Welcome at My Table Any Time

So as Joab was attacking the city, he put Uriah in the place where he knew there were strong warriors. When the city’s soldiers came out and attacked Joab, some of the people from David’s army fell. Uriah the Hittite was also killed (2 Samuel 11:16-17, Common English Bible).

This is part 11 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

Military service is nothing new in my family. As I have previously stated here, my dad was an engine-man on a fleet tanker in the Pacific during the Korean War. His older brother served at the end of World War II. My Uncle Mike was a career Air Force officer who served for 27 years. There were others too. When I was old enough, I too served in the Navy. I also married into another family with a Navy tradition. Cindy’s dad was a Seabee at about the same time my dad was serving. When our oldest son Wayne came of age, he also served, giving five years in the Marine Corp.

From the way we are dressed in the picture, it was holiday routine on the ship. I wouldn’t have been dressed in cut-off jeans, no shirt and a cowboy hat otherwise. You didn’t dress like that for a bridge watch on the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney. I don’t really remember what holiday it was, I don’t remember why we were gathered around the gun-mount. I just remember these guys were my closest buddies aboard ship, particularly Alan and Butch. The other guys I have lost contact with in the 35 years since I left the Navy. I am Facebook friends with Butch these days and have had fairly regular contact with Alan (as well as being a Facebook friend) over the past six or seven years.

During the time I was in the Navy, without question, there were times I would have rather been just about anywhere than where I was. There were times I hated the Navy. Yet as I look back on it today, none of those times were really that bad and today I do not for a second regret my service.

I also treasure the friendships I have made. These days we don’t always agree on things, but there is little I wouldn’t do for Alan or Butch. I still feel like they are brothers to me. I am thankful to God always for making them part of my life.

My feelings toward my buddies aren’t anything unusual for folks who spend time in the military. I can remember as a kid making a trip to Illinois to visit my “Uncle Dean.” Uncle Dean wasn’t really my uncle. As far as a blood relationship, he wasn’t related at all. He was one of my dad’s Navy buddies. I am pretty sure he felt the same way about Uncle Dean as I do about Alan and Butch.

As I write these words we are facing a difficult time with great division in our country. Sometimes we even find ourselves on opposite sides of the conflicts around us. Such is the case today with my buddy Alan. Yet while we may not agree with him on these issues, for our relationship I believe they are minor. I would still be there for Alan should he need me and I feel pretty certain he would feel the same way about me.

So, to those in my family who served both before me and after me, I salute you. To the hundreds of veterans I have come to know and respect over the years, particularly the years I have been in ministry, I salute you. To all of my shipmates I salute you. More than simply saluting you, I thank God for you. On this 11th day of the month where we focus on being thankful, I want to remember to be thankful for all you have done because without the sacrifices you and others made, there would not have been need for me to make a similar sacrifice. All of you have helped instill in me a love of my country that comes close but does not quite, and never should match my love of God.

And to my buddies Alan and Butch, I salute you. I thank God for you. You touched my life and made a difference in ways you will never know. And I want you to know this, you will always have a place at my table.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


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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