Pass the… Turkey

As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother.” “Teacher,” he responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” But the man was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because he had many possessions (Mark 10:17-22, Common English Bible).

This is part 24 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

When I preached this series a few years back one of the many themes I have used this month (after all, in a one month sermon series you can’t really use more than four themes) that I didn’t use was this one. When the series finished I was asked, “How can you preach a sermon series you title, “Pass the…” and base it on the Thanksgiving table and not preach a sermon featuring the turkey, the most basic staple of the Thanksgiving table?

The people who asked, convinced me of my error and I wrote a newsletter article about the turkey on the table. To be honest, I don’t remember what I said and I no longer have the computer I used so this is all new.

Those folks who came to me were right. The turkey is the main thing on the average Thanksgiving table. While some of us might have other things on our table as the main course for Thanksgiving (see my post titled “Pass the.. Ribs”). For most of us, this year for me as well, later today, turkey will be front and center at our table. The turkey is the main thing.

In our lesson for today, the story of the “Rich Young Man” the young man asks Jesus what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies that he needs to follow the commandments. For the young man that is already a regular practice and he wants to know what else is needed. Jesus tells him go, sell all he has, give the money to the poor and then come follow him. The story ends with the young man leaving without that promise, without Jesus because he was attached to his stuff.

For the Rich Young Man, the main thing should have been, following Jesus. Instead it was protecting his stuff. His things meant more to him than eternal life with Jesus. That is a sad state of affairs.

All too often, the same is true for us. We too are more interested in something else than we are living and being a part of the Kingdom. At least in my experience, far more often than not, our stuff, our money is what becomes the main thing. Why is it, that we say we trust God, we even act like we trust God, until it comes to our money, our stuff. Please understand, I am not faulting people for earning what they can and saving saving what we can. John Wesley told us to do as much when he said, “Earn all you can, save all you can…” but he didn’t stop there. The quote finishes by saying, “…and give all you can.” For way too many of us, we fall short of giving what we can. In doing so, we make our money the main thing and it is a stumbling block to true faith in Jesus Christ.

What might it say if the cranberry sauce were the main thing on the Thanksgiving table?What if the green beans were the star? For most of us who are not vegetarians/vegans, it just wouldn’t be the same.

In our faith walk, when we allow other things to become the main thing, when Jesus Christ is not the main thing in our lives, things aren’t the same. And, if faith in Jesus Christ is not first on the list, our decisions might become evident in our eternity as well.

Turkey really is a good way for us to look at what is the main thing. When we sit down to a good helping of turkey today, whether you like the white meat of the dark, because it is the main thing on the table, let it remind you to keep Jesus as the main thing in your life.

So, would someone please pass the turkey?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pass the… Green Beans

I urge you to take some food. Your health depends on it. None of you will lose a single hair from his head (Acts 27:34, Common English Bible)

This is part 23 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

Yes, on the day before Thanksgiving, I went there! On the day before just about all of us will eat about 5000 calories, I quote a scripture saying, “I urge you to take some food. Your health depends on it.” Also, for many of us, it would hurt us to miss a meal or two. I know I could skip eating tomorrow and I would still be carrying around too many pounds. And, I will certainly make up for it on Thursday.

The thing is, that verse doesn’t say anything about what food we should take. It is just that we should take food because our health depends on it. Well, if our health depends on it, what we eat should be something healthy. For way too many of us, we don’t get enough veggies. If we are going to eat healthy, we really need to be eating something “green.” I put green in quotes because I really don’t think it has to be green. It just needs to be a vegetable.

There is no question that if I was going to just pick out a single vegetable to eat, what that veggie would be and it isn’t green. I love tomatoes but there are enough people in my family who don’t (of me, Cindy and our boys I am the only one who will eat tomatoes, at least raw tomatoes) eat tomatoes.

It isn’t that I don’t like actual green. I do. I eat lettuce of several varieties. I like celery, spinach (at least if it is raw), onions, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and more.

Green beans seems to be a staple at many of our Thanksgiving table because it is a veggie that most everybody will eat (please note, I didn’t say everyone liked it). Some families will prepare them much like the picture above. Others put them into a casserole. I even knew one family would would bread them and then deep fry them. At least to me, that would seem to be defeat the purpose of eating something healthy.

When I see green beans my mind usually goes to “healthy.” Eating healthy is a good idea for any of us. I know that for the next month or so, eating healthy is also easier said than done. And, I am preaching to myself at least as much here as I am to any of you. I am far from the best at eating healthy.

The thing is, God gave us one body. We need to take care of it. When we care for ourselves we are better able to carry out the work God has for us. Without question there are those who, regardless of how well they eat have conditions that still limit them. I think of those with Lupus, diabetes, cancer and so many other things. But, the better we maintain our health, the better off we will be in both the short and long term.

When I see that bowl of green beans sitting on the table my mind goes to thoughts of healthy food. I am thankful for green beans because they do help me to be healthier than I might otherwise be.

Perhaps what I need to do is, eat more green beans (along with tomatoes and all those other veggies I mentioned above) and a less of those things I might enjoy but aren’t as good for me. By eating those green beans, I will be able to better do the work God has for me.

So, if you would, please pass the green beans.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Pass the…Mashed Potatoes

Taste and see how good the Lord is!  The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy! (Psalm 34:8, Common English Bible).

This is part 22 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

I love potatoes. I would eat potatoes in some form every meal, if I could. Baked, boiled, fried, mixed with other stuff, it doesn’t really matter. I love potatoes. They just taste so good. They are one of those foods that, at least to me, when you taste them, you immediately know why God put them on the planet. To very loosely paraphrase the psalmist, “Taste and see how good the Lord is when you stick a fork load of potatoes in your mouth.” I know, that is not what the scriptures say. I told you, it was a very loose paraphrase.

Like I said, I would eat potatoes every meal, if I could. But, I can’t. Potatoes are loaded with carbohydrates. Carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body and for a diabetic, that isn’t a good thing. When I was told I was diabetic I conducted a little experiment. I found that I could eat a Reece’s Fast-Break candy bar and have less impact on my blood sugar than eating a small serving of potatoes. I am not going to say I never eat potatoes anymore. That would be untrue. What is true, I don’t have them often and they are always in a very small serving. It just isn’t worth running my sugar up that much.

In today’s lesson the psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” We can’t really taste God of course. And, when we look at the second half of the verse, “The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy” they don’t seem to make much sense when read literally. After all, taking refuge and tasting are two completely different activities and yet the psalmist wrote them together.

When I read this verse I interpret it as saying, “God is good, give God a try. When you truly do you will discover you are truly happy.” Others might think I am wrong in my interpretation but I don’t think so. All we have that is good comes from God. When we are living in God’s realm, we will find real and true happiness.

I like the psalmist’s words because of the analogy of taste. Think about your family Thanksgiving table. I know there are families, or at least family members who are never happy and such can lead to no one being happy. But, for most of us, as we sit around the Thanksgiving table with our family or with our friends, and we partake of so much goodness that God created (our family members may have prepared it but God did the creating), so many things that taste so good, it becomes really easy to look on the faces of all our loved ones and see they are happy. It isn’t a happiness that will last, but those foods that taste so good to us, bring us at least a momentary happiness and joy.

It isn’t when we taste the food we find ultimate happiness and joy. That comes when we “taste” God, when we really give God a try in our lives and we learn that living for God brings us real and permanent happiness and joy. That does not mean that sadness won’t encroach on our lives every now and then. Things happen and a little sadness can be the result. It is just that we don’t live there.

So for me, when I see the mashed potatoes on the Thanksgiving table, when I dig in and taste the goodness of not only the mashed potatoes but all that good and tasty food, it not only brings me some joy and happiness, it also reminds me of the goodness of God. That goodness brings me real and lasting joy and happiness. For that I am thankful. I am thankful not only because the mashed potatoes taste so good. I am eternally thankful that I can taste and see that the Lord is good which brings me real happiness and joy.

So would someone please pass me the mashed potatoes. I want just a little to remind me that I can and do, “Taste and see how good the Lord is.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pass the… Macaroni and Cheese

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 (Mark 1:29-31, Common English Bible).

This is part 21 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

Until I started watching Food Network several years ago I had never given much thought to macaroni and cheese one way or the other. I had eaten it in various forms for most of my life. When I was a child my mother would get out a box of macaroni and cheese, prepare it, add ca can of cream of mushroom soup (still one of the few ways I like mushrooms) and a can of tuna fish, mix it all together, with that and a can of green beans or some other kind of bean, we had a fast and easy supper from time to time.

As a young adult and father of two growing boys I created one time when Cindy was away on a business trip and I had to feed my two eating machines. A pound of browned hamburger, a box (family size) of macaroni and cheese and a can of nacho cheese soup (contrary to what the little girl said on the commercial for a particular brand of boxed macaroni and cheese about that brand being the cheesiest, I was determined to make mine cheesier) all mixed together was a dish my boys loved. Several adoptions happened over the years but it is still a favorite.

I don’t each mac and cheese as much as I used to. Being diabetic macaroni is on the list of things not to eat very often. When I want one of these two these days I substitute spaghetti squash and we make our own version of mac and cheese.

As I watched Food Network I discovered that this dish that we had growing up and as a young father, was classified as a “comfort food.” It is a food that makes people think of better times. It makes people remember home.

I have a lot of memories of home, both home growing up and home for our family after Cindy and I married. I know it isn’t the case for some people, but those memories are good memories. I am not saying bad things never happened. That would not only be naive it would be an indication that my memory is pretty faulty too.

I also remember, when I was in the Navy and Cindy and I lived in Norfolk Virginia, we never referred to the place we lived as “home.” We would call it, “the apartment” or “our place” and maybe a few other things, but not home. Home was reserved for our thoughts, memories and discussions of Texas, particularly Houston. Those memories of “home” brought us both comfort at times.

Still, I never really associated any of those memories with the idea of home, even if we did eat it pretty often.

Our lesson today finds Jesus and Simon and Andrew along with the Sons of Zebedee (John and James) to the home of Simon’s mother-in-law, a woman sick and in bed. I can’t help but think about her in this story. Here she is sick, in bed with a fever and that son-in-law of hers goes and brings company home.

It wouldn’t take very long, however, for Simon’s mother-in-law to realize this wasn’t just any company. This was company that could make a difference fast. Have you ever been sick and wanted to take a pill and see a miracle happen and you become better instantly? Most of us have, but Jesus wasn’t a pill, but she did better in a really big hurry. Somehow, now miraculously healed, I don’t think she minded getting up and serving this group so much after all. While the scripture doesn’t say it, I wonder if she served them macaroni and cheese. Well, probably not. But, in the future, when these guys once again ate whatever she served, I can’t help but think their minds went back to the day they saw Jesus heal Simon’s mother-in-law.

Such stories would be told around Simon’s family dinner table many times in the years to come. If you think about it, to be included in the Gospel it had to be retold at least a few times. Since the Gospel it has been told countless times. I also think, with the telling, Simon couldn’t help but let his mind wander back to all things home.

When I think back to many things, things like macaroni and cheese, it isn’t long before I get a bit of a smile across my face. It brings back good memories. It brings back memories of home and I am thankful.

I am thankful for all things home. I am especially thankful for macaroni and cheese.

So, please pass me the macaroni and cheese. I would like to dish up a nice helping. I know, it isn’t good for my blood sugar, but hey, its Thanksgiving and I will go out and walk it off.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Pass the… Giblet Gravy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13, Common English Bible).

This is part 20 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

Well, the truth is, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other when it comes to giblet gravy. Since it is most often and most traditionally eaten on top of cornbread dressing, and I rarely eat cornbread dressing, I also rarely eat giblet gravy. I have eaten it and even without the dressing, I don’t have much of an opinion about the food.

During my growing up years I never really remember giblet gravy being a topic of discussion in my family. It was something on the table. People ate it, but that was about the extent of it.

When I was introduced to Thanksgiving with Cindy’s family I learned that, at least for some people, it is not just a big deal about Thanksgiving, it is a HUGE deal about the holiday. Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without the giblet gravy. And, Cindy was the one who led that particular Thanksgiving parade. She loves the stuff. I also think it was then she decided maybe there was a little something wrong with me. Since she won’t eat raw tomatoes and I love them, I can say the same about her.

In most families I have been around, enough giblet gravy (or perhaps some other gravy) is made to fill a nice gravy boat and there is plenty there for all who want some on their dressing. Such would never do with Cindy’s family. When Cindy’s mother makes giblet gravy it is in a good sized pot and you serve yourself from the stove because it would require a good sized bowl and those are in use for other things we eat at Thanksgiving.

I have heard Cindy say, more than once, she could eat giblet grave (in general and her mother’s to be more specific) just like a  bowl of creamy soup. I confess I thought that was a bit weird at first. Once Cindy and I were married and all her brothers got married and there started to be grandkids around, it wasn’t long before it became easy to see this love of giblet gravy was something that ran in the family. I don’t know if Cindy coached her or not, but I have heard one niece say, “This is so good I could eat it as soup.” Hence the reason Cindy’s mother has to make giblet gravy in a large amount.

In our lesson above, Paul is really asking God’s blessings on the Roman Christians. Paul is asking God to fill them with joy and peace. If you have ever wondered what that kind of joy might look like, I would invite you to watch someone who is getting to sit down and eat one of their very favorite things (for me, though I don’t eat it much these days, pecan pie, which I will ask you to pass later in the series). As joyful as their face may be and as good of an example we might think that is, I know the joy that comes when we are filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit exceeds anything something like food might bring to us.

Giblet gravy does, however, remind me of that joy. When I gather with Cindy’s family and see the joy so many of them get when they scoop up the giblet gravy, even though I care nothing about it, that gravy brings joy to me. Seeing those I love filled with joy, brings joy to me.

So, would you pass the giblet gravy. I’m not sure if I actually want any or not, but I look forward to passing it on so I can see the look of joy on the faces of these people I love. It reminds me of what they look like when they are filled with joy that comes from God above.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Peace and Joy,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pass the…Dressing

Just like a deer that craves streams of water, my whole being craves you, God. My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God. When will I come and see God’s face? My tears have been my food both day and night, as people constantly questioned me, “Where’s your God now?” But I remember these things as I bare my soul how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode, to God’s own house, with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—a huge crowd celebrating the festival! Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed? Why are you so upset inside? Hope in God! Because I will again give him thanks, my saving presence and my God. My whole being is depressed. That’s why I remember you from the land of Jordan and Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep called to deep at the noise of your waterfalls; all your massive waves surged over me. By day the Lord commands his faithful love; by night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God, my solid rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I have to walk around, sad, oppressed by enemies?” With my bones crushed, my foes make fun of me, constantly questioning me: “Where’s your God now?” Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed? Why are you so upset inside? Hope in God! Because I will again give him thanks, my saving presence and my God. Establish justice for me, God! Argue my case against ungodly people! Rescue me from the dishonest and unjust! Because you are my God, my protective fortress! Why have you rejected me? Why do I have to walk around, sad, oppressed by enemies? Send your light and truth—those will guide me! Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place. Let me come to God’s altar. let me come to God, my joy, my delight—then I will give you thanks with the lyre, God, my God! Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?  Why are you so upset inside? Hope in God! Because I will again give him thanks, my saving presence and my God (Psalm 42-43, Common English Bible).

This is part 19 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

Before I ask you to pass the dressing I need to know what kind of dressing is on our table. If it is cornbread dressing, the dressing most of us, at least in my part of the world recognize as being the traditional dressing on the traditional Thanksgiving table. If that is what is on our table, I may ask you to pass the dressing but it will just be so I can pass it on to the person sitting next to me, the person who really wants it. I told you several days ago how much I love cranberry sauce and how my mother made me stop putting cranberry sauce on my plate. This is a problem she NEVER had with dressing. When I was a kid, every year she made me put at least a little on my plate and she expected me to eat it.

In my family, and Cindy’s too, dressing for the traditional Thanksgiving table is cornbread dressing. For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would mess up perfectly good cornbread my making it into mushy dressing. I feel pretty sure doing such a thing is a sin. I’ve never found it in the Bible but I know it has to be there somewhere.

And please, don’t tell me I just don’t like dressing because I haven’t tried yours. I have eaten my mother-in-law’s dressing several times. I am told it is very good, among the best. Before my father-in-law retired, when they would have a big eating event, he ALWAYS had to bring a large pan of dressing and it was also always gone! I don’t care for my mother-in-law’s dressing either.

Now, if we are talking about other kinds of dressing, I am at least willing to talk about it and for that matter, I am willing to try it. And, I will eat cornbread dressing, if I’m starving. But, just because I will eat it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I know there are various kinds of dressing besides salad dressing. There is oyster dressing and rice dressing. I made an apple dressing a few years ago that was pretty good. I’ve also made cranberry dressing. I really liked that one. It made me get curious. I wondered how many different kinds of dressing there are. I went to allrecipies .com to look. I was surprised, there were 121 different recipes for dressing in that one database. I’m not even going to start to list them or it might take you all day to read this post. I’m sure you have better things to do. Just suffice it to say, there were some I would try. Others didn’t sound so good. Think about it. Prune dressing? Really? Come on!!!

All of us have things in our lives we don’t like. Even if you are one of those rare people who say, “There is no food I don’t like,” there is still something you don’t like. It may not be food but there is something.

In food I might not know either but I do know for some people. Cindy doesn’t like tomatoes. My mother doesn’t like bananas. I happen to love both. My father didn’t like squash. For me it depended on preparation. My oldest son doesn’t like onions, my youngest doesn’t like nuts and my sister doesn’t like beans. Former President George H.W. Bush famously doesn’t like broccoli. There aren’t any of those things I don’t like except maybe the squash and I won’t eat the broccoli raw. If you cook it, I’ll eat it. I learned to eat mess deck food in the Navy, I can pretty well eat anything if hungry.

Psalm 42-43 finds the psalmist crying out because of God’s seeming lack of presence for Israel. They were unable to see God in the turmoil around them. The psalmist is crying out for God to return and lead the nation.

The temple was destroyed as well as other places in Jerusalem by Babylonian invaders who were now an occupying force in the land. For the Israelites the temple was the symbol of God’s presence with God’s people. With the temple gone, so was the possibility of temple worship. There was no cleansing of that which was desecrated. With the temple gone worship, at least the way the Israelites understood it was gone too. All this led the ancients to fear God was gone as well.

Of course, God wasn’t really gone at all. Though the psalmist says otherwise in the lyrics of the psalm, what he really knows and believes is evident in the simple prayer the psalm is to God. The psalmist somehow knew in the deepest places of his being that though God seemed far away, God’s presence was real and present.

Without question the psalmist didn’t like what was happening in Israel. If we tried to place ourselves in his situation, we probably wouldn’t like it either. But, his options were limited. He could quit and accept the Babylonians presence as a permanent reality or he could pray that God would see fit to bring Israel back again to be a real power and presence in the world. It was the later he chose.

So, with a thankful heart for all God had done in the past the psalmist prayed. God’s presence would be with the nation again. With that presence the people would worship once again, from the temple to the smallest synagogue in the land.

It begs the question, how can one be thankful in the presence of something one dislikes so much? How can I be thankful for the cornbread dressing in my life? I think for the psalmist, it was because he was thankful for God’s presence and actions in the past, he knew Israel would overcome this and would see God at work again. We should look for the same in our difficult situations. God’s presence is with us. God’s presence is real.

I will tell you friends, I am thankful to God, even for cornbread dressing that I am probably not going to eat. I am thankful for it because I know so many people I love are thankful for cornbread dressing. They are happy. They enjoy it. In turn, that makes me happy and thankful.

I can also be thankful for cornbread dressing because seeing it reminds me of the bounty of a great thanksgiving table and I know with that full table, God provides for me and for all those I love. I can be thankful for what I don’t like because of God’s presence with me, with all of us. It is in that cornbread dressing and in all that we eat when we celebrate this great holiday together with friends and family.

No, I’m probably not going to eat that dressing. If I do, I assure you it won’t be much. And, just so you know, it is just fine with me for you to eat my portion. And, if it’s OK wit you, I will keep being thankful, even for the things I don’t like so much.

So Lord, please pass the dressing. I’m probably going to let it pass right on by but I know this table is surrounded by people I love, and I know they would like to have at least a spoon or two, even of the cornbread dressing I don’t like so much.

With that, pass the dressing. I am thankful.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pass the…Iced Tea

A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs’ (Luke 10:33-35, Common English Bible).

This is part 18 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.

In the last few years tea (both hot tea and iced tea) has become about my favorite thing to drink. I rarely drink anything except water or tea. About four years ago I drank diet sodas, a lot of diet sodas. Cindy and I would refer to it as “my fizzy coffee.” I would start drinking them first thing in the morning and would drink them well into the night. Having four to six a day was nothing unusual.

One day I left them behind. I will still drink one on a rare occasion though I am not very sure why. Diet sodas are an acquired taste. You have to drink them for about a week to get used to them for them to actually start to taste good. Since I stopped drinking them, when I do pick one up on occasion, I am no longer used to the taste, and they are nasty. Since I have no interest in drinking them regularly, they continue to taste bad.

To replace all the sodas I drank, I went back to a couple of things that are more old school, tea and water. I try really hard to get in at least 100 ounces of water per day. I also drink a lot of tea, particularly iced tea.

Around our Thanksgiving table I would challenge you to let the iced tea, because it is old school remind you of something else that is kind of old school to, and unfortunately, it seems to be disappearing from our society, compassion.

I remember a night when I was in the Navy. I had been to Virginia Beach with my good buddies Alan and Butch (if it wasn’t with them I have no idea who it was as I can’t imagine anyone else with whom I would have been out). As we were headed back to the ship we came up on a car accident. Though we had no idea who was involved, we stopped to help. I don’t say this to brag on myself or my buddies. It was just something we did without thinking about it.

Today, people seem more likely to run away from a car accident than they are to stop and help. Rare is the day I don’t hear about a hit and run accident on the radio, on the evening news or read about it in the paper. As I talk to people I hear even more stories that are similar.

What has happened to us? I read posts on Facebook and people attack each other over some of the smallest things. I have seen attacks on religion, race, immigration status, political perspectives and so much more. If someone thinks differently from us, it seems to give license to go on the attack.

I know some will think I am writing this about the Presidential election. And yes, this was absolutely present during the election, but it is more than that. It has been happening for years. In one episode of the popular television show, The Big Bang Theory,  Raj says, “I’m so tired of people being mean on the internet.” The discussion among the group goes on to arrive at the idea that anonymity allows people to go on the attack when they would never do so face to face.

It could be because of the internet but I really think there is more to it than that. I think it is something much more basic. I believe it is the sin that is part of our lives. I think we are seeing more sin around us than ever before as more and more people are neglecting their relationship with God in favor of something that lacks any real depth, themselves. We are far more interested in what is best for me and that I don’t need to worry about anyone else.

I guess I am just old school enough that I can remember compassion in the world around us. And, at times, particularly times of tragedy, we will see glimmers of times past, where people put themselves aside in favor of compassion and what others need, but it is far from common.

I appreciate those old school values. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Jesus’ “Parable of the Good Samaritan.” In Jesus’ story we have a man who had every reason in the world to walk away. The man in the road was a Jew. He was a Samaritan and Samaritans and Jews didn’t get along at all. The Jew in the road had done nothing for this Samaritan, yet the Samaritan went above and beyond what was necessary. The Scriptures say he had compassion on the Jew.

The who idea of compassion, for me, is really in what Jesus responded as the most important commandment. Compassion is explicit when we love our neighbor as ourselves. And, when we love our neighbor, we are also showing our love for God. That would mean when we show compassion to a neighbor, we are also showing compassion to God.

The iced-tea reminds me of the old school value of compassion. It is rare these days but just as I am thankful to see a pitcher of tea on the table, I am also thankful when I see compassion still alive in the world around us.

So please, someone pass me the tea.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved