Well friends, I made a mistake on the calendar. The calendar said, “Come Though Long Expected Jesus” was today’s song. That would have been fine except we just talked about that hymn day before yesterday. I don’t have that much to say about it so I found something else.

Not too many years ago, flash mobs (groups of people who gathered in a public place and sang for whoever might be gathered or passing by. Many different songs were sung, including the “Hallelujah Chorus” and many others. I found a video of a flash mob singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” in a mall food court. For those who would rather hear the words than read them, check up the video below. The printed lyrics are below the video as well as part of Handel’s story.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
(Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah)
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
(Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah)

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
(Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah)

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
(Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah) Hallelujah
The Kingdom of this world Is become
The Kingdom of our Lord And of His Christ
And of His Christ And He shall reign forever and ever
And He shall reign forever and ever
(And He shall reign forever and ever)
And He shall reign forever and ever
(And He shall reign forever and ever)
And he shall reign forever and ever
(And He shall reign forever and ever)

King of Kings
(Forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah)
And Lord of Lords
(Forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah)
King of Kings
(Forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah)
And Lord of Lords (Forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah)
King of Kings (Forever and ever hallelujah hallelujah)
And Lord of Lords King of Kings and Lord of Lords
And he shall reign forever and ever (And he shall reign)
And he shall reign forever and ever (And he shall reign)
King of Kings forever and ever
And Lord of Lords hallelujah hallelujah
And he shall reign forever, forever and ever
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
King of Kings and Lord of Lords
And he shall reign forever and ever
(And he shall reign forever and ever)
Forever and ever, forever and ever
(King of Kings and Lord of Lords)
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah Hallelujah

George Frederick Handel wrote the Halleluiah Chorus in 1741 as part of his work, The Messiah. It was the greatest work of Handel’s life.

That year and previous years had seen him have numerous musical failures. He was deeply in debt. Debtor’s prison was a real possibility for him. He tried to write but got nothing from it. He was depressed, scared, unwilling to eat and found home depressing but still wouldn’t leave home for some greener pastures. He had worked hard and had nothing to show for it.

In late 1741 Handel was given funding by a group of charities from Dublin, Ireland. They asked him to do something that should have lows. The money raised would help free those stuck in debtors’ prison. Handel would also receive his own commission for composing the work, which in turn helped him on his path to reversing his own misfortune.

Prior to beginning work on The Messiah Handel stayed in bed. He rarely left the bed and didn’t eat. He suddenly started seeing the words of the great hymn. He went to work only now he rarely slept and still wasn’t eating .

In the end, the work was 260 pages long and he completed working in just 24 days. The first performance was in Dublin Ireland some six months after the chorus’ completion.

Many different choirs, orchestras, choruses, and more have provided great renditions of the work for almost 300 years. You can find MANY YouTube videos of the work online. My personal favorite was done by the Silent Monks Chorus. Take a look.

The Messiah in general and the “Hallelujah Chorus” in particular is just one of the songs we can call “sounds of the season, even if it ended up here as the result of a careless accident.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

When I first started thinking about a series on hymns and carols, I knew “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” would be a song I would include and it would be early in the series. First, because it is an Advent hymn, it needs to be early in the series because it is the advent season. Further, I thought it is one of the few “Advent” hymns and I believed it was one hymn I already knew pretty much everything there was to know about this old song. Friends, I wrong!

I thought the song was rooted in Gregorian chants. It isn’t, though there are similarities. Gregorian chants have their roots in the 9th and 10th centuries. The lyrics of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” (in Latin) come from the 8th century. The Anglo-Saxon poet Cynewulf, in his poem “The Christ” uses language that alludes to O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Cynewulf wrote “The Christ” between 750-800 (Gant, p. 1). Latin translations into English came in the 19th century.

The tune, as we know it today, didn’t come into use until about the 15th century (Osbeck, Location 216). With obvious language exceptions and the tune being different, people in the 9th century would find the lyrics surprisingly familiar.

The original writer is unknown, probably a monk or priest who had a strong knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments. “…the words painted a rich illustration of the many biblical prophecies of Christ’s birth” (Collins, Location 1347). Once the completed, and the hymn became available it became popular for one week a year in churches and monasteries across Europe. The other 51 weeks of the year the hymn was largely ignored. During that one week during daily mass leading up to Christmas, a different verse would be sung.

Though not credited with the translation of the song in the United Methodist Hymnal (Laurence Hill Stookey and William Sloan Coffin), most of the credit for the worldwide popularity goes to John Mason Neale, a 19th century Anglican priest.

Neale received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a brilliant man who would speak and write in more than 20 languages. He might have become someone great in perhaps another time or place but he frightened the powers who oversaw the Church of England during that era. Instead, they were afraid of him and instead of assigning him to a London Church, he was sent to the Madeira Islands off of the northwestern coast of Africa. Most of us would never have been heard from again but Neale refused to give up on God’s call for his life. Despite his meager salary, he established the Sisterhood of St. Margaret and from that order he began an orphanage, a school for girls, a house of refuge for prostitutes. And, that was only the beginning.

Neale also read everything he could get his hands on regarding Scripture and Scripture-based writing. It was during these studies he encountered the Latin chant, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Realizing the importance of the chant he translated it into English. He is still often credited with the translation, even in versions where there is great certainty he did not write (Collins, Location 1367).

I wanted to include Neale’s story because his is an example of remaining faithful to the call of God. When he became exiled to the opposite side of the world, it might have been easy to give up. It might have been easy to, at best, go through the motions. Neale did not give up and worked tirelessly to be faithful to God’s call on his life. I know I need that reminder from time to time. I feel certain I am not alone. God calls all of us to something. Are we faithful to God’s call?

Had Neale refused the assignment, had he just gone through the motions, what he accomplished might never have happened. And, one of the treasured songs of Advent might never be heard outside a lonely monastery.

So, for me, perhaps now when I hear, or when I sing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” the words and haunting melody might remind me of John Mason Neale and his determination to live out God’s call. Perhaps that reminder will also help me to both remember and be faithful to God’s call too.

Be blessed.

In Search of the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Collins, Ace, Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

Gant, Andrew, The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Joy to the World: The Stories Behind Your Favorite Christmas Carols, Grand Rapids: Kregal, 1999.

But I will thank the Lord
        for his righteousness;
    I will sing praises
        to the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17, Common English Bible)

If you would prefer video, see below…

I sat in my office listening to him talk. He spoke at length about being, “a good for nothing.” He didn’t have any talent. God didn’t give him any gifts. The one thing God had given him, God had “taken away,” his wife.

His wife had passed away from cancer three years before. It was before I was the pastor of that church so I had never met her but I had spent a great deal of time with him over the 18 months I had been his pastor.

“Phil, God didn’t take Jeanette, cancer did. God healed Jeanette with ultimate healing. The cancer gives her no more pain, no more illness, weakness, tiredness. She is healed. She, as one of God’s gifts is fully restored.”

That conversation happened more than 20 years ago and I don’t remember where it went from there. What I do remember was, a few weeks later driving out near Phil’s farm. I decided to make a visit. He was in a large pin with several cows in it. Anytime I would go in a pin like that the cows would run away. That was never the case with Phil. Over the time I was his pastor Phil would work with just about any animal that came his way. he was a master. After watching for a few minutes I said, “That looks like a gift to me.”

Two weeks later was a covered dish dinner at church. Phil brought a huge brisket and set it on the serving table. Phil was outstanding on the grill and almost everyone in the county knew it. Once again, I pointed at his gift.

Over the next year or so I saw several of his gifts at work. I tried to remember and point to them each time. Phil also had the ability to grow plants like crazy. In that congregation they gave a plant to all their visitors. The were plants potted by Phil and most grew like crazy. After another gifts reminder Phil asked me, “None are that important. It isn’t like I can preach, or teach, or sing in the choir. They don’t do much. “Well pastor, that is fine and all, but they don’t seem to do anything for God.”

“Phil, you bring those plants up here that you have worked with to get it ready. We take those plants and give them away to our guests. That is you using a gift to spread the name of Jesus Christ.” Phil spent the rest of the time I was his pastor thinking about the things he could do to use all his gifts for the Glory of God. We prayed and I went on my way.

We are just about to the time of year we will start hearing first college and then professional football players, in after-game interviews, following the first question a reporter ask some will seemingly ignore the question (many times it is something like, “Did you ever dream you would catch 20 touchdown passes in a single game, and yes, I know that number is over the top unrealistic) and say something like “First I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t be here if not for him. He gave me the talent and gifts to help my team win.”).

Before I seem to knock people thanking God for gifts, I am not. Still, I always laugh a bit when I hear an athlete say those things because playing a kids game, while needing some God-given talent, I just don’t think it is their greatest talent and absolutely not their greatest gift. Perhaps what is their greatest gift is the ability to stand in front of a crowd, a crowd of reporters, and/or a television camera broadcasting all over the world, proclaiming the name Jesus Christ to people all over the world. If that is the case, then their ability to play the game is really a tool to give them a voice and make them heard.

I have heard people ask, “So why does god give them those talents and not me? I would play that game for 5 million a year. I would play for $500,000 per year.” It is a legitimate question that I can’t help but think shows at least a little jealousy.

But, just like that athlete and just like Phil, God has given us gifts to bring Jesus Christ to all the world. That is our charge as people of faith.

God gives all of us gifts. God gives us gifts, I would argue that God gives us more than one. It is up to us to think of ways to use those gifts and talents God gives us for the Glory of God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And this day, Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. we need to stop and thank God for the gifts and talents we have and remember another gift from God, God is with us and where God is, there is always reason to hope.

Now, for those who would prefer the video…

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17, New International Version)

Video Below

This is the first Wednesday with the Wesley’s I have presented in a while. Today it wasn’t really planned that way, at least not by me. Could it perhaps be “Divine Inspiration?”

Statue of John Wesley by Paul Raphael Montford, in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Adam Carr, Wikimedia Commons.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching a show I have really come to enjoy called Texas Country Reporter. Where I live TCR comes on following the late local news on Saturday night. I enjoy the show because it features some of the things people around Texas do from running a restaurant owned by a woman who is a recovering addict and all the employees are also recovering addict, to a man who became a blacksmith that makes fine skillets now bought by chefs all over the world.

When I watched a couple of weeks back one of the stories on that night was that of J.R. Smith, a former active duty marine who, after leaving active duty started a remodeling business in Humble, Texas, north of Houston. Sometime after beginning the his now very successful company, “…coupled with some guilt that he was able to leave the USMC unhurt and able-bodied (unlike many), JR feels he has a huge sense of responsibility to his wounded brothers and sisters now living at home, many of whom need various home improvements. (https://www.gunstohammers.com/)”

Many veterans leave the service paying a high price. Others come home and have things happen leaving them in need of Guns to Hammers. The show featured veterans injured in the line of duty and another who is wheel-chair bound due to a motorcycle accident. It doesn’t matter to J.R. Smith and Guns to Hammers. It is done for vets, free of charge and much of the work appears amazing.

“Do all the good you can…” Those are the opening six words of what has gotten the name “John Wesley’s Rule,” or “John Wesley’s Rule of Life,” or “John Wesley’s Rule for Christian Living.”

I have no idea if J.R. Smith knows about John Wesley or his rule. I feel pretty certain, however, that Smith understands the sentiment behind the rule. His story seems to embody Wesley’s Rule.

The Rule says,

As I said above, I know nothing of the faith of J.R. Smith. He seems by his mission to have a heart to serve but that doesn’t necessarily make a person a person of faith.

In the verse from Colossians above, Paul reminds us that what we do and what we say, to do it in Jesus’ name. He also says that through Jesus we are to give thanks to God. I think that means giving thanks to the Father for Jesus. I also think it means giving thanks to the Father through Jesus for the opportunity to speak or work in Jesus name. I pray that my opportunities may speak for Jesus in both word and deed.

As I searched around on the internet I found someone had converted Wesley’s Rule into a prayer. They began saying, “Dear Lord, help us do all we can…” Then the author switched all the word “you,” to the word, “we.” I understand the effort at inclusiveness and I think it is appropriate in some settings. That said, I see this as a much more personal prayer to God. It is a prayer that, more often than not, I pray for God to lead me.

Thus, a prayer-poem fits for me. I thought I would share it with you in closing.

Dear Lord,
Help me do everything I can,
Using my gifts from your plan,
Opening my mind to see your tasks,
In all the places where you ask.
Send me the hour you choose,
In me, people see, Your Good News.
Today, always, while I have breath.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

P.S. Friends I am going to be backing away some from writing “Pondering with Dr. B” for the next month or two, perhaps even longer. I will still write but I am feeling more and more burned out by the pressure I have put on myself to produce this as a daily column. With other responsibilities both in the church and beyond, I want to remove this self pressure. So, when I feel like I need a break or when I feel I am not inspired, I am not going to write that day. I still hope to produce something at least a couple of days a week, but I suspect that at least once a week I will take a day off. In addition, I am praying about what direction I may need to go after the first of the year. I would welcome your prayers (and your thoughts) about that too. jkb

42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, Common English Bible).

One of my favorite questions is, “What would it look like..?” What would it look like for families to have dinner together? What would it look like if people turned off the television for one hour every night? What would it look like if we all took the story of the Good Samaritan seriously? What would it look like if we all realized that at least some of the time we are one of the two sons in the story of the “Prodigal Son?” What would it look like to really live out love of God and love of neighbor?

Yes, I do ask the question with certain Bible passages. I find myself asking that question again and again with certain passages because I’m not true. That would include lessons like today’s passages..

What would it look like if believers today truly devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching? I am often surprised at how little many of us actually know from the Bible. If we devoted ourselves to the apostles’ teachings believers might know more than some non-believers. And friends, it is sad to say that, yes, some non-believers know the book infinitely better than many of us who believe.

What would it look like if believers today devoted themselves to their communities? We sometimes think this means our communities as in our neighborhoods. It could be that. So, what would that look like? Might it mean helping the elderly lady down the street who struggles to get her groceries into the house? Might it mean gathering a group together to help the single mom with a coat of paint?

What might it mean if our churches were to ask that question of themselves and then take the answer seriously. What would it look like if we took the the lives of those around our facilities seriously? It might mean we would actually work together for the greater good. What would it look like if we devoted ourselves to the work of our churches? We would have both the people and the money to do whatever we think needs to be done to share the Gospel with our communities, with a hurting world that desperately needs to know the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

What would it look like if we devoted ourselves to our shared meals? Well, we have a pretty good idea. I think we have that one down pretty well. But, what might it look like to carry that shared meal out into the neighborhood from time to time?

What would it look like if we devoted ourselves to prayers? I am part of a small prayer group. We use group texting as we share the various prayer concerns. Group texting drives me crazy, but I deal with it for prayer’s sake. I think I would have to find a different way to share prayer concerns if we truly devote ourselves to prayer because my phone would never stop.

Or, what might it look like if, as we decided to take prayer more seriously and when someone asked us to pray for them, we actually stopped what we are doing and said a prayer with them right then and there? I try to do that. I am not always successful, but I do try.

What would it look like if we all felt that sense of awe when we know God is at work around us? Well, first we would have to get over the idea that things are a coincidence when really God is working. And we might also become overwhelmed with the need to share God’s love with the world.

I could continue with all this but I think you get the idea. I am not talking about what things would look like for some trivial matter. I am far more concerned about things that could really change us or could really change the world around us.

The thirty days of gratitude today is all about Christian heritage. I believe our greatest point of heritage is our mission. What would it look like if we actually went out and made disciples of Jesus Christ as we seek to transform the world as we are told to do in the last few chapters of Matthew.

What would it look like if we showed the world how much we love God and how much we love them?

I think the world might like to know the answer to that one.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” (Isaiah 1:26, English Standard Version).

I have been to many cities in my life. Some I have really liked, some not so much. I spent six months in Philadelphia. If not for Veteran’s Stadium right outside the gate to the base, I am not sure I would have found any redeeming quality to my time there. I am told it is a much better place to visit today. I would consider going back but the travel dollars and vacation days in the present usually go west and grandsons. In at least a general kind of way, Philadelphia is almost as opposite as you can get.

Copenhagen is among the prettiest places I have had the opportunity to visit. We arrived in Copenhagen in late September or early October. There were lots of seasonal flowers all over the city.

When the ship tied up to the pier in Copenhagen, we were all, as usual, ready to get off the ship and do just about anything that had nothing to do with the ship itself. At this point it had been about six or eight weeks since we had left Norfolk. We spent a month at sea followed by stops in Scotland which was beautiful in its own right and I would go back again in a minute.

Hamburg, on the other hand, well, let’s just say, I didn’t leave anything there in September or October of 1978 and have no interest in going back. No place is for everyone and that one wasn’t for me. I think I spent about 6 hours total in the drizzling rain and had enough. We were there three or four days before moving on to Copenhagen.

We got to Copenhagen and liberty call just in time for lunch and wandered our way into an area of Copenhagen called Tivoli. I wasn’t thrilled with ship’s food by this point and we wandered into Burger King. We did have hamburger’s aboard ship but we called them sliders and sliders were not the tiny hamburgers you find at Chilies’ and other such places. For the Navy, hamburgers were made from beef heavy in fat. The saying among the sailors was, you have to be careful eating your burger or it would slide out from between the bun and down onto the deck.

My buddies and I decided we wanted a real American hamburger and as we walked through Tivoli, we found this Burger King.

I think it was this Burger King. The only other picture I found of a Burger King in the Tivoli area was inside something resembling a shopping mall. I know that one wasn’t our Burger King.

It didn’t take long to decide on our lunch. I vividly remember my order. It was a double meat Whopper, large fries and a large Coke. When the cashier rang up the total, 25.50. I almost had a heart attack on the spot. 25.50 for a hamburger? In 1978 25.50 for a hamburger?

I forgot about the exchange rate. At the time, the exchange rate was was five dollars to one kroner. So my 25.50 Kroner burger meal was actually $5.10. Still, expensive for a 1978 hamburger but not worthy of a coronary. Today, that same hamburger would be more than K60.

Once there was a full stomach we started walking around. We wandered around seeing the sites of Copenhagen in general and Tivoli in particular. One of the first things I saw was statue of “The Little Mermaid, “which comes from one of the fairy tales of arguably Denmark’s most famous person, Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen was a writer. He wrote plays, travelogues, novels, and poems but he was best known for those fairy tales.

The one thing about traveling on Uncle Same’s dime, at least with the Navy, I saw a lot of places, places on the coast. With few exceptions we didn’t make it to the interior of the countries we visited. We did going into Hamburg. It was an eight hour ride up the River Elbe to the city. New Orleans is the same way, up the Mississippi. Still, it may have taken a bit to get there but it was still a port city. It is difficult to see those land based sites from the deck of a ship.

I didn’t see many churches in those days, especially not from the inside. Denmark is a Lutheran country. And, I do remember seeing some stunningly beautiful churches, from the outside. I would love to see some from the inside too.

I really enjoyed my limited time in Copenhagen. It is a beautiful city and at least as I remember them, exceedingly kind. I won’t sit here and tell you I felt the Spirit in a new, unique, or special way. I didn’t. If they were all special like that, none would be special.

There was a lot of joy I saw those few days in Copenhagen. But perhaps the biggest joy came from seeing a tiny statue and from a simple but expensive, and not quite as expensive as I first thought, hamburger. Could such jyo come from God? I certainly hope so.

Copenhagen, a beautiful place God let me see.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Pondering with DrB for October 22, 2020
Thursday Thoughts…Copenhagen
Beauty of the World
Joy in a Simple as a Hamburger

40 He then grabbed his staff and chose five smooth stones from the streambed. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag and with sling in hand went out to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine got closer and closer to David, and his shield-bearer was in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked David over, he sneered at David because he was just a boy; reddish brown and good-looking.

43 The Philistine asked David, “Am I some sort of dog that you come at me with sticks?” And he cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said to David, “and I’ll feed your flesh to the wild birds and the wild animals!”

45 But David told the Philistine, “You are coming against me with sword, spear, and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel’s army, the one you’ve insulted. 46 Today the Lord will hand you over to me. I will strike you down and cut off your head! Today I will feed your dead body and the dead bodies of the entire Philistine camp to the wild birds and the wild animals. Then the whole world will know that there is a God on Israel’s side. 47 And all those gathered here will know that the Lord doesn’t save by means of sword and spear. The Lord owns this war, and he will hand all of you over to us.”

48 The Philistine got up and moved closer to attack David, and David ran quickly to the front line to face him. 49 David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone. He slung it, and it hit the Philistine on his forehead. The stone penetrated his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50 And that’s how David triumphed over the Philistine with just a sling and a stone, striking the Philistine down and killing him—and David didn’t even have a sword! 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine. He grabbed the Philistine’s sword, drew it from its sheath, and finished him off. Then David cut off the Philistine’s head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they fled. (1 Samuel 17:40-51, Common English Bible)

I was in the first summer of my seminary education. It wasn’t a master’s degree program. In the United Methodist Church it is called “Course of Study School.” It was four weeks of summer school.

One Sunday while I was there, my roommate and I attended one of the many United Methodist congregations in Dallas and while we were there we were invited to attend a play at a small Christian theater in the area. The name of the play was “David and Goliath in Cow Town.” It was a humorous take on one of the most beloved stories in the Bible. The cast was dressed in western attire and instead of five smooth stones, David used five smooth horseshoes.

I don’t remember much of the play beyond what I have already said. What I remember most took place after the play. Several actors, after taking there bows, came out and shared with the audience. The actor who played David, I don’t remember his name said, “David went down to the river and got five smooth stones.” As he was telling this he held up his fist and said, “His F-A-I-T-H” and with each letter he counted off with one of his finger. Each letter represented one of the stones. Then he said, while patting his chest above his heart, “He placed them in his shepherd’s bag and then when trouble (Goliath) came, he took out a stone and put it into his sling.” When he said sling, he pointed to his mouth. He concluded by saying, “David knew that with his faith in God, he could overcome the giant.”

There are giants in all our lives. There is the money than runs out before the month. There is the trouble with the spouse that drinks too much. There are the problems academic and/or behavioral our child is facing in school There are more problems, more giants, than we can count. Our faith in God can help us find a way.

I want to leave you with two other things to think about. From the beginning it wasn’t a fair fight. Think about Gary Coleman trying to fight Shaquille O’Neal. That would probably seem unfair but it isn’t what I’m talking about. It wasn’t a fair fight because David had God on his side. I think David would agree with Paul’s words, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Second, David had faith in God, but he also knew he was involved. What if David had missed with the first stone? Well, he did get five from the stream. God wasn’t going to miss but Peter’s faith shook as he walked on the water. The same could have happened to David. Had the first shot missed, he would have slung another stone and taken aim once again.

Our problems can seem to big. They can seem gigantic. But faith in God can overcome even the biggest problems in life.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pondering with Dr.B.
Thursday Thoughts
Five Smooth Stones

The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” They said this to test him because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.

They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”

11 She said, “No one, sir.”

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore” (John 8:3-11, Common English Bible).

A couple of years ago I had an ah-ha (a.k.a. “a light bulb) moment. How did the Pharisees and legal experts catch the woman caught in adultery? Unless her husband caught her, this story gets pretty creepy.

Clearly the Pharisees and legal experts were in search of a situation like this. They wanted to trap Jesus.

If Jesus said, “She sinned and her sin is a capital offense. Go ahead, stone her.” They would claim Jesus a fraud. “He says love, mercy, and grace are important but where are all those things now? Would this woman not deserve such a promised?

On the other hand, if Jesus says, “No, it isn’t that big of a deal. Let her live.” He downplays the law of Moses. Once again the Pharisees believe Jesus is where they want him.

I see the Pharisees much like Wylie Coyote of Saturday morning cartoon fame. He thinks he has the Roadrunner trapped until his plan backfires and he gets caught in his own trap. Undeterred, the coyote goes right back to work on the next plan. This one will work, until it fails.

Though far-less funny (our kids have no idea what they are missing by not seeing real Saturday morning cartoons) the Pharisees keep try to trap Jesus at every turn, and fail.

Jesus writes in the sand. Today it is unknown what he wrote. Then it was just he, the Pharisees and legal experts. Bible commentators do have ideas. Some say Jesus wrote their sins in the sand. At some point, he says, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He then resumes writing sins in the sand. One by one, the crowd leaves until he and the woman remain.

The other popular explanation from commentators is that Jesus wrote, “Where is the man.” A person cannot commit adultery alone. It takes two. And yes, they brought someone to Jesus who had committed a sin so great, it’s punishment is among the worst deaths humans devised. But, the man committed the same sin. He would deserved punishment. Where was he?

As I was reading this story, I thought, how did they know? Were they violating the woman’s constitutional rights against illegal searches? I jest but still, short searching her house for the problem, or peeping in the windows (either would be creepy), how would they know? Perhaps he wrote, “How do you know?” Or better, “What were you doing in her bedroom?”

Without question, she did sin. Jesus never denies that. He says as much saying, “Go and sin no more.” Her sin didn’t excuse the man involved. Nor were the Pharisees excused from the sins of their hearts.

I think this story is really about hypocrisy. It is interesting that the Pharisees wanted that title, “hypocrite for Jesus a hypocrite. Instead, the title belonged to them.

I am reminded of the old saying, “Be careful when you are pointing at someone else as there are three fingers pointing back on you.”

Be blessed

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

2020 has been a year like no other. I am hearing a lot of people saying, “I can’t wait for that ball to drop in Time’s Square to bring 2021.” I have no idea if 2021 will be better than 2020 or not and honestly, I am not worried about it either.

The 2020-2021 school year also promises to be a school year unlike any other. Students in classrooms, students at home over the internet. The Texas Education Agency is requiring that both classroom and internet options be available to students. That makes things doubly hard for teachers. They need our help.

The help I am talking about will cost you a few minutes of time, but I am also convinced it might be the best investment you make all year.

First of all, I am going to post prayers for teachers on here mid-week. It is something you can print and give to teachers or just pray it with me throughout the day on Wednesday,, but all week.

Second, I am going to blow the dust off something that I started back when just about all of us got sent home, a special nightly prayer time. The time will be different this time around and so with the focus. Though I still pray that scientists will find a way to isolate the virus or find effective treatment etc. Each Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. on the Perritte Memorial Facebook page.

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These prayer times won’t last long but all over the country our teachers need our help. This is one of the things I am working on. We need to be about prayer. I hope you will join me.

Here is my midweek prayer for teachers.

Gracious God,

With humble hearts we come before you thankful for the teachers, administrators, staff and students here at Nettie Marshall. We lift each of them up to you asking your blessings on them for a great school year.

We are blessed Lord for the ways in which all the educators here devote themselves to the work in the classrooms, the hallways, all the common areas and this year with students at home.

We pray that you will give each of these educators the insight to do the best job possible for the benefit and education of these students.

Fill them with the courage to do what is right under circumstances that are often difficult. Fill them with wisdom for good judgement, guiding and helping the students along the way.

Help them in every area of their lives so they may have a year with less stress and more peace, peace of mind, the peace that passes understanding.

Fill them too with great joy. Theirs is a noble calling.  They do the work out of love for students. Hep them maintain the levels of love and joy they have this day that they might maintain the passion for education and impacting student lives.

Lord God, we thank you for these that faithfully serve the educational needs of our community. Without their dedication, our students and our community would fall short. Bless them in their work Father.

We pray all these things in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Be blessed.

In search of the genuine,

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserveed

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While watching television last night a character said, “It was meant to be.” The statement is fairly close to Leslie Weatherhead’s “Ultimate will of God.” But, there is a great deal of range between “It was meant to be” and the “Ultimate Will of God.”

As I contemplated the statement, “It was meant to be,” the following acrostic poem emerged.

Idle minds fail to think things through
Tragically blaming God, is easy to do.

We think it’s only impact is on us
And soon we’re riding the blame bus
Saying God refused us again, so thus:

Moist eyes from tears of heartache so,
Every word brings hate we must stow
A burden to release for love to grow.
Neglect love then hatred will show
To see love is to see God and know

This God is power, this God is might
Once again let God’s love be my sight

Believe God would never fail to love thee
Else we all could say it was meant to be.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved