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,
Keith

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,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Sources:
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.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart. Born Thy people to deliver,

Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Advent, a season of waiting. It isn’t a long season, as seasons go, but it is the season we wait for the birth of the Christ child, anew in our hearts. It is a season of about four weeks in length. The actual length depends on the day of the week we celebrate Christmas Day. This year it happens to be a Friday. There are always four Sundays during Advent but this year there are only three Fridays and three Saturdays.

For children, the season seems to drag on forever as they await two things. First, is the two week break they get from school. Second, and far more important for most kids, when school ends Christmas is almost here. And, Christmas means presents.

Once one is an adult the time isn’t so slow. In fact, time seems to run even faster. There is more to do than it seems we have time to accomplish.

And still, we wait.

Our waiting is nothing compared to the waiting of the Jews, back in the days of the author of this hymn, “Charles Wesley.” For Jews, the wait has been even longer than centuries. They have waited for the Messiah’s arrival for more than 4000 years. And, still they wait.

They wait in vane. They wait in vane because of our reason for celebrating when this season of waiting called Advent comes to an end.

For many of us, singing this hymn and a few others marks the beginning of the wait we call Advent. Even if we pay little attention to the calendar, if we attend worship, the shift in the music to songs like this one, “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and “Lift Up Your Head, Ye Mighty Gates,” signals the beginning of the annual, spiritual pilgrimage back to a stable and a manger.

Written around 1744, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” is just one the approximately 8000 hymns written by Charles Wesley. This hymn proved to be so popular that it was reprinted 20 times during before he passed away in 1788.

When Wesley wrote this hymn he found himself surrounded by poverty, particularly the squalor of orphaned British children. Wesley’s time was a time much like ours today. It was a time of weakness in the Church and the power of sin in the world. It was a time where the divisions between the upper class and everyone else was growing quickly. This was most greatly seen in the homeless orphans of 18th century England. They were all but ignored by the world. The hymn is Wesley’s petition for the return of Jesus.

The themes of setting people free from the sin that is present in all our lives. Come and release us, Wesley writes. Bring our rest, return our strength and consolation. Give us hope and joy. Come long expected Lord Jesus, come and deliver us.

The second verse demonstrates that the hymn is as much for us today as it was when Wesley originally wrote it. “Born to reign in us, brought to the royal thrown. By the power of the Holy Spirit, alone God rule in us and bring us to you, not for what we have done but through your grace.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens;
 praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens; and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were
created.
He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which
cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
    his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful,  for the
people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 148:1-14, New Revised Standard Version)

I don’t think that, by this point in my writing of this blog, that it should be a surprise that I love music. The truth is, I do love music and I am a sucker for Christmas music.

When I first reported aboard ship in the Navy, I was assigned to the wardroom (that is where the officers eat their meals) for mess duty. Mess duty is something just about all enlisted sailors do fairly soon after reporting to their ship for duty. In my case I had been on the Mt. Whitney for less than two weeks when I was assigned to the wardroom for four and half months. It was right around December 1st, when I reported, when the ship returned from a European cruise. After a week of orientation it was on to mess duty. I finished about the end of March.

The ship had its own radio station (WLCC) but it generally only played when we were at sea. Around the ship there were gray boxes attached to the bulkhead that had a four-switch dial on it for the choice of “station.” There really was only station but in port, we carried four local stations. At sea there was the ships station that played a wide variety of music and three others that were just recording tapes of various other kinds of music.

We spent all of December and most of January before we went to sea. During December, channel “D” was Christmas music. When all my co-workers were out doing other things, I flipped the switch to “D” and it was all Christmas music. It would last for a bit and then someone would come in and flip the switch and we were once again it was some heavy rock and roll.

Music has always been a part of our tradition in the Judeo-Christian faith. Scripture reminds us in many places of that same line of thought. In the psalm above, the psalmist talks about praising God, the heavenly host, and so much more. Psalms is the hymnal of the ancient Jews. Quite frankly, I can’t fathom worship, at least not on a long term basis without music.

Christmas music as a genre probably doesn’t go back as far. Still, there is a very rich tradition in the beautiful music of the season.

The December challenge is all about Christmas music. I challenge you to listen, in some cases for some of you, it may be the first time you have heard the song. For others you are re-listening for who knows how many times. Take a moment and listen. You can find all these songs in places like YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Music and more. Write down your memories. Write down how the songs to you. Let the music speak to others through you. I look forward to hearing your stories.

Feel free to post your stories as replies to this post. You can post them on my page, my author’s page, Perritte Memorial’s page, Spirit’s Breath, Stone Tablets, your own page or somewhere else where your stories of Christmas music might touch the lives of others.

The calendar above has all the songs for the month. I hope to hear some of your story this month.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Sitting on the premises, it’s my first time
When they stared at me, I thought I’d done a crime
I was in their seat, they thought of me as slime
Sitting on the premises at Church

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises its Holy Ground
The preacher tells us we should let our love abound
I show up on Sunday, more would just astound
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises of Christ’s own Church
For today’s lesson I will not go search
When it’s read aloud my lips will form a smirch
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises I know there’s more
Maybe what the preacher said can tell the score
I don’t want to live my life just before,
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises grace comes to me
It’s a gift that God gives us all you see.
The gift is so that we can have eternity,
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises from sin I’m free
Through the blood of Jesus, I have victory
I tell all the world what God has done for me and
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing, Standing, standing on the promises, of Christ my savior
Standing, Standing, I’m standing on the promises at church.


Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t suppress the Spirit. 20 Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, 21 but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-21, Common English Bible)


Yesterday was the day we need to thank God for what we have. As I thought about it, my mind went to the letter “F.” We all have many things for which we can be thankful but as I was thinking, much of what Thanksgiving Day is about. Those things are Food, Football, Fellowship, Friends, Family, and Faith (actually in reverse order). There is also a bonus “F” at the bottom.


Food

Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without the food. I spent the last five weeks using the food from our traditional Thanksgiving tables as metaphors for at least part of the Christian life. In case you missed it, we talked first about the dressing, then cranberry sauce, followed by bread, turkey, and pecan pie. If you take a look at me, it is pretty obvious this first Thanksgiving “F” seem to get along quite well.

Most of us, even if unable to spend time with family yesterday were still able to enjoy some good food. It might not have been the traditional fare, but it never the less is food. May all of us who have be thankful for that and remember those who little BOTH pray for and generous with what we have so that one day, food insecurity might be a non-issue in years to come. I would love for that day to be sooner rather than later.

Football

Growing up in Texas meant growing up a football fan. The game of choice in my family had nothing to do with the Houston Oilers of my childhood or the Houston Texans today or the Dallas Cowboys (both played yesterday but not against each other).

My Uncle Mike was the first college graduate in the family and was an alum of Texas A&M. He played in the Aggie Band and we were ALL Aggie fans through thick and thin. I have Thanksgiving memories of my grandparents listening the the Texas vs. Texas A&M football game for many, many years. Later, for television the game move to the Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Then ESPN brought it back on Thanksgiving night.

That lasted until Thanksgiving 2011 when A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC. Most of the time I prefer A&M in the stronger SEC but at Thanksgiving I really wish we still had Texas and Texas A&M going at it. The Lions and Cowboys will never be on the same Thanksgiving playing field to me.

I know most people still love those Thanksgiving Day games and in many families, it is the family’s own Turkey Bowl. I am sure at least some will miss family bragging rights this seas.

Fellowship

The time and stories shared among family and friends is a priceless time. For many those will continue just in a different way. Zoom, Facebook Rooms and many others will still provide that Fellowship time. Is it the way many would like? Probably not. But, is it the way many people, due to employment situations and more, consider themselves fortunate when they did get to spend Thanksgiving together.

Friends

Social distancing has changed the face of friendship.

I must say, it has been a long time since I spent time with friends on Thanksgiving. For most of my life, Thanksgiving has been a family time. Even when we were unable to meet with our greater family it was usually a time for the four of us to be together. For many, however, friends are their family. Wednesday night I watched an episode of S.W.A.T. At the end of the episode one of the characters received a phone call from friends. She said, “Those are friends. This is family.” For them, friends are family and where they want to spend Thanksgiving.

Covid has changed the way we see friends. I find that as I meet new people which happens all the time in my work, after a lifetime of shaking hands with others, I am having to quickly withdraw my hand after habit has stepped in and present an elbow instead. It has changed our way of doing things in so many of our friendship situations.

Family

And, now, for the one we all want most. Just about all of us have family and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas to come, are holidays we want to spend with our families. ALL of us want this. I confess, I am one who is spending this holiday with family away from my home. A trip like this was going to be necessary to check on family that need help that is difficult to deliver from 200 miles away. But for us, vacation schedules worked best tied to this holiday weekend.

What I would say to you is this, if you need to go, go. Just be careful. Take all necessary precautions. Do this if it is a holiday period or if it is a typical day. Wear your mask. It really does make a difference. Wash your hands, sanitize surfaces for yourself as an extra layer of protection. Put as much distance between you and others as possible. You can still have a conversation six feet apart.

When I did youth work I told the kids, “God gave you a brain. Please use it. If you think it might get you in trouble, it probably will. Don’t do it.” I say the same thing to you. God gave you a brain, please use it. In other words think hard about what you are doing before you do it. If you think it could put you or others at risk, please don’t do it.

Faith

I am also thankful for my faith. Faith, says Paul, is a gift of the Spirit. We grow faith and nurture faith. I am thankful God is a part of my life. I am blessed with food on the table, activities I enjoy (not so much football anymore for me), people I am able to share my life with, great friends, a loving family, and so much more that are all gifts from God. I am a blessed man.

Several weeks ago when I tested positive for Covid, I have a congregation that supported me through the whole time. I am blessed. We went online with our worship again. It was four Sundays, but then we were back.

Earlier this week my mother’s church, much larger than my own, announced that they were going back online for at least the next three weeks because of an outbreak in the church and community.

Friends, please know, pastors do not take these decisions lightly. We are trying to do what is in the best interest of the people we serve. The result could be activities none of us where none of us want to be part.

Bonus:

I LOVE THIS MASK

I decided to include face masks (Hey, it starts with “F”) because I am thankful for the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves this Thanksgiving and every day.

“Oh, those masks don’t protect me, they are uncomfortable, and they are hot.” Perhaps, yes, and yes to each, in that order. Having something that blocks out the virus, even if not fully reliable is going to protect you more than nothing at all. But, beyond that, if you have the virus and don’t know it, you can protect the people around you, including your friends and family. Ignoring masks is not a sign of masculinity (I hear about being macho more than similar terms for women). It doesn’t make you look powerful, it makes you look selfish. Remember Paul’s words to the Philippians, “Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, Common English Bible).

And, as I have said here before, just because you have the right, does not make it right.

Friends, I have had the virus. I am thankful mine was a relatively mild case. But, while I am no longer contagious I still have issues. It is something. It isn’t a mild form of something else. It is very real.

It is also not a hoax. Way too many of us can’t keep a secret where only a handful of people know. Somebody soon enough will break with the group and talk. If we humans have trouble with that do you really think we can pull of a hoax of this proportion?

My favorite quote from all this is, you don’t have to believe me if you don’t want. You don’t have to believe the authorities, talking heads on television, politicians, medical authorities or researchers. Take a moment and talk to your own doctor. Talk to the person you pay your hard-earned dollars for medical advice and see what they tell you. If you aren’t willing to listen to them about Covid, why do you give them your money about anything. Find a doctor you will listen to about this and other things. Again, God gave you a brain, please use it.

Be responsible. Let’s help each other and we will probably celebrate Thanksgiving again next year.

Finally, I pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving, limited though it may be. And remember, God is with us and where God is, there is always hope.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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,
Keith

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.
Amen.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

Some years ago I bought a book in a used book store. Sometime after I got home an old newspaper clipping fell out. I picked it up and it was a humorous article that listed several traditional hymns and then said something about our human condition. As you can read from the title, the song is above. It goes to the tune of “Showers of Blessings”

Sometime ago I lost the newspaper clipping and I can only remember four of the ten or so songs. These are a little longer than my usual Saturday post but there were things that needed to be said. Enjoy.


17“Now then, my flock, I, the Sovereign LORD, tell you that I will judge each of you and separate the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats. 18Some of you are not satisfied with eating the best grass; you even trample down what you don’t eat! You drink the clear water and muddy what you don’t drink! 19My other sheep have to eat the grass you trample down and drink the water you muddy. (Ezekiel 34:17-19, Good News Translation).


There shall be showers of blessing
From God a promise we gain,
We hear the blessings on roof-tops
It sounds a whole lot like rain;

Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee


There shall be showers of blessing
raincoats will keep our clothes dry
wet is my head as the rain falls
lost that umbrella of mine…


Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.

There shall be showers of blessing
I pray the waters soon peak.
blessings on blessings around me,
rain hasn’t stopped here all week…


Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.


There shall be showers of blessing
The dog tries to shake his fur dry.
He raised his head to the heavens
And barks at the rain in the sky…


Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.


There shall be showers of blessing,
Today I stayed home on a lark.
blessings are gone its just water,
I think I will build me an ark;


Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.


There shall be showers of blessing,
Thunder won’t run me away.
We need some rain for a harvest
Thank God I’m in Church today


Showers of blessing,
Some rain will not keep us away
We will not melt we’re not sugar
Through showers we’ll worship today.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.



Psalms and Poetry, there is already a relationship there. I pray this builds on that relationship. Inspired by Psalm 1, Fork in the Road.


Friend when you come to a fork in the road
One path goes where hardship lives and flows.
The second trail is the way we find life.
The forked road leads us to joy or to strife.

When you find a fork in the road, take it.*
Pray God leads you where to go and see it.
Lord show me your way and help me make it.
When you find a fork in the road, take it.

When we face life’s decisions make a choice
To not decide just takes away your voice
Lord help me find my way, to you this day
Here’s a forked road, help me find your way.

When you find a fork in the road, take it.*
Pray God leads you where to go and make it.
Lord show me your way and help me make it.
When you find a fork in the road, take it.

To live this life for you I’ll find your joy.
To travel on life’s path in your employ
I’ll delight in you each day, and I say
When you find a fork in the road, take it.

When you find a fork in the road, take it.*
Pray God leads you where to go and make it.
Lord show me your way and help me make it.
When you find a fork in the road, take it.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

* Quote from Yogi Berra popularly called a “Yogism.” I am thankful for his sense of the quote. He gave a lot of people, a lot of laughs.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved