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

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

A Short Story (Part 1)

Monterey Herald

22 Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him. 23 Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him out of the village. After spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on the man, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”

24 The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.”

25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25, Common English Bible).

Jason, Zach, and I stood in the pro shop. When we checked in the young lady behind the counter, her nametag identified her as Michele, asked if we would mind a fourth to go with our group. I could tell Jason and Zach were less than thrilled but being the one that would spend the day by myself in the golf cart, I jumped in before they had a chance and said, “sure, he can ride with me.”

Michele walked away telling me, “Let me go and get him. He is having a cup of coffee. I’ll be right back.”

Within just a minute or two, Michele came in with a 40 something year-old-man in tow. He had his clubs over his shoulder, wore sun glasses and souvenir golf cap from Lighthouse for the Blind’s many nighttime glow ball scramble tournaments. He extended his hand to me and said, “Hi, I am Tyler. Thanks for letting me tag along. Playing with an unknown fourth can be hard on a group. I appreciate it.”

Jason and Zach looked at each other with a bit of a snide expression. Zach just said, “Shall we?” turned and headed for the door with Jason right behind.

“Your with me, Tyler. I’m Ray. I’m glad we can play together today. I always like to meet new people out here. You also might want to wait on the thanks. I am not a very good golfer, but I like to have a day outdoors, playing with friends. It is far more about that than about golf for me.”

“You probably aren’t that bad. But friends with those two guys?”

“Just wait, you will see. As far as those guys, we have been friends since we were kids. Most of the time they aren’t bad guys. Sorry for the questionable start.”

“There’s no need for you to apologize. You aren’t the one acting like a… well, never mind.”

Tyler and I loaded our clubs on my cart. As we made our way to the first hole I asked him about his hat. “Have you played in the tournament?” I asked pointing to his hat.

“Yes, in fact I have played every year of the Washington, D.C. tournament,” he said.

We got to the tee box and Jason said, “Hey Tyler, why don’t you take the first shot.”

Tyler walked up onto the tee box, pushes is tee into the ground and places his ball on the tee. He stood and took a couple of practice swings and then approached his ball. He brought his club back slowly and then quickly and firmly swung his driver at the ball. On contact the club connected with the ball producing the sound all golfers love, titanium hitting the hard surface of a golf ball. Tyler’s drive went straight down the fairway, landing, perfectly in the center of the fairway 260 yards away.

“Did any of you see where my ball went?” Tyler asked.

“Are you kidding?” asked Zach. “You hit a perfect shot. The only thing that could have made it better would he if you hit the ball another 40 yards. How could you not have seen it?”

As I walked up to the tee box I said Tyler, “Good shot man. Finding the ball won’t be hard.” I hit my shot and as usual, my worm burner was headed to the rough on the right side of the fairway.

Zach and Jason followed with good shots, but not as good as Tyler’s. When I pulled up to Tyler’s ball, after a shot that got me on the fairway, barely beyond Tyler’s tee shot.

Tyler took his second shot and put it on the green, leaving himself about a ten-foot putt for birdie. When the hole ended, Tyler had a birdie 3, Zach made par, and Jason had a bogie. As for me, I had a four over, eight. On the second hole.

Before we got to the second tee-box I saw Michele sitting in a cart waiting. When we stopped she got out with a small ice chest. “Tyler, I saw you accidently left your ice chest in the pro shop. I knew you would need it so I ran it out here.” She laughed and said, “It was a good excuse to get out of the pro shop and out on the course for a few minutes.”

I looked up in time to see Zach and Jason snickering to themselves and shaking their heads. I walked up to them and said, “What is your problem guys?”

“You shouldn’t have agreed to a fourth. It is slowing us down,” said Jason. “Neither of us want someone we don’t know playing with us.”

“He is slowing you down? He outscored both of you on that hole,” I said.

“You too. In fact, I think if you look at the score card, all of us outscored you,” Zach sneered at me.

“You are quite right. I stink at golf. I only play because for some reason I want to spend some time with my friends,” I snapped back.

In the meantime, Tyler was on the tee box of the par-three second hole. Michele stood there for watching Tyler swing. He smoothly swung his club and hit another perfect shot with just the right spin. His ball landed and stuck a foot from the hole. Though he said nothing, I saw him look at Michele, she walked up to him, said something, returned to her cart and drove away. Zach and Jason both split the green, one on each side. My tee-shot went onto the green, going about 15 feet past the pin.

As we drove away from the tee-box to the green, I asked Tyler, “What was that with Michele?”

He replied, “I am a Type 1 diabetic. I have to keep food and drinks in my little ice chest. There is some insulin in there too.”

“No, no.” I said. “I saw you look at her right after your shot. Then she came up to you. Just wanting to make sure everything is OK.”

“I have a hard time seeing the ball sometimes. I am good friends with the club pro and when I don’t have anyone I can play with, he will let Michelle come play at least 9 holes with me. She got used to standing on the tee-box and watching me hit the ball and telling me where it landed. Since she was there I didn’t want to hear Zach and Jason again. I knew you didn’t know to watch and I knew Michele would be watching. She looks for ways to help people around the club.”

“Well,” I told Tyler, “I will stand on the back of the tee-box and watch your ball and let you know where it lands. When we finish this hole, why don’t we let Zach and Jason go on ahead. I have played plenty with them. I think we will have a better day.”

I looked over at Tyler as he pulled his putter from his golf bag, started to head for the hole. Suddenly he stopped and turned around and said…

To be continued…

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Barbara Franco helps her husband U.S. Navy veteran, Carlos Franco with his service dog Miguel on the practice range at Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Club in Seaside on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. Franco who is blind is learning golf through the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program at the Seaside golf course. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald)

Sergeant. Wayne Broyles, Fireman Johnnie L. Broyles, Petty Officer 2nd Class Keith Broyles

He said:
    The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer.
    My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!—
    he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength,
    my place of safety and my shelter.
    My savior! Save me from violence!
Because he is praiseworthy,
    I cried out to the Lord,
    and I was saved from my enemies. (2 Samuel 22:2-4, Common English Bible)

Yesterday was Veterans Day. At least to me, this day is special. Yesterday was even more special because my Uncle Mike was the author of yesterday’s post, where he talked about his friend, college classmate, and good friend Clint Ward. I was very moved my my uncle’s words.

Veterans Day is the day each year we stop and remember all who served in the military. It and two other days and the reasons behind them are often confused. Each, in their own right is a very special day that should give all Americans a moment to stop, pause and reflect.

Armed Forces Day is the day we celebrate the men and women who serve our country right now. We celebrate Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday of May. The day is a big deal. It is a day set aside for those who currently serve and protect the freedoms we enjoy.

Part of my purpose in this post is to thank those in my family who have worn the uniform. To the best of my knowledge I do not have anyone in my family currently in the military. If there is someone who I should have in this column please let me know for future posts.

Memorial Day is the day most important of the three. Celebrated on the fourth Monday of May, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. These men and women died in action during one of the conflicts of the United States. I believe it is the most important because, while many of us have worn the uniform, I and all I know personally have lived to tell about it.

Like Armed Forces Day, to the best of my knowledge, of those who gave their lives in the service of the United States, none were lost in action. Again, to my family members, if I have neglected this category, please email me a correction.

Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11th each year. This date was originally “Armistice Day,” the day that brought an end to World War I. Veteran’s Day honors all who have served the U.S. military.

In his “Armistice Day” address to the country, President Woodrow Wilson wrote, “To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”

In 1926 Congress requested of President Calvin Coolidge  that issue annual proclamations calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. Twelve years later, in 1938, Congress made November 11th a Federal holiday.

Following World War II a World War II vet, Raymond Weeks, with the backing of other vets, and the backing of General Dwight D. Eisenhower to use Armistice Day as a day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who served in World War I. Weeks led the first Veteran’s Day celebration in Alabama on November 11, 1947. He led such celebrations until his death in 1985.

On May 26, 1954, Congress passed and President Eisenhower signed into law a bill stating that “Armistice Day” was a day for all Veterans. The day, as passed, however, was short-lived. A week later, on June 1, 1954, Congress amended the bill, changing the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is commonly spelled, “Veteran’s” or “Veterans'” Day. According the website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” this is incorrect, “because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”

Before my parent’s generation, I don’t know about military service in my family. I feel certain there was but I don’t know it. Help from family members would be appreciated. Also if I leave anyone out, please help me out.

James “Jim” N. Broyles – Jim was my dad’s older brother and he served at the end of World War II. I just told you all I know about Uncle Jim’s service.

Johnnie L. Broyles – Navy, U.S.S. Tolovana, Fireman. In the Navy a Fireman is not what you think. A Fireman is a rank (an E3) and consists of duty assignments that are primarily below decks. Dad worked as a boilerman and as an engineman on the Tolovana during the Korean Conflict. The ship was a fleet oiler. They refueled the fleet at sea. They made regular trips into the war zone to fulfill their mission.

Mearl Oquinn, Jr. – Mearl was my father-in-law. He was a Navy Seabee. He served in Hawaii, Alaska, and Guam.

Col. Michael R. Seale, United States Air Force (Retired). Michael (My mother’s oldest brother) served 27 years in the Air Force beginning in 1967 when he graduated from Texas A&M. He began his service during the Vietnam War. He service included tours at White Sands NM, Thailand, Colorado Springs, Germany, Trenton, New Jersey, Dover Delaware, and more.

Thomas B. Broyles – Uncle Tommy is my dad’s youngest brother. He served in the Air Force. I don’t know much more about his service than I just said.

James K. Broyles, Navy. I was a Second Class Petty Officer. I was a signalman, a job the Navy has since retired. I sent and received signals using semaphore, flashing light Morse Code, and maritime flags. We also encoded and decoded signals. I served aboard the U.S.S. Mt. Whitney. Officially called an amphibious command ship, the Mt. Whitney is (still commissioned and now one of the Navy’s oldest ships) a communication’s platform. When I was on this ship, it served as the flagship for Commander Second Fleet, Commander Amphibious Group 2, and Commander Fourth Marine Amphibious Brigade. If you are keeping score, that is six stars on that ship all the time.

Darrell R. Seale – Darrell is my cousin and a second generation Air Force officer. My Uncle Mike commissioned his son Darrell into the Air Force. Darrell was the officer who retired my Uncle. I am embarrassed to say, I just told you all I know about Darrell’s military service.

Michael W. Broyles – Known in our family as Wayne. Wayne entered the Marine Corps and advanced to Staff Sergeant while on active duty and then to Sergeant while in the reserves. He repaired electronic equipment (and that is all he says he can tell me and I am good with that). Wayne was in Iraq for the second Gulf War. He also spent time in Japan, Australia, Kuwait, and San Diego.

Aaron Oquinn – Aaron (Cindy’s youngest brother, Thomas’ son) served in the Marine Corp. I need to learn a bit more about Aaron’s service. He did serve in California.

As I have previously said, these are all the family members I know who served in the military. I welcome corrections and additional information.

I am proud of my service in the Navy. I am equally proud of the other members of my family who have served. To each, thank you for your service.

I had hoped to put together a list of friends who have also served but I ran out of time. Perhaps a project for next year.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Missing Man Formation

This is not my [Keith’s] post. This post is written by Col. Michael R. Seale, United States Air Force, Retired. I had asked Col. Seale to write a post back when I did a series of posts as I was moving to Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church in Nacogdoches, TX. I’m not exactly sure what happened but it fell through the cracks. A couple of weeks ago Col. Seale sent me the post again with a suggestion that I consider using it for Veteran’s Day. I agreed wholeheartedly.

Col. Seale is one of the finest men I have ever known. I have known him all my life. He is my mother’s oldest brother. While I think he is one of our country’s great heroes because of his 27 years of service. But, even if he is not a hero to you, he always will be to me. My Uncle Mike was who I wanted to be when I grew up.

Uncle Mike’s story is a true Veteran’s Day story. I am grateful to him for thinking about how this would be a good message for Veteran’s Day. As you read this, I pray it will remind you how blessed we are to have heroes like my Uncle Mike and his friend Clint.

9“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend. (John 15:9-13, New King James Version).

I write these thoughts not as a clergyman, or as I tell Keith, “a learned man.”  Rather, they are my thoughts about a real-world situation that helps teach us about two important concepts—courage and eternal love. November 2, 2019 was an incredibly special day for me. Some would say bitter-sweet. On that day we celebrated and memorialized a man who died a little more than 50 years ago. 

As I hope you will come to learn by reading this, Neal “Clint” Ward was not just “a man”. He was much more than that. I hope to tell you something about this special man and about the activities of his memorial service. 

I met Clint while we were attending Texas A&M. When we graduated in May of 1967, we got our commissions in the Air Force and headed off to serve our country. He entered flight training and I started what ended up being a 27-year career in the Air Force. We did not see each other for almost two years when we met again in Nakhon Phanam (NKP), Thailand, in 1969. He was assigned to fly air rescue in a World War II era prop driven aircraft.

We met occasionally at the Club to share a meal. That gave us a chance to catch up on what the other was doing. It was just such a day in September 1969 that we were having breakfast together. Little did either of us know, we were sharing the last meal Clint would ever have on earth. We were both happy doing what we were doing and both of us were in good health and doing well. We enjoyed our time together and decide we would met “after work” and have dinner. After all, it was Taco Night! Those Thai rice farmers, turned cooks, made some “mean” tacos. And I do mean “mean”. But we didn’t have much choice—it was over 9,200 miles back home.

So that night, I was standing near the door to the dining room when a squadron flying mate of Clint’s came up to ask if I was waiting for Clint. He told me that Clint would not be coming. He had been shot down over Laos. 

Good thing I was standing next to the wall. I mean, we had just had breakfast and now he was gone. I asked the pilot if there was any chance he had gotten out and he said no chance at all. No one saw a chute and the airplane exploded in the air and scattered debris all over the ground in a wide pattern. They flew over the site for a long time and no one saw any sign of life. 

Over the period of days following, I talked about the mission with a number of his fellow pilots. Everything I have is second hand, but I believe it all to be true. They started their day with Clint leading the attack and completely destroyed a large convey delivering arms and ammunition to the enemy. They then diverted to attempt rescue of a downed crew member who had been shot down and parachuted to get out of his burning aircraft but was now being encircled by the bad guys. That was the main mission of this group of warriors, rescuing downed crewmen. Many of which owes his life to these men.

The rescue flight usually was configured with two A-1s and two helicopters (Jolly Green Giants). The A-1s would fly suppression to keep the downed airman safe and to protect the choppers. 

In this case, there was heavy cloud cover and the A-1s could not get through to get to the bad guys so they orbited until they could. Finally, a small clearing opened up. Clint was a smart guy and I know he knew every gun in the valley was pointed at that small opening. He knew there was extreme danger going through the opening. However, I knew Clint well enough to know he was thinking, “If not me, who?” The bad guys were getting closer and closer to the downed crew member. Clint thundered through the opening. Every gun in the valley fired on him and he was hit and killed. Clint willing gave his life to try to save the pilot on the ground. There is no better example of “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Clint is a true hero who gave his life for his fellow man. 

Clint and I had never spoken directly about this possibility, but we had discussed why we were there.  It always came back to “it’s my duty”, “to serve America”, “to honor God” …” “if not us, who”.

Most of us don’t have the opportunity to know and be in the presence of a true hero. I’m honored to be a person who knew a man that is a real hero. He not only laid down his life for his friend, but he also gave us a living, true example of what Christ did for us all—He laid down is life for each of us so we would have eternal life. Clint and men like him, give their lives so others may live on this earth.  Christ laid down his life, perhaps thinking, “if not me, who”?  The day Christ laid down his life, he did so for all his “friends, who believed in Him and followed his commandments.

The night after the funeral, the Sierra Area Aggie Club invited the 15 Aggies from the Class of ‘67 who were visiting for the ceremony to join them for dinner. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Reno. Just before dinner, their President was making welcoming remarks and at the end of his remarks he said, “Mr. Seale, tonight you can have those tacos.”

I had waited 50 years to say, “welcome home my friend” and share a taco with him. So here we were, some 8,500 miles away from where a hero went down while attempting to save a fellow pilot. That room in the restaurant was full of family, friends, and fellow service men.  What filled the room even more was the spirit of Clint Ward, a great man, and a hero and also the spirit of a loving Christ who gave his life so we would have eternal life.

While I am a Veteran, my name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as heroes like Clint Ward and my Uncle Mike. They lived being exposed to shots fired in anger. In Clint’s case, not only shots fired in anger, but shots that met their mark. We owe a debt of gratitude to Veteran’s who served our country in time of war for all the sacrifices they made.

Thank you Uncle Mike. Thank you for this post but even more thank you for your many years of service to this great country.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith (for Uncle Mike)

Copyright 2020, Michael R. Seale, All Rights Reserved

Normally, I make my weekly, “Mid-Week Prayer for Teachers,” a post for Wednesday. That being said, tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and we will have a special guest post from Col. Michael R. Seale, USAF, Ret. that is specifically for Veteran’s Day. I know I have doubled up and essentially done two posts in one day. But, I don’t want to take away from teachers, talking about veterans and I don’t want to take away veterans talking about teachers. Both are important and we can easily solve the problem by changing teachers prayers by one day.

Thank you God for the teacher’s call
And for their students, one and all.
We thank you for the work they do
Thank you for lessons old and new.

Thank you for those who pave the way
Who open student hearts every day.
Loving kids who make the job fun,
Changing lives that think hope is done.

Thank you for teaching kids to read,
And to write, a skill they will need.
Teaching them math, to count and add
Seeing kids learn makes the heart glad.

Teach them history and let them see
The ultimate cost of liberty.
Show them how our government works
Democracy with its quirks and perks.

Let them see science solves human need
and to know there’s a world to feed.
Physics to atoms and great earthquakes
To miss the stars would be a mistake.

Music and art make our lives whole,
Challenge and sport help meet that goal.
To see kids learn ways to succeed
Will change their lives, their work and deed.

Lord thank you for those you call to teach
Give strength to bless those hard to reach
For those who change the lives of children,
We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, New Revised Standard Version)

Today’s “Thirty Days of Thanks” challenge is to share your favorite book. When I wrote this challenge I forgot that I had to write on this subject too. This is really hard because I have a lot of favorite books. Favorite biography, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, favorite book on prayer, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, favorite theology, The Will of God by Leslie Weatherhead, Favorite techno-thriller (in general my favorite reads) Executive Orders Tom Clancey,

The list could go on and on. But, as I thought about what my favorite book might be, I would think of The Circle Maker and then think, but what about Silence. Then I might think, I love Mike Ashcraft’s book, My One Word. It wasn’t long, however, before I was thinking about Silence. It became clear in pretty short order that the book was Silence. I love this novel and it is very different from anything else I have ever read.

Silence was a “Thou shalt read this book.” When I was in seminary I took a course titled, “Preaching and Contemporary Literature.” It was my one and only seminary course that the required textbooks were all novels and short story anthologies. We each had to write a sermon from any two of the required texts.

My first sermon used, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Patton. Patton’s book is a classic I first read in high school. It is the story of two fathers, one whose son was murdered by the other man’s son. The murdered man was a a wealthy merchant. He also was white. The murder’s father was a priest and was black. The book also became a movie starring James Earl Jones. It is the story of forgiveness and grace and I do recommend the book if you have not read it before.

Still, of all the books we read, my favorite was Silence. The story is of a Roman Catholic pries/missionary from Portugal named Father Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s mentor was an illegal missionary to Japan in the 1500s. His name was Fierro and he abdicated the faith. Rodriguez wants to know why.

He seeks permission to go to Japan, find Fierro AND teach the Japanese about Jesus and having faith in Jesus Christ.

During his travels, Rodriguez encounters a Japanese man named Kiko Jiro who agrees to help Rodriguez sneak into Japan. Kiko Jiro is true to his word and gets Rodriguez into Japan but then disappears.

Rodriguez starts to work teaching the Japanese about Jesus.

Eventually, the Japanese, with the help of Kiko Jiro find Rodriguez and the Japanese Christians. He is held in his hut but otherwise treated well. His only visitor is Kiko Jiro, who seeks forgiveness for having led the Japanese to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez can’t understand why the Japanese treating him so well. The food is good. He is left alone in his hut. When guards come in he is treated well. Eventually things do change. Rodriguez is asked to follow a guard from his hut. In front of him is his church. All the Japanese Christians are in front of him. They are the ones receiving torture. At least according to his Japanese captures, the Japanese Christians have already denied the faith. “Why do you continue torturing them?” Rodriguez asks.

“For you,” he is told. “A plaque of the face of Jesus comes out and laid on the ground. “Step on His face,” Rodriguez is told. “Then it will stop.”

Rodriguez now understands why his mentor abdicated the faith. He is also faced with an incredibly difficult decision. If he is faithful to the actions of a Catholic priest, but his people, those he led to the faith will remain in the hands of their torturers.

On the other hand, if he steps on the faith, the torture will stop, but so will his life as a Catholic priest. “24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew 16:24-26, New Revised Standard Version. It kind of gives new meaning to those verses.

The face seems to come alive and Jesus says to Rodriguez, “Trample, trample. This is why I came to earth, to absorb the sins of humanity.”

As I think about that, it seems to me, that Rodriguez does what may possibly be the most Christian thing he ever did when he stepped on the face. Endo’s next words are haunting, they made the hair on my arms stand up, “And in the distance, he heard a cock crow.

Other than to tell you that eventually Rodriguez does meet with his mentor. He also continues to meet with Kiko Jiro. Beyond that, I will leave it for you to read the book.

Silence also becomes a book though I did not find the book to be as good as the movie.

Take the time to read. You might find something special.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Worship service from Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 8, 2020. The sermon series is “Let’s Eat.” The Sermon title is, “Pass the Bread.”

The URL below will take you to Facebook.

Be Blessed

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved for the sermon