Something Out of Nothing

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2, New International Version).

My latest creation is in the picture above. It will be a belt when complete. I almost always have something I am creating out of paracord. Mostly I make prayer ropes. But I have made bracelets, dog collars, dog leashes, handles for stainless steel mugs, Christmas decorations, cell phone belt cases, coasters, crosses, rings, lanyards, flowers, and probably a few other things too. I am almost always working on some kind of paracord creation.

I like to carve. The wood that I carve as become different figures, a sailor in his pea-coat, a cowgirl, a couple of guitars, a bear, a Nativity set, and several other things. I created them with wood and carving knives.

There is an old joke that has floated around for several years. A group of dedicated scientists decided they needed to have a meeting with God. As the scientists met, they came to the conclusion that scientists could do everything God did therefore there was no need for God and God could go away and leave us to create all that is around us.

The day of the meeting came. At the designated time God was there. The scientists finally showed up about 30 minutes late. The man speaking for the scientific world said to God, “We can do everything that you do God and quite frankly, we believe you have done a terrible job of it. You can’t even protect us from the evils of the world.”

“So you want to take care of this world. Are you really sure you can do what I do?” God asked.

“Yes,” said the scientist.

God said, “OK then, let’s both make a living breathing human being. I have already done it, but it was my greatest achievement. I can do it again. If you are going to take over and do what I do, you need to do this.”

The scientific community conferred and agreed to God’s project. It seemed fair and they knew they could do it. As old as God seemed they figured he had to slow down at some point.

God said, “I’ll go first. You watch closely and I’ll show you how it’s done.” With that God stoops down and grabs a handful of dirt and then gets some water and mixes it together. God pushes, kneads, shapes, and forms. Finally standing in front of God is a perfect replica of a human male. God walks up to the man and gives a puff of air and the man starts breathing. “There you have him,” said God. “A living breathing man. God did it, again.”

The scientists were gracious and complimented God’s work but said there was no question that science would win out.

With that, the scientist bends down to scoop up and handful of dirt to make his man but God stops him. “Stop. Drop the dirt. That’s my dirt, you go get your own dirt.” They couldn’t even get started without something God created.

I find it interesting how many of us will do something and then think, believe we did it all by myself. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, some teacher somewhere, with art, music, pottery, wood working hunting, cooking and so many more. Someone taught you something along the way and if no one did you have a true God given talent for something.

What about the resources, the supplies required to build something? If you are going to build cabinets you need wood. To make clothes you need fabric. A watercolor landscape requires paper and paint. Someone gathered what you need in a warehouse somewhere and then sent it to your local Hobby Lobby.

You need tools. Even if you could make it yourself you would need raw materials. If you buy them you can get to work on the thing that really matters but you need tools.

All of those things are necessary. We humans cannot build without supplies and tools. They are necessary. We can’t create the raw material necessary to make the thngs we need using the things we have.

Well Keith, farmers don’t use a lot o other resources. Oh but they do. How would they make anything. They get seeds from next fall. Still, seeds, land, fertilizer, equipment are all part of farm life and God got it there.

The musician play or write. There aren’t resources involved in that. Yes they are. Boats are built of the raw materials.

I can make things all day long but I start with something and work until I have it. For me, at best we are co-creators with God. We need God by our side.

God needs nothing to create all we see and all we can’t. Then and only then, we build something out of the materials God provides. God built something out of nothing. God is the creator. We are the visitors. So lets focus on building something out of something. Only God can build something out of nothing.

Be blessed

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Take Up Our Masks and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, Common English Bible)


25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”

27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ 36 What do you think? Who do you think was a neighbor?

37 Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37, Common English Bible)


In 2000, I preached a revival at a friend’s church. He asked if I would visit a church member. I agreed.

We went to the man’s house and he led me to a large formal living room. The only furniture was a desk a few chairs and lots of utility shelves of food.

