I Love to Hear it in My Ears

Hello Saturday! I love Saturday morning. It would be better if the TV networks would have left Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner alone. But times change

Last week I told you I was going to start sharing the lyrics and if there is a story behind the lyrics I wrote. I see it as a different way to share my music.

Several years ago, by complete accident, I found a news paper clipping. On it were ten songs and then something closer to us today but done in a way to bring humor. They are things like today’s song, “We sing ‘O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,’ but we won’t praise God with the one we have.”

I took the quote, one of the four from the clipping I can remember, and because I don’t want to lose it and the quotes be gone forever, I put them into song lyrics.

“O For a Thousand Tongues” to sing is one of Methodism’s favorite hymns. In many Methodist hymnals, it us the first song. It follows some 50 pages of litanies for Holy Communion and is selection 54.

I love to hear it in my ears,
The music on my phone,
There’s country and some rock and roll
But hymns are dry old bones.

There is just noise as I walk and sing
The birds their fears arise
joyful noise I do not make
Birds fly the friendly skies.

Praises from me God does not hear
My earbuds plugged in tight
Don’t bother me its concert time
Willie’s on my phone tonight.

Jesus I spend some time with him,
Each weekend I’m at church,
The preacher prays, the choir sings
From my phone a music search.

O for a thousand tongues to sing,
Was a hymn we sang today,
If Wesley saw how I don’t sing
He would point to feet of clay.

I am not deaf, nor am I blind,
But I can act real dumb.
To fail to share His love to all
Without Him joy won’t come.

That this tongue His praise might ring
From a broken soul like mine,
I need to say I love Him still,
Faith in Him must be my prime.

O For a thousand tongues to sing
Let mine his grace proclaim
I’ll sing and shout that people know
Let’s all work to fan the flame.

Tomorrow, make sure you attend worship and that you sing praises to God. That is part of who we are.

In Search of the Genuine,
Keith

copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission to copy is granted for non-commercial use.

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Be Kind (Psalm 10)

Psalm 10

10 Why do you stand so far away, Lord,
    hiding yourself in troubling times?
Meanwhile, the wicked are proudly
    in hot pursuit of those who suffer.
Let them get caught
    in the very same schemes they’ve thought up!

The wicked brag about their body’s cravings;
    the greedy reject the Lord, cursing.
At the peak of their wrath,
    the wicked don’t seek God:
    There’s no God—
    that’s what they are always thinking.
Their ways are always twisted.
        Your rules are too lofty for them.
    They snort at all their foes.
    They think to themselves,
        We’ll never stumble.
        We’ll never encounter any resistance.
Their mouths are filled
        with curses, dishonesty, violence.
    Under their tongues lie
        trouble making and wrongdoing.
They wait in a place perfect for ambush;
    from their hiding places
    they kill innocent people;
    their eyes spot those who are helpless.
They lie in ambush
    in secret places,
    like a lion in its lair.
They lie in ambush
    so they can seize those who suffer!
They seize the poor, all right,
    dragging them off in their nets.
10 Their helpless victims are crushed;
    they collapse, falling prey to the strength of the wicked.
11 The wicked think to themselves:
    God has forgotten.
    God has hidden his face.
    God never sees anything!

12 Get up, Lord!
    Get your fist ready, God!
    Don’t forget the ones who suffer!
13 Why do the wicked reject God?
    Why do they think to themselves
        that you won’t find out?
14 But you do see!
    You do see trouble making and grief,
    and you do something about it!
The helpless leave it all to you.
    You are the orphan’s helper.

15 Break the arms of those
    who are wicked and evil.
Seek out their wickedness
    until there’s no more to find.
16 The Lord rules forever and always!
    The nations will vanish from his land.

17 Lord, you listen to the desires of those who suffer.
    You steady their hearts;
you listen closely to them,
18     to establish justice
        for the orphan and the oppressed,
    so that people of the land
        will never again be terrified. (Psalm 10, Common English Bible)

We have lost something in American society. September 11, 2001 changed something basic and significant in American society. We were never perfect, even before that tragic day. There was plenty of evil to go around. We have taken things in a tragic direction. We lost much of our compassion that day. We lost kindness. We lost caring for others. We have lost our ethical compass.

