I Don't See You (Psalm 10)

OK, I got confused about where I was in the process and you are getting another post from Psalm 10 today. I wrote it, so I am posting it. Tomorrow you will again be back in Psalm 11. jkb

Psalm 10

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Psalm 10 New International Version (NIV)

Psalm 10[a]

Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
    who are caught in the schemes he devises.
He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
    he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
    in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
His ways are always prosperous;
    your laws are rejected by[b] him;
    he sneers at all his enemies.
He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
    He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

His mouth is full of lies and threats;
    trouble and evil are under his tongue.
He lies in wait near the villages;
    from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
    like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
    he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
    they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
    he covers his face and never sees.”

12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
    Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
    Why does he say to himself,
    “He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
    call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
    that would not otherwise be found out.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror. (Psalm 10:1-18, New International Version)

Though I did not plan it this way, after finishing the poem below, inspired by Psalm 10:1, I realized God gave me a poem very appropriate for Ash Wednesday and Lent. I pray you have a Holy Lent.

Why can’t I see you, Lord of my heart?
I can see people rushing around.
Strangers pull me, it tears me apart.
Your absence from my sight, it astounds.

Why can I not see you God?
Why don’t I hear the Holy?
The fragrance I smell is odd.
Let me taste bread and wine slowly.
Your touch on me, I am awed,
Come back, I seek you solely.

Why can I not hear your mighty voice?
The noise around us, do we fear sound?
When I hear you speak, I will rejoice.
Your absence from my ears, just astounds.

Why can I not see you God?
Why don’t I hear the Holy?
The fragrance I smell is odd.
Let me taste bread and wine slowly.
Your touch on me, I am awed,
Come back, I seek you solely.

A smell enters my nose, it isn’t you.
Thick air that smells, human work abounds.
When can I smell your morning due?
Your absence from my nose, it astounds.

Why can I not see you God?
Why don’t I hear the Holy?
The fragrance I smell is odd.
Let me taste bread and wine slowly.
Your touch on me, I am awed,
Come back, I seek you solely.

I do not taste you, in bread and wine.
I taste the dirt from unholy ground.
Now, at your table, I cannot dine.
Your absence from my mouth, it astounds.

Why can I not see you God?
Why don’t I hear the Holy?
The fragrance I smell is odd.
Let me taste bread and wine slowly.
Your touch on me, I am awed,
Come back, I seek you solely.

In times before your hand was on me.
The Holy touch pulls me heaven bound.
Your touch I could feel in gentle breeze.
That you I do not feel, it astounds.

Why can I not see you God?
Why don’t I hear the Holy?
The fragrance I smell is odd.
Let me taste bread and wine slowly.
Your touch on me, I am awed,
Come back, I seek you solely.

I know it is I who will wander.
I close off my senses, it astounds.
To not have you, my life I squander.
Holy love for sinful me, abounds.

I will soon see the Holy.
I will here your mighty voice.
Sweet blooms I will smell slowly.
You I will taste and rejoice.
You God, me, the lowly.
Back to you, will be my choice.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

In Search of the Genuine,
Keith

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

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God Hates… (Psalm 11)

Psalm 11

For the music leader. Of David.

11 I have taken refuge in the Lord.
    So how can you say to me,
    “Flee to the hills like a bird
        because the wicked
        have already bent their bows;
        they’ve already strung their arrows;
        they are ready to secretly shoot
        those whose heart is right”?
When the very bottom of things falls out,
    what can a righteous person possibly accomplish?

But the Lord is in his holy temple.
    The Lord! His throne is in heaven.
His eyes see—
    his vision examines all of humanity.
The Lord examines
    both the righteous and the wicked;
    his very being hates anyone who loves violence.
God will rain fiery coals and sulfur on the wicked;
    their cups will be filled
    with nothing but a scorching hot wind
    because the Lord is righteous!
    He loves righteous deeds.
    Those whose heart is right will see God’s face. (Psalm 11:1-7, Common English Bible)

I had quite an education tonight. When I started looking for a picture to go with this post, I was absolutely amazed at all the things, mostly people, God hates. Here is a partial list:

“God Hates Boomers” – considering I am from that generation-I never knew
God hated me and my generation, go figure.
“God hates P.H.F.” – Whatever that is
“God hates figs: Mark 11:12-14” I’m pretty sure I know that story (and I do, I
went and checked), Jesus didn’t hate the figs.
He wanted to eat one. His issue was with the
tree!! We need to be sure of what God hates
before we go making rash statements.
“God hates facts” – Really?
“God hates me?” Don’t think so?
“God hates us all?” – “…God so loved the world…whoever believes in Him…”

I could go on, the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. They certainly did.

I think most all of us are aware of the hate speech that at least came out of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka Kansas. They have credited God will hating all kinds of things and people. If you know me at all, you know how wrong I think they are.

As I was looking around, I came across an August 25, 2011 Decision Magazine article written by Billy Graham. I am always hesitant to publicly disagree with a Christian of his stature but I think I will have to go there for this one. The article was “Things God Hates.” Here is that list:

A proud look
A lying tongue
Hands that shed innocent blood
A heart that devises evil imaginations
Feet that are swift in running to mischief
A man or woman who sows discord among brethren

I really struggle with this idea. I struggle with what the Old Testament often says. I struggle with what the psalmist says in this psalm. I am not saying this is a place where Scripture is wrong. I am saying, it is troublesome with an image of God that says God is love and we also know the Scriptures say as exactly that. “The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8). In Matthew’s Gospel we read this verse:

“If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).

The way I read this verse, though ALL of us are evil, God will give good things to those who ask. If God hates those who are evil, and according to this verse, that is all of us (and in my search for that picture that was one of these things God hates, see above), why would God give us good things even if we did ask?

I did find a few quotes I do agree with from Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forrest California. Take a look at these:

“God hates loneliness, and community is God’s answer to loneliness. When we walk alongside other people, we find a community where we learn how to love.”

“So I would say God hates war, but God loves every soldier.”

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

I don’t have a problem here because with each Warren is not pointing at one of God’s children but the things God’s children might sometimes do. I didn’t always like the things my now adult children did while they were growing up. I didn’t quit loving them. I don’t sometimes agree with what they do as adults but I still love them despite their actions. If I, a finite being, can love my children in spite of what they do that I may not like, how much more does God, in infinite power and love, love all God’s children.

Does God like all the things I do? That one is an easy answer, absolutely not. Does God love me despite my actions? I would have to say that is a resounding “Yes.” That is good news for all of us.

Will God hold me responsible for the things I do that God does hate? I think that is the case, without repentance and confession. And, I also think that breaks God’s heart, because God loves me.

Those things Billy Graham said God hates? Let me rephrase them in a way I understand the love and grace of God.

Prideful actions
Lies
Bloodshed
Evil actions
Mischief
Discord in the Church

I don’t think God hates me. I don’t think God hates you. I do think there are things we do, that God doesn’t like at all.

I think sometimes our kids may do things that break our hearts. I believe our kids can and do things that can bring us to tears. But, I also know this, what I do can break my heavenly Father’s heart and I can bring God to tears by what I do.

I also know this, I am created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) so if God is love, that means I am made in the image of love. For that, I will always be grateful.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

In search of the genuine,
Keith

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

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Where Do I Find You? (Psalm 10)

Psalm 10

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor—
    let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
    those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”;
    all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Their ways prosper at all times;
    your judgments are on high, out of their sight;
    as for their foes, they scoff at them.
They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”

Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
    under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
They sit in ambush in the villages;
    in hiding places they murder the innocent.

Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
    they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert;
they lurk that they may seize the poor;
    they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.

10 They stoop, they crouch,
    and the helpless fall by their might.
11 They think in their heart, “God has forgotten,
    he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12 Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
    do not forget the oppressed.
13 Why do the wicked renounce God,
    and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”?

