Pass the…Fluffy Salad

When Job’s three friends heard about all this disaster that had happened to him, they came, each one from his home—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah. They agreed to come so they could console and comfort him. When they looked up from a distance and didn’t recognize him, they wept loudly. Each one tore his garment and scattered dust above his head toward the sky (Job 2:11-12, Common English Bible).

This is part 16 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

I have a lot of friends. If you look on Facebook its almost 1500. Many of them I really don’t know except online. I still treasure my friendship with them. I learn from them and hope they can say they learn from me as well. Sometimes they make me laugh. Sometimes they make me think. Sometimes they frustrate the daylights out of me. I am sure they could say the same about me.

I also know, most of those people, I couldn’t count on if I were in a bind. First of all, there are a lot of miles between most of us. Second, those people don’t really know me nor I them. I am not saying they are bad people. They aren’t. We just don’t know each other very well.

I have a lot of friends that aren’t just Facebook friends. Some have been friends for many years. My friend Doit was my best man almost 40 years ago. My friends Alan and Butch were in the Navy with me back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. A few weeks ago I got a Facebook friend request from a childhood friend named Tommy. We hadn’t seen each or talked to each other in almost 50 years! I am really glad he tracked me down. It was good to hear from him.

I have other friends too. Some are people I have met along the way. There are a some former colleagues from days prior to ministry. There are lots of former church members. There are current church members. And there are lots and lots of preachers. Even among those Facebook friends, the largest single group would have to be preachers and others who are in some kind of professional ministry.

Even my closest friends like Paul, Mike, Jay, Chuck, Lisa Beth and Scott (there are others too, that is the problems with listing names, you always forget somebody and take the chance on upsetting them when you leave them out). These are the folks I would at least like to think I can count on and I know can count on me. These are my friends who I know will pray for me when I stand in need and I regularly remember in prayer too.

One of the things about my friends is, like yours too, they are all different. God made them differently, wired them differently. My friends look different. My friends come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Many of my friends are very different from me. Their political and social outlooks aren’t the same as each other and many of them are different from my own. Some of them even have very different religious experiences and traditions. And, do you know what? Even with these different ways of seeing, looking and experiencing life, I treasure all of my friends. Please note, I didn’t say I always agree with my friends, nor do they always agree with me. I said I treasure all my friends no matter who much we are similar or we are different. They help me to see and experience the  world in new and different ways.

I see my friends in that fluffy salad that graces many people’s Thanksgiving table. Whenever I have been at my in-laws it was a staple of the Thanksgiving table. My father-in-law loved it.

I see my friends in this salad, but really in any salad because of all the different stuff that is in it. It isn’t always even the same color. I started to call it “the fluffy pink salad” and then I was reminded some people make it and its green or light orange or even blue. You can make it in whatever colors you can find Jello. It is also made of all kinds of different stuff. It has Jello, sugar, water, pineapple, marshmallows, nuts, orange segments, whipped cream and more. At least that is how I have experienced the salad. I read a recipe for it online that called for grated cheese and that tells me there are variations to the salad.

But, in a lot of ways I can see my friends in this salad. First, they come in many different races. Some of them are nuts. Some are sweet. Some are pretty flexible. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

Job’s friends in our lesson this morning is also how I like to see my friends. When Job was in need they came. I am fully aware that later they proved to not be all that helpful (that is why I stopped after two verses) but they were there. And, for my preacher friends, I am fully aware that I am eisegeting the text. Please get over it.

I am thankful for my friends because I know they are there for me. Sometimes they are there physically. Two of my friends drove more than several of my friends drove several hours, each way to be with me for my father’s memorial service. Some of them had never even met my dad, but they knew I was in need and they were there. Others couldn’t be there and that’s OK, I still knew while they weren’t there with me in a physical way, they were there in spirit and in prayer. I appreciated that more than they will ever know.

There is a pretty good chance that if you are reading this you are either my family, one my church members or one of my friends. In any of those cases just know, I love you and I appreciate you. Most of all, I am thankful for you.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s