If They Aren’t Against Us…

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Numbers 32-34; Mark 9:30-50


38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”

39 Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him. No one who does powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. 40 Whoever isn’t against us is for us. 41 I assure you that whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded (Mark 9:38-41, Common English Bible).

“Hey Preacher, did you know…” Those words are enough to bring cold sweats to many of us who are pastors. We get worried because of what might be following those five words. The list could be endless and many of those things are less than pleasant for us.

On one particular day, it wasn’t too bad but I quickly realized there was a teaching moment in front of me. “Hey Preacher, did you know the Baptist Church took our idea of providing backpacks for needy kids? They are going to do that for the kids at XYZ Elementary School like we do for ABC Elementary.”

What was left unsaid was, “You need to call their Preacher and tell them to stop. It was our idea.” My response that day was, “No, I didn’t know they were doing that but I am sure glad to hear it. We can’t afford to support all the kids at the five elementary schools in the area. Because they are stepping up to take care of a school, now we need to find three more and all the kids will have the help they need.”

From the look on the man’s face, it was obvious he didn’t agree. “But those families might join the Baptist Church instead of our church. We need to get more members here.”

I probably should have pulled out today’s lesson but I didn’t. I just said, “Except for on the softball field (there was a church softball league in that community and we both had teams in the league), just because the Baptist Church wins doesn’t mean our church loses.

The man could see I wasn’t going to call the Baptist preacher up and chew on him for stealing our idea and he just walked away. But what I said at the end was true. Just because another church wins, does not mean our church loses. That really is the case because that other church isn’t who really wins. When people come to the faith, when they build a relationship with God, because of what the Body of Christ does in the community and in the world, it is the Kingdom that wins.

I have been fortunate enough during my career to have had good relationships with the other pastors in the communities I have served. We have worked together on many community events, had worship services together, supported each other in some difficult times for one another’s congregations and more.

Today’s lesson has the disciples telling Jesus about someone they found doing ministry in Jesus’ name and they told the person to stop because the person wasn’t someone who got to go around with Jesus on a daily basis. Jesus said, in essence, “Leave them alone. If they aren’t working against us, they are working for the Kingdom.”

I am never going to theologically agree with all my brothers and sisters in other denominations. I know that because I can’t even agree theologically with all my United Methodist brothers and sisters. But, what I do know, is we are all working toward the same end. And, we can each have a list of beliefs as long as our arms and many of the items on our lists will be different. But, Jesus Christ as Lord has to be number one. I think we could all agree on that one.

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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