“You Are U.G.L.Y.”

1Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? 20 You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Common English Bible).

In my last post, I told you about my friend Tom (this is not his real name. Because I do not have permission to use his name, I am using an alias). The first Sunday I met Tom was my first Sunday as the pastor of his Church. He walked up to me, and out of the blue said, “You are U.G.L.Y.”

While I wouldn’t have argued with Tom’s assessment, I was taken aback by his words. Regardless of the feelings, one may have, those are not words we generally hear someone say at church. I had never experienced such a thing.

When I looked at him and heard him speak, it was quickly evident that Tom was a man with special needs. I likely would have let it go anyway, right before worship is not the time to get into a debate with someone, regardless of the topic. I was not going to get into that with someone who had special needs.

I don’t remember what I said to him, probably something like, “OK.” Then I turned and headed to the chancel. Tom grabbed my arm and said, “Wait!”

I wasn’t thrilled about stopping. I had a couple of last-minute things to do before worship began.

I did stop. Tom put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Unconditionally, God Loves You.”


Tom loves acronyms. Every Sunday, if Tom was there, I heard at least one or two acronyms from him. Many of them he wrote. I would know when he was working on one. He would come up to everyone and say, “I need a word that starts with “H.” I don’t ever remember him giving me a subject to meet his “H” need.

“You are U.G.L.Y, Unconditionally God Loves You.” After Tom said those words to me, he finished but saying, “And you know what? I’m U.G.L.Y. too, and I want everybody to know I’m U.G.L.Y. They need to be U.G.L.Y. too.” With that, he let me go on to the chancel and begin worship.

Time has passed by quickly since that Sunday morning. I doubt I will ever forget Tom and his love for acronyms. It has been a while since I last saw Tom. I miss him.

During the time I was Tom’s pastor, Tom reminded me again and again about the strong relationship he has with God. He understood better than many of us that the outward doesn’t matter to God. What matters is that you love God, and that love is what is in your heart.

And Tom was absolutely right. He is U.G.L.Y. I am U.G.L.Y. Are you?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With a heart of joy (When you know Tom, he is going to make sure you feel joy),

Keith

Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

P.S. My next post will be another of Tom’s acronyms, “You are B.A.D.”

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THINK

33 Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?”

35 Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”

37 “So you are a king?” Pilate said.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked (John 18:33-38, Common English Bible).

An acquaintance and I had a disagreement one night. He had posted something online I knew to be untrue. I had researched the issue in question. I had clear evidence what they posted was wrong.

When I presented the acquaintance with my evidence his reaction was “So, I like what it says. I am posting it anyway.” The post was a disparaging, untrue story about a person of note in society. Obviously my acquaintance did not care for this person (who it was doesn’t matter).

I tried in vain to convince this person that when any of us post things that are false, even about someone we don’t like or don’t agree with, it hurts all of us. For people of faith, when we post things that are not true, it hurts our witness. It hurts all our witnesses as people often judge all Christians on the behavior of a relative few.

If I were to have called my acquaintance “Pilate,” because of the careless playing with truth, I would have highly offended him. But in my opinion, when we ignore the truth in favor of a preferred yet untruthful message, we are dangerously close to placing ourselves firmly in Pilate’s shoes. “What is Truth?”

I love the meme above. The truth is the truth. I happened to agree with my acquaintance about the person in question. The ends do not, however, justify the means.

We live in a time where, it seems to me, we are seeing more and more people messing with the truth in irresponsible ways. It becomes more and more difficult to know the truth at first sight. It becomes a responsibility to each of us to check and should we be proven wrong, take down our misspoken words.

I know a challenged gentleman I will call Tom (not his real name). Tom loves acronyms. I think I may use some of his acronyms in my posts the next few days. They are a bit different but I digress. I thought about Tom several times while writing this post. Tom may be the most truthful person I know. I also believe Tom lives out this acronym without even knowing it.

The acronym is “THINK.” You can see on the meme below that it says, “Before you speak.” What holds true in our speech should be equally true of what we say online.

Before you speak, Think:
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?

In today’s polarized climate, perhaps we would all do well to THINK before we post and maybe we not only will keep Pilate on the pages of Scripture, where he belongs, but we might be living out love of neighbor too. And in that, I believe we would please Jesus. And that, I do know to be true.

Living in the Joy of Christ,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

Be sure and click on the follow button email updates when I write a new post.



A Cup of Cold Water

40 “Those who receive you are also receiving me, and those who receive me are receiving the one who sent me. 41 Those who receive a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Those who receive a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 I assure you that everybody who gives even a cup of cold water to these little ones because they are my disciples will certainly be rewarded (Matthew 10:40-41, Common English Bible).”

          Children never cease to amaze me. Amid last Saturday’s tragedy in El Paso, an eleven-year-old boy, was feeling anxious for what was happening in his hometown. Who could blame him? The senseless taking of human life occurred in a store he likely had been in many times. Even had he not been in that particular Wal-Mart, I would sincerely doubt he had never been in a Wal-Mart. Few people, in today’s society, could say they have never been in one of the mega-chain’s stores. After all, even those who might refuse to shop there today, likely have spent time there in the past. For a child to feel anxious because this happened in his town at a store he was familiar with, could be frightening. Many adults could well have similar feelings.

The CBS story, featured Ruben Martinez and his mother, Rose Gandarilla. Rose told the television audience that she suggested to Ruben that he think of a way to make himself feel better and maybe to help someone else in the process.

Ruben came up with the El Paso Challenge (#elpasochallenge). He dared (challenged) people around the world to honor the 22 victims by performing 22 random acts of kindness. He went on to say these acts could be mowing a lawn or donating to charity. Those were the only two CBS mentioned, but I feel pretty confident Ruben could think of several more.

Our scripture today finds Jesus telling the disciples the blessings for those who show kindness to the twelve as they go about their mission. Even something that seems as insignificant as a cup of cold water will find a reward.

I doubt Ruben is seeking an eternal reward with his challenge. I do believe this young man is gaining a clear understanding of the joy that can come from serving others. Oh, and he is practicing what he is preaching. We went out and took food to those still working at the scene.

We all can take a lesson from Ruben Martinez.

          And may another child never need to feel anxious because of the heart-breaking actions of people they don’t even know.

Finding Joy in Tragedy,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

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It’s the Little Things

26 “Therefore, don’t be afraid of those people because nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing secret that won’t be brought out into the open. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, announce from the rooftops. 28 Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. 30 Even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:25-31, Common English Bible).

Little things can make a big difference

While searching for freelance jobs on which to bid yesterday, I saw one that really interested me. I read all the qualifications closely. As I read, I realized I met every qualification so I clicked on the icon to bid on the job. The freelance agency’s website would not let me bid on the job! I didn’t understand. I wasn’t qualified? I read all the qualifications again and I met every one of them. What was going on?

I spent some time searching before I realized, one of the qualifications was for a person who was a “native English speaker.” I kept thinking, “I am a native English speaker.” I grew up speaking English. I still speak English. English is the only language I really speak if you discount sarcasm and pig Latin. The website said I was “fluent English speaker.” What is the difference?

According to Dictionary.com, a native speaker is one who has spoken a language since earliest childhood. A fluent speaker can express themselves easily and accurately. Would a native speaker not also be fluent?

I am still having trouble knowing the difference. For what I needed to do in order to have any possibility of landing that assignment. I needed to change my English skills from fluent to native in their system. If I failed to do that I would never be able to bid on this job.

It took a little time for me to figure out where in their system I had to go and what I needed to do to declare myself a “native speaker.” I was then able to complete my bid. No, I do not know yet if I got the job.

I was able to spend some time thinking about this. I thought, this difference is so small. What difference does it make. I know someone quite well who is not a native speaker. She speaks English better than I. The agency would consider her fluent because English is not her native language. She is also fluent in several other languages and a few Chinese dialects.

I was thinking, she speaks English really well but would not qualify for this position because she didn’t speak English as a young child. Then I remembered, there is one place she sometimes has a little (really, not much) trouble. She sometimes has difficulty remembering the exact word she needs to use to make things clear. It doesn’t happen often, so it is a little thing.

What that says to me is, at least to the agency I am working with, little things matter. While this particular little thing doesn’t really bother me, I have come to understand that little things make a big difference to God.

Jesus talks about mustard seeds and how that tiny seed can grow into a massive shrub. Our lesson today tells us that God knows us so well that God knows all of our little things. I do not know the number of hairs on my head (I do know there are not as many as there were this time a year ago). God knows.

God knows the number of hairs on my head. To carry that idea a step further, God knows our little things really well. Think about this. Not only do I not know how many hairs are on my head, I do know I have lost hair over the past year, but I have no clue how many hairs I have lost. God knows the exact number. Little things matter.

Hair is a little thing. I know, some of you disagree with me. I have had more than one barber say to me, “I don’t want to mess up your hair.” At one point I think I would have worried about it but today it isn’t that big of a deal. As long as I look decent, I am OK. My response to the barber is always the same, “It’s just hair, it will grow back.”

It seems to me that our lesson tells us that while little things may not mean much to us, they are of great importance to God.

Could that mean I should worry about the details more? Should the little things be more important to me? I think that is exactly what it means. Apparently, there really is a difference between the native speaker and a fluent speaker. It may not be easy to see, but it is there and to someone it is a little thing and, even the little things are important.

Most important of all, those distinctions are important to God. That “little thing” we did may not seem wrong. That sin that really hurt no one? It is still important to God. It is also important that God hear us confess to even those little things.

In the end, whether we think it big or little, Scripture reminds us that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. In the end, can we ask more than that?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Filled with blessings,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

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The Answer

Inspiration struck last night. I wrote a new poem. I thought I would share it with you. With a few adjustments it becomes a song.

I was young,
And such a fool,
Wanting naught at home to do,
Dad your will,
Give my part please,
A world to see.

You have friends,
You should know,
When you have funds,
And far from home,
But no funds then no friends,
Now what will you do?

No money,
No food to eat,
Rebellion’s cost is very steep,
Was there really cause to moan,
When you were home?

On the road,
Once again,
I feel my pulse beat through my skin
Will he say,
That I can stay or on your way

The end is near,
I’m filled with fear,
Soon the answer will be clear,
He runs to me and says,
“Child, welcome home.”

__________________

I intentionally left the Scripture reading today for last. Here it is.

3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:3, 11-25, New International Version).

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Blessings to you,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

Be sure and click on the follow button email updates when I write a new post.



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The Stadium is Full

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)

Many years ago I read a book titled, How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard. No, I am not going to try to sell something to you. That isn’t my point at all. Nor is it my point to try to train you to be a salesman. I think it is close to impossible to teach others how to do something that I cannot do myself. I do not work in sales. I have tried it. I am not good at it. I also do not believe in the saying, “Those that can do, those that can’t teach.”

In the book, Girard uses a concept he calls, “Girard’s Rule of 200.” It says, on average each of us knows about 200 people. Girard, utilizing the rule says, if he upsets a client and the client complains to his/her 200 friends about the treatment received, Girard has 200 people upset with him for the one infraction. If those 200 tell their 200 friends, he then has about 40,000 people mad. In other words, he now, at least in theory, has enough people angry with him to fill Minute Maid Park in Houston, where the Astros play baseball. If you then carry it one more step, and those people tell their 200, all of New York City, 8,000,000 people are all angry with him. Yeah, that would probably crush any salesperson’s credibility. Just for fun, if we carried it out through one more round of 200, all of China, the U.S., and Indonesia are now miffed, but I think our hero would have found other work by now.

As I think about what knowing 200 people means I decided to do a little experiment. I numbered from 1-200. Bear in mind, I have over 1000 friends on Facebook. It took me over 45 minutes to recall 200 names. Now that I have to 200, I have many more names floating through my head.

Philippi was a city of about 2000 people in Paul’s day. I wouldn’t call it a small town today. It is not a booming metropolis either. I would say it would be a quaint midsized town.

Paul says to the Philippians, “I remember all of you in my prayers.” I often can’t remember one person for who I was to pray. Paul goes on to tell the Philippians to pray with joy.

Having a joyful heart is not always easy. But, when we remember all those names in prayer, and they pray for their 200, and so on, it won’t take long to realize God’s blessings, on many of our worst days. Then, with every new 200, it doesn’t take long to fill Minute Maid Park with people praying with joyful hearts. Then if we add another and another, might one day we have the world praying?

With the power of God, anything is possible.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With a Joyful Heart,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

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Choices, Choices

14 “So now, revere the LORD. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the LORD. 15 But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the LORD.”
16 Then the people answered, “God forbid that we ever leave the LORD to serve other gods! 17 The LORD is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we’ve gone and in all the nations through which we’ve passed. 18 The LORD has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God”
(Joshua 24:14-18, Common English Bible).

Do you ever, multi-task? I do. Do you multi-task in ways that are less than productive? Yep, that’s me too. It started today just after lunch. I picked up my laptop and pulled two music books out the drawer. Then I sat down and started to work. Before I knew it, my brain was hard at work on several projects. I was thinking about the song I was working on and what I was going to write on the blog today. It didn’t stop there. I was also thinking about what work remained on another project. While I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to fight off an afternoon nap that it seems like more and more, as I get older, my body, demands. When I was a kid, I never wanted to take naps. All it seems I have to do these days is be at home. What I need to do is choose which project I am going to work on now, and put all the others aside until I have the first one finished.

When I was in seminary, I used what I called at the time, “The Firefighter Method” to get things done. Whatever the next fire might be, a test, a paper, a sermon, whatever needed completion next, that became my choice of project.

It can be challenging to make choices sometimes. Things seem equally important. For the student who has two papers or two tests on the same day. What about the parent who has to have breakfast ready, but also has to have lunches ready when the buses come to carry the children to school. Then there is the business executive who has only partial control of the personal calendar and finds two people have scheduled meetings to attend with overlapping times.

The Israelites faced choices just as we do. Our lesson today points to that. It would also seem that they made the wrong choice just about every time they faced a choice. Again and again, the Israelites faced the same decision. Do we follow Yahweh, or do we follow the God behind curtain number “2?” The most significant difference would be, they already knew about both the choices. The god behind curtain number “2” was a god made with human hands. Yahweh demonstrated over and over both the love and the power that God gave to the Israelite people. That they would even consider this was an insult to God. In the end, the Israelites choose Yahweh. They would, however, waffle again. It was a vicious cycle. Yahweh would make a covenant with Israel. As soon as they settled, the terms and were well into the agreement made with God, they would choose wrong and live the life they wanted until God had enough and delivered a new punishment. The Israelites would repent, and the whole cycle would begin again.

God gives us that same choice too. Our biggest problem is, the false gods of our world are much more subtle than the false gods of the Israelites day. Our gods include the god of instant gratification, the god of the micro mentality, the god of rugged individualism, and that names only a few, and don’t get me started on the gods of sports.

Each of us must decide who we will serve. Which God will you choose? I can speak for no one except me, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Blessings of Joy,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

Be sure and click on the follow button email updates when I write a new post.