What Will You Give Up?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 21-22, Matthew 19


23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I assure you that it will be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24  In fact, it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

25 When his disciples heard this, they were stunned. “Then who can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.”

27 Then Peter replied, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you. What will we have?”

28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you who have followed me that, when everything is made new, when the Human One sits on his magnificent throne, you also will sit on twelve thrones overseeing the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And all who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms because of my name will receive one hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first (Matthew 19:23-30, Common English Bible).

Well, it is just about that time of year again. Lent is upon us. It begins two weeks from this Wednesday, and yes, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day happen to fall on the same day this year.

Growing up a Baptist kid, I heard of people giving up something for Lent but I didn’t really understand it. I just knew that my Catholic friends’ plate lunches on Fridays didn’t look as good as mine. Theirs was something that looked like fish and smelled like the dead fish we talked about a few days ago. I also heard that they couldn’t do things like eating chocolate or drinking a Coke. It always made me glad that I wasn’t a Catholic (if you are Catholic, please don’t take offense, it is just something a kid would think).

I was actually quite surprised when I became a Methodist and about nine months rolled by and I started hearing about giving something up for Lent and Lenten worship services. I honestly don’t remember what, if anything I gave up that year for Lent.

For way too many of us, we are like the rich young man in our lesson today. We might be like the little girl in today’s graphic.

I recently ran across something about the rich young man that I hadn’t considered before. The rich young man really wasn’t willing to give up much of anything. He was willing to go and do, but he wasn’t willing to give up his earthly goods.

Though childlike, the little girl in the graphic is much the same way. She is willing to give up something for Lent, however, she is only willing to give up something she really didn’t want to start with. Brocolli isn’t really much of a sacrifice.

Our Lenten sacrifices should be something that is actually a sacrifice for us. It may even be that what you give up is nothing more than time but you take that time and reach out and do something for others with the time you sacrificed.

What we give up, what we sacrifice for God should be more than what we want to do. It should be more than that food I don’t like. I shared with someone recently I don’t like liver or eggs. Giving them up for Lent would be no sacrifice because I’m not going to eat them anyway.

For many people, giving up Facebook or Twitter or their computer is a real sacrifice. Others choose to give up some food item and others that quit smoking (I once knew a woman who quit smoking every year for Lent and then Easter Sunday, she was smoking again).

I would challenge you to be in thought and prayer about how you can be more disciplined by the sacrifice you make or a new discipline with which you will engage. Make it a sacrifice. Make it something that has real meaning. You will be blessed by your effort.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, 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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