Life was Cheap

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:  2 Chronicles 13-14; John 12:1-26

Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)

Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”

Many Jews learned that he was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 The chief priests decided that they would kill Lazarus too. 11 It was because of Lazarus that many of the Jews had deserted them and come to believe in Jesus. (John 12:1-11, Common English Bible)

In today’s lesson, not only had the Pharisees and the keepers of the law decided to kill Jesus, now the lesson teaches us, they were ready to kill Lazarus too. Why? Because he had been dead once and Jesus brought him back to life and he was getting more attention than the Pharisees liked.

Does anyone see the irony (and I don’t mean humor) in all this besides me? Here are the Pharisees and the keepers of the LAW, the people who are supposed to know more about what the law says than anyone else in their society and they stood ready to break the law they were so determined everyone else must uphold. Think about this for a minute. These were the people who carried around the big 10, the ones God gave Moses on the mountain. That would include the one that said, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” But they would also be violating one (or more) of the over 600 commandments the Pharisees and keepers of the law sought to enforce on all society. Which specifically were they guilty of breaking here. None other than the one they agreed with Jesus was most important, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” I would argue it is not possible to love your neighbor if you are, at the same time, plotting to kill your neighbor. You cannot claim to love God when you are actively trying to kill God. While the Pharisees refused to accept Jesus as God, there still is the whole neighbor things too.

Through the centuries Christian religious martyrs have been killed senselessly. From Stephen in the book of Acts to the disciples and several early popes. From Thomas Beckett and Joan of Arc to Thomas More and Thomas Beckett.

We also should remember the victims of the Salem Witch Trials and the victims of gunslingers from the old west.

In World War II alone, not counting the soldiers, sailors, and marines on both sides who died, there were six million Jews in Germany and more people than that in Russia. There were also those like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who died for doing what he believed to be right.

We can quickly see the senseless tragedy and the cheapness of life when we look at events like the My Lai Massacre and the work of the Khmer Rouge regime’s genocide in Cambodia.

Today we are bothered by senseless killing and rightly so. It takes shape in many forms and looks scary and can make the acids in our stomachs churn, often at just the thought.

Many people are killed while doing nothing more than going to work when a maniac decides to fly an airplane into the side of a building, killing all onboard and many, many more inside the building.

A person is gunned down on the street because they wore the wrong color sweatshirt or someone wanted to steal their tennis shoes that carry the name of some famous athlete and because of the name cost at least twice as much as they really should.

A person is killed because they happen to be of the wrong ethnic group or the wrong socio-economic group.

Another person is killed because of greed that is rooted in a drug culture society said it was going to do away with fifty years ago or more. It is still alive and well and people are still dying to fill the greed of others.

People are killed in some American cities during the “celebration” following the hometown team’s victory in the championship game.

Then there is the senseless tragedy that happened at Santa Fe High School almost two weeks ago when one student walked into the school armed with a shotgun and pistol and killed eight other students and two teachers. Still, in truth, it fits here too.

It all seems so senseless. Without question, when we look at the plot to kill Jesus and to kill Lazarus, life was cheap in the Biblical era. Unfortunately, it still is.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners one and all.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Praying for Mercy,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

To Die For the Nation

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 10-12; John 11:30-57

47 Then the chief priests and Pharisees called together the council and said, “What are we going to do? This man is doing many miraculous signs! 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him. Then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our people.”

49 One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, told them, “You don’t know anything! 50 You don’t see that it is better for you that one man die for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed.” 51 He didn’t say this on his own. As high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would soon die for the nation— 52 and not only for the nation. Jesus would also die so that God’s children scattered everywhere would be gathered together as one. 53 From that day on they plotted to kill him. (John 11: 47-53, Common English Bible).

This past Monday was Veteran’s Day. Many people are confused by what exactly Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Armed Forces Day actually mean.

Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday of May. Armed Forces Day is to recognize those who currently serve our country. For those currently serving, we owe a debt of gratitude. They often live in and under extraordinarily difficult conditions so we can sleep better at night. Though he is not currently serving, our son Wayne spent five years in the Marine Corp. When he was deployed we gained a real understanding of what many parents have felt for generations.

Veteran’s Day is November 11th. Veteran’s Day celebrates those who have served our country in peacetime or in wartime. I was a peacetime sailor. I am proud to have served. There have been others like my father or my son who served during times of conflict. I am extraordinarily thankful for their service.

Then, there is Memorial Day. We celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is for those who died in battle. For those who have served, it is the most solemn of days. It is a day for which we all should be thankful because, while all of us who have served said we would die for the nation, these were those who actually did. When someone “thanks me for my service” on Memorial Day, I want to scream, “No, it isn’t about me,” for at least that one day. That day is about people who did something I never had to do. Die for my country.

In our lesson today, the High Council was talking about someone dying for the nation but it wasn’t like what we remember on Memorial Day. It was more like what we remember on Good Friday and celebrate on Easter Sunday.

In the lesson, Caiaphas, the high priest, gives a prophecy to the council. “…You don’t see that it is better for you that one man die for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed.” (John 11:50, CEB) Caiaphas was right. Well, he was partially right. Jesus would die for the nation, for the people. But, Caiaphas was saying that Jesus was dying to protect the nation from himself.

Yes, Caiaphas was partially right. Jesus did die for the people, all the people. He died, not to protect Israel, but to give we who believe life, eternal life with God. Praise God for such a blessing.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Journey Through Scripture – June

At the end of June, we will cross the half-way turn. We got started on this Journey beginning January 1st. If you have missed some along the way, at this point I would recommend you start where we are and at the end of December, start from the beginning and read until you reach your starting point. You can find the daily passages in the archives of my posts.

So far this year we have read the Old Testament books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and we are working on 2 Chronicles. As for the New Testament, it doesn’t appear like we have read as much but we read a great deal more every day from the Old because there is much more to read! We have finished Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We have also read a great deal of John.

As we begin June, here are our readings:

  • Jun 1: 2 Chronicles 15-16; John 12:27-50
  • Jun 2: 2 Chronicles 17-18; John 13:1-20
  • Jun 3: 2 Chronicles 19-20; John 13:21-38
  • Jun 4: 2 Chronicles 21-22; John 14
  • Jun 5: 2 Chronicles 23-24; John 15
  • Jun 6: 2 Chronicles 25-27; John 16
  • Jun 7: 2 Chronicles 28-29; John 17
  • Jun 8: 2 Chronicles 30-31; John 18:1-18
  • Jun 9: 2 Chronicles 32-33; John 18:19-40
  • Jun 10: 2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22
  • Jun 11: Ezra 1-2; John 19:23-42
  • Jun 12: Ezra 3-5; John 20
  • Jun 13: Ezra 6-8; John 21
  • Jun 14: Ezra 9-10; Acts 1
  • Jun 15: Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-21
  • Jun 16: Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:22-47
  • Jun 17: Nehemiah 7-9; Acts 3
  • Jun 18: Nehemiah 10-11; Acts 4:1-22
  • Jun 19: Nehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37
  • Jun 20: Esther 1-2; Acts 5:1-21
  • Jun 21: Esther 3-5; Acts 5:22-42
  • Jun 22: Esther 6-8; Acts 6
  • Jun 23: Esther 9-10; Acts 7:1-21
  • Jun 24: Job 1-2; Acts 7:22-43
  • Jun 25: Job 3-4; Acts 7:44-60
  • Jun 26:  Job 5-7; Acts8:1-25
  • Jun 27: Job 8-10; Acts 8:26-40
  • Jun 28: Job 11-13; Acts 9:1-21
  • Jun 29: Job 14-16; Acts 9:22-43
  • Jun 30: Job 17-19; Acts 10:1-23

Good reading. I hope you enjoy. And as I have almost all of this year, I will continue to write my daily post from at least part of one of the daily passages. I did go off the passages once and I have missed a few days, but hey, I try. I will continue to give it my best effort.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Out of Context, Hmmm…

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2Chron 7-9; John 11:1-29

12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place as my house of sacrifice.13 When I close the sky so that there is no rain or I order the locusts to consume the land or I send a plague against my people, 14 if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 15 From now on my eyes will be open and my ears will pay attention to the prayers offered in this place, 16 because I have chosen this temple and declared it holy so that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 17 As for you, if you will walk before me just as your father David did, doing all that I have commanded you and keeping my regulations and case laws, 18 then I will establish your royal throne, just as I promised your father David: You will never fail to have a successor ruling in Israel. 19 But if any of you ever turn away from and abandon the regulations and commands that I have given you, and go to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot you from my land that I gave you, and I will reject this temple that I made holy for my name. I will make it a joke, insulted by everyone. 21 Everyone who passes by this temple—so lofty now—will be shocked and will wonder, Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and temple? 22 The answer will come, Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods, worshipping and serving them. This is why God brought all this disaster on them. (2 Chronicles 7:12-22, Common English Bible)

“… if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14, CEB).

I see the verse on bumper stickers. I see it on Facebook memes. It is quoted in many ways and in many places. Most every place I see it, it is taken out of context. All too often, we see these verses and as they stand, removed from the context of the passage, the other verses around them, they sound really good. They sound like God might have just written them for us. One particular Facebook meme had an American flag with, these words of 2 Chronicles 7, superimposed over the flag. The implication being, God intended these words specifically for the United States, 4000 years before the United States even existed. I am not saying God couldn’t do that if God so desired, but God did not intend this verse or even the whole passage for Americans. Can we learn from it, obviously, but this isn’t our passage.

God, in this passage, is speaking to Solomon. “If my people, [the Hebrews] who are called by name…” God goes on to remind Solomon of the covenant that God made with David, that there would always be a descendant on the throne. If they veered away, however, God would take back the land God promised them and God would destroy the temple. That is exactly what happened with the exile.

But, there is good news here as well. “…if you will walk before me just as your father David…” (2 Chronicles 7:17b, CEB) We know, from our study of 2 Samuel some of the things that David did that displeased God, Bathsheba and Uriah come quickly to mind. But again, I am hand-picking a verse of Scripture, making it say what I want it to say.

We all have a tendency to pull Scriptures out of passages and use them as justification for what we want the Bible to say. In theological circles, it is called eisegesis. “There he goes, using those high dollar seminary words again.” The word really isn’t just a seminary word. It simply means, taking a text (be it Biblical or something else) out of context to make it say what we want it to say.

A good example of this is, “If anyone doesn’t want to work, they shouldn’t eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b, CEB). I have heard this quote (not even a full verse) used to say we, as the Church should not feed the homeless and hungry. We have to remember, this verse, Paul wrote in the context of a letter to the Christians in Thessalonica. He was addressing Christian believers who would not work within the community for the common good. In the verses that surround the quote, Paul isn’t talking about the non-believers outside the Church but those who already were there. When we take the verse fragment out of context we also ignore Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, “…I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat (Matthew 25:42a, CEB) and “…I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me…” (Matthew 25:45b, CEB) Taken out of context, these verse fragments seem to contradict one another. But the 2 Thessalonians fragment, put into its context would not conflict with the passage at all.

I don’t mean to imply that our country doesn’t need prayer. It does. Nor do I mean we shouldn’t pray for our country and its leaders. We should. And, I also am not saying that if we remain faithful God will not bless us. That is my certain hope and if I am wrong, why would I have faith at all.

What I am saying here is, we need to be careful how we read and interpret Scripture. Is there anything bad and terrible a result when we take the 2 Chronicles fragment out of context? No, of course not. But, it is a slippery slope. Any time we take a verse out from what surrounds it, great care, on our part, is called for, that we remain faithful to the words of Scripture.

Have I ever taken Scripture out of context and twisted it to make it say what I wanted to say? I feel certain I have. I pray God will forgive me for my negligence. I also have within me, just as every other time I have failed God, God will forgive my lapse. While we should be careful, Eisegesis is not a deadly or unforgivable sin. Praise God for forgiveness.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Plain Janes: Clear, Cool, Water

This is the worship service at First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, TX on May 27, 2018.

Jesus had to go through Samaria. 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.”[a]

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 (John 4:4-30, Common English Bible).

Annual Conference Week

Hello Everyone,

This is one of those crazy weeks for a United Methodist Pastor. It is Annual Conference week. I am not sure if, or when, I will have an opportunity to write. So, I am posting the Journey Through Scripture readings for the next few days and I will get back to writing when Conference ends.

  • May 27: 2Chron 1-3; John 10:1-23
  • May 28: 2Chron 4-6; John 10:24-42
  • May 29: 2Chron 7-9; John 11:1-29
  • May 30: 2Chron 10-12; John 11:30-57

Have a blessed week,

Keith

What if it Had Been Tuesday?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 Chronicles 28-29; John 9:24-41

26 They questioned him: “What did he do to you? How did he heal your eyes?”

27 He replied, “I already told you, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 They insulted him: “You are his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples.29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but we don’t know where this man is from.”

30 The man answered, “This is incredible! You don’t know where he is from, yet he healed my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. God listens to anyone who is devout and does God’s will. 32 No one has ever heard of a healing of the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man wasn’t from God, he couldn’t do this.”

34 They responded, “You were born completely in sin! How is it that you dare to teach us?” Then they expelled him. (John 9:26-34, Common English Bible).

In a sermon not too long ago, I talked about how we love the acronym, “TGIF, Thank God it’s Friday.” When Friday rolls around we are ready to get away from the office of the plant or the whatever it is we call our work (of course if you are self-employed or in one of any number of other professions, there is no Friday or at least there isn’t a day that matters in the same manner. If you work in retail or the food industry, you work when the boss puts you on the schedule. One day is just like any other, whether it is Tuesday or Sunday.

Still, most of us love TGIF so much, a restaurant chain named their eateries after the letters. It might not be as effective if we were talking about Tuesday. Friday means the end of the grind. Friday means time off. Friday means being able to play with the kids. Friday means being able to relax.

But what would you say if I told you that our happiness isn’t based on a day of the week? Really, it’s true. According to a major university study (sorry, when I write these I never know the direction they will take when I start out and today I don’t have the source with me), we are not measurably happier on Friday than we are on Monday or Tuesday.

Today’s lesson from John is a continuation of yesterday’s lesson from John, the healing of a man who was blind from birth. The Pharisees are furious over it, presumably because Jesus healed the guy on the Sabbath.

It makes me wonder, would they have been happy if Jesus healed the guy on a Tuesday? Without question, it would have taken at least part of the Pharisee’s argument away. But I think Jesus really did care that it wasn’t Tuesday. He was, in my humble opinion, quite happy this did happen on a Sabbath. In his Gospel account, Mark tells us, “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath…”

As far as the Pharisees, I think they were a bit happier it happened on the Sabbath because it did give them an argument to use with Jesus, or so they thought. What they really wanted was for Jesus to play by their rules, regardless of what day he was doing something.

For Jesus, this wasn’t about the day of the week, it was about bringing grace and wholeness, the ability to live a full life to a man who had never known what a full life is like. That is something that was and still is central to what Jesus taught. People come first!

Does that mean we should ignore the Sabbath? Of course not. We honor the Sabbath when we can, but where people are concerned, they come first because, “The Sabbath was created for humans, not humans for the Sabbath.”

There is one more thing, this is something the Pharisees actually did get right. They accuse the now former blind man of being “…born completely in sin.” They did get that part right. He was born completely in sin. But, so were they. So are we. Every human born of the face of this earth, save one, has been born a sinner. And that is why we all need grace. Grace isn’t just for those Jesus heals, God heals. Grace is something for you and for me. Grace is something we can have at no cost. And that grace, it changes everything. It changes it regardless of the day. Be it a Tuesday or the Sabbath, when we experience grace as the blind man experienced grace, God just changed our lives. Then maybe, just maybe, we might be a little more committed when the next Sabbath or even the next Tuesday comes around.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved