What Am I Grateful for Today…The People of God

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, good-bye. Put things in order, respond to my encouragement, be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you.

12 Say hello to each other with a holy kiss. All of God’s people say hello to you.

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Common English Bible).

As I write, it is Friday afternoon and I sit and watch the Astros Victory Parade. I am enjoying the parade but it is not my primary thoughts. My thoughts are really with a group of people who worked really hard, the people of God who call Sweeny home. These are the members of First United Methodist Church.

Thursday we held our annual Chicken Spaghetti Dinner and Bazaar. Some of these folks have been working on the event for weeks. Others were working on the dinner all of this week. Others were only able to help on Thursday. The members of our church came forward and gave of themselves, gave up one day, two days, three days, three weeks, or even more.

Over the years I have been in ministry, I have seen the phenomenon over and over again. People work hard. They give of their time and their talents. These are people who support their brothers and sisters. These are people who give of themselves in order to make a difference for their church and for God.

These events are always interesting to me. People have their jobs they do every year. They walk in the door and go straight to the job some of them have done for 20 or 30 years. There isn’t much discussion. They know their jobs and they do them.

On the other hand, it is also an opportunity for real fellowship between people who truly care about each other. I saw everything from intense (not bad, intense) conversations on any variety of topics. I saw a lot of laughter. There were many handshakes and probably even more hugs. The day embodied the concept of “love your neighbor.” We are also blessed that it doesn’t stop at the doors of the church.

Paul, in our lesson today and other places in his letters, demonstrates, again and again, the idea of friendship and fellowship in the Christian community and the life of believers together.

For me, this event and events like it, demonstrate the importance of being part of the Body of Believers. Over the years, I have heard people say, “I don’t need the church, I can worship God anywhere. ” No, you can’t. But, I’ll save that for another time. Worship, though it is the most important thing we do, it is not the church’s only function. Fellowship and support are also vital roles of the church. When the difficult times in life come, and they do come for all of us, I don’t know where I would be without the church. I also don’t know how those who are not part of the Church do it. How do you make it through the difficult times in life when not a real part of a body of believers?

These people bless my life in far more ways than I can count. They bless me. They bless my family. They bring me joy. I thank God for them.

That 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 who needs to see the blessings of God at work.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy 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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