Return to Me… Don’t Cheat

10 Isn’t there one father for all of us,
        one God who created us?
Why does everyone cheat each other to make the covenant of our ancestors impure?
11 Judah cheated—
        a detestable thing was done in Israel and Jerusalem.
    Judah made the Lord’s holy place impure, which God loved,
        and married the daughter of a foreign god.
12 May the Lord eliminate anyone who does so from the tents of Jacob,
        anyone awaking, testifying,
        and making an offering to the Lord of heavenly forces.
13 You should do this as well:
        cover the altar of the Lord with tears, weeping, and groaning
            because there is still no divine favor for your offering or favorable regard
            for anything from your hand.
14 But you say, “Why?”
    Because the Lord testifies about you
            and the wife of your youth against whom you cheated.
    She is your partner,
            the wife of your covenant.
15 Didn’t he make her the one
and the remnant of his spirit? What is the one?
        The one seeking godly offspring.
You should guard your own spirit.
        Don’t cheat on the wife of your youth
16         because he hates divorce,
says the Lord God of Israel,
            and he also hates the one covering his garment with violence,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
        Guard your own life, and don’t cheat (Malachi 2:10-16, Common English Bible).

Several years ago, probably not too many years after Google became an available web search engine, a friend told me, “If you want a surprise Google yourself.” I didn’t think I would actually see something that would surprise me. I was wrong. What I found was not what my friend thought would surprise me. I am not sure what he thought I would find but it wasn’t there.

At that time I had a personal website where I would post manuscript versions of my sermons for family and friends to read. I would guess at that point I had about 40 sermons on my site. I didn’t think they were anything spectacular, but some of my favorites were there.

That my website showed up on the Google search wasn’t surprising either. I would have been more surprised had it not been there.

What did surprise me was that two of my sermons showed up on another website. It was a website where preachers could go and buy a sermon someone else had written. My permission had not been asked about including any of my sermons. If it had been a website that didn’t charge for the sermons I probably wouldn’t have been upset. That wasn’t the case. The owner of the website was potentially making money from my sermons. In other words, he was cheating me.

I confronted him via email (I wouldn’t know the guy if he knocked on my door). He replied back saying he didn’t have any of my sermons that all he had on his site were his sermons. I went back and checked and he had taken my sermons down. And still, I saw sermons not written by him.

All this is to say, I was being cheated, and I didn’t like it. Who does like it. When someone cheats us, it is no fun and we usually resent it. I know I did that day.

Malachi, in our lesson today, talks about cheating. As I read this passage I can’t help but think the first half addresses cheating in general but in the second half, he specifically addresses cheating on one’s spouse.

The short answer to both is, don’t do it because God doesn’t like it. For so many, cheating is a way of life. No, it would be better to say, dishonesty is a way of life.

When I was in the Navy, it was generally considered that a thief was the lowest life form on the planet. Why a thief? If you would steal from your shipmate, you would lie to or about your shipmate. If you can’t trust someone with something like honesty, you can’t trust them with your life either.

I would actually expand on that, if you lie to someone, you would steal from them. And, if you can’t trust them with being honest, you can’t trust them with anything.

Further, if someone can’t trust his/her spouse to be faithful, they can’t trust them at all.

In my research for today’s blog I ran across a very short poem I want to leave you with today. I think it sums things up pretty well.

Don’t Lie
Don’t Cheat
Don’t Make Promises
You can’t Keep.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

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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