Reading Me

remember-you-may-be

Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey (Psalm 119:105, Common English Bible).

Yesterday afternoon I drove by First Baptist Church in our town. I am not sure how long the message has been on the sign in the front yard but today is the first time I noticed it. I appreciate what it says. It is the quote in the picture above, “Remember, you may be the only Bible that others read.” Actually I think it is a variation on this quote but you get the idea.

While it was the noticed it at First Baptist, it is not the first time I have heard the quote. When I hear it or see it, it stirs something inside me. It reminds me of a bumper sticker sized sign I used to have but haven’t seen now in years (they say three moves is equal to a fire. At any rate it has disappeared), it said, “The best sermon is a good example.”

Both of these quotes should be important to all Christians but particularly those in the United States. We live in a society that is becoming more secular each day. There are people around us who have never walked through the door of a church except for possibly a wedding or a funeral. They have never read the Bible, many probably don’t own a Bible. And yet, we expect these people, who are obviously not Christian, to behave as if they were Christian. How can we expect people to act in a manner that is completely foreign to their experience.

To further complicate things, there are so many contradictory examples of what living as a Christian is like. In notable examples of our time, we have Pope Francis on the one hand and Westboro Baptist Church on the opposite extreme, but both claim themselves as Christian. I am not trying to judge anyone here, just using the most extreme examples of faithful living I could think of at the moment. Both are divergent examples of what they claim as living Biblically.

For those who have known me for a long time, you know I would find myself (and hopefully I live in a way you would as well) far closer to the example of Pope Francis than that of Westboro. That is the version of the Bible I want people to read in me. That is the sermon I want them to see.

There is another quote that I have seen a great deal of Facebook of late, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As people of faith, we say we want to see a world that looks different. We say we want to see a more Christ-like world. I believe it has to start with us. I also believe that has to be a “Bible” that is less judging and more loving. We need to become a people who looks past, who reaches past the external and become a people who reaches inside to touch the hearts of the world around us.

That is the Bible I want to be. What about you? What Bible to you want people to read in you.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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