Say It Out Loud

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Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! Because I know my wrongdoings, my sin is always right in front of me. I’ve sinned against you—you alone. I’ve committed evil in your sight. That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict, completely correct when you issue your judgment. Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, from the moment my mother conceived me. And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places; you teach me wisdom in the most secret space. Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds! Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! Please don’t throw me out of your presence; please don’t take your holy spirit away from me. Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways, and sinners will come back to you. Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation, so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness. Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise. You don’t want sacrifices. If I gave an entirely burned offering, you wouldn’t be pleased. A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God. You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed. Do good things for Zion by your favor. Rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Then you will again want sacrifices of righteousness—entirely burned offerings and complete offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar. (Psalm 51, Common English Bible)

In the two studies I lead during the week at First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas where I serve as the pastor, we started looking at the Adam Hamilton study Christianity’s Family Tree. Tonight when we meet we will be in our third week, having already looked at both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. Tonight we will look at the Lutheran tradition.

Last week, in both the Wednesday night study and the Thursday lunch study, I took a little time to share my feelings on something I think we Protestants have lost. In the Roman Catholic tradition, confession is a sacrament and a great deal of importance is placed on it. Most of us know, Roman Catholic priests hear the confessions of the individual.

We have lost some real value in the idea and practice of confession. I do know that many Protestants are faithful in their confession to God for the sins they have committed. In Psalm 51 above, one of my personal favorites because of its raw emotion in the face of deep personal sin confessed to God, the psalmist confesses directly to God. There is no preacher or priest hearing the confession and interceding on behalf of the psalmist.

As a matter of pure theology, I wholeheartedly concur. We are as capable of confessing our sins before God ourselves just as well as when someone listens and intercedes on our behalf.

As a practical matter I still believe we have lost something. Please understand. I am not trying to sign up for the job of listening to all my church member’s sins. While I would always be happy to sit in a pastoral environment, including this one with my members, I don’t think that is necessary.

I do think there are two areas where we can improve. First, there is something about hearing ourselves speak our sins, hearing it go from our mouth to our ear that makes us miss out on something important. As I read Psalm 51, I imagine the psalmist, in these cries of deep emotional pain, is praying out load. Sure, God hears us when we pray silently, but there is something for us that is missing. When the words of my sins go from my mouth to my ear that just makes them more real. I believe God will forgive our sins regardless of how we confess them in prayer, but for us, there is something to saying them out loud.

That brings me to the second thing I think we are missing. While I don’t think we must confess to a priest or preacher or anyone for that matter, there is also something important that happens when we choose to do so. When I confess my sins to another person, not only do I hear them, but I have made that person both an accountability partner and an encouragement partner. If someone else knows, they can ask me how things are going. They can remind me how far I have come. Their words can make a difference. This is why Twelve Step programs work. It is more than me on my own.

While I think these are important things our traditions have lost, how you pray and confess is really up to you. It is a matter between you and God. And, at the end of the day, John reminds us, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1:9, Common English Bible). And, that is what is truly important. Our confession will result in God’s forgiveness.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

What is Truth?

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 “So you are a king?” Pilate said. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my  voice.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. After Pilate said this, he returned to the Jewish leaders and said, “I find no grounds for any charge against him…” (John 18:37-38, Common English Bible).

I have been giving a great deal of thought lately to truth. As I am writing this, I am watching the first presidential debate. I am not sure there is much truth coming out of my television right now.

Earlier today, I read an article about both candidates and who was the most truthful. I don’t want to have my blog descend into the muck pile of presidential politics. But, where are we when we are trying to determine who is the most truthful. By definition, when we say who is the most truthful, we are really saying neither is truthful.

That is scary to me. We are supposed to be a people who value truth and yet we are about to put into office a person (regardless of who wins) are far from being honest people. As I look around our society, from social media, to our entertainment, to the politics of our government, truth seems to be something frightening.

In the lesson above Jesus says, “…whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.” We, people of faith in Jesus Christ, by His words, need to be people who are constantly in search of the truth. As I read those words, it says to me, we are called to be in constant prayer, for God to reveal the truth to us.

Seek truth. We also need to be people expect truth. Prior to the debate I watched the popular television show The Big Bang Theory. In the episode, Penny slips and tells people about a friend. Then she lied. Her other friend says how easily she told the lie and how well she did in the telling. Shouldn’t that worry (assuming she was a real person) Penny’s friends? While I realize this is entertainment, how many of us look the other way when we know the truth is not present?

