A Net in Time

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates
Behold, the King of glory waits
The King of kings is drawing near
The Savior of the world is here

O blest the land, the city blest
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes

Redeemer, come, with us abide; 
our hearts to thee we open wide; 
let us thy inner presence feel; 
thy grace and love in us reveal.

Thy Holy Spirit lead us on 
until our glorious goal is won; 
eternal praise, eternal fame 
be offered, Savior, to thy name! (UMH)

The great Advent hymn, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates,” was written by a German-Lutheran pastor from East Prussia by the name of Georg Weissel. Weissel was also a writer of hymns and filled an important role in 17th century western history.

There has been talk in recent years in our society about the length of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some have talked about how a child not born yet on September 11, 2001 could be fighting in the war that began due to 9/11. We are rapidly approaching a twenty-year-old war.

Imagine a war ten years longer. For Weissel, who was born in 1590 and only lived 45 years, the war covered a big part of his life. He saw at least some of the causes of the war take place in his younger years. As Ferdinand II rose to power in the Holy Roman Empire, he tried to force Catholicism across the empire. While there were other factors in the war, Ferdinand’s actions were the biggest factor. For a man who would become a Lutheran pastor, it was a difficult position.

It is generally accepted that the war began in 1618 and ended 30 years later, therefore, in 1648. Weissel would have been 28-years-old when the war began. He saw the height of this war that, depended on who you read, civilian and military deaths over the course of the war was between four and eight million

Weissel, who died in 1635 died at height of the war, saw unbelievable difficulties in Germany. Because of plagues, various other disasters, and the flight of refugees from the war-torn parts of central Europe, the population of Germany alone it the fell from 16 million to 6 million.

Despite all the tremendous difficulties, grief, and pain going on around him, Weissel found Psalm 24 to be inspiring and that inspiration led him to write, “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates.”

Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
    Ancient doors: rise up high!
        So the glorious king can enter!
Who is this glorious king?
    The Lord—strong and powerful!
    The Lord—powerful in battle!
Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
    Ancient doors: rise up high!
        So the glorious king can enter!
Who is this glorious king?
    The Lord of heavenly forces—
        he is the glorious king! Selah (Psalm 24:7-10, Common English Bible)

The language of gates and doors rising up to let in the Glorious King, a strong and powerful monarch, “the Lord of heavenly Forces.”

The words Weissel penned closely parallel the words of the psalmist. The allusions to war in the psalm had to remind Weissel of Europe’s war that had to seem without end.

The hymn was published posthumously in 1642. John Wesley, one of many who translated this hymn is sometimes credited with being its first translator from German to English. The translation most often used today in hymnals was the 1855 translation of notable British hymn translator Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878).

I find it interesting that today we use this hymn, born out of tragedy, difficulty, and pain is a hymn used by today’s Church to usher in one of the most joyous times of the Christian year.

At the same time, however, we should also not forget that the birth of Jesus was not immune from pain and tragedy of that day. The forced march to everyone’s home city and the deaths of untold baby boys in an effort of early genocide.

In all we see today, from a war against a disease, an invisible foe, to difficulties related such as losses of jobs, and unrelated, the difficulties we see and experience in race relations, and such is in our own corner of the world.

And still, “The King of Glory waits.” Come Lord Jesus.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The United Methodist Hymnal #213, United Methodist Publishing House, 1989
Hawn, M, http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-lift-up-your-heads-ye-mighty-gates
Myers, Whitney V. https://www.whitneytunes.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed.

In Search of the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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,

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
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,

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

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

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

46 Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. 47 When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” 48 Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.”

They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.”

50 Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

51 Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.”

52 Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way (Mark 10:46-52, Common English Bible).

I am not sure exactly why, but I have always liked the character Bartimaeus. Perhaps it is because even when all those who just hung around Jesus all the time told him to be quiet and not trouble Jesus. Jesus didn’t have time for the likes of Bartimaeus and all his noise. Still, Bartimaeus remained persistent. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer, especially from someone that was neither Jesus or one of the twelve. He knew, if ever he was to have sight, it would come from getting Jesus’ attention, regardless of what others might have tried to tell him. He knew if he was to be healed by Jesus, he had to get answer from the only person in the room as it were, who really had a say, and that was Jesus.

Maybe I am drawn to Bartimaeus because, in Mark’s way of telling this great story, he makes Bartimaeus direct and to the point in what he asks of Jesus. Bart wants Jesus to heal him. Jesus asks what he wants Jesus to do and Bartimaeus simply tells Jesus, “I want to see.” There is no beating around the bush. There is no messing around. Bartimaeus is direct and to the point. “What do you want?” then “I want to see.”

Then again, Bartimaeus was fully aware of who it would take to get his sight back. Jacob the cobbler or Aaron the tailor or Thaddeus the butcher weren’t going to get this job done. It isn’t that any of those guys weren’t good people. It isn’t that they didn’t try. They did, over and over again, but they weren’t Jesus.

Another reason I may like this character so much is, when he received his sight, he didn’t go out and celebrate. He didn’t go show his family or friends. Bartimaeus followed Jesus “…on the way.” Bartimaeus was interested in what Jesus would do.

Those are all lessons for us too. As people of faith, we know where we need to go to find help in our lives. We may find some help from our buddy down the street, particularly if we sweeten the deal buy springing for the pizza. But most of us don’t have M.D. behind our names. And, it is important that we share what we have and what we can with a hurting world. But we pray and we labor to make a difference. We don’t heal because that is God’s job. That doesn’t mean don’t go to the doctor when we are sick or to an opthalmologist when we are dealing with physical blindness (blindness can sometimes be corrected by the medicine of today.  It just means, before we do anything else, we go to God and we go regardless of what others might say.

When we are in need, no matter what others may say we need to be people who are persistent in going to God. The world would have us remain the same, unchanged. And, without God leading our lives, we remain spiritually blind to the needs of others in the world around us.

We also need to go and visit the One we need to find healing and wholeness. I have heard some doctor’s say, “I treat the illness, God does the healing.”

Then, not only when we are finished, when we are healed, when we can see, but also every step along the way, we follow Jesus on the Way. To follow Him always, that is our call.

Be Blessed

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pondering with DrB
Friday Flashback
Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church
Spirit’s Breath Ministries

For the beauty of the hour
Of the day and of the night
Hill and vale
And tree and flower
Sun and moon and stars of light

Lord of all to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise
(“For the Beauty of the Earth, United Methodist Hymnal, page 92)

Two of my most cherished members of my teenage years were two trips to Canada with Explorer Scouts. The first trip we drove from Houston to Ely Minnesota. In Ely we packed very large backpacks with food, community camping gear, and personal gear and loaded up on Wilderness Wings Airways. Yes, it was a real airplane service and it was my first time to fly. The planes were on pontoons and the canoes were tied to the pontoons on the plane. We flew 110 miles into Quetico Prudential Park and canoed back to the United States. The paddling part of the trip took about two weeks or so I remember.

My second trip was two years later. This time, instead of flying from Ely we crossed the border at International Falls and made our way around to the north side of the park. We canoed for about a week and a half. and then drove back home.

My best friend the first trip said the thing he remembered most about that trip was always being hungry. I don’t remember that. What I remember, was it rained, a lot.

The second trip the thing I remember most was wild Canadian Blue Jays landing on our fingers and eating things (probably things they shouldn’t have been eating, out of our hands.

We were probably about a week into the first trip and we stopped for part of the day, I assume to eat lunch but despite the rain, we stayed for longer than normal. I later learned this tiny little lake had been a stop along the trip for many years. Because my only other trip it wasn’t on the itinerary, I never saw this lake again. Despite the rain, it was one of the prettiest places I have ever seen. Though it was small, it seems obvious to me that God put in some overtime on that one.

According to the Quetico maps, the lake had no name. In the limited maps I could find on the internet that were readable, I can’t find the little lake now. What I do remember is, we named the lake. It wasn’t anything official. We did talk about submitting our name to Canadian authorities and see if we could actually name the lake, but nothing ever came of it. It was kind of typical of a bunch of teenage boys. We talked about it all the way home and none of us did more than talk.

We did, for the rest of the time I was with the Explorer Post refer to it as, “Lake Begonia.” I am not sure why, I just know we did. I also don’t know that the picture above is from Lake Begonia or not, my guess would be not. What I do remember is a place of great beauty, even in the rain, sitting with a soggy lunch on this little lake just off of a more main waterway.

I do know the picture above came came from Quetico. And as with anywhere in the park, it is beautiful in its own right. And where, footprints should be all we leave behind, the reality is, we tend to do more damage than that. Our neighbors to the North are better at that than we. And while that lake above may not be Begonia, there is little doubt in my mind that she is as pretty today as she was when I was there almost 40 years ago.

Those places that touch your heart, will always have a place in your soul.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pondering with DrB
Tuesday Thoughts
Lake Begonia
Scenes of Beauty and Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved