover that the town residents are mad at him because they see themselves in some of his stories. Then he writes this famous line: “Back home to time and memory which cannot be recaptured.”

For example, no matter how detailed or pleasant my memories are about the friendly small town experience of growing up in Ash Grove, things have changed. The town has changed because people have changed.

Those lazy, hazy days of the 1980s can never be recaptured. I can hop on a 10-speed bike and ride all over town, and it will not matter. I can cruise Main Street at night with my window rolled town playing music, and it will not be the same. I may even get pulled over by a local officer, but the town and the experience will be different.

If you have lived here long, you know things have changed.

Sometimes this change is due to external forces. Businesses come and go. Certainly, it can also have to do with changes in our culture. It can also be a reflection of changes in us.

However, the harsh reality is that it can also be because of the choices we have made. Sometimes towns change because good people turn a blind eye to evil or community challenges. Sometimes the changes have greed or pride at the root.

Our communities need leaders and volunteers who are positive. Our towns need community leaders that are agents of peace. This means being a community spark plug. It means devoting energy to community needs but doing it in a way that is not self-serving. It also means leading in a way that brings people together on issues, not creating a wider divide.

Being an agent of change may require you to make personal changes or alter your priorities. It may require that you establish peace in your family first.

Our communities need healthy individuals, stable families, and mission-minded churches and institutions that build and support the community.

Why wait for someone else to take a step forward to lead? Stop pretending that we can recapture the 1980s and start looking forward. While we cannot recapture past glories, we can work together to ensure a strong future for our communities.

Sign up for our Greene County EXCEL program online at and get regular updates about learning opportunities for Greene County leaders and volunteers.

Monday, January 07, 2019


Epiphany 2019 at the Burton Household

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, was a Christian holiday that most Americans know little about: the Feast of the Epiphany. From the Greek word meaning “manifestation,” it celebrates the visitation of the Magi to the infant Jesus and his family in Bethlehem. We celebrated the Epiphany dinner at our house.

Matthew 2 tells us that the magi, or wise men, travelled from the East in search of the Christ child. They inquired of King Herod where they might find Him, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him" (Matthew 2:2). Upon finding the baby Jesus, “they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

The Bible does not tell us any other significance to these three gifts; however, tradition has it that there is a deeper meaning for each of the three. 

Gold is a symbol of divinity and is mentioned throughout the Bible. The gift of gold to the Christ child was symbolic of His divinity—God in flesh. It was also valuable and might have funded their trip to Egypt.

Frankincense is a white resin obtained from a tree. It is highly fragrant when burned and was used in worship, where it was burned as a pleasant offering to God (Exodus 30:34). Frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. 

Myrrh was obtained from a tree. It was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction.

So while the 12 Days of Christmas have ended it is a reminder to us that our celebration of Jesus birth is more than just a day, it is a season, this day of epiphany and the three gifts of the wisemen reminds us that we have reason to celebrate Jesus each and every day.
Merry Christmas!

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