We live in an era where it is so easy to spread things that just are not true. Anyone with the skill to operate a keyboard can go on Facebook and make false claims that can spread like wildfire. With the skills to operate photo software can manipulate pictures to spread untruth. With the ability to click on a “share” link any of us can perpetuate and move forward with things that quite simply are untrue.

Pilate asked, “What is truth?” I think we should be able to answer the question. Truth is truth. It is not what we would like it to be. It is not what we would wish it to be. Webster defines truth as, “the real facts about something.”

As people of faith, we need to be people who seek the real facts. Even more, we need to be people who speak the real facts. We need to be people who investigate, who research and only when we have reached educated conclusions should we speak. If we are unable to investigate and research, let us be silent. It is far better that we be honest and silent than to speak that which is not true.

As followers of someone who embodied truth, as His disciples we need to always be about truth. To do less is leaves us unfaithful in our call. I am not naive enough to talk about the faith of either candidate, nor do I really know much about their faith or lack there of. But, at least for me, telling the truth is not as much about them as it is about us.

The one thing about both candidates I know is true is, at least for now, neither is talking. The debate is over. I for one am not upset about that.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

And Time Stood Still

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On the day the Lord gave the Amorites into the power of Israel, Joshua spoke to the Lord in the presence of the Israelites: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon! and Moon, at the Aijalon Valley!” The sun stood still and the moon stood motionless until a nation took revenge on its enemies. Isn’t this written in the Jashar scroll? So the sun stood motionless in the middle of the sky. For a whole day, it was in no hurry to go down. There hasn’t been a day like it before or since, when the Lord responded to a human voice. The Lord fought for Israel. Then Joshua along with all Israel came back to the camp at Gilgal. (Joshua 10:12-15, Common English Bible).

I can’t speak for you, but I have had those days where time just seems to stand still. Because I have a great deal more freedom over my schedule these days it doesn’t seem to happen very often now, but prior to my ministry days, days I was stuck in the office, sometimes with little to do, the time just crawled by. I can remember at one point during the day, one time, I really thought my watch was broken or the battery had died or something but every time I would look at my watch I thought it was the time I had seen at what had to have been two hours ago.

There are those times, even these days in ministry (perhaps I should say especially these days in ministry) I wish time would stand still, maybe not for a whole day but at least for two or three hours to give me a chance to get caught up with all the work seeming to stack up in the pile on my desk.

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In the story above, God gave Joshua and the Israelites all the time they needed to accomplish the task at hand. God does the same for us. The problem is, not everything we do is something God would have us do. For the things God gives us, God will give us the time we need to accomplish the goal.

Here’s the thing. God will give us the time to accomplish God given assignments. That doesn’t mean God is going to give us the time needed to accomplish assignments from an unreasonable boss. It doesn’t mean we are going to have time to complete the honey-do list. Please understand, I am not advocating ignoring the boss or neglecting your spouse. We might find ourselves in some pretty deep trouble when we fail to do those things.

I chose the timepiece with no hands to signify God’s time. Our time and God’s time are not the same. We are stuck with 24 hour days and eight hour work days and probably, at least for most of us, the need to wear a watch around on our arm (though with cell phones some are getting away from watches, but the cell phone serves the same purpose).

It would be my guess, God probably isn’t going to stop time for the world in order for you to get something done. God’s done it once. It showed God’s power. For the rest of us, it is a matter of putting things in order according to their priority and then get to work.

I have been reading some different ideas about time management lately. These authors are saying many of us spend our time working on what is critical rather than on what is important. They say, if we do that, we need to re-evaluate our priorities.

Still, probably the best thing we can do in setting those priorities is pray. That might be a particularly good idea if God, your boss and your spouse are all asking you to do something at the same time.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Need

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As Pharaoh drew closer, the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptians marching toward them. The Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt that you took us away to die in the desert? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt like this? Didn’t we tell you the same thing in Egypt? ‘Leave us alone! Let us work for the Egyptians!’ It would have been better for us to work for the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Stand your ground, and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never ever see again. The Lord will fight for you. You just keep still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to get moving. As for you, lift your shepherd’s rod, stretch out your hand over the sea, and split it in two so that the Israelites can go into the sea on dry ground. But me, I’ll make the Egyptians stubborn so that they will go in after them, and I’ll gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh, all his army, his chariots, and his cavalry. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his cavalry.” God’s messenger, who had been in front of Israel’s camp, moved and went behind them. The column of cloud moved from the front and took its place behind them. It stood between Egypt’s camp and Israel’s camp. The cloud remained there, and when darkness fell it lit up the night. They didn’t come near each other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord pushed the sea back by a strong east wind all night, turning the sea into dry land. The waters were split into two. The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left (Exodus 14:10-22, Common English Bible).

This time I get it. Really, I do get it. The Israelites are shaking in their boots, again. The other times, maybe not, particularly those times after this event. But this time, the cause for fear is really clear, at least to me.

After everything that has happened, it is pretty clear that Pharaoh is more than just a little bit miffed. Moses, we really God, has shown Pharaoh up at every turn and then there is the death of Pharaoh’s son. If the old movie The Ten Commandments is to be believed Pharaoh’s wife bated him into going for a little chase in the wilderness. And, yes, I know, that part isn’t in Scripture and the screenwriters took some artistic liberties with the story. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

For whatever the reason, Pharaoh does take off in search of his former “property.” And God tells Moses to let them come. The result is, Moses and the Israelites have the Red Sea and no boats on their right hand (or so to speak, my artistic liberty) and an angry Pharaoh and his army on the left. The Israelites probably had a pretty good understanding  of what the bad guys could and would do.

If most of us are honest, we would probably feel pretty frightened as well. Sure, we saw all God did with the plagues that came over Egypt. And sure, they suffered the relatively minor consequence of making bricks without straw but this was entirely different.

Moses then tries to calm the Israelite fears. “The Lord will fight for you. You just keep still.” I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in that idea. In the biggest struggles of our lives, God is with us. In essence that is what Moses (and God) is saying to the Israelites. “Sure, we are in a bind right now, but God is with us and God will be with us until we reach the end.

But, there is one other thing. Moses says “The Lord will fight for you.” but Moses wasn’t finished talking at that point. He continues, “You just keep still.”

When I think about that last sentence my mind goes to a picture of the Israelites quite literally shaking in their boots, well sandals. It isn’t hard for us to imagine someone shaking in fear. We may have been the ones shaking in fear. I shared with you a few days ago about my fear of snakes. I’m not sure I actually shake on the outside but I sure do feel like it on the inside.

It could be that God, through Moses, is saying to the Israelites, “Don’t be afraid, I’ve got this.” Then, before their eyes, they say the awesome power of God at work, but first they had to be still.

It has been said that “faith is the opposite of fear.” In essence God was asking the Israelites to have faith. Things might look bleak but God was present.

In our lives things can look bleak too. We don’t like to be in those positions of fear but still, we can find ourselves there. I believe God says to us, “Have faith. I am with you.” In other words, there is no reason for fear because we are in the presence of The Omnipotent. God is with us. And, where God is there is always hope. With hope we have no reason, real or otherwise, to be afraid.

So, what we need is, to be still. Calm the shaking, calm the fears, God is with us, have faith.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Sound of Silence

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 There he went into a cave and spent the night. The Lord’s word came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” Elijah replied, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!” The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” He said, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too.” (1 Kings 19:9-14, Common English Bible)

The picture above makes me sad. Strings are missing. The bridge could never hold up to string tension even for the few strings still on the guitar. So, even of the tuners are in working order (and I doubt they are), the guitar couldn’t hold tune. In its current condition this guitar is unplayable. Without some major work this guitar, beat up and uncared for, doesn’t even look pretty. There is only one thing this guitar is good for, at least at the moment the picture was taken, silence. And to me, a silent guitar is a sad guitar. Further, if a wooden stringed instrument remains with no one playing it, the wood will lose its tone quality. It can be restored but until that happens and someone begins to play this guitar seriously again, it will never sound quite right.

The thing is, it isn’t good for a guitar to remain silent. They were made for music. Anything less doesn’t fulfill its purpose in the world.

Such isn’t so true when it comes to people. I believe God created us in order to have a relationship with us. And, if we are to have that relationship, we have to move from the noise to the quiet.  For those who know me, that might seem a weird thing to hear. I am a man of many words. I have often worked under the mantra, why say it in five words if you can say it in 10 instead. Truthfully I am probably not quite that bad, but I can be loud. I am not afraid to use my voice. I love to talk. I love words and I rarely miss the opportunity to use them. I have always been this way.

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that I need times away from the noise. I need times of silence in my life besides those when I am sound asleep. I need to give God a chance to speak and, at least in my experience, God doesn’t often try to speak above the noise in the world.

Elijah is learning that in the lesson today. God is speaking to Elijah. There was powerful wind. There was an earthquake. There was fire. All of those can be extraordinarily loud. But, God wasn’t in any of those. We might expect God to be there, but the Scriptures say God wasn’t there.

Then came the sound of silence and Elijah immediately knew he was in the presence of God. He reacted accordingly.

Former President Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words. He was such a quiet man that he earned the moniker “Silent Cal.” He ran for President under the campaign claiming him, “Silent-Safe-Sure.” I think many of our current day politicians could learn a few things from Silent Cal. He was known to say, “What you don’t say you don’t have to explain or repeat.” He made the press corps work for their stories.

One Sunday when leaving from worship at about noon a reporter asked “Silent Cal” what the sermon had been about that day. Coolidge responded, “Sin.” Not to be dissuaded the persistent journalist asked, “What did the minister say about sin?” Coolidge responded, “He was against it.” In four words Coolidge ended an interview that could have gotten a lesser politician into deep trouble.

We could all learn at least a little bit from Silent Cal. There are definitely times when fewer words are better. God is in the silence and God is polite and will not often try to speak above our noise.

A man from the farm was visiting his college roommate in New York City. Walking near Times Square one day, the farm boy suddenly remarked, “I hear a cricket.”

“You’re crazy,” his city friend replied. “It’s the noon rush hour, and in all of this traffic noise you heard a cricket? C’mon, man!”

“No, I did hear a cricket,” the visitor insisted. Focusing more intently, he walked to the corner, crossed the busy avenue and looked all around. Finally he approached a shrub in a large cement planter. Digging beneath the cover mulch, he found his cricket.

His friend couldn’t believe what he had seen. But the friend from the farm said, “My ears are no different from yours. It simply depends on what you have learned to listen for. Here, let me show you.”

He then reached into his pants pocket, pulled out a handful of change, and dropped the coins on the sidewalk. At the sound of the money hitting the pavement, every head along the crowded block turned.

“You see what I mean?” the visitor said, as he began picking up what was left of his coins. “It all depends on what you are listening for.”

It seems to me that a guitar wasn’t made to be silent. We were not created to live in constant noise. We have to take the time to listen and know what we are listening for.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Solitude Speaks

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After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.  That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. The whole town gathered near the door. He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him. Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. Simon and those with him tracked him down. When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!” He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons (Mark 1:29-39, Common English Bible).

I am the quintessential extrovert. What that means is, I get my energy from being around people. I love being around people. I enjoy watching people but even more I love the interactions I have with people. At times in the past it has not been uncommon when Cindy and I both come in at the end of a day, and I have spent much of the day by myself, for me to say, “Let’s go somewhere.” Cindy responds, “Where? Then I say, “Anywhere I can be around people.” For me, being by myself can be draining and I need to go and recharge.

I know many of you are the opposite. Being around people is draining. You need to go off by yourself  to recharge. You get your batteries going again from the peace and quiet of solitude.

The thing is, we all need both. For the introvert, being around people is important because it is where we make a difference in people’s lives, being with people is where real ministry happens. But, being with people, performing the ministry God calls us to requires the expenditure of energy and they need to go off for a time of quiet and recharge.

I, and other extroverts, don’t so much need that alone time to recharge. I am getting that, at least to some degree, while I am doing the work of ministry. Still, I need some time in solitude because it is in the stillness, in the quiet that I best hear God speak.

As I type these words it is  about 12:30 a.m. For me (a night owl) it is the end of a long day of ministry. A good deal of it spent with God’s people. But, now that I am home, I need this time of solitude for writing this blog. I need it to cap my day off with a time of prayer. Without this time where I am quietly alone, I would probably fail in the work I will need to accomplish tomorrow.

I am not sure if Jesus was an introvert or an extrovert. What I do know is, Jesus shows us again and again through out Scripture that we need to both be around people and we need time to be alone with God. The lesson above is a perfect example. Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, he heals others who are sick, he casts out a demon or two and then he retreats to “a deserted place” for some alone time, in prayer with God. And, as much as Jesus seems to love these moments, he knows he can’t stay there. He is back out among the people and at the work God gave him to do.

It seems to me, this is just what we are called to do. We are called to spend that alone time with God but we can’t stay there, and some of us really don’t want to. We have to get up, go back out and do the work of ministry, do the work God calls us to do.

God gives us a way to recharge. God gives us time alone with him. But, we can never forget, God gives us this time but God also expects us to be back out doing our work, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Have a Great day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Be Still

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God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:1-11, New International Version).

I know I have told this story, both in written and verbal forms, several times in the past. So, it is entirely possible some of you have heard or read it before. I make no apologies for that. If you are bored with it, skip down a couple of paragraphs (lol).

I was fifteen years old and on a canoe trip with Explorer Scouts in Canada. It was a great trip. We drove up to Ely Minnesota from Texas. Once in Ely we flew (my first time to fly) on pontoon planes 110 miles into the Canadian Wilderness and we canoed back. It was a wonderful trip. I loved it. I still count it as one of the great experiences of my life.

It had been about two weeks since we flew out of Ely and it was the night before we would cross the border back into the U.S. and start our journey home. While I loved the trip and the guys on it, I was a bit tired of them. After we had set up camp for the night and I had finished my camp responsibilities for the night, I got in a canoe by myself and paddled out to the middle of the lake (Kids don’t try this. My advisors gave me a lot of grief as doing this was not without some risk). I just had to get away. When I got out to the middle of the lake I just sat there, still, watching the sunset. It was a beautiful evening. If we had been in town it might have been called a “Chamber of Commerce” evening. I remember, I could hear the noise of the camp in the distance (approximately 25 teenage boys can make a lot of noise) but I hardly noticed. All I was really aware of was the beauty of the colors of the forest and the sunset and the stillness of the water. And, there was one other thing. I am not sure how I knew, but I knew, at that moment, I was in the presence of God. I can’t remember having experienced anything like it before. But, I knew, in the beauty and the stillness, I was surrounded by God. It obviously had an impact on me. Over forty years later I still remember it like it was yesterday. I still count it as one of the great experiences of my life. I also remember the name of the lake, “Silence.” (The pic above was taken on Lake Silence).

I am by nature a noisy guy. I am also not one prone to sit “still” for very long. I want action. I want entertainment. In Psalm 46 the psalmist reminds us of the importance of that stillness. The psalmist uses the chaos of the world to remind us that God speaks to us through the silence and stillness. As I think back on my life, the times where I knew beyond question, God was there and making a difference in me, it was the times I let the world around me be quiet and still.

In October of 1978 it was another time of quiet and beauty on the water. This time I was in the Navy. Two days before, my ship, the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney had gotten underway from Dublin, Ireland. It was overcast and rainy when we left Dublin but now we were in the gulf stream and it was gorgeous. We were at radio silence and things had been pretty busy on the signal bridge. But for about an hour to an hour and a half things were at a lull. I stood up on the bridge, and for the first time in a couple of days I looked out on the ocean, I mean I REALLY looked. It was near sunset and my mind actually went back to that sunset on Lake Silence in Canada. Mostly it went back because I had never seen the ocean like this. It really looked more like a lake than the ocean. It was like a sheet of glass. Just a couple of weeks before we had been in the North Sea steaming through fifteen foot seas. Now the water was like glass (and stayed that way for almost a week). Once again it was the beauty of a sunset, the fabulous colors and the still waters. This time, however, unlike my canoe session on “Silence” five years before, when the sun dipped below the horizon I wasn’t forced to leave because of the darkness. The sunset gave way to a moonless night and the sky filled with more stars than I had ever seen before. I sat in a signalman’s light stand in awe of what I was seeing. It seemed as though I heard a voice say, “In the still of the night there is beauty too.” Was it God? I would like to think so. And it happened when I gave way to being quiet and still.

I have said God can speak in more than just the stillness and I really believe that to be true. But, I have also become keenly aware, if we really want to feel the presence of God in a powerful way. Be quiet. Be still.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved