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

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

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

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

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

And still, we wait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17, New International Version)

Video Below

This is the first Wednesday with the Wesley’s I have presented in a while. Today it wasn’t really planned that way, at least not by me. Could it perhaps be “Divine Inspiration?”

Statue of John Wesley by Paul Raphael Montford, in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Adam Carr, Wikimedia Commons.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching a show I have really come to enjoy called Texas Country Reporter. Where I live TCR comes on following the late local news on Saturday night. I enjoy the show because it features some of the things people around Texas do from running a restaurant owned by a woman who is a recovering addict and all the employees are also recovering addict, to a man who became a blacksmith that makes fine skillets now bought by chefs all over the world.

When I watched a couple of weeks back one of the stories on that night was that of J.R. Smith, a former active duty marine who, after leaving active duty started a remodeling business in Humble, Texas, north of Houston. Sometime after beginning the his now very successful company, “…coupled with some guilt that he was able to leave the USMC unhurt and able-bodied (unlike many), JR feels he has a huge sense of responsibility to his wounded brothers and sisters now living at home, many of whom need various home improvements. (https://www.gunstohammers.com/)”

Many veterans leave the service paying a high price. Others come home and have things happen leaving them in need of Guns to Hammers. The show featured veterans injured in the line of duty and another who is wheel-chair bound due to a motorcycle accident. It doesn’t matter to J.R. Smith and Guns to Hammers. It is done for vets, free of charge and much of the work appears amazing.

“Do all the good you can…” Those are the opening six words of what has gotten the name “John Wesley’s Rule,” or “John Wesley’s Rule of Life,” or “John Wesley’s Rule for Christian Living.”

I have no idea if J.R. Smith knows about John Wesley or his rule. I feel pretty certain, however, that Smith understands the sentiment behind the rule. His story seems to embody Wesley’s Rule.

The Rule says,

As I said above, I know nothing of the faith of J.R. Smith. He seems by his mission to have a heart to serve but that doesn’t necessarily make a person a person of faith.

In the verse from Colossians above, Paul reminds us that what we do and what we say, to do it in Jesus’ name. He also says that through Jesus we are to give thanks to God. I think that means giving thanks to the Father for Jesus. I also think it means giving thanks to the Father through Jesus for the opportunity to speak or work in Jesus name. I pray that my opportunities may speak for Jesus in both word and deed.

As I searched around on the internet I found someone had converted Wesley’s Rule into a prayer. They began saying, “Dear Lord, help us do all we can…” Then the author switched all the word “you,” to the word, “we.” I understand the effort at inclusiveness and I think it is appropriate in some settings. That said, I see this as a much more personal prayer to God. It is a prayer that, more often than not, I pray for God to lead me.

Thus, a prayer-poem fits for me. I thought I would share it with you in closing.

Dear Lord,
Help me do everything I can,
Using my gifts from your plan,
Opening my mind to see your tasks,
In all the places where you ask.
Send me the hour you choose,
In me, people see, Your Good News.
Today, always, while I have breath.
Amen.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

P.S. Friends I am going to be backing away some from writing “Pondering with Dr. B” for the next month or two, perhaps even longer. I will still write but I am feeling more and more burned out by the pressure I have put on myself to produce this as a daily column. With other responsibilities both in the church and beyond, I want to remove this self pressure. So, when I feel like I need a break or when I feel I am not inspired, I am not going to write that day. I still hope to produce something at least a couple of days a week, but I suspect that at least once a week I will take a day off. In addition, I am praying about what direction I may need to go after the first of the year. I would welcome your prayers (and your thoughts) about that too. jkb

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,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The drive was nice. It was a diversion. There is one thing that I can always do, and I should always see that one thing through.

15 He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
16 For everything was created by Him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Some of you know, some don’t but two weeks ago yesterday one of the staff members from the church I serve called me. “I have tested positive for Covid. We had another member with it earlier in the summer. i made an instant decision that it would be in everyone’s best interest if I went in for a test. Sure enough, I tested positive.

Cindy went in the next morning and tested. She was negative, as thankfully was the same for every church member I know who was tested. So, even though Cindy was negative we have quarantined at home. I thought that Monday (10 days later) I would be able to get released and could get back to working in my normal manner. As it is, I haven’t missed a Sunday. We just went back to online worship.

Well, the doctor’s office told us we had to wait two full weeks before being re-tested. I wasn’t happy but I thought it wasn’t such a big deal. I would still be back in church Sunday. Today we went in for our retest. This one wasn’t the instant test. They have to send it off. They told us it would be next week before the results would be in. So, once again, I am planning a service online instead of in-person, and just as I was beginning a new sermon series!

Though it has been two weeks, I still have a cough that keeps my ribs sore and I am still very tired almost all the time and things don’t seem to taste right. And,, I am always hot, no fever, but hot.

When Cindy and I went to the doctor it was the first time I had left the condo or at least the yard around it in two weeks. So I told her to take a drive. It was a gorgeous afternoon in deep East Texas. The sun was shinning and while it was warm it was a beautiful day.

Make no mistake, this virus is no fun. Many have had it far worse than I. Many others continue to suffer with it who have far harsher symptoms. They have been and continue in my prayers.

The ride was just a good opportunity to relax a bit. It was nice to see something different. I would say it was nice nice not to think about Covid for a while but before I could think of that the cough would start again. Do not, for a second, however, believe that I didn’t enjoy the ride and just being out of the house for a little bit.

When I got home I came home to news about more people I know who are dealing with it. I spent some time in prayer for them. And that friends, reminded me of who you and I are called to be. There isn’t much I can do at this point besides staying away from people until I get the all clear. I am not a physician. I can’t give medical treatment or do something as simple as sitting down for a talk over a glass of iced tea. I always have to remember the first of John Wesley’s General Rules, “Do no harm.” To do more, even with the best of intentions, could do harm while living in a pandemic.

But, there is one thing I can do. I can pray. It has been said that the greatest thing one person can do for another is pray. So, that is what I will do. And friend, when we are praying for others I just can’t see a way that we could ever do harm.

Be blessed!

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Pondering with DrB
An October East Texas Ride
Friday Favorites
Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church
Spirit’s Breath Ministries

11 Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus told them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
Give us the bread we need for today.
Forgive us our sins,
    for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don’t lead us into temptation.’”
He also said to them, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’ Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness. And I tell you: Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.
11 “Which father among you would give a snake to your child if the child asked for a fish? 12 If a child asked for an egg, what father would give the child a scorpion? 13 If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:1-13, Common English Bible)

One day a group of people went out on a fishing boat deep sea fishing . After they had been out for awhile, a sudden storm blew in on the boat. those of you who’ve been out at sea and experienced a sudden storm know what I’m talking about. For who haven’t, you will have to take word for it.

Storms can come upon you as quickly at sea. Some of them can be frightening. They are particularly frightening, when you are in a small boat. When the weather starts getting rough even big ships can start to feel like they’re being tossed around like a cork in a bathtub. Bad weather, in a small fishing, boat can be very scary for all on board.

As thy folks were fishing the seas got rough. People got scared and asked the boat,s captain to join them in prayer. He wasn’t interested as he wasn’t a religious man. The storm got worse and his passengers got more terrified. They kept pestering him to pray, he kept refusing. It got to the point he couldn’t stand it. He had enough, and gave in his passenger’s demands. He prayed, “Lord, I haven’t bothered you in 15 years. If you get us out of this mess, I promise not to bother you for another 15 years.

While the story is funny, it is also sobering when think about it. Way too many people, even some of us, only get spiritual when there is trouble. Then, we become spiritual, we expect everyone else to get spiritual too. We want everyone praying for our problem .

At times, like an old friend, we only seem to hear from is when they need something. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Time passes without hearing a word from someone. Then the phone rings and it’s them. Much of the time we know they didn’t call to catch up. We listen and wait, asking ourselves, “what do they want now.”

Some people are that way. Some of us are too sometimes. We get wrapped up in our problems and are oblivious to anything else. An atomic bomb could go off around the corner and many of us would say, “Sorry, but what about my problem.”

Most everyone is like that at times, in our relationship with God. If things are going well, many don’t have time for a relationship with God. We may come to  Sunday worship and to pray before meals. But, there isn’t time for a real prayer life, or interest in Bible study. For many, church has to happen on Sunday morning or it doesn’t happen on Sunday morning, or, as far as we are concerned, it doesn’t happen at all. For even more people, that relationship isn’t that good. Forget prayer and forget church on Sunday morning. “I have better things to do.”

A preacher friend, whose husband is a part time farmer, had a man knock on her door one Friday night asking about picking peas. She said he could. “If it was alright, he’d come Sunday morning, unless she was doing something stupid like going to church.” Obviously, he knew nothing of her work. She said, she was going to church, people expect the preacher to show up.

We often think we run our lives well. We take the credit in good times. Then one of the kids or a parents causes difficulty. The death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, job transfers, school transfers, bad grades, work problems, people we don’t like, someone doesn’t like us, people pick on us. The list of what makes our stress levels rise is endless. What happens then? When life is tough what’s our answer?

Do we accept blame for difficult? Not usually. We shouldn’t always take blame. Many aren’t our fault. We don’t take or accept blame, when things are bad. We will blame God for our problems or ask about God’s. Where is God when I need God most?

That’s when we start praying. We pray, “O Lord, my life is so bad. Help me understand all that’s around me. Help me make right decisions. Guide me and help me to see your will. Amen.” Our prayer may vary some, depending on circumstances. When we finish, we go about our day often doing the things we were doing before we started praying. We may be worried , we runnning around wringing our hands crying, “woe is me,” but we don’t change our lives. We may pray more. Little changes.

Think about that prayer. Where is the thankfulness for God’s blessing? Do we acknowledge God’s greatness? Do we say we need God to get us through? Are we thankful for God’s faithfulness past, present, and future? We don’t even ask God for forgiveness of sin or confess that sin. All we do is admit a problem and that maybe we could use help solving it.

It makes me wonder if God hears us and says, “Well it’s Hal. I haven’t heard from him in a while. I wonder what Hal wants now.” Does that sound at all familiar? I think they sound just like our  “friends” who only contact us, when they want something. I wonder, if God is bothered by that as we are.

What we want is real friends. We want friends who celebrate our good times and are with us to comfort and support us during bad times . These friends would gladly give anything to support us and we would do the same. We don’t mind helping others, but we would like to be thankful for what we did.

Don’t you think God wants from us? From a logical we can see it. God created us in God’s image . If it is what we want from others, it makes sense God wants the same from us.

God wants a relationship with us. God wants more than hearing from us every 15 years or 15 weeks or even15 days. Talking to God when we have a problem is OK but I do think that God wants more. God is with us in times of need, but God wants to be part of the times we celebrate. We need to invite God to the good times and the bad. That’s relationship.

God doesn’t want us to do all the talking either. Do you have a relationship with someone and one of you does all the talking? Of course not. Having a relationships means sharing. Yet in a relationship with God we don’t stop and listen to God. Too many times conversations with God are one-way. We do all the talking and God listenins. When we finished we get on with our day giving God no opportunity to respond.

Today is the third sermon in our series, “On the Spiritual Trail.” Our focus is personal spirituality. If we are spiritual people we need a whole, continuous relationship with God. Praying for God’s help in hard times alone isn’t a relationship and our lives aren’t spiritual. If we pray and don’t allow God any say we have no relationship and our lives aren’t spiritual.

We need to be praying, listening people. We need to be people in relationship with God.

Today’s lesson has the disciples asking Jesus, “Lord teach us to pray.” Notice these words. It doesn’t say, “Lord teach us how to pray.” it says “Lord teach us to pray.” Jesus models prayer and continues with two parables about prayer and God’s faithfulness answering prayer and our faithfulness asking. That’s important but we’ll save them for another time.

Today we focus on five words the disciples asked Jesus. They are words many of us need to ask God today, “Lord teach us to pray.” five small words of importance to have a spiritual relationship with God.

Two many are like the fishing boat captain. Too many decide to pray every 15 years when we’re in a bind. Part of it is apathy. But part is an idea that we don’t want to bother God with the small stuff. We forget sometimes in the small stuff can come the greatest blessing. We need that relationship with God.

 I believe this relationship begins with prayer. Not “Lord help me with this problem” prayer . Or, “Lord I sure would like a new piano.” But real prayer , giving God thanks and praise, asking God to share in a whole and full spiritual life today and in the future.

Remember prayer is two-way communication . We need, and we may never understand, to share hearts With God. At the same time, we must take the time to listen for God’s heart. When we meditate, study scripture, Journal, see God’s hand allowing God to speak to us and people around us , we have a two-way conversation. We begin to develop a whole and complete relationship.

“ Lord, teach me to pray.” I didn’t say, “ Lord, teach me how to pray.” The model prayer Jesus gave us teaches me that much. The parables of scripture teach me to pray in faith. I need God to teach me to pray even when I don’t want to. I need God to teach me to share my heart. I need God to make me stop and listen. We all need to take time and stop and listen. “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Theologian of the pasts, like Martin Luther and John Wesley knew prayer’s importance. They were known for making statements like, “if I don’t pray 3 hours every day, I will never get through it.” and, “I pray for two hours every morning . If I’m going to have a really particularly busy day, I will pray for three or even four hours.” Lord teach us to pray.

There is a prayer that in Methodist tradition is credited to John Wesley. More recent scholarship has called the tradition into question. Personally, lacking conclusive evidence that Wesley’s Covenant Prayer that he didn’t write it or that someone else had written it, I will stand with tradition. I would ask that you please join me in reciting “Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.”

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God,
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, 
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it also be made in heaven.  Amen.

“Lord, teach me to pray.”

I know if the Lord can teach me to pray , if I can learn to not only say what I need to say but to take the time to to listen, in the words of the psalmist, to be still and know God, then God can teach me anything. So maybe I should change my prayer a bit, “Lord, teach me.” They were known for making statements like, “if I don’t pray 3 hours every day, I will never get through it.” and, “I pray for two hours every morning. If I’m going to have a really particularly busy day, I will pray for three or even four hours.” Lord teach us to pray.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, New International Version).

In the United Methodist Tradition, we serve Holy Communion, in most cases once per month. It is part of a tradition from before even the earliest days of the United States.

In our tradition only someone licensed or ordained Elders are allowed to consecrate the elements, the bread and wine, for Holy Communion. The laity can serve Holy Communion, but only after consecration by an Elder.

When the United States were colonies in revolt of the King of England, the Church of England stopped sending Anglican priests to the colonies. John Wesley (considered the founder of Methodism) learned this he took matters in his own hands (quite literally) and laid hands on and ordained preachers he then sent to the colonies.

Methodist pastors were assigned “circuits.” It is a term still used today where a pastor has more than one church. In those days, because the circuits were larger and transportation much slower, horseback, the preacher usually only made it once per month to each church on the circuit. Since the elements had to be consecrated by someone licensed or an ordained elder, communion became a once-per-month event.

Today, in most United Methodist congregation it is served on the first Sunday of the month. There are exceptions but in most cases the tradition of the first Sunday remains strong.

There is a great deal more history than this but I will save it for another time.

Because tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month I decided I wanted to write a song for Holy Communion. All that is here are the lyrics but I do have the music written and will work on playing it over the next few weeks

It’s “Sing Along Saturday.” The song is, “Love We Find in Wheat and Vine.”

I pray you have a great week and Be Blessed.

Just a bit of broken bread
The wine his blood was shed.
He took wrath that should have been mine.
His love we find in wheat and vine.

Many grains of golden wheat,
Make a loaf of bread so sweet.
A broken body, for us His deed
His sacrifice, a gift we need
He was beaten, crushed for us
Friend receive here the Lord Jesus
We are tied as one with grace
In bread, may we see his face.

Just a bit of broken bread
The wine his blood was shed.
He took wrath that should have been mine.
His love we find in wheat and vine.

Life’s roads are dusty and dry
Grapes of yours, let’s not walk by
We walk past grapes ripe with sun
The lone cup shows we are one
From first days we did rebel
Don’t let sin be a death knell
Grapes become juice, juice turns to blood.
Blood shed brought like grace in a flood.

Just a bit of broken bread
The wine his blood was shed.
He took wrath that should have been mine.
His love we find in wheat and vine.

Come join me at the table, here God’s children are one
Come eat bread, and drink wine, forgiven we have become
A little bit of bread and a little bit of wine
Reconciled and forgiven, God calls, child come and dine.

Just a bit of broken bread
The wine his blood was shed.
He took wrath that should have been mine.
His love we find in wheat and vine.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

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