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,

* 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

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30, New Revised Standard Version)

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! (Matthew 13:26-43 New Revised Standard Version).

Last night I started leading a study using Mike Ashcraft’s book, My One Word. I have led the study before and really enjoyed it. I didn’t start writing this until Cindy and I were home. But the idea for a poem started rattling around in my head. I finished it so I thought I would post it today.

Way back in Bible days, long, long ago
With seeds sewn they wait, for a crop to grow
Then workers see, the wheat is full of weeds
We’ll go pull weeds, it shall be our good deed

Bud you need to leave those weeds alone
We’ll clean them out once the crop is grown
Then separate the weeds from the wheat
The weeds shall die in fire and heat.

The story is not about weeds and wheat
Nor an enemy who steals, robs, and cheats.
Some of us are weeds and some are the wheat
For the wheat one day Jesus we will meet.

Friend let me tell you about the weeds.
They are God’s children like you and me.
God decides who gets heaven above.
The weeds are plants we failed to love.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Midweek Prayer for Teachers

Dear God,

We praise you for your love you show us each day. We are reminded that faith in you is faith well founded. We know we can speak and are confident you will hear. We know we can place our trust in you and be confident that before we pray a single word, that you know the needs for which we pray. We pray, confident that our prayers fall on loving ears and that we do not pray in vain.  We pray knowing you are fully trustworthy. Father, please give our teachers the ability to trust you in every situation in which they find themselves. Guide them in their work from the smallest things, and in big things, especially when things seem uncertain, and out of their control. In moments when they believe there doesn’t seem to be enough them, to do all the things needing to be done,  we pray for you anoint their time, multiply their hours and give them success, even when all seems overwhelming. We know that you do more in a single day than we can do in a lifetime of work on our own. Bless their work Lord, that each student might grow through their work anointed by you and demonstrating the love you have for all the world.

In Jesus’ Name,

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)

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

Today is a day some celebrate, some don’t. For all of us I pray that it is a time to join together and move forward. That is not what this post is about. If you notice the Thirty Days of Thanks Calendar, today is being thankful for the time we are given. That is what this post is about, much of which was written prior to the news of the day. Unfortunately I fell asleep before I completed this poem. Be thankful and a good steward of the 168 hours for the week.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, New Revised Standard Version)

Everyday, a gift of time
Twenty-four hours for my grind
Free to use mine how I please,
In this moment, how will I seize?

Sands still flow down the glass in the hour
Church bells ring this time is ours.
Minutes tick by, time is not gone,
Each day gives us a brand new dawn.

We get 24 in a day.
Time for work, sleep, and play
I think on God’s majestic pines
Each day we do run out of time

I’ve more work than hours each day
I need sleep so no way I can stay
Need time for the brain to unwind
Boss I don’t need the overtime.

We always want more we can’t deny.
But we can’t steal, borrow, or buy.
We have time and still want more
May God our lives each day restore.

With no way to increase our hours.
Learn to cook and you will have power.
To witness and learn and then take aim,
Living in grace is not a game.

Time to play with a child this day,
The joy in that time should lead the way.
To teach each child to use their time.
To serve the world for humankind.

Thankful for times we’re called to serve
Praise for time we don’t deserve.
God has blessed us through all time
To live for God, loves light does shine.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Best Friends

Best Friend Hug

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17, English Standard Version)

Most of my friends these days are other preachers. My two closest friends are both preachers. Paul (please pray for Paul he had surgery not long ago and could use your prayers) I often say, “Paul is my oldest friend in ministry and you can take that anyway you want.” Paul and I served on opposite ends of the same district in our first appointment. Paul was at the far west side not only of the old Bryan District, but the Texas Annual Conference. Elwood, my first appointment, was on the far eastern edge of the old Bryan District. It is about 70 miles from one church to the other.

The first revival I ever had in a church, Paul came and led the music. The preacher who I asked to preach that week had a death in his family, at the last minute, Paul stepped up and preached for me the first night.

When I graduated for seminary, Paul was serving at Groveton and I was appointed to Grapeland. It was an even shorter distance of 42 miles. Paul and Margie and Cindy and I, often with their son Ryan and our son Christopher (Wayne was a Marine by then) went out for dinner, often. There were lots of cards and domino games too.

While I was at Pleasant Retreat in Tyler Texas, Paul went to Brownsboro, a distance of probably 30 miles. Paul got me more into fishing in those days. We played quite a bit of golf (OK, what we did, to call it golf, is an insult to golfers everywhere) I also finished my doctorate degree. While I was working on a special project that turned into my dissertation, and I needed some help, Paul was right there along with another friend, Joanne. I couldn’t have done that project without their help.

Paul retired several years ago but we actually live in the same town now. It is always good to be able to spend time with Paul. He also has been present for many of the major events in the life of my family, including the funerals of both of Cindy’s parents and he sung at my father’s funeral. I am so thankful for this one of my best friends.

Jay and I met shortly before we started seminary at SMU. We served appointments that were, at most, 15 miles apart during the first two years. We road back and forth to school together every week during those first two years. We both still swear that what is said in the car while driving back and forth to seminary stays in the car.

When we graduated we had some miles between us but still talked often on the phone. We kept up with the praises and joys in our families and our churches. It wasn’t long before we were in the same district again but later I was in the Houston area and he was five hours north. My son and Jay’s two sons (one a year older than Christopher and one a year younger) because friends as well.

Through good times and bad, Jay and I have been there to support each other. We were ordained deacons together and elders together. We have gone to countless continuing education events along with Paul and our friend Chuck. When Cindy’s dad passed, again, Jay, like Paul was right there.

Even back in those early seminary days, the youth from our congregations did a lot together. We spent a week working on the house of an elderly man’s home. We added a wheelchair ramp, painted some of the house, installed screens on windows and a screen door on the front door and more. The kids went home each afternoon and got a shower and change of clothes and then we were off in the evening for some fun time.

I am thankful for my best friend Jay. He has blessed my life.

If I had written this post a few months ago, I would have had to have given you three. My third bestfriend, Mike, passed away. Mike’s first two years of seminary were my last two. When Mike started to seminary he was a Presbyterian. We told him and I was one of the loudest voices, that he was going to become Methodist. For the most part, we were joking with him but as it turned out, we were also prophetic. Before I graduated Mike was a licensed student local pastor in the United Methodist Church.

Mike was a registered nurse before he entered ministry. We spent a week during summer camp we worked together in the infirmary. I did the paperwork, Mike made sure the right med (medications kids were already part of treatment regimens or that the doctor in town prescribed for kids we took in because they were sick) went to the right kid and they took the right amount of medication. We had the best time that week. Late one evening, one of the men working at the camp came running into the infirmary. He said, “there’s a copperhead in the parking lot. Do you have a hoe we can use to kill it?” Mike, who had a quick wit said, “Sure we do, we use it on the children all the time. Why would we have a hoe in the infirmary?”

Whether a big deal or a not so big deal, Mike would be there quickly if I needed him. One day my youth director came in concerned about a skin concern on one of the youth. I knew nothing about such things but I knew someone who did. Mikes church was about 10 minutes from mine. I called and asked, “Can you come over here?” In less than 15 minutes Mike was in my office.

Later, I was going through a major personal issue. I needed someone to talk with, I called and Mike immediately came. I am forever grateful for the time I had with Mike. I miss my best friend.

We all have good friends. Most of us have best friends. I have been fortunate enough to have some of both. I am thankful for all of them. My life has been touched deeply by them all.

Be Blessed, thank God for your Best Friends, and tell them how much you appreciate them. You never know how long you have with such a good friend.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.

Love One Another

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[f] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. (1 John 3:11-23)

As a kid, my family was surrounded by a lot of good folks. Our next door neighbors, the Jones, were amazing friends of my parents. The Browns were a few doors down. Going the other way, the Hardys were friends. Across the street were my friends Brian and his neighbor Tony. Mr. McDonald, an older man directly across the street often got “strong armed” to toss a football around with the boys on the street. (Names are changed as I do not have permission to use their names).

They were great neighbors. They helped each other regularly. Mrs. Jones watched my sister and I when my mother went back to work. The older we got, the more the rules changed to just making sure she knew where we were, Paula Brown was a few few years older than I. When my parents needed to go out and night in a non-kid setting, Paula was always the first babysitter called.

When I was 15 we moved from southwest Houston to Pasadena, a suburb city that was part of the Houston-metro area. The Graham’s lived next door but we never had the relationship with them that we had with any of the family friends in the old neighborhood. That doesn’t mean we weren’t grateful, just that they weren’t as close.

When I went into the Navy, Cindy and I lived in an apartment in Orlando for three months. We knew no one who lived there.

Continuing along the way, before I entered the ministry, we lived a lot of places. Nore often than not, we knew no one who lived around. I am not blaming them. The issues were far more with us. than with the neighbors. After entering the ministry, how much we had a relationship with our neighbors depended on how close we lived to the church. At my first church my closest neighbors were cows. I have no idea what their names were.

At many times we had neighbors that lived close, at other times there just wasn’t a place for neighbors to live. At one church, we lived behind the church. A street ran behind the church and the church owned everything on the street. No one but me and my family lived on the street.

When Cindy and I bought our condo in Lufkin, we made a real effort to meet our neighbors. We did favors for some of the people around us. They do things for us. I never understood the importance of neighbors when I was a kid. I get it today.

We do many things for those around living around us. They do much for us too and I am grateful. It makes our little condo community a better place to live and I am thankful.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

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