The room overflowed. He feared the Y2K apocalypse. My friends said the man had two more storage areas. He was scared and ready. So were others.

Recently, Ive read two posts about Christians wearing masks. Is it something we should do?

One post talked about the church’s relevance. It said, we don’t practice faith like the Bible instructs. He points to the Matthew verse above.

Just before that verse, Jesus predicts his death. Peter argues and Jesus tells the 12 to take up their crosses.

That first blogger says we should wear a masks as a way to carry our cross. If we aren’t willing to do so, he argues, we should admit our unwillingness to follow even Jesus’ simplest instructions.

The US population is 328,000,000 (Census Bureau). Assume 51 percent (Google) wear masks, we have 287,000,000 not wearing masks. Further, 71% (Pew Forum) of the population claims to be Christian. That means 82 million people who at least claim the faith who aren’t wearing masks. That is a huge difference.

Y2K guy was angry. He sought to care for himself and his family. Nothing is wrong with that. But God calls faithful people to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to give attention to the needs of creation. Perhaps one day we will learn to make this work.

In the last few days two state representatives from Illinois and Ohio. The Ohio representative needs to read and study Scripture. He said a mask would block God’s glory from shining to the world.

When Moses came down from the mountain, his face shined with the glory of God. People feared death by looking at God. Moses’ face scared them. What did Moses do? Put on a mask. Did Moses’ masked face prevent Israel from knowing Moses was God’s servant and their leader? If an omnipotent God’s glory cannot shine through a mask, it likely can’t be seen at all.

The Good Samaritan story says only one person stopped to help. He gave sacrificially. The Samaritan stopped to help a victim, took him back, housed, treated, and cared for the man. Y2K guy was all about himself. The Good Samaritan, saw the needs of another person.

The second blog I read in the past few days, the Rev. Dr. Ellis Orazco. He asks, “Would Jesus wear a mask?” His answer was yes, out of love and compassion for others. Shouldn’t we do likewise?

For the Christian, it should be about God first, others second, and then comes me. We forget that. Always pray first for the needs of others.

In the movie Pearl Harbor, two friends fight over a girl. It was about them. The girl, a nurse, was torn between the two. For all three, it was about them. Then the attack came. The friends worked together to make any difference. The scene shifts to the hospital. To make a difference the girl moved from her comfort zone. She put her finger into her patient’s wound, a rupture aorta. If she didn’t he would die. She saved that soldier.

Putting God and people ahead of ourselves matters. All of us can say to each other, it’s not about me and it’s not about you. So, take up your mask and follow Jesus.

Be blessed,

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Day to Remember

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18, New Revised Standard Version).

While my posts are almost always of a spiritual nature, this post is not. The scripture above is about as spiritual as this one gets. This post is about Memorial Day. I will return to my regular writing tomorrow.

It is 0800 on the Friday and you are walking down the the row of piers on any Navy Base or even civilian ports where Navy ships are tied up. Looking closely, at the ship, you see sailors gathered around the flag pole forward, where the Union Jack (the blue field and stars from the flag) and up on top of the mast, along with sailors gathered at points in between. You stop and watch what they are doing.

As you watch the sailors rig lines running from the the bow of the ship, to the top of the mast, back to the fantail. Next they bring out a large amounts of maritime flags at both the bow and fantail (stern).

You see a sailor coming toward you on the pier so you stop him and asked, “What are those guys doing?”

“Oh, they are getting the ship ready for full-dress. All the ships are getting ready.”

They all have the line from the bow to the top of the mast and back to the fantail. “So why are they doing that?”

“Monday?” You still have a puzzled look. The sailor looks at you like you’ve lost your mind. Then it dawns on you. “Memorial Day?”

He nods his head and says, “Every Navy ship that is in port on two holidays each year Memorial Day, and July 4th. Monday morning the lines will have maritime flags from the bow, to the top of the mast and back down to the stern. Sometimes the President or Secretary of the Navy or some such person might order full dress on a special day. If a ship is in a foreign port and they have a special day full dress can happen then too.”

“Do the flags go up in a particular order Monday?” I asked.

“Yes they do. There is a specific order in which the flags will fly. And, before you ask, I don’t know the order. I hear that most of those doing the work don’t remember either. They have to pull out a signal book to find them.”

“If you want to see it, they will pull the flags up on Monday morning at 0800, during Colors. It is pretty impressive.”

“How long with the flags stay up?”

“They will come down Monday at Sunset. The rigging will come down on Tuesday.”

“And you say all ships will do this on Monday?”

“If they are in port, all commissioned ships will full dress on Monday.

“The only ships in port that I know of,” he said, “that don’t full-dress are ships in overhaul, in the shipyards and dry dock. Even ‘Old Ironsides.’ the U.S.S. Constitution, the oldest ship in the Navy, an old wooden sailing ship, goes to full dress for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.”

“I would love to see that. Well, you would have to go to Boston to see that ship.”

“Too bad, ” I said. “Is there anything else that happens on base for Memorial Day?” I asked.

“At morning colors all ships will fly the ensign (the flag) at half staff. At 1200, there is a special 21 gun salute. Beginning at the top of the hour, precisely 12:00 noon, a gun on base will fire. Then one gun per minute for the next 20 minutes will fire. At 1220 the salute ends and the ensign is closed up to the top of the staff. Everything stops on the base when the salute starts. All uniformed personnel outside, stop, salute the closest flag and hold the salute until the 21 Gun Salute ends.”

“I bet everyone on base tries to get inside by then. Twenty minutes is a long time to hold a salute.”

“Some do but Memorial Day isn’t about us.”

“It isn’t about the military? Huh. Well, I bet the veterans appreciate it. They sacrificed part of their lives.”

“They may appreciate it but it isn’t because of their sacrifice. Memorial Day is about Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We who are on active duty have our day. Our day was a couple of weeks ago, on May 16th, Armed Forces Day. As for the veterans, they have a day too, November 11, Veterans Day. Memorial Day is the day we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Compared to what they gave up, holding a long salute is nothing.”

“Well, you are right about that. I feel a little silly. I should have known that, it is, after all, in the name. I didn’t know about Armed Forces Day but I knew Veteran’s Day.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over that. You would be surprised how many people don’t know as much as you.”

“I need to do some studying.”

“Don’t we all. Well sir, I need to get going.”

“Will you be around on Monday?”

“I will be. I have duty on Monday.”

“Well, perhaps I will see you then. Thank you for your time and for what you taught me today.”

“I may see you then. I hope you have a great weekend.”

“You too sailor.”

Be Blessed this Memorial Day.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Smart and Not Afraid: Fear Factor

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 New Revised Standard Version)

When I was doing youth work during my first two years of seminary, I had a set of rules I gave the kids. Initially there were four. I told them if they would follow those four rules I wouldn’t have to make up any more. Yeah, they tested me and I did have to make up a few more. The new ones and three of the original four don’t matter for our purpose today but the last rule said, “God gave you a brain, please use it. If you think it might get you in trouble it probably will. Don’t do it.

Once upon a time NBC television show called Fear Factor? We never watched it much. The first time I saw it, I knew I wasn’t going to watch much. I knew they were in constant violation of Keith’s last rule. God gave you a brain please use it.

Contestants were challenged to do things that seemed more than just a little frightening. There were no snakes that first show but I knew it was coming. Too many of us have that fear.

I got no push back from Cindy. Her fear is heights. Christopher did give us some push back but that was to be a teenager giving his parents a hard time.

I wouldn’t have participated in the show. The prize money was $50,000 and that isn’t enough. Even without snakes, there were scorpions, bugs, maggots, and worms to name only a few.

I question the sanity of bee keepers allowing bees to cover his their face giving them a bee beard. I am not worried about getting stung by a bee. I have been stung before and probably will again. It isn’t pleasant But, to be stung by hundreds of bees. No.

They might had contestants dangle from a rope, attached to a helicopter 100 feet in the air if the scorpions, bugs, or snakes were not enough. After a few years they started running out of ideas and had contestants start eating and drinking things most of which were just plain disgusting. If you don’t know, trust me on this one. You DON’T want to know.

In 2017, MTV ran the show. The stunts became even more extreme, and more disgusting. In 2018 Fear Factor got cancelled for the final time. Eating bugs, carrying worms in their mouths, being covered in maggots all fall into that category of, what were you thinking, God gave you a brain, use it.

Last week we began a sermon series, “Smart and Not Afraid.” We talked about fear and how it isn’t a bad thing. Want to be tough and not afraid of anything. We talked about researchers reporting on benefits fear can bring to life and at the top of the list was, fear keeps you safe.

God gave us fear. Though my fear of snakes sits squarely in line with an irrational fear, Snakes can kill a person and they scare me. That isn’t the irrational part. Snakes on television or in a movie scaring me is. I won’t watch Snakes on a Plane or Anaconda those titles mean that movie is rated “K” for Keith stay out.

That’s where that youth group rule enters into Fear Factor. If I am irrationally afraid of snakes, that rule says, “God gave you a brain, please use it.” Don’t do something you fear, at least not without a plan it could bring harm to someone.

In Scripture, Jesus and others say, “Don’t be afraid.” At times, all of us are afraid. OK, not Jesus and probably not the angels, but the rest of us have fears. If you think your not afraid, you just haven’t found it. We are afraid of something.

Last week Paul said, to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” There are only a few times in Scripture where fear might be thought of as a good thing. In the Old Testament particularly, the words “fear God” or “Jacob feared God” are used. That fear is considered more respect and awe. But, make no mistake, there should be a little fear of God’s power there too.

Last week I said, every time I preach there are a butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I can go be a public speaker in front of a big crowd and not be bothered. My fear is not public speaking. When I stand here, there is a tinge of fear because I know I speak for God. When you speak for the creator of the universe, if there isn’t fear, go sit down. This isn’t your calling.

In today’s lesson, Paul asks, in the Keith paraphrased version, “If God is on our side, can anyone or anything stand against us?” Think about that. If God is for us can our greatest fears be against us? Paul continues “God did not keep Jesus on the bench, even knowing what awaited Jesus God gave him for us. If God would do that, if God loved us that much, is there anything God wouldn’t give us, the faithful? If God says we are acceptable , can anyone bring anything against us? No! Christ died, Christ was raised, and now Christ is at God’s right side, speaking for us. Isn’t that a kick. No matter what we have done, no matter what we have or not have, Jesus is sitting with God and talking us up. Can anything, Paul asks, separate us from the love of God in Christ? Can trouble, suffering, hard times, hunger, nakedness, danger, I am going adding fear, or even death?

 No, Paul says, we who run scared, we with irrational fears, are conquerors who win a sweeping victory by faith, by grace, because Jesus loves us.

Still in the Keith paraphrased version Paul goes on, NOTHING SEPARATES us from God’s love—not life, death, angels spirits, the present past, or future, not powers above or below, NOT EVEN OUR FEARS. Nothing, nothing in the universe can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ!

Ingrid Betancourt camaigned to be president of Colombia when she was kidnapped by guerrillas. They held her in the jungle for six years. With fear her companion, she learned to use it and grow. They carried her into the jungle. She thought they would kill her first she thought. The first night the guerrillas put an iron collar around her neck and bolted her to a tree, high enough that her toes barely touched the ground. There she stayed all night with one sadistic guard watching her. He tormented her all night, degrading her, and stirring up all her fear and emotion.

New days meant continued torment . Every night fear ruled her. She had panic attacks, tremors, and cold sweats. The more fear shown, the more her tormentor played on her worst feelings. One day she vowed to kill him. For weeks she plotted and looked for opportunities to execute the plan. One day she stopped. She said she wouldn’t allow herself to become one of them and began living in defiance. Things were difficult she wasn’t going to allow them to turn her into something she was not.

Not long after her moment they carried her further into the jungle. They built a concentration camp with twelve foot high walls topped with barbed wire and guard towers in each corner.

She overcame using many principles and lifted up three. The first was to be guided by her ideals. They wouldn’t turn her into something she wasn’t. fter arriving at the camp someone yelled for the captives to number off. When at her turn she yelled, “I am Ingrid Betancourt. I am not a number, I have a name. If you want to know I am here, call me by my name.” The guards went crazy but it was nothing compared to the hostages. They feared she would get them into trouble. But, she was living out of her ideals. She was human. The others were too. She wouldn’t give up anyone’s humanity.

Her second principle was, to build unity. The guards new their jobs and they did them well. They manipulated with fear, mistrust, whatever would tear them apart and make them feel alone and isolated. She worked repairing damage. Her first escape attempt was with Lucho. They tied themselves together. By day they hid. At night they got into water with alligators and piranha, allowing the current to carry them downstream. Lucho was diabetic. They slowed and when he became sick, and the guerrillas caught them. Because she stayed with Lucho unity grew among her and the captives. She couldn’t leave Lucho behind Her ideals wouldn’t allow it.

The third principal, develop faith. Ingrid said by this point she had a master’s degree in escape. One captive, a former police officer she called Pincho, was held the longest. He asked her to help him escape. She was surprised. He was more afraid than anyone. They first had to teach him to swim, not easy for a prisoner. One day he asked Ingrid, “Suppose I am in the jungle and wander in circles unable to find my way out. What do I do?” Sbe said, “Pincho, grab a phone. Call the man upstairs.” He said, “I don’t believe in God.” Her response was classic. “God doesn’t care, He’ll help you anyway.” A few days later, Pincho was gone. The guards said Pincho died, claiming finding his body half eaten by an anaconda. Seventeen days passed. Ingrid knew because she had counted each torturous day. On day 17, news exploded from the radio: Pincho was free and alive They heard him say, “My fellow hostages are listening. Ingrid, I did what you said. I called the man upstairs, and he sent a patrol that rescued me.”

Not long afterward, the Colombian army rescued all the hostages. It was six years for Ingrid. She learned the transformation power of the principles she learned, to live by her ideals, to foster unity, and develop faith. Ingrid always felt fear. It wasn’t about not having fear. It was about surviving. Without ideals she wouldn’t have fostered unity and without unity she wouldn’t have had the faith carrying her and others through.

I believe she also lived out my last rule. She used the brain God gave her to do all those things. To do otherwise, the person she had been wouldn’t survive. And, most importantly, she knew that NOTHING would separate her from the Love of God in Christ Jesus her Lord.

_____

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Dance Girl Dance

It is another My Song Saturday. I had several things on my plate so I didn’t get a song written again this week but I have a few you haven’t seen before and this is one of them. Right after my youngest granddaughter, Sydney, was born in January, many of you will remember she gave us a scare. After she had come home but before she was a week old, she started having some problems. She was flown from Tyler, Texas to Dallas and spent six weeks in NICU. Having nothing else I could do but pray, I made a song for Sydney and it was part of my prayer. Some of you read “Hello Little Girl,” others have heard me sing it. I knew when Sydney came home and Cindy and I went to Tyler to see them, if I brought the song for Sydney I better have one for her big sisters too. As it turned out I needn’t have worried about Natalie. She is five and had way too many other interests besides her grandfather’s music. Jenna, on the other hand, was very interested. I have Jenna pictured above, is eight now. Obviously the picture was taken a few years ago. But, this is my favorite of Jenna’s dance pictures and I mention it in the song. Jenna loves dance and she seems to do well. Who am I kidding. She is the best one out there! But I am not partial at all. Never mind that I know virtually nothing about evaluating dance talent. I do know she gets through the dance which is more than her Gramps could do!! I was glad I got to write this song for her and mostly I appreciated the huge hug she gave me when I finished playing it for her and her parents.

This song is not a spiritual song. Still, I wanted to share it with you today. Dance Girl Dance has original lyrics. The tune is not original, it is sung to the tune of “Lord of the Dance.” I hope you enjoy reading it.

Oh, for those of you who know Cindy, is there any doubt whose Granddaughter Jenna is???

You’d sit in the grass when you were small,
Grab it in your hands even when it was too tall.
You’d lay in the grass and study and learn
But from the grass to dance you’d turn.

Dance girl, you really love to dance,
We can see your joy even at a glance,
Your steps move across the floor’s expanse,
You are happy and we see it so dance girl dance.

You looked real cute when you danced in red,
With short white boots a western look you had
You learned your steps and then showed us how
To dance with joy as you show us now.

Dance girl, you really love to dance,
We can see your joy even at a glance,
Your steps move across the floor’s expanse,
You are happy and we see it so dance girl dance.

At Christmas time you danced that special show,
As a reindeer you had a sleigh in tow,
The next time you gave the queen a gift
Work real hard and you’ll learn real swift.

Dance girl, you really love to dance,
We can see your joy even at a glance,
Your steps move across the floor’s expanse,
You are happy and we see it so dance girl dance.

Father, thank you from Jenna. Bless her as she grows up that she might be a woman after your heart. Amen.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

It’s God’s Fault

The Lord won’t always reject us 32 He causes a lot of suffering, but he also has pity because of his great love.
33 The Lord doesn’t enjoy sending grief or pain. (Lamentations 3:31-33, Contemporary English Version)

I am once again in a book of the Bible I have never preached from or really studied. There should little wonder about why, Lamentations is one of only a few books in the Bible. Lamentations is a book that is a downer. It is even in the name. Lamentations, meaning, it is a book of laments. A few months back, when we were working through the first part of Psalms, we talked about there being more psalms of lament than any other type. Here we have an entire book devoted to complaining to God about the way the world is treating the writer.

When I went through deacon (20 years ago United Methodist pastors were first ordained deacons and a few years later were ordained elders) ordination interviews I was asked a “what would you do if…” question. The question was this (I can remember just about the exact wording), you have been out all day doing the various things pastors do. When you returned home you found that there was a message on your answering machine that said one of the boys in your church was out riding his bicycle, was hit by a car, and killed. Being the good pastor you are, you immediately leave and drive to the family’s home.

When you get there, a neighbor is there and you hear them say, “You just have to accept this. It is the will of God. God needed your son and called him home.”

Before telling you my answer, I cringe at the thought of such statements. That being said, the writer of Lamentations understands the neighbor’s sentiment. Biblical writers from the Old Testament portray God differently than the writers of the New Testament. I think the writer of Lamentations would probably agree with the neighbor’s statement to the family in the question. I think other Old Testament writers might say the same thing.

As for New Testament writers, if they were to say this was the will of God, their understanding of God’s will would likely be different.

In his classic book, The Will of God, Leslie Weatherhead divides God’s will up into three categories. The intention wil of God, how God intended for the world to function. The circumstantial will of God. Because God allows us free will, the decisions and action we make can cause trouble and because of the gift of free will, what we do can clash with God’s intentional will. God’s will still ultimately will prevail through The Ultimate will of God which is a peaceful world of love and compassion.

Weatherhead would say it was not God’s will for this boy to die. To say that would make God out to be a killer. Circumstances in the situation interfered with God’s intentional will.

So, back to the question in my interview, I said this setting was not the place for theological debate or argument. I would first, work on getting the neighbor whose good intentions are doing more harm than good. Then I would sit down and tell them, this was not God’s will for their son. God gives us all free will. The decisions we make can and do impact the lives of those around us. Because you are hurting, God hurts with you. God grieves with you because of the love God has for both you and your son. And ultimately, God’s will, a world of love and compassion will win the day.

I am not sure that the writer of Lamentations would get that. He talks about God causing a lot of suffering and grief and pain. While God does have that ability, we cause enough of that. God doesn’t need to cause us grief and pain. Thankfully, God doesn’t love us that way. Yes, God can cause grief and pain but when we are talking about God’s children, Why would God want to do that?

I am thankful for the relationship we have or can have with God who wants to fill us with love that we might go into the world to share love and compassion.

I think we reach for the excuse, “It’s the will of God” sounds good. It sounds to our ear to be comforting. We mean well but what that person all too often hears, “It’s God’s Fault.” Such words can hurt their relationship with God at the time they need God most. We need to be careful because when all is said and done, we can’t fix this. We can’t heal a broken heart but God can do all of that and more.

Some of you have heard me talk about it before. Cindy has worked on staff for a few different churches in her working life. At one of them, on the back of her office door was a sign that had a picture of Patrick Stewart decked out in his Star Trek uniform. He has a finger pointing up. Under that picture there was another piece of paper with a letter “R” on it. In much smaller print it said, “It’s all about relationships.” Under Patrick Stewart was the word, “Engage.” In other words, Go build relationships.” We need to be at work building relationships with God and neighbor.

So, “ENGAGE!!!”

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Don’t Mess with Dinner

27 But if you eat the bread and drink the wine in a way that isn’t worthy of the Lord, you sin against his body and blood. 28 That’s why you must examine the way you eat and drink. 29 If you fail to understand that you are the body of the Lord, you will condemn yourselves by the way you eat and drink. 30 That’s why many of you are sick and weak and why a lot of others have died. 31 If we carefully judge ourselves, we won’t be punished. 32 But when the Lord judges and punishes us, he does it to keep us from being condemned with the rest of the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32, Contemporary English Version)

Back in the mid-1990’s there was a commercial for Boston Market I loved. I looked around the internet trying unsuccessfully to find the commercial. So please, allow me to describe the scene to you. Perhaps you will remember the commercial too.

My favorite one from the campaign had a woman who Boston Market had to have cast as the perfect stay-at-home wife/mother. It is dinner time and the door bell rings. There is a trap door on the front porch. The salesman who rang the bell, of course was standing right on top of the trap door. When she answers she flips the lever on the trap door and the salesman falls through, finding himself nose-to-nose with a full-grown tiger. The camera flashes back to mom who, in a very sinister sounding voice says, “Don’t mess with dinner.”

I found one I liked from the same campaign. Let’s take a look.

It has always bothered me how many people mess with dinner and I am not talking about the evening meal for the family. I am talking about messing with the Lord’s Supper. That is the ultimate in messing with dinner.

How do they mess with it? Probably not in how you think.

The woman in the van with her young daughter wants everyone home for dinner so she sends the band director on a rocket ride so will see things her way. Her point is, if you aren’t there, or if you keep her kids late so they can’t sit together as a family, you are messing with dinner.

When we skip communion, we mess with dinner. Did you know that in some congregations communion Sunday is the lowest attendance Sunday of the month. When we aren’t there, we mess with the family dinner. We mess with family dinner because all the family members weren’t there.

“Well preacher, that scripture you put up there says, ‘But if you eat the bread and drink the wine in a way that isn’t worthy of the Lord, you sin against his body and blood. ‘”

That scripture is more than just telling you that if you are unworthy don’t eat. Yes, that is what it says. But if you heart isn’t right with God and neighbor you shouldn’t take the meal. By the nature of the examination, it means that, after your self-examination and you find yourself coming up short, you need to go out and get things right with God.

God is good, all the time. God is waiting to forgive. Get your heart right then come to the table and DON’T MESS WITH DINNER.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved