What’s Wrong with Us?

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8-10, New Revised Standard Version).

WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? Though I read quite a bit of news, somehow I missed the story of the security guard at a Target store beaten by two brothers because he, I feel certain, followed the instructions of management, told the brothers if they wouldn’t wear a mask please leave the store? I ask again, WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? HAVE WE LOST OUR MINDS?

While I am not tired of the Constitution or individual rights, or the Bible, I am VERY tired of people believing their rights outweigh the rights of others or the social good. Acting as though my rights are superior misses the idea of Freedom.

If I go to Target, I have the right and reasonable expectation for a safe shopping experience. If the security guard was cut instead of a broken arm, there would be an expectation for Target to clean up the blood for public safety. Would anyone say we have a right to play in the blood? Yes, it is a disgusting comparison but thinking the rights of some outweigh other’s rights or public health concerns is disgusting itself.

In other stories, people protesting and blocking a store’s entrance over the same issue. Does a merchant not have the right, refusing service to an individual who won’t comply with the merchant’s right to protect him or herself, customers, and employees. Then there was a woman who reportedly was assaulted and called diseased because of her mask. Again, if you have the right to not wear a mask, doesn’t she have the right to wear one if she chooses?

How would we feel if we had surgery and somehow discovered the surgeon not wearing a mask during surgery? While I know something like that probably would never happen, I wasn’t wearing a mask during the operation? Refusing to wear a mask a mask during surgery, individual right or not, is unhealthy and irresponsible. Not wearing a mask in public is equally bad.

The question has lost some popularity the last two decades, but it is still valid. “What would Jesus do?” is not in style. The answer seems to simple. What would Jesus do? He would likely wear a mask.

The greatest commandment was, “Love God” and “Love neighbor.” I refer to that a lot. When I look at society, our unwillingness to stay home (and I am not talking about going to work), or maintain social distancing, or wear a mask all say we probably don’t love for neighbor as much as we claim. Our lack of love for neighbor is only a short walk to lack of love for God.

Accepting that wearing a mask is an individual right doesn’t mean we should exercise that right. We all share in the responsibility for public health. And, we should hold one another accountable.

If we claim ourselves as a Christian, we generally claim ourselves as people of the Word too. Many of us claim belief in a word-for-word literal acceptance of Scripture yet somehow, we manage to ignore Scriptures about loving neighbor. Is some Scripture more important than another passage? I find no evidence of that. For whatever it’s worth I believe, that even in a society that places such importance on individual rights, it is not always about us.

We also should never lose sight of this, when I wear a mask, I don’t just wear it to protect me, I also wear it to protect you. As fellow citizens on a planet in crisis, I owe you that. To do otherwise would be selfish of me.

Paul says in Romans 13. “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law… Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” That last verse is direct and hard-hitting than any we have read for today’s post. Love does no wrong to a neighbor.

Paul says that so much better than I, so I think I will stop.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Blame Game

16 These people are always grumbling and blaming others; they follow their own evil desires; they brag about themselves and flatter others in order to get their own way. 17 But remember, my friends, what you were told in the past by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “When the last days come, people will appear who will make fun of you, people who follow their own godless desires.” 19 These are the people who cause divisions, who are controlled by their natural desires, who do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and keep yourselves in the love of God, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal life. 22 Show mercy toward those who have doubts; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; and to others show mercy mixed with fear, but hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts. (Jude 1:16-23, Good News Translation).

Jude’s letter speaks to 21st Century culture. When I read chapter 1 last night I knew where they blog was going today.

Regardless of your political views in society or even in the Church, the amount of finger pointing is staggering. And, for those of us who blame others but refuse to take any responsibility? Well, we are part of the problem. Republicans blame Democrats, liberals blame conservatives and never fear, the opposite is also true.

