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.



Just the Readings

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 87-88; Romans 13
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/14: Psalm 89-90; Romans 14
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/15: Psalm 91-93; Romans 15:1-13
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/16: Psalm 94-96; Romans 15:14-33
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/17: Psalm 97-99; Romans 16
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/18: Psalm 100-102; 1 Corinthians 1
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/19: Psalm 103-104; 1 Corinthians 2

 

Friends I am sorry to have to do this but in getting ready for school to start I am overwhelmed. I have to have six-weeks of lesson plans complete by Friday. I am also starting an interim pastor (that isn’t what the official term is, but that is what it amounts to) this Sunday. Something has to give for time. The blog needs to be it. So, for the next week or so, I have to take a break. The readings for the rest of the week are posted above.

Good, Pleasing, Perfect

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 84-86; Romans 12

12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. 20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good. (Romans 12:1-8, 18-21, Common English Bible)

Dottie was my encourager. There have been others who have filled that role too. She was part of my life during a particularly difficult period of time. For two years, it was a rare day that Dottie didn’t find a way to communicate with me, oftentimes just to see how I was doing.

Mary had a gift of service. When I pastored a particularly mission-minded congregation, rarely did a mission team, particularly a medical mission team leave our parking lot that Mary (a nurse by training) was not part of the group.

Carol led our confirmation class in one congregation. The class lasted a full year. She met with them every Sunday. She loved every kid that was a part of her classes. She even took them on a week-long retreat to a place in Arkansas where the kids could get a small taste of how many people in the world have to live.

I have known many over the years who not only gave, they did so quietly, without fanfare and for each of them, there were no strings attached. There have even been a few like Hazel I knew I could call on when there was a real need in the congregation, either for the church or for particular people, and they would open their checkbook and simply ask, “Pastor, how much do you need.”

I truly believe all these people were living sacrifices. They are or were people pleasing to the Lord. They lived out their service to God, to others, and to the world, and they were, without question, transformed to God’s will. They were, in the words of other translations, “…good and acceptable, and perfect.” They were not only a living example for me, they were each a blessing in my life. I know they were for all who knew them. Many of you fill that role as well. Don’t stop serving. Don’t stop being a blessing. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat the evil of this world with the good that God has placed in you.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

So Very Tired

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 81-83; Romans 11:19-36

23 When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep. 25 They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm.

27 The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27, Common English Bible)

I am tired. My first week working as a teacher (during in service) has been tiring. I knew it would be. Still, I am at least a bit surprised by just how tired I am. I was actually concerned about my drive home but it was actually just fine. And, I still have more than four weeks of lesson plans to finish this weekend! That is something I have to get used to doing. Never having to do them before, it is pretty difficult.

I decided to by-pass the Journey Through Scripture passages again today. I really wasn’t hearing anything from them anyway. I probably wasn’t hearing anything from them because of just how tired I am tonight (As I write this it is Friday night).

We all get tired. While this isn’t the most tired I have ever been but it has been a long time. Four very early mornings and one early morning have taken their toll. I also feel pretty sure you know what I mean. You have probably been there too. There aren’t many people I know who haven’t felt like they were just trying to go through the motions because they were so tired.

Jesus knew what I am talking about it. In our lesson, Jesus is sleeping on a boat while riding out a storm. We sometimes don’t think about Jesus getting tired, but when we read today’s lesson, he obviously did. We don’t think about him getting tired because Jesus was fully divine. We tend to forget Jesus was also fully human and even if the divine didn’t get tired, the human certainly did. But, don’t forget, on the seventh day (of the creation) God rested. If God rested, it must be that God also got tired.

So next time you are tired, remember, Jesus knows what you are feeling. He got tired too.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

 

I Will Not Give-Up on You!

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 79-80; Romans 11:1-18

13 People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 15  I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he hugged the children and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16, Common English Bible)

Well, tonight is one of those nights that my mind isn’t wrapping around the Journey Through Scripture passages (It is actually Thursday night as I write this). It is most likely because I am pretty tired tonight. But, more on that tomorrow night.

As I know some of you do, I read several people in my devotion time. One of them, actually the only one I ever read written by someone I don’t know personally. The devotional title is “The Daily Huddle,” and it is written by Dr. Joe Pettigrew (You can read Pettigrew’s devotion below this post). Pettigrew is involved with a men’s ministry called “In the Zone.” He is also co-author with Soccer Hall of Fame star, Kyle Rote Jr. of a book, Living Life In The Zone, A Forty Day Study for Men.

On Wednesday I attended a workshop with all of my new colleagues from Center High School that was primarily focused on teaching English language learners, but much of what the presenter had to say gave us some excellent tools for teaching any student.

Those tools came back to my mind this morning when I read Dr. Pettigrew’s devotion. Wednesday our presenter said,

You are important.
What we are studying is important.
You can do this.
I will not give up on you!

I liked what he said yesterday but at the time I didn’t really give any thought about its potential meaning beyond the context of English language learning students. As I have thought on both the speaker from Wednesday’s workshop and Dr. Pettigrew’s devotion I can’t help but think there is something here that, as people of faith, we should be working to convey to the world. To paraphrase, how about this:

You are important.
What we are doing is important.
You can do this.
I will not give up on you.

It is just a slight change, just one word. We aren’t always studying, but we do spend a lot of time doing something. That one-word change, changes the context from something a few might be doing to something we all should be doing.

Dr. Pettigrew, in his devotion, talked about children. To me his words and the words from the workshop, while fitting children as both the writer and the speaker point out, it seems to me they fit all of us, all of God’s children. Yes, “You are important, What we are doing is important. You can do this. I will not [and neither will God] give up on you.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

From “The Daily Huddle” by Dr. Joe Pettigrew
“He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.”
Mark 10:16
I recently read of a restaurant owner who instituted a policy that wouldn’t have been well liked by Jesus. Instead of letting young children dine at his restaurant, he announced he was banning little ones under six years old from the upscale restaurant. He indicated that he wouldn’t allow the young customers because he feels they’re bad for business.
Like that restaurant owner, Jesus’ disciples seemed to believe children might be bad for the business of the kingdom of God. But parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch them. The disciples, thinking that children were socially powerless and unimportant and should not be wasting Jesus’ time, rebuked the parents and tried to keep them away from Jesus (Mark 10:13). Jesus became indignant with His disciples (Mark 10:14).
Jesus rebuked them because they failed to realize that there are no outcasts or unimportant people in the kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus used children (eager and dependent) as the perfect example of how everyone should receive the kingdom. Then Jesus took the children into His arms and laid His hands on them—a visible means of conveying God’s blessing on their future lives (Mark 10:16).
Thought of the Day:  Eager to get on with the business of life, we sometimes have little time for the tiny people who do not wield political, social or financial power. But, as followers of Jesus, we’re called to see them as gifts from the hand of God, to welcome them in Jesus’ name and to remove obstacles that prevent them from coming to Jesus.

 

If you would like to subscribe to “The Daily Huddle,” follow the link below and sign up. It is free and will arrive in the inbox of your email bright and early, or whatever time you get up.

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