Blessed… A New Family

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers stood outside trying to speak with him. Someone said to him, “Look, your mother and brothers are outside wanting to speak with you.” Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” He stretched out his hand toward his disciples and said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50, Common English Bible).

Beyond my natural family, beyond my wife, children, grandchildren, mother, sister, in-laws, etc. there are many people with whom I have close relationships. I have very dear friends including the parents of yet another very dear friend.

Ryan is a very special young man to me. His parents are dear friends, but it isn’t the same. I say Ryan is a young man, he is in his late 40s. Still, he is younger than I so I guess it’s OK. Ryan is a special needs, mentally challenged young man whom I have grown to love almost as much as any member of my family.

All this is to say, Ryan calls me, “Uncle Keith.” And, I guess I see him as more than just a friend. To me, though not a blood relative, Ryan is family. He could be a third son. He could be a nephew or a cousin. But, the long and short of this is, Ryan is more than just a friend and he always will be.

I also remember as a kid that my dad had an old Navy buddy. I called him and his wife, “Uncle Dean and Aunt Arlene.” I have vague memories of going to Illinois to visit them when I was a young child.

There are people in most of our lives that are beyond our blood relatives who are very special to us. They become like our families.

I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to Mary when she heard (if she actually heard, the Bible doesn’t say she did) Jesus say, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” and, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother.” She had given birth to him in what had to be the most difficult and yet most rewarding time of her life. I can’t help but wonder, was there some sort of rift in Jesus’ family? Perhaps the rest of the family was angry with Jesus for having left them behind. It could be that they had not yet accepted Jesus’ ministry and life as a person who was rapidly becoming known as a religious personality. And, it could even be that they had not yet accepted that he was the Messiah. If there was a dispute in the family, the Bible doesn’t say what it was over. Or, for that matter, that there even was a rift.

I think that what Jesus is trying to say here is, those who join us in faith to Him, who seek to do His will, are more than just our friends. They are part of our spiritual family. And, as important as our blood family may be, and should be, our spiritual family should mean as much or even more.

Knowing Scripture (our Old Testament) as well as Jesus did, I don’t think it would have EVER been his intention to dishonor his mother. I really don’t think that was his point. His point was, family is who you make it and those who do the will of God should be part of our family too.

I love my mom, dad and sister. I love my wife, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins. They are my family and I wouldn’t trade them or the relationships I have with them for anything in the world. But then there is also Ryan and his parents. There are my many friends. They are part of my family too. But, I also can’t neglect my brothers and sisters in Christ. They are also part of my now very large family.

And, I would say to Ryan, thanks for wanting to be my nephew! I think that you are. I know you are my brother. You are my brother in Jesus Christ.

Who are your brothers and sister?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,

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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