During the Covid-19 scare I came to realize just how bad the problem has become. I made the digital collage above. Over the past two months I have heard everything, every one up there be blamed for this pandemic. Might the bat or the mosquito hold an amount of responsibility? Could be. What about the tiger? The tiger is a victim at least as much as we.

How this got my attention was two men in the pictures, Greg Abbott and Andrew Cuomo. One is a Republican, one is a Democrat. One is on the east coast, the other, the southwestern Gulf Coast. The most common thing each shares is, they are both governors of large states which would give them some amount of power.

That each has had someone place responsibility on them for the Covid-19 pandemic is ludicrous. This is blaming and finger pointing just for the sake of blaming and finger-pointing. No wonder some blame the tiger.

Like most people, I have my political opinions. People who know me well know what many of those opinions are. Many of you would agree with me. Many others would not. And, in the circles of friends and family, I have done some finger-pointing myself. I am not proud of that.

What I am really trying to say is, we are in a crisis. Things are hard. Having the responsibility of leadership does not make them easier. Having the responsibility to make decisions that impact not just the millions in the United States but billions around the world should not be taken lightly regardless of the President or Congress, important decisions rest in their hands. On any level of government, important decisions rest in their hands.

It isn’t my intent to self-serve with the above Facebook meme. Someone shared it with me (outside Facebook). When they shared it with me I thought, “It is true that I have never pastored a church through a pandemic, it is equally true that the high school principal has never tried to lead a school and the teacher has never tried to teach through a pandemic either. Congress has never tried to legislate during a pandemic and its been a very long time and is a very different world since the last time a President tried to lead through a pandemic. In truth, none of us have tried to do anything through a global pandemic before.

If we try to live by Jude’s words in the lesson, we shouldn’t be pointing fingers any time, but, we also say we are people who live out the words of Scripture. We say we believe the Bible. If that is true, its time to stop blaming. An election is coming. Instead of blaming, go vote.

Jesus said, “By this they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (My paraphrase).

I think it was my mother who taught me, when I point a finger at someone else (the blame game), there are three more pointing back at me. I may not make the mistakes I blame on others, but I make more than my fair share. Let’s take the lead and then perhaps our leaders can learn something from the followers that it’s time to stop playing the blame game.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: Breakthrough Prayer for My Family

One time, after eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah got up and presented herself before the Lord. (Now Eli the priest was sitting in the chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 10 Hannah was very upset and couldn’t stop crying as she prayed to the Lord. 11 Then she made this promise: “Lord of heavenly forces, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me! Don’t forget your servant! Give her a boy! Then I’ll give him to the Lord for his entire life. No razor will ever touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1:9-11, Common English Bible).

Reverend Sue Nilson Kibbey defines breakthrough prayer as asking God to intervene in ways we cannot. She challenges people to pray for breakthrough. Her challenges ask Christians to imagine seeing God-sized breakthroughs in difficult situations.

Many have vivid imaginations. Still, no matter imagination, God breakthroughs impact lives. God’s power is greater than human imagination. God’s plans are greater than our imagination.

Betty owned a horse farm. She rescued wild mustangs having difficulty in the desert. She gentled them and put up for adoption. Horse ranching isn’t easy or cheap. Betty’s husband Chuck is a trucker and he subsidized the ranch. They had problems from early marriage.

One mustang, Harpo, had problems. He was a metaphor for Betty and Dave’s marital problems. Her voice steady but weak. Harpo bolted. Time for lunch. Chuck made breakfast. He worked all night and slept in that morning.

They met during Bible study. Chuck was a gentleman, unlike Betty’s experiences. Chuck seemed to like Betty for Betty while dating they talk constantly.

While she was out her ex committed suicide her home. Their children found him, leaving emotional scars. She adopted a lone wolf persona. She warned Chuck. He was patient. Their marriage went bad immediately. He didn’t like her parenting. She thought he spent too much money.

Betty hated Chuck’s road trips. They went for days. Her womanizing father and her mother were always on her mind. During trips, she investigated financial data, she found nothing but kept searching.

Betty still didn’t trust Chuck. He hated it. They argued constantly until talking stopped.

Chuck finished breakfast. Betty made lunch and went outside. Eating er sandwich as she watched Harpo. With other horses, by now she had a hand on the animal. It was over then. The horse trusted her. Not so with Harpo, he didn’t trust her. “Trust me,” Betty whispered.

She stopped cold. Reality time, she didn’t trust Chuck, never had. He didn’t love her, or so she thought. He had plenty of reasons to go but he was still here.

Their last phone call, she yelled, “Why don’t you leave? You want to.” He said, “We need help,” the call ended. Betty was scared. Had she given him an idea?

Betty never saw Chuck pray. Prayer matters in our families. Today’s lesson is a story about the prayers of one woman. Hannah was childless. A Biblical-era woman’s identity, person-hood was tied to her father, husband, and children. A blessed woman had sons. Hannah had neither. Her husband Elkinah had two wives, Hannah and Pinnenah. Pinnenah had children and sons. She taunted Hannah mercilessly.

Hannah was sad. She wanted children. She wanted God’s blessing. After eating she prayed at the tabernacle.

Eli watched Hannah pray. First, he thought her drunk but she wasn’t and asks God to answer her.

Hannah’s prayer asks for God’s blessing, a son. If God blesses her, she will give that son back to God. If she prayed for herself, she wouldn’t give him back to God? Hannah asks for “breakthrough prayer.” She wants change in her family. She wanted life-altering change. She needed divine intervention. She got it.  She got Samuel, eventually God got him back.

Breakthrough prayer happens. Ask God to break through for families will change lives.

Betty didn’t know Chuck had prayed for her. He prayed for breakthrough in Betty’s life. He knew he had faults, even in their relationship. He knew Betty needed to trust. Chuck wasn’t her father or her ex. He wasn’t leaving and needed Betty to know she could trust him. He prayed for years.

Breakthrough came in Betty’s corral. She saw Harpo. “Trust me,” she whispered looking into his eyes. She understood his fear. She was scared.

Betty feared Chuck didn’t love her and would leave. Mostly she feared giving God control. She thought God failed her, why trust now?

She stared at Harpo. She wondered about her misunderstanding. After 20 years, Chuck’s still here. He said they needed help… Could they fix this? What signs had she missed?

She and Harpo were alone, but she heard echoing of her words to Harpo, “Trust Me.” She repeated them to Harpo and stepped toward him. Again, again, until she had her hand on Harpo’s shoulder. He didn’t move. The beginning of trust.

Betty realized if she wanted her marriage to work, she had to trust. She and Chuck saw their pastor for help, then marriage counseling. They found Bible study. It wasn’t long before they were in different place. It all started with Chuck’s break through prayer.

Breakthrough prayer can happen for any of us, perhaps not immediately, but in God’s time. For Betty and Chuck, it took years, but it happened.

I don’t know your family situations that need a God-sized breakthrough. I don’t know the situations in my own family. But God knows. That’s what matters.

Have a Blessed Day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

#M.O.M.-Mother on a Mission

Matthew 15:21-28 21
21 From there, Jesus went to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from those territories came out and shouted, “Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” 23 But he didn’t respond to her at all. His disciples came and urged him, “Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.” 24 Jesus replied, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” 25 But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.” 26 He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” 28 Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed. (Matthew 15:21-21, Common English Bible).

John 13:31-35 31
31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One[a] has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One[b] in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’ 34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” (John 13:31-35, Common English Bible).

Many things about us from our mannerisms to our looks and other physical traits are ours because of who our birth parents happen to be. When we see a child, we might say the child has her mother’s eyes or his father’s hair. In Cindy’s family they talk about the “Oquinn Little Finger.” You can see the bend in pictures. It is slightly bent. 

What we inherit often goes beyond physical appearance. There are also hereditary medical conditions many people have. This is one of the primary reasons some who are adopted what or even need to locate their birth parents. 

Our oldest son Wayne has the misfortune of inheriting both his mom’s and his dad’s vision issues. Christopher was fortunate enough that he didn’t get much of either. He wears glasses now but that is mostly to help him reading. 

Cindy is VERY near-sighted. I have a disorder called hyperphoria. It is a five-dollar medical term that simply means one eye looks up and one eye looks down. For me it isn’t as pronounced as it is for many people, but it is there and it does present me with problems. Until I was in seminary and developed what my ophthalmologist called “grad school syndrome,” meaning I spent way too much time reading, I didn’t really need my glasses. 

I was often frustrated if I tried to do extensive reading and didn’t have my glasses. I would start reading on one line and when I got to the end I was reading the next line. The reading didn’t make much sense. It would also make me very sleepy. I would usually fall asleep after reading only a few pages. 

While a student at University of Houston I went to their optometry clinic. After several days of testing they found the problem. I had the condition all my life and it is 100 percent correctable with the right lenses. It made reading easier. 

About the time Wayne hit junior high, he started complaining about symptoms much like I had. He had already been wearing glasses for nearsightedness., but he was still had problems. 

As we listened to him, we knew he had hyperphoria. We made an appointment at University of Houston. They ran all the tests and found he had the same problem as me. He got the right lenses and we went on about our business. 

A year passes. Wayne’s eyes need to be examined again. Now we’re living in east Texas. Still we went to Houston to take advantage of U of H optometry clinic. They knew his eyes and we thought they would have his best interest in mind. 

The student examining Wayne said he outgrew his hyperphoria and no longer needed the correction. We questioned the student extensively and later his professor, both insisted the correction was no longer needed. 

Having little choice, we left. It was shortly before Thanksgiving. As we walked to the car Cindy said, “By Valentine’s day we will be back with Wayne showing the same symptoms.” 

Sure enough, February first, Wayne started complaining again about his eye issues. Cindy went off. If you have never seen a red- head ready to battle, if you do, get out of the way. 

She went on a campaign, determined her son wasn’t going to suffer with a correctable eye problem. She started calling people at the U of H. When she didn’t get satisfaction from one person she went to the next. By the time it was all said and done, Cindy talked with the dean of the optometry school. There were casualties in her wake. Cindy doesn’t go redhead often, but when she does, it’s not pretty. You don’t want to be in her line of fire. When we went to U of H again.

Wayne the examining wing, a space that could house 10 patients and the examining student optometrists, all to himself. The supervising professor would watch five students or more. Wayne was his only patient. Beyond that, this professor was the head of the binocular vision clinic, where I was diagnosed. After the exam, the original student and professor came in to learn from their mistake. At the end of the day Wayne left with new glasses, correcting his hyperphoria. 

Through this, Cindy became M.O.M., she coined an acronym, “Mother on a Mission.” 

During my years in ministry I have seen M.O.M., mother on a mission, several times and more moms than my wife. I have seen M.O.M., mother on a mission in hospitals, schools, and even twice in a courtroom. 

I feel certain if I could walk among you this morning and handed out a variety of difficult or threatening situations to you moms no doubt I would see MOM, mother on a mission. Most mothers tend to be that way. They protect their children. They will fight any fight to protect their child and the child’s needs. It makes them who they are. It’s makes our mothers special. 

Society, churches, and families we celebrate what mothers mean to us. We celebrate the love they bring to our lives. Most celebrations are also times for special memories. Most of us, remember times when our moms show us love in a special way. We remember times when our mothers turned into MOM, mother on a mission. I’m sure the moms watching this morning remember those occasions too. And, likely they would do it again. It is your child and mom’s love for her child sets you’re actions into motion. 

Today’s lesson shows MOM, Mother on a Mission. Please note, I do not fully understand this story. It has made me uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable with Jesus, in essence, calling the woman a dog. 

There are scholars who argue that Canaanite has the same root word as canine, so Canaanites would be “dog people.” First, that doesn’t really help. Second, Jesus likely spoke Aramaic or Hebrew. It was translated into Greek and then English. Not all words translate from language to language. There are two Greek words in the Bible for dog. One is a large cur dog. The other a small dog, a pet or puppy. Matthew had Jesus using the second word. It was more of a pet name. I still don’t understand or like it so I am not going to try to elaborate on what I don’t know. 

Some might ask, “Why would you preach a story you are uncomfortable with and don’t understand? That is a good question. This is a great story of M.O.M., mother on a mission. As the lesson begins, Jesus is in Canaanite country. The Jews didn’t like Gentiles in general and saw them as dogs. Canaanites were particularly loathed. This woman was in a hotbed of Canaanite activity when Jesus came by, she comes to him she asks healing for her daughter. At first Jesus ignores her. She was undeterred. Jesus’ non-answer wouldn’t be her answer. 

The disciples begged Jesus to send her away. She was determined to pressure Jesus, she was a total nuisance. 

Jesus gave an answer, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” So, Jesus said, “No, I won’t help you.” 

This isn’t what the Canaanite woman expected or wanted to hear. Jesus told her “no.” No less determined, she comes and kneels in front of him and begs him to help her daughter. Jesus tells her, “It’s not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 

I don’t think Jesus was being critical. He explained his mission and tested her faith to see how far she was willing to go. Still, people thought as a cut down MOM, mother on a mission, she wasn’t going quietly. “No” wasn’t her answer. She was determined to find healing for her child regardless of insult or cost. Her reply to Jesus was direct if nothing else. She said, “Yes Lord, but even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 

What a woman. A silent “no” on Jesus’ part be her answer. She wasn’t going to take a response of “it’s not my job,” and she wasn’t going to take a put down, if that is what Jesus was doing. This is a story of not only great determination; it is also a story of great faith. It is an example saying, “whether we know it or not, most all of us follow. We pray for those who are close to us, our children, our parents, our spouses, when they are faced with great problems, physical or otherwise. 

The woman’s faith was well founded. Jesus even told her, her faith healed her daughter and sent them on their way. It was a wonderful story of MOM, mother on a mission. 

When I read this story, I have no trouble seeing MOM, Mother on a Mission. Just as importantly, however, it isn’t just in these words of Scripture where I can see MOM. I have seen it in my own home. I have seen it in my mother. I see it on many of your faces and in your love. The love is great. The love is what makes you determined. It is wonderful to see that love in our mothers. We all need to have that kind of love in our lives. That kind of love makes us feel good. It makes us feel special. But, most importantly, that kind of love is a good example for us of the kind of love God asks us to share with others. 

In John’s gospel, Jesus reminds us of the importance of that too. The love of a mother for a child, while a good example, does not in show us either mother or child as a Christian. Mothers of other faiths love their children. Mothers of no faith at all love their children. But Jesus also says this, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

As people of faith loving our family is not our calling. That is the easy part even though it can be difficult and challenging at the various times. Our call is higher and for more difficult. Our call is to love one another, which includes but is not limited to our families. 

The truth of the matter is, while most of us have a special love in our mothers, it isn’t true for everyone. Some children have no mother in their life. Some children have a mother but might be better off without. For whatever reason, the mother is incapable of loving her child. Yet they need to feel love too. They need to feel they are important to someone and that they are important to God. 

It is because of these people all of us can join the MOM, mother on a mission brigade, even if we are not a MOM. This is where the new commandment comes into play. And, it is where we are people of faith entering the picture. People out in the world need to know our faith. They learn of our faith by seeing our love. 

As people of faith we are called to love, not just when and where it is easy, but to love everyone sharing our world, even the unlovable. No, it isn’t always the easy thing to do. People of faith struggle with that every day, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. God’s love needs to be seen at work in the world. 

M.O.M., mother on a mission is a great acronym. It is an even better example for us. Not everyone, however, has a mom or can be a mom. But we do all need to know about and experience and even give that special kind of love. So maybe a new acronym is called for, one that speaks to our need to be faithful in the mission God has given us, to be faithful in love. I think maybe F.O.A.M. fits the bill because it fits all of us as people of faith. May we all be, Faithful on a mission. 

We Search for God

Hear the birds, sing songs bright
Can’t hear God, in day or night
God speaks we hear not with ears
Is God near?
 
We search for God in how we feel,
Don't taste God in the meal,
We breathe and try to smell,
God's near, and my soul is well
 
Eyes that try fail to see,
That my God is near to me,
My senses are short of the mark
Sight's in the dark.
 
We search for God in how we feel,
Don't taste God in the meal,
We breathe and try to smell,
God's near, and my soul is well
 
We can feel what God made,
The Lord is near in what we taste,
Senses fail our souls do know ,
God’s near hearts grow.
 
God gives the rose for sight and smell,
Feel dog fur, hear church bells,
We taste and see God's good
Sense and soul I’ve understood.
 
Gifts of grace from God are good.

Prayer 101: Breakthrough Prayer for My Friends

15 We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up. Christ didn’t please himself, but, as it is written, The insults of those who insulted you fell on me.[a] Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures. May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice.

So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:1-7, 13 Common English Bible).

Author and LaSalle University professor, Grace Brame, says some of her students claim heaven is of no concern to them. Life is precious. This world matters, and it is all we have for sure. So why concern us with something for which we have no evidence?

How sad that so many in the world around us have little, if any faith. Dr. Brame goes on to say, “Every night one of my friends prays that he will die before morning. He fervently hopes there is no hereafter. Something in him says eternal life is a pie in the sky, a human concoction that became dogma when it was accepted by enough people. Considering his many disappointments with God, why should he trust the next life will be any better than this one? For we who believe, its sad when people have no hope. It is difficult for me to imagine living in such a state of mind literally having no hope.

A preacher friend of mine is the opposite, calling herself a “hope junkie.” She surrounds herself with signs of hope. I can’t understand a person having little hope. Still, it happens.

I knew a woman in college who was much like any older college student. She was married with four kids. She went through a lot. When you talked to her it was clear, life was bad, and she had no hope.

Younger students didn’t know the depth of her problems. We talked often and I knew more than most. Still, I didn’t recognize the depth of her issues until after Thanksgiving. She became suicidal. The director of the Wesley Foundation and I spent quite a bit of time individually and together, in prayer for her.

In the spring semester, she was better but had a long way to go. We convinced her to get counseling. I lost contact with her but on occasion, when I think about it, I still pray for her. She needed a breakthrough. She might still need one.

Today we continue Prayer 101 and breakthrough prayer. Today is Breakthrough prayer for my friends.  We all know people in need of intervention beyond our abilities. People have financial issues, health issues, relationship issues, work issues. Some people have lost hope.

As I read today’s lesson, Paul reminds the Romans, and us, of the importance of hope. Paul wants Jesus followers to be people of hope. It is easy to see why. Without hope, what is the point? And, if you spend time around a person who lacks hope, it gets hard fast. They seem miserable. And, if they seem miserable to us, imagine, if you can, what it must feel like to walk around with that baggage and no hope. Imagine your very worst day, a day where little, if anything, seems to go right, a day where you are miserable. Now, compound it with things continuing day after day.

It might be like that old movie from the 1980’s Groundhog Day where Bill Murray’s character seems to keep reliving the same bad experience every day.

Imagine Job’s experience. But for Job, something happened. God broke through. When God broke through everything changed. His life was restored. It all came back and more. But most of all, when God broke through for Job, Job found hope. Job’s hope was restored because God was there. Where God is, there is always hope.

We need to pray, asking God to break through in our communities. We need God to break through in our churches. We need to ask God to break through in the lives of our friends.

Each of us should pray for a break through for our friends. The greatest gift you could give someone is asking God to break through in their life. We all need to see God in powerful ways. That divine action can build hope.

Many around us lack hope. Pray God will break through to bring healing, wholeness, and hope for people who desperately need it. If they don’t have God, there isn’t much room for hope. But, where God is, there is always hope.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: Breakthrough Prayer in My Church

14 Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! 15 These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your young will see visions.
    Your elders will dream dreams.
18     Even upon my servants, men and women,
        I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
        and they will prophesy.
19 I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be changed into darkness,
    and the moon will be changed into blood,
        before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man whose credentials God proved to you through miracles, wonders, and signs, which God performed through him among you. You yourselves know this. 

38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” 40 With many other words he testified to them and encouraged them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized. God brought about three thousand people into the community on that day.  (Acts 2:14-22, 38-41, Common English Bible).

In June of 1991 we moved to a church outside of Midway, Texas. It was culture shock. We were 9 miles from Midway. There was only one consumer business in town a convenience store closed at 6:00.

I loved Elwood. They taught me and loved my family. It was the best place to begin ministry.

It was a sad day in 2012. I had a Conference Trustees meeting. The agenda included selling property.

The first property hurt. We quickly voted to sell Elwood. Elwood wasn’t a church now. Over 150 years of ministry archived. I’d closed churches. This one was different.

I once took youth on a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe, Dallas. The Hard Rock’s home was odd, the former McKinney Avenue Baptist Church. It was a beautiful building but they replaced the original stained glass with Elvis, The Beatles, and others. The bar was, in the back of the former sanctuary. I wondered what happened.

Things don’t stay the same. The world changes. Things changed for Hard Rock. They moved to a former Mercedes dealership, the church is gone. A high-rise took its place.

Was anyone praying before the church’s demise? At Elwood ? Others? Equally important, besides members, did anyone notice they closed?

Years ago, Sue Kibbey spoke at Annual Conference. She talked about breakthrough prayer defining it as asking God to break through, working where we can’t.

Yesterday we talked of God breaking through in our communities. Today is about praying God will break through in our churches.

Our lesson saw the disciples praising God, for 3000 converts. This story is soaked in prayer. It had to be for that to happen. We must be people of praise and prayer! They praised God and God showed up!

They prayed and God responded with 3000 people saved in one day! Can you imagine if God broke through our communities?

We may believe there aren’t unchurched around us, statistics say differently. Some say “We like our churches like they are.” If we don’t grow, we die.

Jesus said make disciples. He didn’t add “If you like your church as is don’t worry about it.” We are in the disciple business, but not doing it well.

God wouldn’t have made the Pentecost breakthrough without praying. God will breakthrough when people pray. Peter quotes Joel saying, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams.” Visions and dreams change lives.

Churches must be known in the community. I’ve discovered too many churches are secrets, sometimes even in plain sight.

Ask people to tell you where your church is located. Ask, “Could you tell me where I can find ABC church?” Don’t ask friends. They likely know. Ask strangers. For our churches to not be Elwood, they can’t be secrets.

Our congregations must be breakthrough prayer centers. We need to pray God will break through our churches .

Every Sunday, Walter opened the church. In cold weather, he lit the stove. If it was hot, he opened windows and put out cardboard fans.

He read the Scriptures and prayed. He prayed God would remember his church.

This story is unique. Each Walter worshiped alone. Why? Epworth was on property that reverted to the original owners if worship stopped

So? Let it go. That wasn’t an option for Walter. He had a vision. But Walter had to patient.

One Sunday a family visited. After meeting Walter they stayed for worship. They thought the church was special. They came back and the children brought friends.

Epworth is still small. Many have died or moved away, but the miracle Epworth is alive. On the first Sunday of August, people come to relive the story of Walter.

Families walk to the cemetery. Parents tell children the story of Walter.

Be Blessed,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved