What Am I Grateful for Today… Music

96 Sing to the Lord a new song!
    Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord! Bless his name!
    Share the news of his saving work every single day!
Declare God’s glory among the nations;
    declare his wondrous works among all people
    because the Lord is great and so worthy of praise.
He is awesome beyond all other gods
    because all the gods of the nations are just idols,
        but it is the Lord who created heaven!
Greatness and grandeur are in front of him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary (Psalm 96:1-6, Common English Bible).

I love music. I always have. Once upon a time in my life, for about six years I played the trumpet. During that time I also learned to play bugle, baritone, valve trombone and French horn. I also sang in the youth choir at church. And, to quote my father, “I played a mean radio.” That one I still play.

Today things are different. I still love music, but I don’t play the same instruments. Instead of trumpet, today I play the guitar. I am pretty sure I was a better trumpet player back in the day, than I am a guitar player. All I do on guitar is strum chords.

One of the most fun things I do is singing bass with the Coastalaires. The Coastalaires are a barbershop chorus. There are about 30 of us. The whole reason this particular thing I am grateful for came up is, tonight is “Opening Night,” for the Coastalaires annual Christmas show. I am excited about it. I already know I will also be ready for it to be over Sunday afternoon.

The last way I enjoy music is in writing. I don’t do a whole lot of writing, but I do some. I have written lyrics for six songs that are sung to tunes of better known songs. I have also written words and music to two more.

For me, music is, at different times, a diversion from the work I do and an offering to God. The Bible says to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord… (Psalm 100:1, KJV). For me, the optimum word there is probably noise. Like I said, I’m not very good, but I love playing.

Both at rehearsals and in our shows, The Coastalaires always finish with the same song. The title of the song is, “Keep the Whole World Singing.” Here are the lyrics”

Keep the whole world singing, all day long.
Watch goodwill come a winging, on a song.
Smile the while you are singing.
Oh carry, carry, carry your part.
Keep the melody ringing and ringing,
In your heart.

I love this song because it addresses something that would make for a better world. I truly believe, if we could get more of the world singing and/or playing together, the music really would make a difference and our world just might look very different from what we see today.

Music is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today. Write it down in your journal and then share it with someone else. Like the music, it just might make a difference.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

What Am I Grateful For Today… Children’s Ministries

15 People were bringing babies to Jesus so that he would bless them. When the disciples saw this, they scolded them. 16 Then Jesus called them to him and said, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 17  I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it” (Luke 18:15-17, Common English Bible).

In my sermon this past Sunday, I talked about sin, repentance and forgiveness. I linked these subjects to commandments. I mention this only because what Jesus is saying in today’s lesson sounds much like a commandment. “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid or hinder them. If you do, you won’t get heaven yourself” (My paraphrase).  Those verses show me the importance of children’s ministries.

Over the years, I have devoted quite a bit of time to children’s ministries. Several years back, when I came to a new congregation I was told my job for Vacation Bible School was to teach the adult class. I responded by saying I would find someone to teach the adult class but I thought it was important for me to spend that week with the kids. That is just what I did.

A couple of days ago I talked about a ministry called “Clean Water for Haiti.” Because of the high mortality rate among children in Haiti due to water-born illness, I believe it to be important. I would carry that a step further. I believe an argument can be made that Clean Water for Haiti is in itself a children’s ministry.

Last summer Cindy and I started working for another ministry that does work with children in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. These are two of the poorest countries in the world. What does New Mission do? Here is what their website says:

“For over 30 years, New Missions has been establishing local churches and Christian schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic—providing children with education, food, and medical care so they can grow strong and make an impact in their community.”

New Mission builds schools, churches and medical facilities. They make a difference in the lives of these children. As the children reach adulthood, they will make a difference in their country.

They also, each year at Christmas time have “The Shoe Box Drive.” Part of what is packed in the shoe box is to help the kids with their school work. The other is to help with daily life and bring them a little joy. From the Shoe Box Drive website, these are the kinds of items to go in the shoe box….

BOY
Preschool & Kindergarten (3-6 yrs.)
• whistle
• harmonica
• small ball
• toy cars
• stuffed animals
• coloring books
• markers
• Play-Doh
• stickers
Primary (7-11 yrs.)
• soccer ball/pump
• jacks
• coloring book
• markers
• small cars
• journals
• playing cards
• kite
• yo-yo
• kazoo
High School (12 yrs. and up)
• soccer ball/pump
• watch
• athletic shorts
• baseball cap
• razors
• solar calculator
• playing cards
• necktie
• headphones
• water bottle
• bike repair kit
GIRL
Preschool & Kindergarten (3-6 yrs.)
• doll
• hair ribbons
• stuffed animals
• sundress
• coloring books
• markers
• skirt
• Play-Doh
• stickers
Primary (7-11 yrs.)
• hair ribbons/ties
• nail polish
• jump rope
• coloring book
• markers
• costume jewelry
• stickers
• sundress
• journal
• lip balm
• small purse
High School (12 yrs. and up)
• nail polish
• headbands/hair accessories
• feminine hygiene products
• manicure set
• sports bra
• solar calculator
• journal
• costume jewelry
• headphones
• water bottle
• small purse

Efforts like the Shoe Box Drive are simple ways of making a difference in a child’s life. It can change a child’s life.

I am grateful for the Shoe Box Drive but really I am grateful for any ministry that makes a real difference in the lives of kids here and well beyond.

That is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Write it in your journal and share it with someone today.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

What Am I Grateful for Today… Grocery Stores

Keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him,because the Lord your God is bringing you to a wonderful land, a land with streams of water, springs, and wells that gush up in the valleys and on the hills; a land of wheat and barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without any shortage—you won’t lack a thing there—a land where stone is hard as iron and where you will mine copper from the hills.10 You will eat, you will be satisfied, and you will bless the Lord your God in the wonderful land that he’s given you (Deuteronomy 8:6-10, Common English Bible).

Make no mistake about it. I am not a farmer. I am not a gardener. I love fresh, homegrown produce. Tomatoes are my favorite. There is nothing quite like a fresh tomato picked from the vine and eating it when it is perfectly ripe. The flavors are wonderful, if of course, you are like me and you like tomatoes.

If you are like my wife and dislike tomatoes you would probably be a fan of my farming abilities. I have attempted, several times, to grow a few different kinds of vegetables. I have particularly tried to grow tomatoes. My plants grow tall. My plants get blooms. My plants do not get tomatoes. And, what is true for tomatoes is equally true for pretty much any kind of produce.

I am pretty happy that I live in an era where I don’t have to grow my own food. Even as recent as 100 years ago, there was a pretty good chance that I would have grown much of my own food. Even if I worked in another field, I would have grown some of my own food.

When I read passages, Moses, or whoever wrote Deuteronomy makes the Promised Land sound like the Israelites would just be able to walk outside and pick their choice of produce from what farmers of a generation or two ago called “volunteer” plants. Of course it wasn’t like that at all. Even with the most fertile ground, one must still plant seeds, tend plants and harvest crops to have food at the end.

Oh no! That would mean I would have been in big trouble since I can’t get my plants to produce a crop. I am in big trouble. I might starve.

If you look at me you would know there is little chance of me starving soon. Still, I would probably be a great deal more limited in what I could eat.

It makes me grateful for grocery stores. Can you imagine what that might look like to the Israelites of our lesson today? They might think this is the Promised Land. And, because the United States can raise so much produce, we literally feed the world. Well, we help feed the world.

When my father was growing up in the 1930’s and 1940’s, his family ate because the grew food. Throughout my life, when my family has needed food, it has been a matter of getting into the car and driving to the grocery store, buying what we needed, then returning home to put the groceries away.

So, because I can work in a career I enjoy and where I have talents, I don’t have to try to scratch out a living working the land, where I clearly do not have talents, I am grateful for grocery stores. Walking into the produce department alone reminds me to be grateful I can shop at a place that has all the produce I would ever need.

It may not taste quite as good as home grown, but it beats eating air by many measures and I am grateful.

