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.
Seeking the Genuine, Keith
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
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.
2 First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. 2 Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and it pleases God our savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, Common English Bible).
It started out as a prayer meeting some forty years before. This prayer meeting had detractors. Those who attended the prayer meeting were harassed and threatened . Still, Monday night after Monday night people came to the prayer meeting at the old church in the former East Germany.
The group started to grow and the police began to notice. One night following the service several attendees along with the leadership of the group encountered a group of police and were attacked. Still people kept coming and praying. They prayed for their nation, freedom, and peace.
Prayer wasn’t encouraged in East Germany and prayers for freedom and peace would have been banned.
The group continued to grow and then something happened. The government let people leave the country to immigrate to parts of Europe and the world. When immigrants left, their places were taken by people determined to work for change. They came back to church, drawing spiritual strength for their struggle.
The police continued their attacks on members of the prayer group. September 4, 1989 the pastor and a small group were attacked.
Instead of retaliation, the pastor started teaching the principles of nonviolent resistance made known by Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the group continued to grow and pray.
They picked up a name, becoming known as The New Form which would eventually become the opposition party.
They were a determined group who wouldn’t quit growing. The more they prayed, the more people came. On September 25, 1989 more than 6000 people packed the cathedral of St. Nickolas. There were another 25,000 waiting outside to join the protest march. Why pray in a nation living under an atheist ideology?
Why bother? Russia got this ideology thirty years. Nothing there changed. It seemed God abandoned them. There might even be some people arguing, “…can’t blame God for abandoning them? A century of history held two world wars and brought Hitler to power.
Most East Germans probably admit they don’t deserve help from God but, neither do we. We all sin.
The East German’s prayer was simple and they knew God had not left. They knew simple prayer had impact. Their prayers did. Their prayer was to change their nation. They prayed for freedom. Prayer changes things.
These folks prayed that God would change things. They prayed for the ability to make change. If I want to give up a bad habit I change. It may not be easy, but I can do it. It’s easier if God is helping me break that habit.
There are also things we can’t change. Only God can make a way. Only God can fix it.
The East German story uses breakthrough prayer for a nation or part of a nation. Perhaps I should have used the title “Breakthrough Prayer for the Government” but we all need to focus on our local communities.
In the year I have been here there has been a great deal of talk around town about the ways Diboll has changed and little of that discussion should be called good. I’m not sure it is really anyone’s fault. Things just happen.
The world changes whether we like it or not. Since Temple has sold people seem a more apprehensive about our collective futures. What happens of Georgia-Pacific were to decide to close up shop and head out of town? And that is just the first in a long list of questions. It seems to me, putting an answer to that question is more than any of us can do. It isn’t in our power to create a solution. I am not sure who the folks even are who would have the authority to make that decision. What I do know is One who has the power to overcome any setback we may face, individually, as a congregation or as a city, a community. But, for these things to happen we’ve got to talk about the whys and hows and even the issues themselves and I don’t mean with each other. We all need to be in prayer for our cities.
To be in prayer for our cities involves what Paul refers to as supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings to be made for everyone but specifically addresses leaders, kings and all who are in high positions. We have leaders in high positions. We have mayors, the city council, (the city managers), the police and fire chiefs and others who make decisions. We need to remember state and national leaders too.
When that small group of Christians started their prayer meetings in East Germany, would you have thought their prayers might would be answered in such a powerful way? Great things can happen when people pray.
Be Blessed, Keith
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Today is Song Saturday. Each Saturday I bring you a poem or song lyrics from either an original poem/lyrics or perhaps from another poet/lyricist. Most weeks I have done fairly well at bringing original work. Today’s post is also original work.
Earlier this week, as I was working on something else I happened on Romans 8:26 (you can read the verse below). I’ve read it many times before as Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. As I looked at it this week, the verse spoke to me. Yesterday I wrote the lyrics.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it.
Song Lyrics Based on Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, New Revised Standard Version).
With beaten soul, my world struck down, Devoid hands look for Jesus’ crown The pain grows deep, I seek a way, Friend, where will my empty heart stay.
I’ve nothing left, but one small seed Restore me this, broken soul pleads. These broken strings play songs not heard I pray with sighs too deep for words.
With my deep groans far out of tune, Help me Lord to sing your song soon.
No words to speak, no song to play, I am empty, fill me I pray These broken strings might play songs heard I still pray with sighs too deep for words.
Temptation surrounds God’s people, I’ll praise God, under the steeple, Freedom calls me, fly like the birds, We pray with sighs too deep for words.
Deep groans now coming into tune I know I’ll sing God’s great song soon.
I still can’t speak, no song to play, I am empty, fill me I pray New strings to strum play songs now heard And l pray with sighs too deep for words.
Spirit power enter I pray Fill me with grace, your love to stay Lord when I pray, you’ve always heard Yet I pray, sighs too deep for words.
For this old string, there’s life anew. The sounds of Grace, you play here too. God’s sounds are sung, your blessings heard I speak with sighs too deep for words.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Seeking the Genuine, Keith
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable:
11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32, New Revised Standard Version)
When our oldest son Wayne was living at home, we experienced the problems parents of teenagers often face, while the child is growing up. Before we parents are ready, many times before the child finished high school, often before the law says they are an adult, they decide they are grown and as such we should allow them to make their own rules and decisions. Living by mom and dad’s rules isn’t important. Because it isn’t important to them, it shouldn’t be important to us either.
On the other hand, parents recognize the need to maintain order and control. Sometimes there is another child at home who thinks what is good for older sibling is OK for them too. There are also legal issues and we are probably not interested in running afoul with the law.
Now we have a formula almost always guaranteeing conflict. It happened in our house shortly before Wayne’s 17th birthday and continued for some time.
The first rule of the Broyles house was honesty. This wasn’t a problem with Wayne. He is honest to a fault. If you ask him, he will tell the truth. If you fear what the truth might be, never, ever ask Wayne the question.
Where we had problems involving the rules with curfew, being home on time, and if he was going to be late, calling and letting us know. None of these bothered Wayne. All were important to me. I wanted him home on time because others in the house had to work the next day. No one came into the house, except for Cindy, without canine doorbell going off, me included. When Wayne came in at three in the morning, I always knew the Sheltie we had at the time would let me know. Cindy might sleep through it, not me. Neither would the neighbors three houses down. Glory the four-legged creature at our house would let me know when all was not well in his opinion.
Being on time, I thought came from military service. It was a big deal there. As a result, I always thought late means late means late. If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t be that strict but at the time, yeah, I was.
Wayne didn’t see any importance in any of this. He always thought he should be able to keep his own schedule and make up his own rules.
I am not asking you to choose sides. It wouldn’t matter. I think you can see; conflict was inevitable. It happened regularly. Wayne was determined to make his own rules. He joined the Marines. We’ve had a few laughs about that.
It is a matter of respect. Rules are part of life. We may not like the rules we may find them hard or difficult, but we stay at someone’s house, we by their rules. If we receive a paycheck, we work by the boss’s rules. We play the game; we go by the rules. We live in or visit a country; we go by the rules.
Wayne saw himself as an adult. He felt we should respect him, allowing him to make his rules. He didn’t understand, respect works both ways. It came down to, “my house, my rules,” and the Marines.
Life has rules. We learn that as kids. We may not agree with or like the rules, we may not think them fair or see them as contradictory, but we learn to live with those rules.
“Well Keith, what about criminals? They ignore the rules.” I don’t agree. In their social structure there are rules, written or unwritten, that define the group. Also, if you ignore the rules of society long enough you pay the consequences.
I wonder if this age-old conflict between parent and child might have prompted the departure of the younger son in our lesson. As Jesus tells the story we see the son’s departure. We are not told why. That makes the story more universal, after all, the story isn’t told as a real, true story. It’s a parable, true in application, not details. Something did prompt him to leave his father’s house. As I’ve thought about this parable, I see a young man who believes he can’t live with the rules of house. The story leads us to think the father is in charge, so his rules too much for the younger son. He thought he had to be on his own.
The younger son decides to make his way in the world, make his own rules and set his schedule. He didn’t want to farm the ground or keep after the stupid sheep and cows. He wanted to be on his own and accountable to no one.
He does something that to most of us is unthinkable. I’m not sure it would have been much different then. He goes to his father and says, “Give me my part of the inheritance now.” Some commentators say was like saying, “Hey dad, I wish you were dead.” I think it’s even stronger. I think it means, “Hey dad, you are dead to me. Give me my money.” Those are some strong words.
For all the problems Wayne and I had, I give him credit, he said nothing like that. Think it, perhaps but he never said it. He was tired of “My house, My rules.” I guess the younger son was too.
Despite the son’s meaning, the father did as his son asked, and the son took off.
It wasn’t long before the son was out of money and luck. The real world crashed on top of his head. He made a monumental mistake. Thinking on his situation, he realized his father’s employees were better off than he. Maybe it was time to head home and see if he could get part of his old life back. Maybe, his father would hire him to work on the farm. Even that would be better than the life he was living. So, he headed for home.
He gets home and starts apologizing for all he did. It was a touching scene. He says, “Dad, I have sinned against you.” and I think the father hears the words many parents of prodigals here. “Dad, I should have listened to you.” The son went on, “I no longer deserve to be called your son, make me one of your hired hands.”
The father would have none of it. He turned to a servant and said, “Go get a robe and ring and give it to him. Let’s have a barbecue. My son is home.”
That is grace. Grace can overcome the deep hurts and wounds to say, “I love you and I forgive you.” It is a love that most parents have for their child. It is a picture of unconditional love. Even if that child says, “You are dead to me,” this love responds, “Yes, you may think that, but I love you anyway.”
That’s the love God has for us. These two tell us what the story is about. The son sins and the father forgives. That is the point. We sin and God forgives. The grace of the father in the story is the grace God gives us. No matter our sins, God loves us and will forgive us. God pours grace on us. We may turn away, but God waits for us and loves us.
God expects us to share forgiveness and love with each other. Whether with a member of our family, our neighbor, someone in our church, someone across town, or the other side of the world, God calls us to love and forgive. It isn’t always easy, but it is part of our call, love God and love neighbor.
Not everyone understands that. When the older son comes home, hearing the barbeque, refuses to go. His father comes to encourage him. Still he refuses. He is unable to forgive. Grace is not present for his brother.
Just as we don’t know what caused the younger brother to leave, we also don’t know if the older brother ever came around. It’s probably safe to assume life at this home returned to some semblance of normal in a fairly short period of time.
In his book Accountable Discipleship: Living in God’s Household, Steven W Manskar plays a little with the story. He asks the question, “What if Jesus had not stopped here?” He proposes an alternate ending saying, What if Jesus were to add another chapter called, ‘The Morning After?’ The chapter would begin the morning after the celebration of the younger brother’s return.
It’s five o’clock in the morning and it’s still dark outside. The younger brother is sound asleep in his bed after a long night of eating and drinking. There was a loud knock on his bedroom door. No answer. Another know, louder this time. Now he stumbled out of bed and opened the door. He is greeted by his older brother, the guy who was so angry with him that he wouldn’t join the party the night before. This time the older brother grins as he tells his little brother, “It’s after five in the morning! It’s time to get to work, dad and I have been carrying your load around here while you were off having a good time. Now it’s time you started carrying your own weight. There’s plenty of work to do. Let’s get at it! Oh, and by the way, welcome home, little brother!”
Manskar continues: The younger brother, while happy to be home, forgot the responsibilities that go along with life in the father’s house. There was work to be done every day and everyone had a job to do. It was time for him to get to work, to pick up where he had left off when he had departed. His brother was only too happy to remind him that living in their father’s house meant living by the household rules.
My friends, we live in the father’s house. We need to live by the Father’s
In Search of the Genuine, Keith
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
1 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
4 Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. 10 For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.
11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:1-11, New Revised Standard Version)
Early in my ministry days, before the internet was everywhere, in fact, my first four years in the ministry about all I did on my computer was type things and play the occasional game. I did use an early database management program for keeping the church membership and I was able to generate some of the information I needed for reporting.
While it did make my life easier, I didn’t need it all that much. At that time I still handwrote all my sermons. To type them on the computer I had to be at home. I didn’t have a computer at the church.
When I did something and wanted to look at several at the same time, side-by-side. I had (I still have them, I just don’t use them much), two parallel Bibles which have me eight versions of the Bible in two books. Then, I would add up to six additional versions when I wanted to do serious comparisons.
Later I had a computer program that had several versions of the Bible. Later still, I was able to get on a brand new website, biblegateway.com. With 53 different English translations, I have more than I could ever really use.
When I started working on today’s psalm post, I read it and I was pretty sure I did Psalm 16 yesterday too. My first day with a new psalm I generally use The Common English Bible. So far I have written on each psalm at least two days. On the second day (today is a second day) I use New Revised Standard Version. The third day, if there is one, I use New International Version. I know there is psalm coming, probably in the fall I feel pretty sure I will work with for at least four days. Those days I am planning to use The Good News Bible.
Anyway, while reading today from from NRSV I thought, this doesn’t seem right. I went into WordPress and looked. At first I didn’t even realize the problem. I went and looked back at Psalms 15 and 17. They didn’t even come close. So, I used Bible Gateway and looked at all but one side by side. I looked and then looked at another outside what I could see on the screen. New Revised Standard, was different from Common English. I took a look at NIV. It was right with NRSV. The same for the Good News translation. I tried the Holman Standard. I thought it was published about the same time as CEB so the committee translating it worked well together. Holman Standard was with the other. The last one was King James. It looked the same as every other version except Common English.
When something happens like the differences in the translations, I first try to hear which one seems to make the most sound. If that doesn’t solve the issue I used to go to an interlinear Bible. I thought that might be the most accurate until I thought one day, that might be a literal translation but I have two and there were three places where the translations were quite different. Since I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, I really have no idea what translation does a better job.
In all the versions I looked at, verse three is different in CEB but close to the same across the board.’
Now as for the “holy ones” in the land, the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about; let their suffering increase because they hurried after a different god. I won’t participate in their blood offerings; I won’t let their names cross my lips. Common English Bible
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight. Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips. New Revised Standard Version
I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. New International Version
How excellent are the Lord's faithful people! My greatest pleasure is to be with them. Those who rush to other gods bring many troubles on themselves. I will not take part in their sacrifices; I will not worship their gods. Good News Translation
In the CEB, the psalmist is asking God to go put a whipping on those that wandered from the faith. He has nothing nice to say. He is angry because they ran off and now wants God to take care of it
The NRSV, NIV, GNT, all say essentially the same thing. It is praise for those that stayed with their unit. As for those who “went over the hill? (Navy slang for AWOL). They are on their own.
One more thing before I shut this post down. I am trying to give you definitions, or at least those I can find. At the top of the psalm is the word Miktam. Those that address the term at all, are pretty much in agreement. They all say that it is an inscription. The first difference is, GNT says nothing. CEB just says inscription. NRSV says Hebrew meaning is uncertain. And, NIV agrees with inscription but they believe it has something to do with music.
Should you need to look at multiple translations at the same time, go check out biblegateway.com. It is a great resource for Bible study.
Have a great day in the Lord.
In search of the genuine, Keith
copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
16 Protect me, God, because I take refuge in you. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord. Apart from you, I have nothing good.” 3 Now as for the “holy ones” in the land, the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about; 4 let their suffering increase because they hurried after a different god. I won’t participate in their blood offerings; I won’t let their names cross my lips. 5 You, Lord, are my portion, my cup; you control my destiny. 6 The property lines have fallen beautifully for me; yes, I have a lovely home.
7 I will bless the Lord who advises me; even at night I am instructed in the depths of my mind. 8 I always put the Lord in front of me; I will not stumble because he is on my right side. 9 That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous; yes, my whole body will rest in safety 10 because you won’t abandon my lifeto the grave; you won’t let your faithful follower see the pit.
11 You teach me the way of life. In your presence is total celebration. Beautiful things are always in your right hand. (Psalm 16, Common English Bible)
I love this psalm. I love the images of celebration. I love the psalmist’s joyous mood. It is a psalm that points to God’s protection and provision.
But then, there those two verses that are just not very joyous. There is nothing there to celebrate. I feel pretty empty when I read them set among all these other verses. Nine verses of joy and two verses that don’t seem to fit. Let’s read them again. “Now as for the “holy ones” in the land, the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about; let their suffering increase because they hurried after a different god. I won’t participate in their blood offerings; I won’t let their names cross my lips (vv. 3-4).
It is obvious when I read verses three and four that David cared about these he calls “holy ones” and “magnificent ones.” I do get it, they messed up. They messed up and consequences will follow. They turned their backs on God and arguably God’s wrath might be on their horizon. But then again, God is also known for giving out abundant grace.
I have had people disappoint me both within the faith family and beyond. It has upset me. In some cases it has shaken me. In other cases I have gotten angry. Most of us have known of times like these. But do we ask God to increase their suffering? Perhaps we do during our time of greatest anger, but cooler heads usually prevail in the end.
I would like to think that when in a similar situation and a brother or sister experienced a faith crisis and started to question God, or even ran from God, that I would pray, but instead of praying for God’s wrath, I would pray that God gave me the right words that they might see their way back into God’s presence.
It seems to me, if that wavering brother or sister managed to find their way home to God, because of God’s work in me or in spite of me, joy would abound and we would have great reason to celebrate. We would be celebrating joy.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Seeking the Genuine, Keith
Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved Permission given for the non-commercial use of this post