14 But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief,
    that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
    you have been the helper of the orphan.

15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers;
    seek out their wickedness until you find none.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
    the nations shall perish from his land.

17 O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
    you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
18 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
    so that those from earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:1-18, New Revised Standard Version)

Where Lord, where do I find you?
When they who refuse to hear,
On garbage do they chew.
Away from You, they do veer.

Where are you Father of all?
Why Lord do you stand far off?
Enemies love not your call,
Your faithful, they will castoff.

I search and I look for you.
Your children, for you they search.
You are distant, such seems new.
With you, hope is with your Church.

Do not stand far off from me,
I know O God, you are here.
I seek you, when far away,
I move from you holy seer.

Into your sight, bring me home.
Without You, my life will fail.
With you God, I shall overcome.
Against you Lord, all are frail.

I search for you, do not hide.
Your children, must hear your voice.
Why am I not at your side?
Restore me, I will rejoice.

I search. I still fail to see.
As I look, you have me learn,
My God always walks with me.
I moved. It is you I yearn.

Bring me home, don’t let me balk.
Do not Lord, let me wander,
Away, I know, I will walk
All you give, I will squander.

Call me to see your glory.
That I may be close to you,
Then I shall tell your story,
That all the world knows you too.

Do for me what I cannot.
Selfish gain, help me repress
Your servant, Your Son has bought.
Watch me, guide me, you will bless.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

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Mission Possible

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)

Friends, before I really get started, I recognize we are repeating the Scripture we used last Sunday. As I was reading it to you, I was hearing that I write another sermon on this Scripture just emphasizing the idea of impossibility. So, writing this sermon was exactly what I did.

Sometimes a story comes around that is so inspiring that it makes you question just what you’re capable of accomplishing in your own life. This is one of those stories…

In 1984, Augusto and Michaela Odone took their six-year-old son to a doctor because he was stumbling, becoming bad-tempered and not feeling well. After a few tests’ doctors diagnosed their son, Lorenzo, with a rare disease called adrenoleukodystrophy.

There was no treatment for the disease. Doctors said little Lorenzo would continue losing his balance, go blind and deaf until eventually dying of aspiration. He wasn’t expected to live longer than two years after diagnosis.

Augusto and Michaela consulted several doctors and specialists about the disease, but everyone said the same thing: there’s no known cure. There is no treatment; it’s hopeless.

Most of us have at least heard of Michael Jordan. He was the Achilles heal for all the other teams in the National Basketball Association. He was arguably the best basketball player ever to lace up a pair of sneakers. He was so important to the Chicago Bulls in an eight year time period, the Bulls won the championship six times, three in a row, twice. What happened to the other two? Ending with the 1994 season, the Bulls had won three in a row with Jordan in the lineup. Following the 1994 season Jordan decided to retire. Without Jordan, the Bulls proceeded to not even make the finals for two years. The Rockets won those two titles. Two years later Jordan decided to impact the league all over again by making a comeback. With Jordan back on the team, they won three more.

There are two more things you should know about Michael Jordan. First, Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team when he was a sophomore in high school. He got sent down to the junior varsity that season. To think that the greatest (or even the second or third or tenth greatest) of all time was not one of the ten best players in his small high school at any point during his time there boggles the mind. He did make the varsity his junior year and never looked back. He went on to college at the University of North Carolina. Following college, he ended up with the Bulls and later the Wizards.

So, what was Jordan doing during those two years he decided to let the Rockets win their two championships? He decided to try to make a living as a professional baseball player. Jordan decided to retire from the Chicago Bulls to join the Chicago White Sox organization. He moved from being the premier player of basketball to being a minor league baseball player. He never rose above AA ball. After two seasons he left baseball and went back to greatness in basketball. He gave up.

It is difficult to think of examples of people who are famous enough to know and at the same time gave up on something they were doing. Yes, Jordan gave up but he gave up to go back the thing where he was really good.

Jonah tried everything he could think of to give up before he got to Nineveh. He tried to go to Tarshish, he jumped ship, and who knows what else he might have tried but didn’t make it into the Bible. The only reason Jonah didn’t give up was God would have none of it.

Moses didn’t want to go Pharaoh with God’s demands. Again, God wouldn’t take no for an answer. For every one of Moses’ excuses, God had an answer until God finally said in essence, “Quit with the excuses just go do it. Jacob cheated Esau and had to run away. Samson is so taken with Delilah he ends up giving her the secret to his strength.

Elijah had so many miraculous experiences, you’d think that he’d have unshakable faith. After all, he caused the rain to stop for more than three years, was fed by ravens, saw a limitless jar of flour and jug of oil, witnessed a widow’s son resurrected, even playing a critical role in the scene, and he beat the prophets of Baal by calling down fire from heaven.

But when the showdown with the Baal worshipers so angered King Ahab and his wife Jezebel that she vowed to see him dead, Elijah couldn’t take it. The pressure of being such a high-profile prophet of God had gotten to Elijah and he hightailed it into the wilderness. When God met him there, Elijah was undone, feeling like he was the only prophet left—confident that he was completely isolated and imperiled.

Being loud and impetuous was Peter’s calling card. Peter was the biggest personality in any room. It’s no wonder that he’d join James and John as one of Jesus closest friends and confidants. In fact, he was the only disciple willing to try walking on the water and was the first to call Jesus the Christ and son of God.

When Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him, Peter proudly rebuffs him. But that very night, after Jesus is arrested, someone confronts Peter in the courtyard of the Sanhedrin and accused Peter of being a follower of Christ. And, just as Jesus predicted, Peter denies him three times—the third time cursing his accusers. When he realizes what he’s done he breaks down and weeps bitterly. But, Peter found forgiveness and grace sitting on the shore. Peter, do you love me…

Did Peter’s failure exclude him from Christ’s plans? On the contrary, Peter is the first of the twelve that Jesus appears to! He restores Peter in a touching moment on the Sea of Galilee.

In the movie series, Mission Impossible, Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise and series before that, James “Jim” Phelps, played by Peter Graves went out on impossible missions, suicide missions if you will, and somehow, on their own, without divine help, turn the impossible into possible, every time they hear a recording saying, “Your mission, if you choose to accept it…” then at the end of the recording, “Good luck… this recording will self-destruct in 15 seconds.” There is something in there too about being caught and disavowed. Still, they ALWAYS accept the mission and they ALWAYS succeed in making the impossible, possible.

So, what do we make of all this? Peter went on to become the leader of the disciples and an early church father, preaching the first evangelical message after which more than 3,000 people came to a relationship with God. It was something of Mission Impossible moving to “Mission Possible.” “Peter, do you love me? Feed my lambs.” Those are words of pardon and grace.

Today’s lesson is another story of someone who just can’t leave his stuff behind. He wants admission to the Kingdom. But there is a price he must pay. He must divest himself of all his wealth and then become a disciple. I am reminded of a story about a wealthy man who over and over can’t seem to let go. In his nightly prayer time, the man continues to beg God. Finally, God tells the man its OK, but he can only bring one suitcase. Peter’s curiosity gas getting to him. As the man passes through the gates, Peter sees the suitcase and must ask, “What was so important you couldn’t leave it behind?” The man smiles and sets the suitcase down and opens it. It is filled with gold bars. He looks up and smiles at Peter who dropped his head and was shaking it side to side. He says, “That’s what you brought? Paving stones?”

That could easily be us. Let’s get back to our lesson. There’s a price he must pay to live in the Kingdom. Oh, wait a minute their preacher!! I thought salvation was a free gift from God, a gift offered without price. Now you are saying the rich young man must pay a price. Which is it?

Thank you for asking. I a so glad you asked. Jesus’ instruction was not about buying anything. The price the rich young man was to pay was a matter of his priorities. Jesus was asking the man to make a choice, God or your money. The rich young man, not being able to lose his money, chose it over God. That is a sad turn of events.

Once the rich young man left Jesus explains to the disciples abut how hard it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom. This is the part of the lesson last week that I believe God was telling me what to do, what to preach.

“It is easier,” Jesus says, “for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom. I can see why the disciples would have concerns. If rich people, with all their wealth and power couldn’t enter the Kingdom, what chance would they have? These guys were far from being wealthy.

Jesus’ answer, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom,” didn’t really give them any comfort. They just didn’t get it.

It doesn’t take a genius to know a camel can’t go through the eye of a needle. There are scholars who have a bit of a different understanding. Some argue that Jesus was not talking about a literal needle. Instead, they believe the term “The eye of the needle” is a metaphor. The “Eye of the Needle” has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. That would mean it was possible to enter the Kingdom, but it was not easy.

I think such an explanation is lacking. On our own, we cannot obtain the eternal gift of the Kingdom of God. WE NEED GRACE. And it isn’t that I can get grace by my own hard work. I cannot get grace by myself or with the help of my friends or my foes. I can’t get it without God because it takes grace and that is something, I can’t work for borrow or buy. It is the free gift that lets me pass through the eye of that needle into the Heavenly Kingdom of God.

In the television comedy, The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Penny are having an argument and Sheldon says, “Penny, when you understand the laws of physics anything is possible.” That really isn’t true. No matter what your understanding of physics might be you are not going to defy the law of gravity standing on earth. Unless of course, God has an intention of doing what is humanly impossible and defies the law of gravity for us. That, my friends, is possible because for God, nothing is impossible.

Being deaf since she was one and a half years old, Marlee Matlin made her credo a phrase: ‘The only thing I can’t do is hear.’ When she was a child, despite the doctors’ advice, her parents sent her to a public school (instead of a specialized one for the deaf), and with the help of special programs Marlee adapted after a while. It helped her to become the first and only deaf actress to receive an Academy Award. Marlee often says: ‘I work every day to help people understand, like my parents taught me, that deaf people not only deserve respect, they deserve to be heard.’

As a child the late Ray Charles began losing his sight, and before the age of 7 he went completely blind. When Ray was 15 years old, his mother died. The young man couldn’t sleep, eat, or speak for many days. He was sure that he would go mad. When he got out of his depression, he realized that, having gone through this tragedy, he would be able to handle anything. When he was 17, the musician started to record his first soul, jazz, and rhythm and blues singles. Nowadays, many people consider Ray Charles a legend: his works were even included in the Library of Congress. In 2004, after his death, Rolling Stone magazine named Ray Charles number 10 in the top 100 greatest artists of all time.

Those are two of the many stories of people who moved past what many of us would consider an impossible situation and still managed to move forward to find success. Could we move forward in much the same way? The answer to the question is “yes.” We may not be an Oscar or Grammy award winning performer, but we can, no matter what the limitations the world might see, use our God given gifts to make a difference in the world or make a difference in the lives of others. God’s gifts in your life matter and no matter what the stumbling blocks in our paths might be, we need to keep moving forward and let the world see God through us.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Naaman found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a great general in the army of the king of Aram. Naaman contracted leprosy. He ended up before the prophet Elisha seeking a cure. Elisha, never leaving his house, sent Naaman to the Jordan River to wash seven times.

        To say Naaman was angry would be an understatement. He believed Elisha was insulting him by not even coming out of the house. He saw going and bathing in any river, much less this “body of water” that was often so dried up there would be no water for Naaman to bathe. Why couldn’t he use one of the far greater rivers, at least far bigger rivers he would cross on his way home.

        As I see the story play out in my mind, Naaman grudgingly goes to the Jordan, griping about the useless prophet all the way. I see Naaman getting into the river, still muttering complaints. He dips into the river once, twice, three times. Each time he looks at the sores on his body he sees no change. He talks about how this is a waste of time and he starts to leave the river saying, “I guess I will live out the remainder of my life in a leper colony.” His men convince him to get back into the water and finish Elisha’s instruction. He does and, in the end, God heals him.

         What would have happened if Naaman had left the river before completing Elisha’s instructions. Naaman was anything but a stupid man. You don’t become a general in anyone’s army by being stupid. Naaman knew Elisha’s instructions were stupid. He knew there was no way Elisha’s instructions should work. But, as Naaman would learn, God can do the impossible.

        So, what happened to Augusto and Lorenzo? There were failures in Augusto’s effort to find a cure for Lorenzo. But Augusto was a fighter who refused to accept such a terrible situation without expending every ounce of energy he had to overcome the seemingly impossible with the gift of grace and mercy.

Augusto worked to discover a cure on his own. He faced some huge obstacles.

  • Augusto only had a high school understanding in science and medicine.
  • He had to learn everything about the disease from scratch. That includes things like how degradative enzymes cross membranes and how long-chain fatty acids accumulate.
  • After learning about it, he had to discover a cure.
  • And do it all in less than two years so he can give it to Lorenzo.

When they told doctors and researchers about the plan, they heard the same thing:

“It’s impossible. It can’t be done.”

By day, Augusto worked as an economist at the World Bank. At night, he scoured research papers and medical journals from the National Institute of Health. He worked dauntlessly and put all his effort into figuring the disease out.

He finally got an insight from an unlikely source: the oils he used to make spaghetti carbonara. He reasoned that the oils might soak up the deadly acids before it hurt Lorenzo’s nervous system.

Medical researchers thought he was crazy. After all, it’s absolutely unheard of for complete amateurs in medicine to develop a cure to a complex neurological disease that professionals had been studying for decades.

But when they tested the oil on Lorenzo, it made a huge impact on his condition. While it didn’t cure him completely, it did halt the progress enough for Lorenzo to live an additional twenty years when he died from an accident – not the disease.

It took until 2005 for doctors to publish a study to finally prove the treatment actually works – which is now known as Lorenzo’s Oil (which is also the name of a movie about their accomplishment.). In that time, Augusto and Michaela had given it to hundreds of other people and saved lives all over the world.

It all sounds so impossible, doesn’t it?

Someone with only a high school understanding of science studying enough about a rare disease to find a treatment for it? And in less than two years?

We know it’s not impossible though. It happened.

I have to admit that if I had heard about Augusto and Michaela’s plan to find a cure to a disease with little to no knowledge about medicine, I would have assumed it was impossible too. It’s just so far outside of the norm that it’s too easy to dismiss it away.

But it should all give us pause to think about what we consider “impossible” in our own lives.

It seems so easy to define what’s possible and what isn’t. We tend to use our perceptions of things we’ve seen before to help guide us in what can actually be done.

But defining what’s impossible is not as clear as we’d like to think. Perceptions are largely based upon experience. That leaves a big gap of knowledge about experiences that haven’t been tested yet.

The Odones went into that unknown area of experience where no one had gone before. Because it had never been done before, people were ready to dismiss it away as “impossible”. But it’s important to test our perceptions and assumptions – many times they’re wrong.

If Augusto and Michaela had simply accepted their situation, Lorenzo would have died much earlier in his life. The only reason they found this cure was due to Augusto’s determination and willingness to fight.

Make no mistake about it. What Augusto and Michaela did was a long-shot – a huge long-shot. But that’s the strange and beautiful thing about life, sometimes the long-shots pay off. The Odones saw God make Mission Impossible, Mission Possible.

What would have happened to Naaman if he bathed six times and said it was impossible and left upset and angry? He would have missed seeing God turn “Mission Impossible” into “Mission Possible.”

Ethan Hunt and Jim Phelps of Mission Impossible fame might be able to turn the impossible into possible but that is because the writers said so. As for the rest of us, if something is truly impossible, the only way to reverse mission impossible is for God to intervene. When that happens, mission impossible quickly becomes mission possible.

What is God calling you to do that might seem impossible. Will you walk away and see it remain Mission Impossible? Or, will you remain obedient and see God make “Mission Impossible,” “Mission Possible?”

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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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