Something Out of Nothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” said the scientist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Take Up Our Masks and Follow Jesus

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed,

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Smart and Not Afraid: Fear Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Remembering a Sad Day

God is our mighty fortress, always ready to help in times of trouble.
And so, we won’t be afraid! Let the earth tremble and the mountains
tumble into the deepest sea.
Let the ocean roar and foam, and its raging waves shake the mountains.

(Psalm 46:1-3, Common English Bible)

I was sitting in the parsonage at First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, TX. I don’t really remember what I was doing when the phone rang. I knew from caller id it was my good friend Mike Deaton. I answered in a cheery mood. It wasn’t five seconds later my mood became downcast. He told me there had been a shooting at Santa Fe High School.

For those of you who may not know, for a little over three years I was the pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Santa Fe. I have a couple of friends on the faculty there. I sent a text message to them. I simply said I am sure you are very busy and overwhelmed. When you get a chance, please call or text me and let me know you are OK.

At that moment I didn’t think about any of the students. The high school kids I knew when I was pastor there, had long since graduated and moved on. The kids that had been in the lower grades were by then the high school but I still saw them as being in kindergarten. Because I hadn’t seen them in a few years, they all where, still the same age. Intellectually I knew they had grown but I still remember them being small.

The next day, 2 years ago today, I saw a list of those killed at school. One name jumped off the gate at me, Jared Conard, Black. I had baptized Jared when he was a preschooler. His brother Anthony was an older elementary student at the time. He was one of those who had already graduated. From time to time when they came into the church building Anthony would run up to me and cross his arms standing in front of me. He wanted me to reach out and grab him and I would lightly hold him against the wall. He could escape anytime he wanted but usually only made a token effort. Anthony was waiting for the next phase of our game.

Jared Conard Black

The next phase was Jared coming to Anthony’s rescue. He would run up in front of me and stop just outside of arms reach. I would grab at him and missed more often than not. Sometimes I just missed. Other times he had faster reactions than me. Because he hadn’t “rescued” Anthony (eventually I would let him), he would say, “I’m sorry Antny, (not a misspelling or a typo, I’m sorry, I tried, I tried.” Then he would run off, only to come back 15 seconds later and do it all over again. Occasionally I did grab Jared. When I did I always let Anthony go and would hold on to Jared. Jared would start in a half giggle, half screaming, if you can imagine a four or five year old, “Antny come help me! Antny come get me out of this. Help me Antny, Helm me.”

Anthony would turn around and wave at Jared and say, “Bye Jared. See you later) and then he would run off to whatever his age group activity was happening. I would put Jared on my shoulder and go into the fellowship hall where everyone had gathered. I would go around asking people, “I just caught this, what should I do with it?” People would give a variety of answers but eventually someone would say, “Just throw him in the trash.” This would go around the room for a while. Eventually, I made my way back to his mom and asked her the same question, she would say, “Oh, no! I will take him.” With that I would put him down, he would go run around and play, occasionally coming up close enough to grab him again but most of the time I would ignore him because I needed to go get ready for Bible study or something.

All those memories came flooding back when I saw Jared’s name on that list. It brought me to tears. I think it is the first time that someone I baptized, I was also involved in burying him. It was truly a sad day, one of the saddest of my time in ministry.

Every time I hear of a school shooting it upsets me. Most of them are so senseless. And death is so permanent. Sometimes I don’t think people think about that part before pulling the trigger. But this one was different. This one hit close to home. I knew people there. I had worshiped with them, was in fellowship with them, and served with them. And now one of them was gone. Someone I knew. It was all so senseless. My heart was broken.

Two years and a day later (I couldn’t make myself do this to be posted yesterday. I’m not sure why that is the case, but it is) I still pray for Jared’s mother, Pam. I pray too for his brothers. I pray for that church and that community regularly. Something happened there that should never happen anywhere. It was pointless. It was tragic. It was evil. And I still pray, something like this will ever happen again. So no parent will be in the position of my friend and Jared’s mom, Pam.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

On Planting a Spiritual Garden

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling… (Philippians 2:12, New International Version)

This morning I was reading a few of the blogs I enjoy. One of them is “Faith Bits” by a guy who just calls himself “Pastor Brian.” He reminded his readers that we do the majority of our panting in the spring regardless of whether we are growing vegetables or flowers.

Pastor Brian correctly states that in addition to any physical garden we might plant, we also need to be cognizant of the need for a spiritual garden as well. It seems to me that our spiritual garden could be an element of us working out our own salvation as Paul says in Philippians 2 and was part of my sermon this past Sunday. You can click video to watch or you can click here to read the manuscript.

So, let’s consider what should go in our spiritual garden:

Plant three rows of peas:           
Peace of mind;
Peace of heart;
Peace of soul

Plant four rows of squash:
            Squash gossip;
Squash indifference;
            Squash grumbling;
Squash selfishness.

Plant four rows of lettuce:
            Lettuce be faithful;
Lettuce be kind;
            Lettuce be happy;
Lettuce love one another

Plant at least three rows of turnips:
            Turn-up for service when needed;
            Turn-up to help one another;
            Turn-up the music and dance.

Also plant five rows of thyme:
            Thyme for fun;
Thyme for rest;
Thyme for yourself;
Thyme for your family;
Thyme for worship [even when it’s virtual worship].

Then, after you’ve finished planting, water freely with patience and cultivate with love. Remember that you reap what you sow, to plant lots of good seed, that there may be much fruit in your spiritual garden!

Now, go plant your garden.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

The Law of the Picture

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:1-5, New Revised Standard Version)…

Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has spoken many times of his college coach, John Wooden. Jabbar remembered of Wooden he never left the locker room a mess. Wooden stayed and picked up trash. Jabbar said, “Some thought it funny seeing the winning-est coach in basketball picking up trash from the wet floor, especially after a road victory. I found it moving, not just because he was conscientious enough to leave the room as clean as we’d found it, but because he didn’t think it beneath him to do it himself.”

My two favorite leadership authors Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last, The Infinite Game, and recently released Find Your Why. The second author is John Maxwell, author of Failing Forward, Intentional Living, and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. There are many more. I’m not sure if Maxwell knows how many he’s written.

In both Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, Sinek tells of a Marine Corp tradition. The higher your rank, the later you eat. The lowest private eats first. The highest ranking officer eats last. The example shows importance to every member of the team. The lowest member knows the highest member sees value in the team. The example shines for all to see.

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, rule 13 is, “The Law of the Picture,” defined as, “people do what they see.” Fred Rogers was a master at setting an example, people could do what they saw. He knew what was right and lived it. The episode he had a refreshing dip of the feet in a child’s pool. When the postman, an African-American, comes by, Mr. Rogers invites him to join in. It was shocking, unheard of, at the time. He left the audience knowing that, regardless of who it was, nothing would have been different. He gave the children permission to do what they saw.

Paul understood too. “Put others ahead of yourself.” I \hear him saying, “Be a leader, eat last.” He encourages readers to be of one mind with Jesus. And, Jesus said, he didn’t come to be served but to serve.

Over the course of my career I have learned leadership a little at a time. I doubt I will learn the lesson as well as Russell. Russell was a youth in a church I served. He was a great kid.

The youth had a pancake breakfast one day. Russell was making pancakes. He was so proud of his pancakes. You would be hard-pressed to find someone more proud of his pancakes than Russell.

If you asked about a career he said he was going be a farmer like his Dad.

Russell was also a leader at school. Though he played a position lacking glamour, Russell was a captain on the football team. He had the respect of the players around him. They wanted to play with Russell.

One October afternoon the sky started getting cloudy. The rain started. Lightening filled the sky. Coach called the players into the locker room. Russell helped some of his teammates. When he was running toward the locker room lightening struck and killed Russell.

Every player had a story to tell, what Russell did for them. I think Russell understood that leaders eat last.

Our time has too many leaders not eating last. They fail to set an example, making their leadership questionable at best. Perhaps they don’t understand or they don’t care that people do what the see. It impacts society, on a variety of level. We do what we see and have disregard for the well-being of others. We have forgotten, never knew, or don’t care to put others ahead of ourselves.

We are better than that. We need to give love and compassion. Until we can rediscover love and compassion we will never be all we can be or all God calls us to be.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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