Blessed… Of Splinters and Logs

“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you” (Matthew 7:1-6, Common English Bible).

Just before starting to write this post, I finished John Ortberg’s latest book, Soul Keeping. It is a really good book that I highly recommend, but I digress. I needed to finish the book because my Bible study groups start a study of the book later this week.

Earlier in the day I was thinking about a person from my past who was always negative. Have you ever known a person like that? I think most all of us have. As I was making my way through Soul Keeping I heard that still small voice say to me, “Keith, you can get pretty negative sometimes too.”

As I sat and considered those words, I thought of an event that happened earlier in the day, in fact it was one of the first things that happened after arriving at the church. One of my church members came into my office. I really don’t remember what she said, but I immediately started complaining about how much I have on my plate this week. There is the Ash Wednesday sermon, a new Bible study with two different groups, my Sunday school class is starting a new study this week and there is also Sunday’s sermon that I haven’t even started yet. I had two computer stations that needed to be set up. And, that doesn’t even begin to mention the regular things that happen each week, people stopping by to visit, hospital calls etc. etc. etc.

The writing of the above paragraph is not meant to be negative, it is what I was venting to my church member when she came into my office this morning. To her credit, she took it all in stride and asked if there was anything she could do to help. God bless her. She is a wonderful Christian lady who sincerely wanted to help her pastor.

That incident came back to my mind as I was absorbing Ortberg’s book. Then he got to a section where he talked about being thankful. He specifically said that the soul needs to be thankful, that it is wired to be thankful.

I thought to myself, “Instead of silently judging the negative person in my life, I need to be thankful for what that person brings and equally important, to be thankful for what I have.” When I do that, I think the splinter in their eye becomes less noticeable to me and hopefully I at least begin to remove the log that is in my own eye.

I hate to admit that too often I do pass judgment on people around me. And, I realize that is something I really need to change. But Ortberg points out in the book that our good intentions and our will power will not hold up on their own. He said, “Sin eats will power for breakfast.” I need something more.

Late in the book Ortberg suggests a small exercise that I am going to try to turn into a Lenten project. I had been trying to think of what I would do for Lent this year and nothing particularly appealed to me until I heard this. My goal is to live thankfully and express that thankfulness to those around me. When I start to judge or when I start to become negative, I pray I will realize it and instead of being negative or judging others, I will tell them why I am thankful. Ortberg argues in the book that such an action actually feeds our souls. Right now I am very thankful for Soul Keeping.

Wednesday begins the exercise. Who am I kidding. This doesn’t need to depend on a calendar. It starts now.

Anyone want to join me?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace and THANKFULNESS!!!!

Copyright 2017, 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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