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

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,
Keith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copenhagen, a beautiful place God let me see.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

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

35 Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.

37 Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”

39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40 Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”

41 Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41, Common English Bible)

I have talked a few times before about being at sea in the Navy. I didn’t always like the places we went and missed my family, I loved going to sea. The pictures remind me of a 1980 cruise I was on in 1980, someone said it was 1981. I left active duty in July 1981. The ship left in August.

I do remember, or I want to, the 1980 North Atlantic cruise was not as rough as 1978 (We didn’t go in 1979. The ship was overhauled in Philadelphia. I spent my summer at Veteran’s Stadium watching baseball).

The 1978 cruise had a scary event.

I’ve talked about how all that water and all the stars in the sky can make you feel insignificant in awe and wonder.

My shipmate Patrick and I were up on the signal bridge. It was a sunny day but cold and windy. Look at the pictures, there is no one on the main deck and it is quite wet. When water is breaking over the main deck, especially in that volume and the ship is rolling in many directions, the decks were wet. Wet steel and traction are not partners. Non-skid is put down but it only does some good.

When seas got rough like in the pictures, “weather decks” were closed to anyone but “essential personnel.” I was “essential personnel.” I didn’t mind. In weather like it was a more pleasant place to be. Two words “sea sick.”

Patrick and I were talking and joking, having a good time. Patrick had his back to the bow of the ship and I was facing him and the bow. Without thinking I saw a huge wave. I said, “Wow, what a wave,” Patrick’s instinct was to turn and duck. I was dry. His face got hit with a few gallons of cold saltwater. All on the bridge had fun at Patrick’s expense. Then it happened. Nothing at sea or since scared me like the next 30 seconds.

The ship rolled hard to port (that’s left for you land-lovers). The signal bridge deck had non-skid, but like I said, it can only do so much.

Patrick fell, slidding across the deck. Exterior decks have rails protecting the side. Beneath the bottom rung of rail on the deck itself, is a vertical piece of steel about two inches high called a knife edge. It wasn’t sharp. Patrick got his feet on that knife edge. That was all that kept Patrick from an unauthorized swim call in the North Sea. Had he not caught that edge he likely would have gone in. Even had he landed on the main deck, imagine falling off a four story roof onto solid steel. If he went into the sea, I doubt the Navy would have considered launching a boat. The seas were too rough. The sailor in me would want to go save my buddy. I likely would have been in the lifeboat there had to be a signalman onboard. Truly, had the giant waves not gotten him, hypothermia would have before we could have even gotten the boat off the ship.

To give you a bit of perspective, the ship’s structure is about 30 (about like a 3 story building) feet from keel to water line and another 60 (six stories) to the main deck. It was a 1/4 mile to run one lap around the main deck, a standard track around high school football fields. It’s another four stories to the highest weather deck, where we worked and where the above pictures were taken. It takes a tall wave over the bow to bring water that high.

I was still low enough on the food chain that I had a top bunk. I was not liking the idea of being thrown out of the rack or the pool and fortunately that didn’t happen.

On the same North Sea cruise that Patrick came close to sliding into the sea the entire task force turned around. The scuttlebutt was, some of the small ships were in danger or damaging their keels.

All this is to demonstrate that it is scary to be at sea during a storm, even on a big ship. Further, these ships don’t have the stabilizers that are standard on cruise ships. While doing some research for this post, I ran across “7 Things About Living on a Destroyer.” Number 2 was you will get seasick.

Being at sea can be scary. Being at sea on a boat is even scarier. I have no idea how big that fishing boat was when Jesus and the 12 crossed the Sea of Galilee, but I do understand gale force winds and waves high enough to swamp the boat. While we do know from John that Peter knew how to swim (John 21:7) at least a little. But there won’t be much swimming in gale force winds and accompanying waves. These guys had plenty of reason to be afraid.

When they wake Jesus the first thing he says is, “Silence, be still.” Really? Then he turns to at least one disciple, likely the guy who woke him up and any in the immediate vicinity but on a small fishing boat that would have been all 12 and says, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?” Friends, I had at least some faith that day when Patrick came all too close to going over the side. I don’t mind telling that even today I was scared and if it played out in my life again, I think I still would be.

Have you ever noticed Jesus never tells the 12 to not be afraid until after they are already afraid? I do know that it is difficult at best for fear and faith to co-exist. But fear is not something bad. God gave us fear for a reason. There is danger there and you need to be careful.

Where fear does become a problem is when fear is irrational, like not looking at the screen when snakes show up. I also think it is problematic when God tells is, in this, right now, don’t be afraid I am with you. I can’t help but think Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some fear in his gut when he was carried away for execution even though God was with him.

God being with us does not mean the worst won’t happen. What it does mean is, God walks with us and God will see us through, even if “through” means the ultimate loss.

Jesus simply said, “have some faith, don’t be afraid, I’m right here with you and I’m not going anywhere. I will see you through, even if that means moving from this life to the Kingdom that is to come.

That was the promise of God to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it is God’s promise to us today. Wind and waves will not cause God to break a promise. They won’t cause God to abandon us. God is with us. Thanks be to God.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pondering with DrB
Friday Feelings
Silence! Be Still???
Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church
In cooperation with Spirit’s Breath Ministries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pondering with Dr.B.
Thursday Thoughts
Five Smooth Stones

13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not ·yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the ·past and stretching and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I keep ·trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14, Expanded Bible)

As I started working on this post I was watching Game On. A kind of ridiculous game show CBS decided to air this summer. We watch it because there seems to be little else on that isn’t a rerun. The show stars Keegan Michael Key (the host), Venus Williams (captain of the red team), and Rob Gronkowski (captain of the blue team). Regularly on the red team is comedian Ian Karmel, Always with blue is comedian Bobby Lee. There is also a guest on each team. Tonight was Terrell Owens for red and Kevin Nealon was with blue.

The show consists of a series of “games.” Some are brains some are more brawn. Tonight Gronk threw footballs in an effort to knock a trophy off Bobby Lee’s head. For the other team Venus Williams hit tennis shots to knock the trophy off Ian’s head. It took 5 throws for Gronk and three serves for Venus. The round went to Venus.

All this lead up was for a different game where the regular team members ran and jump and jumped through a paper sign. The person who ran the fastest (in miles per hour) would win for their team. Ian went first and his run was 10 miles per hour. Venus was next and she ran at 14 miles per hour. Gronk ran first for blue and ran at 14.2 miles per hour. Blue won and Bobby didn’t have to run. They got Keegan to run. His form was different, he ran and then dove through the sign. His speed was 15 miles per hour.

When Keegan ran and then dove through the sign. I knew he would have the best speed because when he dove at the sign he never lost momentum. When Gronk got to the sign, he turned almost sideways. That would take away his momentum. When Venus ran, as she got to the sign she actually slowed. Keegan was the only one who pushed through.

It also reminded me of our Scripture for today. The lesson says I am stretching and reaching for the goal, the heavenly call in Jesus. As we stretch ourselves spiritually, we grow, our faith gets stronger.

I picked the guy at the finish line because he is stretching, reaching, well, sort of. But the goal in the race is to reach the finish line. Any good running coach will tell you, don’t worry where the competition is. Run your race. The only thing you accomplish by looking around is to slow down and give your opponent the opportunity to catch you.

The same is true for the spiritual race. We go out to the race. We are always moving forward, reaching forward, trying to be the first across the finish line. And, in a long race, like a marathon you push yourself. And, you might take a moment and look around to see where the competition is. For that you need to turn around again and get back to your primary focus.

The Church does need to know and remember its past. It is much like the old history cliché, “Those that don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. There was a story on 60 Minutes Sunday night about the hard right is on the rise again in Europe. We have reached a time that the atrocities of World War II and Nazi Germany are not really part of the public consciousness anymore. Most of the people who were there are gone now. And, at least in some parts of the world, one could make the argument that in some parts of the world we could be about to see it again. We need to look back, to remember. We need to look back to understand. We need to understand we don’t want to go back to those days. We also need to know, without seeing it in the best way possible, but hearing the stories of the experiences, we might well relive a horrible time.

Looking back is OK because looking back helps us not to relive bad experiences. It helps us to remember. It helps us to say, “Never again,” and really mean it.

But don’t keep the focus behind you. If you do before long you will start running backwards. And, if you run backwards, sooner or later you are going to fall because you don’t know where you are going. If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know the obstacles in your way and sooner or later something will trip you up and down and it is a pretty good shot to keep each other going.

There is an old movie called “Gumball Rally.” The only thing I really remember about the movie was the driver, the first driver on this particular team reached up and tore the rearview mirror and to that point, he wasn’t worried about looking back, he was reaching out for the finish line.

May we do the same.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Don’t look at my sins.
    Erase them all.
10 God, create a pure heart in me,
    and make my spirit strong again.
11 Don’t push me away
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Your help made me so happy.
    Give me that joy again.
    Make my spirit strong and ready to obey you.
13 I will teach the guilty how you want them to live,
    and the sinners will come back to you. (Psalm 51:9-13, Easy to Read Version)

Before ministry there was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. In the From February of 1989 through May 1991 I made my living as an information services analyst with the FDIC. If you think back into that part of banking history, there were many, many bank closings. To further complicate things, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation got stuck with way too many collapsing savings and loan institutions. It was so bad, the FDIC ended up taking over the FSLIC so on top of the banks we were closing like crazy, we then started closing savings and loans too.

When I went out on closing teams (something I managed not to do very often) my job was whatever needed to do with the computers in the bank. On one closing I ended up doing something that I found out later wasn’t that uncommon. When we walked in the bank doors at closing time one Thursday afternoon (almost all bank closings were at closing time on Thursday in those days), the ants (employees) scurried out of sight (that is why I call them ants, they were running everywhere) headed to personal computers that were in out of sight offices all over the building. They keyed in the erase command and when it started they walked away. In some cases they came back and erased even more before we could find the computers and put a stop to it.

Why would they do that? They wanted to be difficult. Well, that is the best reason I can come up with.

Then I spent the remainder of the weekend going through those computers one at a time, one file at a time, with a recovery program and fixing them, recovering them. While the work was difficult, no doubt, easier to do today, with the available software, probably, they didn’t know enough enough to make them go away permanently, few did in those day. You should know when you put something on a computer, it may never really be gone.

So, if you erase something, is it really gone? If you think about that picture above, if you write something on a piece of paper and then try to erase it, there is a pretty good chance that handwriting, even in pencil is going to still show up. Unless someone writes very lightly on the page with the intention of it disappearing when erased you may never erase it all. Even if you get all the graphite from the pencil led out of the nooks and crannies you may never have all of it done. Wherever we are heavy-handed, lines might show though.

It is the same way with a computer. Erasing something doesn’t mean it will go away. If you ever kept all your passwords and banking information these days of the internet we have many things out there and some of it we want to get rid of it. It is said you can get a Facebook message off (supposedly) but you have to have both time and patience. For most of us, we put some things in our mailboxes or on our Facebook wall when we get home and fix whatever is wrong with it.

The truth is, it is always difficult, once something is done, to make it go away, to undo it. I read an article yesterday saying the same thing. It used the example of making something go away on Facebook. Once you type something and hit enter, you may never make it go away. Some people have paid a high price for a mistake they made and then tried to erase. It had not and would not go away. The author of the article then compared that to when we do something wrong to another person. Because we have memories, our actions will never go away. People will remember.

In today’s Bible reading, the psalmist asks God for forgiveness. He asks God to make his sins go away, never being noticed by anyone. We may get forgiveness from God, people around us may even forgive, God may forgive, but do these sins really go away? Not if we continue to talk about them, dwell on them? We also need to forgive ourselves.

But, the main question here still his, does God remember our sins? Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13-15, ” 13 Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14 The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. 15 So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her.”

If Paul can forget what is behind him, could God not do the same? But, the writer of Hebrews gives these words.

10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
        after those days, says the Lord.
I will place my laws in their minds,
        and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11     And each person won’t ever teach a neighbor
    or their brother or sister, saying, “Know the Lord,
        because they will all know me,
            from the least important of them to the most important;
12         because I will be lenient toward their unjust actions,
            and I won’t remember their sins anymore.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Pay attention to the last verse, specifically the red type face. The psalmist asks God to forgive his sins. God will and the psalmist needn’t worry about God remembering again.

Rev. John Piper of “Desiring God” says,

“And I think probably it is the same with God. God remembers and doesn’t remember. That is, he calls to mind and applies, or he doesn’t call to mind, according to what is good for us and what is good for his glory.”

I like that.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

by Keith Broyles

From time to time I get on writing.com. You can find different things to help with writing,com, including writing prompts and writing challenges and contests. But I always feel challenged there. Writing from the tags for the Though I have never won’t any of the few I seen there, I still enjoy doing it.

Today’s poem and future song lyrics began as a writing challenge on

Blind eyes fail to see creation’s slow death.
The stench of the air, leaves us without breath
Empty ears ignore the earth’s groans and cries
Still, God who made us, wipes tears from blind eyes

My Blind Eyes bring Empty Hearts
Empty Hearts bring Empty Souls
Empty Souls bring Empty lives
Empty lives bring More Blind eyes

God creates humans for more than we know.
Fun with no joy pulls us from where we grow.
Our hearts are empty, no strength from above
Empty hearts lack peace, Lord send us a dove.

My Blind Eyes bring Empty Hearts
Empty Hearts bring Empty Souls
Empty Souls bring Empty lives
Empty lives bring More Blind eyes

Empty hearts can’t see, God’s blessings for me
Empty souls cry out, yearning to be free.
The soul may be empty, the spirit dry,
God still loves us, let love show in our eyes.

My Blind Eyes bring Empty Hearts
Empty Hearts bring Empty Souls
Empty Souls bring Empty lives
Empty lives bring More Blind eyes

Let love’s light shine, in this dark world.
Let my blind eyes, be blind no more.
My eyes can see, the world alive.
In grace and love, God’s call with thrive.

No blind eyes mean loving hearts
loving hearts mean loving souls
loving souls mean loving lives
loving lives mean, love for You.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Guest Post by Ms. April Yarber

Of all my friends who are being so generous with their time during these few weeks, donating a guest post, April is my newest fan. We are Facebook friends and have never actually met face to face. We met, as much as you can meet on Facebook because we are both Christian authors so we were in the same place. I thought a page she had was a page for promoting books. She generously has allowed me not only to post my book on her page but I now regularly post my blog on her page. She us a very supportive person and I am pleased to call her friend. I think you will like what you read this morning from April.

17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. 19 Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. 20 Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” 21 He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:17-26, English Standard Version)

“Escape from Past Island,” I have been thinking about using this title for some time. It seems to fit because of the experience we have in our human condition. At some point in our lives we have had this universal experience. I chose the above picture of Alcatraz Island because it is difficult to think of a past one might desire ti escape from more.

People experience the all-consuming past pulling us in multiple various points throughout our lives. We can almost hear ourselves thinking, “Oh, those thoughts from the past.” We all have tried to or would at least like to, escape from certain situations and memories from our past. 

As we get older; the more regret can creep in. Sometimes negative thoughts and memories from days behind us flood in  if we aren’t grounded and rooted on and in the foundations of the Lord, they may start to sweep us away.

 Memories of things we’ve done, and things we haven’t done, things we should have done, things we could have done, and memories of the dreams and opportunities lost. These are the things we wish we had done. They can all come rush in with powerful intensity. This unseen but  gripping force can become so intense, it can govern our thoughts and days.

Our recall of the past is tricky. The timing, if not just right, can cause us to linger, The result can be an unknowing gift of opportunity to the enemy, who loves reminding us of past failures. We remember times when things were really good but that devolves all too quickly. Suddenly, bam in a flash, all the negative memories rush in. 

We can think about the past, but not to stay there. If we let the negative past of hurt, pain, and regret rule in our minds, it can then enter our hearts and it can consume us. Making us possibly bitter, angry, or regretful and sad. It is the place where Lot’s wife seems to be when she looks back, only to become a pillar of salt. And when the past rules our hearts the present can slip away. And then what do we miss? We miss the absolutely beautiful gift of life that present moments bring. 

Isaiah’s words remind us that God isn’t living in the past. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV).

God didn’t make us with our heads turned backward, always looking at the past. If that were God’s plan, we would have eyes’ in the back of our heads. God doesn’t want us to recall only our troubles and hardships but to learn from them, even if the only lesson to learn is surrender. 

Our Lord Jesus wants us to keep moving forward and this is evident in His words. In Scripture, God  wants us to grow in grace, and flourish in faith. Forgive yourself, turn your head around to the front and, with God’s help, move beyond your past. Remember we are only human. 

Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV)

Proverbs 4:25 (ESV) reminds us, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” 

There is an old saying that still rings true as a reminder to find enjoyment in the moment, saying simply, we should., ” Stop and smell the roses.” That’s good advice. 

Thank God for flowers. When you are faced with powerful negative thoughts, remember within the deep recesses of your mind, Jesus loves you, you are forgiven by our Savior. It is past time to forgive yourself. When those powerful negative thoughts come your way, remember too that, powerful as they may be, our God is more powerful still. That is my prayer for you. 

Shine with love and beauty. You are a child of God. And you, my faithful friend are altogether beautiful. 

God Bless you always…