For many scholars Psalm 10 is a continuation of Psalm 9. Together, these scholars say, they make up an acrostic poem. To be honest, I am not sure I even know what that means on the context of a psalm. Because I don’t understand the context I can’t speak at all to the idea of these two psalms once being a single psalm.

As I read this psalm, I can’t help but believe it speaks loudly and clearly to American society today. We just saw the impeachment of a President whose trial could not have been more sharply divided. Regardless of which party our leaders affiliate with, none of them, it seems to me, are speaking to each other with any level of civility. When leaders lack civility, those they lead will soon follow suit.

I believe much or what we see now is a response to 9/11. We became suspicious of most anyone around us, particularly if they are Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. But then, we started seeing home-grown terrorists and we started trusting even less. Who is the enemy and who is the friend? Who is our neighbor?

When I read verse 12 of this psalm I am I shake my head. I think to myself, have things changed at all since the psalmist wrote these words? While we may not say it quite as bluntly as the psalmist, we want God to be on our side. We want God to fight for us. Do we realize hat we want God to take sides between 2 or 200 or 2000 or however many of God’s children?

We are called to be the people to whom Jesus said, the most important commandment is to love God and another is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. We forget that Jesus asked after telling a story that after two prominent Jews went walking by an injured man, a Samaritan stops and gives aid, and Jesus asks, who was the neighbor. The one who gave aid. he one who the Jews hated because of where he was born. The one that normally the person the Jews would want God to ready his fists, the Samaritan.

God, you are on our side, not their side. Break their arms. We demand vengeance. Take care of it God. It will be so much better when you stomp them into the ground like a mud puddle. Perhaps it is time for us to stop and think, maybe those on the other side of the aisle are praying for the same thing as we.

Perhaps our biggest issue is fear. It is understandable. Who is around the corner from us, ready to do harm to someone else and for no reason other than we look different, talk different, have different political ideas, or worship different.

Retired United Methodist Bishop and current professor of The Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Will Willimon wrote a book shortly after his retirement he titled Fear of the Other. This is the description of the book on Amazon’s book page.

In this no non-sense book, reliable spiritual guide, Will Willimon, invites readers to consider the Gospel command to love (and not merely tolerate) those considered to be “Other” or outside mainstream Christian culture. Rooted in the faith of Israel and the Christian story and vision, Willimon brings a Wesleyan perspective to bear on what may be the hardest thing for people of faith to do: keeping and loving the “Other” as they are – without any need for them to become like us. Emphasizing biblical teaching to receive Others for who they are and their differences as gifts and mysteries bearing the grace of God, Willimon also offers a strong critique of the privileged who all too often rush to speak of reconciliation and evade the injustice of huge inequalities faced by foreigners and strangers – as well as the antagonism the stranger experiences. He identifies concrete, everyday ways persons are formed in welcoming others without annihilating their differences. Rooted in the New Testament understanding of Gentile outsiders grafted into the covenant community, Willimon invites readers to an on-the-ground faith that remembers the God who comes to us again and again through so-called outsiders, strangers, immigrants, and those without status. Beyond welcome, Christians must become “other” to the world, shaking off the dominant culture’s identity and privilege through practices of listening, humility, and understanding.

Who might the other be? A person from a different ethnic group? A person of the opposite gender? What about a person from a different country? Could the other be someone from a class different from our own or from a different educational background or in a different age group.

The thing is, if we are to see any of this change, as people of faith, people of the calling to love, have to take the lead. We have to be the people that put all the other junk aside and say, “No, we may not agree, but I love you anyway. Let’s meet on common ground, the love of God in Christ Jesus.

There is good news in this psalm. The psalmist writes, “Lord, you listen to the desires of those who suffer. You steady their hearts; you listen closely to them, to establish justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that people of the land  will never again be terrified.”

We can sum up the words of the psalmist with one word, GRACE. If we are people of love, we will be people who are recipients of God’s grace.

Just think, what it might look like if, because we showed love, we no longer had to be afraid? We have no reason to fear, God is with us and God will see us through.

Let me close with three quotes, Facebook memes that speak to what we need to be.

“Courage does not mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.” Courage means we love despite our fear.

“F.E.A.R. has two meanings,
Forget Everything And Run.
OR
Face Everything And Rise
The Choice is yours.”

Let’s all rise above our fear.

Finally, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” There is an old song that said, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” If we love it becomes difficult be anything other than kind and that is what the world needs now.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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Getting Into It

I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will talk about all your wonderful acts.
I will celebrate and rejoice in you;
    I will sing praises to your name, Most High.

When my enemies turn and retreat,
    they fall down and die right in front of you
    because you have established justice
        for me and my claim,
    because you rule from the throne,
        establishing justice rightly.

You’ve denounced the nations,
    destroyed the wicked.
    You’ve erased their names for all time.
Every enemy is wiped out,
    like something ruined forever.
You’ve torn down their cities—
    even the memory of them is dead.

But the Lord rules forever!
    He assumes his throne
    for the sake of justice.
He will establish justice in the world rightly;
    he will judge all people fairly.
The Lord is a safe place for the oppressed—
    a safe place in difficult times.
10 Those who know your name trust you
    because you have not abandoned
    any who seek you, Lord.

11 Sing praises to the Lord, who lives in Zion!
    Proclaim his mighty acts among all people!
12 Because the one who avenges bloodshed
    remembers those who suffer;
    the Lord hasn’t forgotten their cries for help.

13 Have mercy on me, Lord!
    Just look how I suffer
    because of those who hate me.
But you are the one who brings me back
    from the very gates of death
14         so I can declare all your praises,
        so I can rejoice in your salvation
        in the gates of Daughter Zion.

15 The nations have fallen
    into the hole they themselves made!
    Their feet are caught
        in the very net they themselves hid!
16 The Lord is famous for the justice he has done;
    it’s his own doing that the wicked are trapped. Higgayon. Selah

17 Let the wicked go straight to the grave,[d]
    the same for every nation that forgets God.

18 Because the poor won’t be forgotten forever,
    the hope of those who suffer won’t be lost for all time.

19 Get up, Lord! Don’t let people prevail!
    Let the nations be judged before you.
20 Strike them with fear, Lord.
    Let the nations know they are only human. Selah (Psalm 9:1-20, Common English Bible.)

Psalm 9 contains yet another word that none of the scholars who translate the Bible seem to know what it means. They have ideas, thoughts. But those ideas are just that, ideas.

To my way of thinking, either, someone believed all who read the Psalms would always read and understand Hebrew. Or, they thought their hymnal would become outdated. It is the only hymnal in history not to become outdated. No, we don’t sing from it any more. But we do read from it and on occasion have music playing in the background.

So, what is a Higgayon? I suspect it to be a word that does not translate to English very well. The Common English Bible (CEB) and New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) leave the Hebrew word Higgayon and make no attempt to translate it.

The King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Version (NASB), and Good News Translation (GNT) give nothing in the way of a definition but you also might look past the footnotes and think there is nothing present at all because none of those translations make an attempt to translate the Hebrew.

The New King James Version is the only translation I saw that makes an attempt to translate the word. They use meditation.

I thought a Jewish Bible might tell us something but apparently the translators of The Complete Jewish Bible are much the same in thinking as KJV, NIV, NASB, and GNT. Neither the Hebrew word nor Higgayon is present on the other hand, I also looked at the Orthodox Jewish Bible. It did use Higgayon. That means it is closer to the CEB and NRSV.

I had hopes that perhaps the writers of the paraphrased Living Bible and the idiomatic (neither a paraphrase or a translation) The Message would at least give us their author’s opinion. That didn’t happen.

Next was Young’s Literal Translation which is supposed to be a word-for-word translation. It added nothing new as it gave no word there at all matching it with KJV, NIV, NASB, and GNT. So, in the actual translations and paraphrases we are not going to learn the meaning of Higgayon.

My last stop was Strong’s Hebrew. Because I do not read Hebrew, over the years I have found this book quite valuable. I recommend it (usually included in a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance for anyone who wants to seriously study the Bible. It probably would have been my first stop if I was in my office. I am not, I am at home and my Strong’s Concordance is in my office. I happened to find Strong’s Hebrew online.

According to Strong’s Higgayon means resounding music, meditation, musing. That is what I was looking for.

So, what is the point of all this? My point was to illustrate that serious Bible study can be and often is serious work. Often when we read something in the Bible we are depending on the accuracy of a single translation or paraphrase. I use paraphrases more as a tool and maybe even similar to a commentary (to be fair, a commentary is usually more scholarly and better researched that a paraphrase. Paraphrases serve the purpose of being easier to understand) because they are someone or perhaps a group of someones who are sharing their point of view. A translation takes the original language and translates it into something coherent, readable and hopefully understandable work.

This word Higgayon required us to move beyond both translations and paraphrases to use another tool. There is nothing wrong with using tools. You can find them online, sometimes on sites that have (hopefully with permission) taken what would have only been in book form, not too many years ago and made it accessible to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection. Or, with books and ebooks available from companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to name just two, tools are also available for anyone.

If you are interested in buying a Bible, I would recommend you first go to, https://www.biblegateway.com/. The site has 57 different English Bibles alone. If you want to read from a language other than English, they have more than 70 available. It gives you the opportunity to try before you buy.

Personal (and corporate) Bible study is important. It can also be frustrating, especially when you encounter words like Higgayon and you want to know what it means. So, having a few study tools can be helpful in learning and keeping frustration away.

Here are a few study tools you might find helpful:

The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary. Available on Amazon $29.49. Available for Kindle $11.00. The older version is available used at a considerably lower price.

The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Available on Amazon – $57.05 Available on Kindle for $37.99. The Harper Collins one volume commentary is also good and less expensive. The oldest version is available used for even less. Search Harper Collins Bible Commentary.

https://smile.amazon.com/Strongs-Expanded-Exhaustive-Concordance-Bible/dp/1418541680/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1KP11KO8T6860&keywords=strongs+exhaustive+concordance+of+the+bible&qid=1582240962&sprefix=Strongs%2Caps%2C229&sr=8-1

For reasons I do not understand the book cover isn’t coming up on this one but the link should get you to the concordance. A concordance is more difficult to recommend. This is the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Available on Amazon $25.49. There is also a Kindle version available $7.99. You will need to do a search for it, they are not in the same place. Strong’s is a King James concordance. I put it here because of the Greek and Hebrew tools which are not exhaustive but should get you what you need.

If you choose a different Bible translation than King James (and I recommend you do, particularly if you are new to Bible study, you may want to search on Amazon for a concordance in your particular translation. It will be easier but you may not have those Greek and Hebrew tools but they really aren’t necessary. If you are new to Bible Study, the Concordance in your translation, in my opinion, is more important than the Hebrew and Greek tools.

Psalm 9 is not really about Bible study. We will eventually get to a psalm that relates more to Bible study than Psalm 9. But, that difficult word Higgayon demonstrates the difficulty we can sometimes have but I think it also demonstrates what we can encounter in Bible Study. Don’t let some difficulty rob you of the blessings that come with Bible study. Bible study is important for any Christian. I hope you will take the time to do just that. Your church probably offers Bible studies as well.

Have a great day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for reuse of this material for non-commercial purposes

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Sing Praise, God is My King, Psalm 9

Psalm 9

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

My enemies turn back;
    they stumble and perish before you.
For you have upheld my right and my cause,
    sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
    you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
    you have uprooted their cities;
    even the memory of them has perished.

The Lord reigns forever;
    he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
    and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion;
    proclaim among the nations what he has done.
12 For he who avenges blood remembers;
    he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!
    Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may declare your praises
    in the gates of Daughter Zion,
    and there rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
    their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
    the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
    all the nations that forget God.
18 But God will never forget the needy;
    the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;
    let the nations be judged in your presence.
20 Strike them with terror, Lord;
    let the nations know they are only mortal. (Psalm 9:1-20, New International Version).

Today, for the first time since we began our study of Psalms, I felt a bit of writer’s block. There were a few verses in Psalm 9 that I kept feeling drawn to. Specifically those verses are 1-2, and 7-11. I started taking what I was hearing in those words and wrote a poem/song lyrics. I have titled this, “Sing Praise, God is My King.” I will work on a musical setting in the days ahead.

Sing Praise, God is My King

Why do we wait for thanks, you bless us each day Lord?
Yet we think we must wait for the one special day!
I cannot count my gifts, the gifts that come from you,
Stubborn am I, even when you touch this broken clay.

I will sing praise to the Lord, for God is my King.
Rejoice the Lord of Zion is here, with you and me.

Open my heart to You, that I might see your love.
I say I will thank you with all my heart, but fall short.
Open my eyes and touch my heart, all of my heart.
Have my heart before I enter your divine port.

I will sing praise to the Lord, for God is my King.
Rejoice the Lord of Zion is here, with you and me.

When I should tell the world of your love for each child,
Your deeds for your children are many and are great,
Open my mouth to speak of your love for the world.
Help me tell your people now Lord, this should not wait.

I will sing praise to the Lord, for God is my King.
Rejoice the Lord of Zion is here, with you and me.

Lord your love makes me glad, you live each day in me.
I sing a song of praise, I do rejoice in you.
You fill my heart with love, you bless my soul with grace.
You are the great I AM, your love I have known grew.

I will sing praise to the Lord, for God is my King.
Rejoice the Lord of Zion is here, with you and me.

I sing to you this day, I pray to you Most High.
Guide me in your ways so I will follow forever.
Establish your throne down in the depths of my heart.
Your bonds are tied to my soul, they can’t be severed.

I will sing praise to the Lord, for God is my King.
Rejoice the Lord of Zion is here, with you and me.

Your oppressed children, seek refuge this day in you.
In these days of trouble, be for us a stronghold.
Lead us to trust you and not forsake your children.
May all the world seek your face and live in your fold.

I will sing praise to the Lord, for God is my King.
Rejoice the Lord of Zion is here, with you and me.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for the non-commercial use of this poem.

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Feelings of Insignificance (Psalm 8)

French lighthouse of la Jument taken from a helicopter during a 2007 storm by Jean Guichard

Psalm 8

For the music leader. According to the Gittith. A psalm of David.

8 Lord, our Lord, how majestic
    is your name throughout the earth!
    You made your glory higher than heaven!
From the mouths of nursing babies
    you have laid a strong foundation
    because of your foes,
    in order to stop vengeful enemies.
When I look up at your skies,
    at what your fingers made—
    the moon and the stars
    that you set firmly in place—
        what are human beings
            that you think about them;
        what are human beings
            that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
    crowning them with glory and grandeur.
You’ve let them rule over your handiwork,
    putting everything under their feet—
        all sheep and all cattle,
        the wild animals too,
        the birds in the sky,
        the fish of the ocean,
        everything that travels the pathways of the sea.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9, Common English Bible.

From the signal bridge (since the Navy doesn’t have the signalman rate (MOS) any longer, I have no idea what they call what we called the signal bridge) on a clear day, you can see 12 miles to the horizon. That is a lot of water. If you have been on a cruise you have a pretty good idea of the experience. To stand on that ship, which standing on a pier and looking up at it seems so large and you out at see it seems so small. Throw some 40 foot waves into the equation and you can’t help but realize how small you are. It brings feelings of insignificance.

I know I have said it before, actually just a few days ago, when you stand on the bridge at night and look at the night sky, I am not if you could see more stars at any place on the planet. There are so many stars. Without the pollution and the light pollution that clouds our atmosphere you can see so many stars. Even if you have gone on a cruise in the Caribbean or some where else, because they light those ships so bright, I am pretty sure you would not see as many stars. I think if you were somewhere out in the desert southwest you would probably have a pretty good idea.

Then think of the man standing in the lighthouse door in the picture above. The lighthouse, a structure built with human hands makes the lighthouse keeper seem like a small man. I have no idea if he is or not. The waves crashing into lighthouse of la Jument add the the idea of insignificance.

Think also about the vastness of God’s creation. I drive by ranches from time to time here in East Texas. To look across a pasture and see the horses and cattle, and thinking, “That is one pasture and the animals of one rancher.

Think of all the unwanted dogs and cats that wander our streets let alone those who are in shelters and then add on top of both the pets who have homes and are cared for.

Think of every tree in a single forest. Think about the wildflowers that grow in so many places around us.

The list is really endless. To think of all God did in creation. Then when God created the human creature with so much God given power and ability. I can’t help bu think, perhaps those feelings of insignificance are there to keep us from thinking we are bigger, more important, more powerful, than we actually are.

The psalmist had a pretty good idea about those feelings of insignificance too. Read these words of the psalmist again, “When I look up at your skies,
at what your fingers made—the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place—what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur. You’ve let them rule over your handiwork, putting everything under their feet…”

With all God’s power, and though we abuse the faith God put in us to care for God’s creation, God has let us rule over the Divine handiwork and put everything under our feet. We may sometimes think we are insignificant but God does not. God continues to allow us to maintain our stewardship of God’s handiwork. But, more significant than that, through God’s omnipresence, through God’s power, God walks with us every day. God is always present in our lives.

Friend, if it were not for what God does for us, we really would be insignificant. But, because God walks with us. God gives us power and dominion.

You and I do have significance but it isn’t because of us. It is all about what God does for us. We are significance in spite of the ways we fail to live out God’s call on our lives. In spite of anything and everything we gave done, God looks on us and pushes us in the direction God would have us go.

Friend, never, ever forget, YOU ARE SIGNIFICANT!!! It isn’t because of you (or me), but rather in spite of you (and me). God loves you (us) and that makes all of us significant.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is give to use this material for non-commercial purposes.

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What in the Heck is a Gittith? (Psalm 8)

Psalm 8

For the music leader. According to the Gittith. A psalm of David.

8 Lord, our Lord, how majestic
    is your name throughout the earth!
    You made your glory higher than heaven!
From the mouths of nursing babies
    you have laid a strong foundation
    because of your foes,
    in order to stop vengeful enemies.
When I look up at your skies,
    at what your fingers made—
    the moon and the stars
    that you set firmly in place—
        what are human beings
            that you think about them;
        what are human beings
            that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
    crowning them with glory and grandeur.
You’ve let them rule over your handiwork,
    putting everything under their feet—
        all sheep and all cattle,
        the wild animals too,
        the birds in the sky,
        the fish of the ocean,
        everything that travels the pathways of the sea.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9, Common English Bible.

From time to time, we encounter a word in the Bible and we don’t know its meaning. In reality, some of these words, we haven’t a clue as to what they might mean. When we encounter one of these words, it is my intention to pause and give you a background meaning I have found in my research of that word.

Today we encounter one of those words. The word Gittith is one of those words. It is believed to be either a musical stringed instrument or a certain style or genre of music.

Gittith can be found in three places in Scripture, Psalm 8, Psalm 81, and Psalm 84. In each case, Gittith is part of the instructions at the very beginning of each psalm.

The largest group of opinions states that word points to a stringed instrument. It easily could have been one that looks something like the picture at the top. I find that an interesting instrument. Much like an acoustic guitar, the body those sound holes are important. That box on the body of the instruments serves much like the body of a guitar. So the sound needs a place to come out of the body hence, the sound hole. I did find pictures of what some scholars to believe the instrument that did not have sound holes.

When someone strikes up a heavy metal song, Christian or not, they know the heavy metal sound. If a Gittith was a particular genre or styles, you likely would have known when the choir started singing the song.

These two opinions are not the only ones available. The word is often, as it is in the Common English Bible, left untranslated. Others translate it as we have already seen it, into a Hebrew word meaning “wine.” Another translation uses the Philistine city of Gath.

One final possibility says that Gittith might have been a popular song tune in the Hebrew world. Putting new lyrics to an old favorite is nothing new. I do that pretty regularly these days. I know others do that too. In the United Methodist Hymnal there is a hymn titled “The Gift of Love.” There is one other in the hymnal using that tune in they hymnal, “Where Love is Found.” The third is a pretty recent addition to songs going with that tune titled, “Hymn of Praise.” The fourth song is one I wrote. If you are interested, let me know.

We may never know what Gittith means this side of eternity. And I have a basic theory that when we get there we are going to be too busy with a gillion other things to even care. So who is right? Only God know.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for non-commercial purposes.

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Source: Bible Odysesey

Sell Your Stuff… Give to the Poor (Sunday Sermon)

17 As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?”

18 Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. 19 You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother.”

20 “Teacher,” he responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” 22 But the man was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because he had many possessions.

23 Looking around, Jesus said to his disciples, “It will be very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom!” 24 His words startled the disciples, so Jesus told them again, “Children, it’s difficult to enter God’s kingdom! 25 It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

26 They were shocked even more and said to each other, “Then who can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible with human beings, but not with God. All things are possible for God.”

28 Peter said to him, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.”

29 Jesus said, “I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news 30 will receive one hundred times as much now in this life—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment)—and in the coming age, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.” (Mark 10:17-31, Common English Bible)

               Your soul, not to mention your budget, is in mortal danger as you approach the grocery store checkout line.       

               You ask, “How?”

               You’ve carefully filled your cart with the needed outlined on your list. You patiently wait in line, always seeming to pick the one that’s slowest. Yet somehow, by the time the checker starts tallying the items in your cart, it has suddenly filled up with a pack of gum, a box of Tic-Tacs, a new TV Guide, a four pack of 9 volt batteries, three candy bars, a publication for inquiring minds, and a partridge in a pear tree.

               If your five-year-old is along, you may also have accumulated a Pez dispenser, a Mylar balloon with a Disney character on it, a plastic “cellular” phone filled with tiny pieces of bubble gum, and a children’s book.

               Stores purposefully pack this kind of junky, funky, consumer gunk into the narrow gauntlet, we must run to get to the check-out register. Things we would never intentionally have gone searching for are now right there at our fingertips. They are inviting us, no, insisting to us that we grab them and take them home.

               Although impulsively buying a pack of gum or a candy bar hardly seems earth shattering or soul-threatening, the truth is that the increasing voracious appetites of this consumer culture are being methodically nurtured and stimulated by a crass and crushing consumerism. The worldwide ramifications of such little things as a checkout gauntlet are ominous.

               After a bad day, some would sigh, “The world is going to heck in a hand basket.” Today we can sigh even more deeply on a daily basis that the whole world is going is “going to heck in a shopping cart.” For an increasing number of people, self-identity and life-purposes are summed up by the mantra, “I shop, therefore I am.” Raging consumerism has left Descartes’, “I think, therefore I am” sitting in the dust. Consumer culture has never even heard of, much less considered, God’s revelation to Moses, “I am who I am; therefore, you are.”

               Like the rich young man in today’s lesson, we know ourselves, we identify ourselves, we define ourselves, by our possessions, our things, our “stuff.” This young man was so possessed by his “stuff” that he couldn’t unstuff himself, neither for the sake of the poor, nor for his own sake and his quest for eternal life. Faced with the choice between his old secure, in control, in charge self and the unknown possibilities of life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, the rich young man clung to his human illusions of power and control.

               Who or what controls your life?

               I’ve spent some time contemplating that question. Of course, I would like to say that God does and at least most of the time that would be true. But, the same time, it is also true that I am accountable to other people. I am accountable to varying degrees to all of you. I am accountable to a district superintendent and a bishop. Though I have spoken to the various bishops in our conference, at least while they were still serving as a bishop, in only brief conversations over the past nine plus years, make no mistake, I am accountable to the bishop.

               I also know that while society may say I am the head of my household, I am also accountable to my wife. Let me spend too much money in the wrong place and the wrong time and I can promise you I will hear about it. And friends, you do not want to see her go redhead. It isn’t pretty.

               I am also accountable to various people that expect me to pay my bills. If I fail to pay my bills, it won’t take long before they are coming to me or calling me wanting to know when they can expect payment and if I don’t pay they don’t hesitate to let me know that there would be consequences coming my way in pretty short order.

               All of that led me to think, what would I do if somehow, someway, I knew beyond any reasonable doubt that God was calling on me to sell all my stuff and give the money to the poor. My brother-in-law told me Cindy and I could come and live with him and my sister.  I’m not sure that would be such a good idea. Anyway, I digress. Before a few years ago I think I would have answered that question without hesitation, “Yes, I would do what God was telling me to do.” But then after one move, Cindy had an incredibly difficult time finding a job. Having to live on less money than we previously had in a long time and seeing how difficult it could be to live that way, now, I’m not so sure. To be honest I rather enjoy the lifestyle to which I have grown accustomed. While I am sure we could live on less, I don’ really think I want to. So now, when I am honest with myself, I would have to answer the question, “I am not sure what I would do if God called on me to sell my stuff and give to the poor.

Jesus put rich young man on the spot. Though he obviously didn’t live in our consumer culture, the rich young man had the mindset of many of us today. He had the Jones virus, as in, “I’ve got to keep up with the Jones’.” Mark tells us what Jesus was asking was a big deal to the young man. Further, Mark goes so far as to tell us why. He had a lot of stuff. He saw himself in the things he possessed. We don’t know what he had. Perhaps it was nice clothing or jewelry. Maybe it was horses and oxen and a nice wagon or a chariot. Then again it might have been a three-bedroom two bath house with an attached two car garage. Oh wait, that would be us. I know those kinds of houses didn’t exist in those days, but you get my point. What he had may have been a nice house, more than a single room, with a barn to keep those horses and oxen. Or, could it have been that he had all of that and more?

Could it be that the rich young man had gotten used to a lifestyle where he walked out and got on a horse and went for a ride instead of walking everywhere, he went as most people did during that era?

If you stop and think about it, Jesus’ instruction to the rich young man is radical, even for that day. For most people back then, non-Romans living in a place controlled by the Roman Empire, they had little. The government wasn’t going to let most have much so the rich young man was an exception to the rule.

This young man was more attached to his stuff than he was to God’s promise. He wanted his stuff. He wanted to be in control of his life and what he had and he could not, would not let go.

I think the good news for us in this lesson is, I really don’t think God is calling on us to dispose of our stuff and give all the money away. Wesley did say, “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can.” Most of us put priority on earning. A few less would apply the saving part to the equation. Unfortunately, not too many of us, not even we Christians have that giving part down the way we should. This sermon isn’t a sermon about giving. It is a sermon about priorities, but earning, saving, and giving should be a priority for all of us. I am reminded of something I wish someone had gotten through my thick head when I was a lot younger. It is called the rule of 80 and I believe it is both Wesleyan and would fit our priorities. Take your household income. Save 10 percent. Give 10 percent and live on the 80 percent. I puts everything a lot closer to where it should be.

It seems to me we miss a lot in life. We miss a lot because we don’t give. I believe God blesses cheerful givers in ways beyond what most of us can imagine. We miss a lot in life because we don’t always save as we should. For many of us, particularly when we are young. Saving just isn’t a priority. And, we miss a lot when we get caught up in the consumer culture and we are caught up in all our stuff. Always remember, it is just that, stuff.

Whales are some of the most amazing creatures God made. Fin whales can easily hear the bleeps of other fin whales 4,000 miles away, some scientists argue up to 13,000 miles. Humpbacks like to sing in rhyme, and the songs they sing are always changing while at the same time, they are passed from male to male, so that in any one season all the whales of a single ocean will be singing the same song.

In February 1928, a female blue whale who roamed freely throughout the Antarctic for decades was killed. From measurements taken at the time, some scientists are convinced she was the largest creature ever to live on Earth – bigger than any known dinosaur or leviathan.

But the people who had the privilege of seeing her never saw her. They were in such a hurry to harvest her blubber and find other family members of her huge species so they salvaged nothing – not a single picture, not a single bone. Nothing.

What are you missing in life because of the blubber? What part of God’s kingdom are you not experiencing because of the rush to make a living or just accumulate one more item of stuff? What good is “stuff” without the stuff of eternity? Will you give up the chaff for the real stuff… the stuff of life… the stuff of eternity.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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