Grocery stores are what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today. Write it in your journal and then share it with someone you know, or someone you don’t.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Well is Deep – Sermon for November 26, 2017

 

He came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, which was near the land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey, so he sat down at the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” His disciples had gone into the city to buy him some food. The Samaritan woman asked, “Why do you, a Jewish man, ask for something to drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (Jews and Samaritans didn’t associate with each other.) 10 Jesus responded, “If you recognized God’s gift and who is saying to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would be asking him and he would give you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave this well to us, and he drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, get your husband, and come back here.” 17 The woman replied, “I don’t have a husband.” “You are right to say, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus answered.18 “You’ve had five husbands, and the man you are with now isn’t your husband. You’ve spoken the truth.” 19 The woman said, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way.24 God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” 27 Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus. 31 In the meantime the disciples spoke to Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33 The disciples asked each other, “Has someone brought him food?” 34 Jesus said to them, “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest. 36 Those who harvest are receiving their pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that those who sow and those who harvest can celebrate together. 37 This is a true saying, that one sows and another harvests. 38 I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work.” 39 Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of his word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world” (John 4:5-42, Common English Bible).

 

A week ago, one of the most notorious killers in American history died of natural causes. Without question, Charles Manson was a sociopath who has attracted a large cult following. But, our society is better for the loss of a man whose criminal career began when he was thirteen years old. He was 83 when he died last Sunday.

Few people in our country have lost sleep over the passing of Manson. To say that the overwhelming majority of our citizens disliked him would probably be an understatement. Not only did his actions show hatred, a lack of remorse and a continued risk of danger for people had he ever been paroled from prison. I fail to understand how rational thinking people can idolize a cold blooded killer including one woman who wanted to marry Manson before his death.

A few years ago another infamous person in our country passed away. He was the head of what the BBC called, “The Most Hated Family in America.” March 19, 2014, Fred Phelps, former pastor of Westboro Baptist Church passed away at the age of 84.

Much like with Manson, there have been few tears shed by average Americans over Phelps. Not only did the actions of him and his congregation spew a message of hate, their actions left decency in the rear-view mirror as they protested on numerous occasions with messages against homosexuality, particularly at the funerals of fallen soldiers and others as well as at other occasions that might gain the church, and I use that term very loosely, a few headlines. I never have quite figured out the connection between homosexuality and funerals of fallen soldiers except perhaps as shock value.

To be clear, I was never a fan of Phelps or his church. I found their actions to be despicable and distasteful. More than once I preached about the message of hate from his congregation as they chanted their most famous quote, still the name of their webpage “God Hates…” and has a pretty crude word following. The basic context of my sermon was, God, who the Bible said is love, doesn’t hate anybody. God may not like some of the things we and others do, but God does not hate any of his children. To say otherwise is not only bad theology, it is bad Bible.

I would not have been surprised of the world would have ignored Phelps death and just moved on. The world does that pretty regularly. Seeing all the traffic on the highway just outside the cemetery following the funeral for a good friend, I remember thinking, “Hey people, slow down a minute. Don’t you realize Bob is dead?” The truth was, the world didn’t really care Bob was dead because the world didn’t know Bob was dead. The world, for that matter didn’t even know Bob.

The world did know Fred Phelps and Charles Manson, but the world wasn’t better off by that knowledge. Knowing how most people felt, when I heard Phelps had died, I figured people would say something to the effect of, “Good riddance,” and then go on. From what I understand, that is pretty much what the world is saying about Manson as not even his family is claiming the body.

I was surprised by the vile hatred that went out from so many people on social media in regard to Phelps. But, it went even further to members of his family that had been estranged from Phelps for years. I read comments like, “Burn in hell!” and that was one of the nicer comments. There was little in the way of condolences for members of the family, including Nathan Phelps, who was the most famous of the Phelps runaways. He posted online his father passed away and few made even surface attempts to offer comfort to a man who had just lost his father. Instead, there were those crying out for payback by having the largest protest ever done, at the funeral of Fred Phelps. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” was a sentiment forgotten in favor of, “Do unto others as they have already done to you.” That reading was both sad and at the same time shined a bright light on the state of the human condition.

The human condition, we want to stay angry. We don’t want reconciliation. We would prefer to hate. We don’t want to forgive. We refuse to believe there is any grace for people like Charles Manson and Fred Phelps. The family of Sharon Tate is still angry for her murder at the hands of “The Manson Family.” At least to a degree I understand. Still, it happened almost fifty years ago.

I wish I could say all this was by non-Christians but the truth is, when it comes to someone we love to hate, Christians are no different from the rest of the world. We may sing, “The Will Know We are Christians by Our Love,” but that love will only go so far and is really reserved for just certain people.

We tend to believe there is a special place in hell for despicable people like Manson and Phelps. The truth is, if that is the case for people like Charles Manson and Fred Phelps, that same spot might just be reserved for you and me as well. Why, you ask? Well, in truth, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God.

“Well preacher, I haven’t done anything like those two terrible people. Sure, I might tell a lie every now and then. I would really like to have my neighbor’s bass boat. You know, those little sins. But I haven’t killed anybody. I haven’t desecrated a fallen soldier’s funeral. You know, those big sins.”

I have a quick news flash for you. Have you noticed that “Thou shall not kill,” and “Thou shall not bear false witness,” (that is lying folks) and “Thou shall not covet,” (that is desiring your neighbor’s bass boat) are all on the same list God gave to Moses? They are. It is my guess that in the eyes of God those all weigh about the same.

The thing is we all like to weigh sin as if it were crime. Some are worse than others. It is worse to rob a bank than to steal a pack of gum. One will send you to prison; the other will probably cost you a fine and a few days in jail. They aren’t the same.

They are to God. Stealing is stealing. And, for the most part, sin is sin. The exceptions being, what Jesus said was the only unforgiveable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the opposite of what Jesus called the Greatest Commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” A case could be made for the hating of Charles Manson and Fred Phelps being a greater sin, or at least an equal sin to their sin.

We think how terrible this person is. And, we are right. But, too often, we are more concerned about the splinter in their eye and ignoring the log in our own.

In our lesson this morning, Jesus and the disciples are making their way back to Galilee, but to get there they traveled through Samaria. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews. They were seen as half-breeds. Jews who married foreigners and therefore were less than pure and for the Jews, purity and cleanliness were of upmost importance. So, any good Jew wanted as little to do with Samaritans as possible.

Jesus and the disciples come to the Samaritan town of Sychar. Once there, Jesus remains at the well outside of town and the disciples go in. It is about noon when a woman comes out to retrieve water. The scene wouldn’t be unusual, women came to the well to retrieve water all the time, the timing of the woman’s trip is curious. It was the heat of the day. Most women, and hauling water was women’s work, came early in the morning or closer to sunset. They came when it wasn’t quite so hot. This woman, however, comes during the heat of the day. Many of us would might wonder why.

For his part Jesus doesn’t ask about that. We soon learn he didn’t need to. He already knew the answer. All Jesus does, is ask for a drink of water. Now the woman is curious. She recognizes Jesus as a Jew and she knows the score and questions why a Jew, would ask anything of her, a woman of Samaria. Jesus tells her if she knew who he was, he would give her living water. She doesn’t understand. How he would draw water. He had no bucket and the well is deep. He tells her those who drink the water he offers will never be thirsty again. Now he has her attention. She thinks, no more going to the well in the hot noon-day sun. Obviously she still doesn’t get it.

Jesus doesn’t press the matter and changes the subject. He tells her, “Go get your husband.” She replies that she has no husband.

In my mind I can see Jesus smile a bit. “You are right.” Then the other shoe drops. “You have had five husbands and the man you are living with now is not your husband.” Jesus exposes her sin. She asks if he is a prophet. In a roundabout way he says he isn’t a prophet. He is the Messiah. The woman goes into town telling everyone she meets, “Come and meet the man who knows everything I ever did.”

As I see the story it occurred to me, what the woman found was more than water. Jesus’ offer of Living Water was an offer of grace. The lesson never says Jesus forgave her sins but it seems implied to me. She received grace, she received forgiveness. How do I know? She is willing to tell her story, warts and all. That is grace.

As Christians we love this story. We love it because we all want the forgiveness the woman received. We love it because we want grace.

As I have thought about this story as I prepared this message, an image came to me from something the woman said, “The well is deep.” Of course she was right. The well was literally deep. Most wells are. But, I also got to thinking; the well of God’s grace is deep too. That is Good News. We too can receive forgiveness for sin.

But, it isn’t in our lesson but it is in the Bible. If we are going to receive grace, we have to give grace. If we are to receive forgiveness, we have to give forgiveness. The implication there is if we don’t forgive we will not be forgiven. Jesus says in Luke 6, “forgive and you will be forgiven.” We prayed just minutes ago, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In other words, we are asking God to forgive us in the same way we are willing to forgive those who wronged us.

Falling hand in hand with forgiveness is repenting, asking forgiveness from those we have wronged. Sometime ago, I started feeling guilty about treating a high school classmate poorly. It took me a while to find and make contact but when I did I asked forgiveness. The classmate did forgive me and I know by faith God forgave me as well.

Here is what I want you to do. We all wronged someone as I did with my classmate. Ask forgiveness from them. It may take effort to find them, but do it. You may not find them. If you can’t, or if they have passed from this life, write them a letter asking their forgiveness. You won’t hear them say you are forgiven but even if you find them they may not forgive you. In that moment, however, it becomes their problem, not yours. You humbled yourself and asked for forgiveness. It’s all you can do.

Another thing, be ready. If someone comes to you and asks your forgiveness, be ready to give it as my classmate gave forgiveness to me.

Whatever you do, in any of these circumstances, you will feel better for the effort. I know God will bless you for the effort by lowering a bucket deep into the well of grace and pour that grace upon you. You will drink the living water.

I can’t tell you whether Charles Manson or Fred Phelps ever felt the grace Jesus called living water in this story or not. That isn’t my job or really my concern. What I do know is this, the well is deep, even for the likes of those two. God makes the decisions about who drinks the Living Water. We just know the well is deep.

I also know that as people of faith we need to find it within ourselves to forgive even those two. We don’t forgive for their sake, but for our own. We forgive for peace in our hearts. We forgive because God asks us to do so. It isn’t always easy. No one ever said a life in faith is easy. Se we work at it, and we forgive.

We forgive because each time we do, we dip back into the well of grace, we drink the Living water and the well is deep.

What Am I Grateful For Today… Clean Drinking Water

Now there was no water for the community, and they assembled against Moses and Aaron. Then the people confronted Moses and said to him, “If only we too had died when our brothers perished in the Lord’s presence! Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this desert to kill us and our animals here? Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place without grain, figs, vines, or pomegranates? And there’s no water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the meeting tent and they fell on their faces. Then the Lord’s glory appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses: “You and Aaron your brother, take the staff and assemble the community. In their presence, tell the rock to provide water. You will produce water from the rock for them and allow the community and their animals to drink.”

Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, as the Lord had commanded him (Numbers 20:2-9, Common English Bible).

When the bishop appointed me to one particular community a few years ago, I didn’t like the taste of the water. When Cindy and I bought our retirement home a few years ago, we didn’t like the taste of Lufkin water. Really, at least when I first moved to several communities, at least at first, I didn’t like the taste of the water. Eventually I got used to the taste. Well, at least it wasn’t as bad.

When I first went to sea when I was in the Navy, I really didn’t like the taste of the water. In port, we drank water from city sources just like most anyone else. But, when we went to sea the ship produced its own drinking water. They would take sea water, boil it, capture the steam and cool it back into water we would use for drinking, cleaning and to make steam to power the engines. I don’t think I really ever got used to drinking the ship’s water.

I guess it has been six or seven years ago I was introduced to a man who has made a ministry based on what he saw on one trip to Haiti. Bob paused when he saw children scooping water with their hands from tire ruts in the road and drinking it. God grabbed Bob that day. When he got home he started researching. First he looked at the statistics regarding water born illness in Haiti. Bob told me the numbers. To be honest, I don’t remember them and even if I did we really don’t have room here.

Once Bob saw the statistics, he started looking for a solution to the problem. These people, in the part of Haiti where Bob focuses are among the poorest in the world. Some people try to address the problem by drilling water wells. If you can raise that kind of money it is a good plan but wells can be expensive and many churches don’t have the resources to meet the need. Bob wanted something where just about any church and many individuals could participate.

Bob found the Sawyer Water Filter. With the filter (his teams carry the filters in from the US) and a plastic bucket (they purchase the buckets in Haiti, helping the local economy), for less than $75, a Haitian family can clean enough water (the system filters out 98% of the bacteria and other things in the water) to supply their needs for up to ten years.

I often think about that when I turn my water faucet on to get a glass of water, take a drink and I don’t like the taste. It causes me to realize, at least some of the time, I am not to thankful for the water I have at my fingertips. I am a lot like the grumbling Israelites for whom Moses had to find water. God gives. I complain. Those who receive those filters are grateful because their lives are changed.

It makes me think, sometimes I may not be very grateful, but I need to be thankful for clean drinking water, both for me and for those Bob’s teams touch when they take water filters to Haiti.

Clean water is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today?  Write it in your journal and then share it with someone who needs to hear about the joys of a grateful heart.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

What Am I Grateful For Today… Books and Reading

36 In the fourth year of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Take a scroll and write in it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah, and all the nations from the time of Josiah until today. Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I intend to bring upon them, they will turn from their evil ways, and I will forgive their wrongdoing and sins. So Jeremiah sent for Baruch, Neriah’s son. As Jeremiah dictated all the words that the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them in the scroll.Then Jeremiah told Baruch, “I’m confined here and can’t go to the Lord’s temple. So you go to the temple on the next day of fasting, and read the Lord’s words from the scroll that I have dictated to you. Read them so that all the people in the temple can hear them, as well as all the Judeans who have come from their towns. If they turn from their evil ways, perhaps the Lord will hear their prayers. The Lord has threatened them with fierce anger.” Baruch, Neriah’s son, did everything the prophet Jeremiah instructed him: he read all the Lord’s words from the scroll in the temple.

In the ninth month of the fifth year of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, all the people in Jerusalem and all those who had come from Judean towns observed a fast for the Lord in Jerusalem. 10 Then Baruch read Jeremiah’s words from the scroll to all the people in the Lord’s temple; he read them in the chamber of Gemariah, Shaphan the scribe’s son, in the upper courtyard near the entrance of the New Gate of the Lord’s temple. 11 When Micaiah, Gemariah’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, heard all the Lord’s words from the scroll, 12 he went down to the scribes’ chamber in the royal palace. There he found all the officials meeting together: Elishama the scribe; Delaiah, Shemaiah’s son; Elnathan, Achbor’s son; Gemariah, Shaphan’s son; Zedekiah, Hananiah’s son, and all the other officials. 13 Micaiah told them all the words he heard Baruch read from the scroll before the people.

14 Then all the officials sent Jehudi, Nethaniah’s son and Shelemiah’s grandson, and Cushi’s great-grandson, to Baruch: “Take the scroll you read to the people and come with me.”

So Baruch, Neriah’s son, took the scroll and went to the officials. 15 They said to him, “Sit down and read it to us.” So Baruch read it to them.16 When they heard all its words, they were alarmed and said to Baruch: “We must at once report all this to the king!” 17 Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, how did you write all these words? Did they come from Jeremiah?”

18 Baruch replied, “He dictated all the words to me, and I wrote them with ink in the scroll.”

19 The officials then said to Baruch, “You and Jeremiah had better go and hide. And don’t let anyone know where you are.”

20 After leaving the scroll in the room of Elishama the scribe, they went to the king’s court and told him everything. 21 The king sent Jehudi to take the scroll, and he retrieved it from the room of Elishama the scribe. Then Jehudi read it to the king and all his royal officials who were standing next to the king. 22 Now it was the ninth month,[a] and the king was staying in the winterized part of the palace with the firepot burning near him. 23 And whenever Jehudi read three or four columns of the scroll, the king would cut them off with a scribe’s knife and throw them into the firepot until the whole scroll was burned up. 24 Neither the king nor any of his attendants who heard all these words were alarmed or tore their clothes. 25 Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah begged the king not to burn the scroll, but he wouldn’t listen to them (Jeremiah 36:1-25, Common English Bible).

I enjoy reading. I can’t say I have always enjoyed reading. That would be an untrue statement. I can say, however, I have always enjoyed a good book. For the most part, the books I truly enjoy are novels, biographies, history and books on some form of Christian living. I love a good book I just don’t want to put down.

As a pastor I have a books. I have quite a number of books. I collected books over the years I wanted to read. I collected books I enjoyed and books I didn’t enjoy as much. Most of those I didn’t enjoy so much were required reading in college or seminary. And, I kept most of them.

I really don’t know how many books were in my library. I do know that having enough shelf space in my study for all my books was a real challenge. Several years ago the denomination started paying for our moves. Moves were based on weight. The heaviest two categories of my belongings were my tools and my library.

I got my first iPad the day they hit the market. It didn’t take long after that before I bought my first ebook. With that I was hooked. After a couple of years reading on my iPad I got frustrated when trying to read outside in bright light so I bought my first Kindle. Today I have more than 1000 ebooks. Even with all those books, my Kindle weighs the same as the day I bought it.

Shortly after that first iPad, I culled through my library. It was moving time and I gave away about two thirds of my hard copy books. They were books I felt pretty certain I would never use again.

I am grateful for books, but mostly I am grateful for the ability to read. In the last couple of years I have had a couple of times that reading has given me difficulty due to some eye issues. I wasn’t blind, I wasn’t going blind but reading was difficult. It is in times like that when you realize how much you take a simple activity like reading for granted.

Today I am grateful for books and reading. Without either, my job would be more difficult and I would be missing so many people, places and things books and reading have brought my way. Reading has given me joy and I am thankful.

That is what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Write it in your journal and share it with someone you know or someone you don’t.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

What Am I Grateful For Today… Blue Skies

19 Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
One day gushes the news to the next, and one night informs another what needs to be known.
Of course, there’s no speech, no words— their voices can’t be heard—
    but their sound[a] extends throughout the world; their words reach the ends of the earth. God has made a tent in heaven for the sun.

The sun is like a groom coming out of his honeymoon suite; like a warrior, it thrills at running its course.
It rises in one end of the sky; its circuit is complete at the other. Nothing escapes its heat (Psalm 19:1-6, Common English Bible).

I am sure there are those who would argue, but when I went outside today I was grabbed by the beauty of the day. This day is a far cry from a Saturday, Sunday and a few more days that followed when the area around where I live endured the unwanted guest of Hurricane Harvey who just did not want to go away.

I know we could probably use a nice, steady, gentle rain. As I type this it is Friday night and the 10:00 nightly news is on. The weather forecast for the next week seems to show it will a lot closer to this day’s weather than it will be to Hurricane Harvey (praise God) or even the rain we could use.

It is not uncommon for me to get prayer requests when we are in need of a weather change. I always tell people I don’t pray about changes in the weather. I believe God not only answers prayer, God sometimes answers prayer abundantly.

I had been at a former church less than two weeks. The old proverbial saying of “The good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” took on a literal meaning. It was RAINING and had been for a while. It wasn’t Harvey bad but it was bad. I started getting calls at the parsonage from people telling me they wouldn’t be at church that morning. The creek had risen. The wooden bridges over the creeks on the rural county roads had literally floated away. I began the service by saying, “Whoever among you has been praying for rain, you can stop now. Your prayers have been answered abundantly.”

Rain doesn’t bother me and when we get it, particularly when we really need it, I am grateful. But there is something special about an absolutely gorgeous day like we are experiencing here in Sweeny the last few days that should make us say, “Hey God, I see what you did there and I am grateful.”

Blue Skies are what I am grateful for today. What about you? What are you grateful for today? Write it in your journal. Share it with someone else. Let them see there is always something for which they can be thankful!

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved