Wednesdays I have been setting aside to write a prayer for teachers. I think it is important. But, we are also in our 30 Days of Gratitude calendar (and it has been pointed out to me that I included a November 31st, he I got on a roll, besides consider the 3 a typo and be thankful on December 1) and today is being thankful for my spouse so I am going to do both today.

For being thankful for more than one thing today, I thought this an appropriate Scripture passage:

15 See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. 20 Do not scoff at prophecies, 21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-22, New Living Translation).

Today’s Teacher’s Prayer Video

Today’s Written Teacher’s Prayer

Almighty God,

You teach us the ways of truth and the ways that lead to life. Give those who teach the wisdom and knowledge to know how to reach every student. Give teachers an ability to see and to rejoice in successes, both large and small. Help them to find words of wisdom and encouragement when there are struggles and failures. Where students struggle, show teachers a way to matter for that child.

You are always with our teachers, encouraging them, teaching them, as they enter the classroom or the zoom-room. Give them an abundance of patience as they juggle teach, sanitize, distance and mask, while they work to be attentive to the needs of students. Help these heroes of education to be patient with students and colleagues.

You love us beyond measure. Remind us of that love as we look into the eyes of each student before us. Give us a gentle heart, a compassionate heart and a heart open to receive love.

May your wisdom O God be our wisdom, your patience, our patience and your love, our love. May our students know that when they are in the classroom, they are also in your presence.

Teachers bless us. They bless our kids. Help them to know the love in this community for the work they do.

In Jesus’ Name,


Thirty Days of Gratitude – Thankful for My Spouse

As I say at the head of the video, Cindy and I have been married 43 years. Among other things, for our 40th anniversary, I wrote a song for her. It was one of my first songs and one of the only ones I that exists written music on paper, most are in my head and I have a really hard time getting them to paper.

If you prefer, here are the words and lead sheet for the song…

Have a great day and be blessed. I know I am and I am thankful.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J, Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Thankful for Cindy – For 43 years you have blessed my life – My greatest gift from God

Today’s post is an experiment. I am still playing around with somethings and trying to learn as I go. Today’s post is a video post. While I will probably continue to do some written posts, I thought this might be interesting to do as well. I hope you enjoy it.

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10, New Living Translation)

One thing to overcome is to get this set right in the screen — working on it.

Be Blessed

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Declaration (Summer Sermon Season)

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid[h] on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[i] on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

20 Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:13-20, New Living Translation)

When I was a student at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, I, as did many students at Sam, here at SFA, and many other college campuses across the country, spent a good chunk time on school days at the Wesley Foundation (The United Methodist Student Center). Living 40+ miles away didn’t lend itself well to going home between, classes, so I went to the Wesley Foundation between classes.

One week, on Tuesday or Wednesday, then campus minister, Max, came up to me and said, “Keith, you’re in my sermon Sunday night.” Trust me friends, unless some kind of explanation goes with those words, you might start to worry. I’m a preacher, Max was a preacher. Maybe he was going to make me the punchline of a joke.

In those days, my church had a Sunday night service every week. It is the only congregation I’ve served having a Sunday night service every week. I went back and aftering other options that they turned down, convinced them to cancel worship that night so I could go to worship at school. They rejected my options but said they thought I should attend worship and not preach occasionally. That service would work.

All four of us, Cindy, me and the boys made our way to Huntsville. I was in his sermon.

I will not lie either. Most of you are in my sermon directly. For those who were hoping I would give it away, you are out of luck. You are going to have to wait a few more minutes.

Have you ever looked into you name? Why do you have that name? Is it an old family name that’s passed from one generation of the past to a new one, whether they like it or not.

There are also many families with traditions surrounding the naming of a child. When I was a kid, the little boy next door who was at least six or eight years younger than me. I got an invitation to Freddy’s birthday party. It invited me to join in celebrating the birthday of Freddy Smith XVIII. I can’t imagine having all those Roman numerals as part of my name. That is 18 generations and had to cover 200-300 years.

That isn’t the only “tradition.” I have a preacher friend whose family tradition is, the oldest male child gets the father’s first name and the mother’s maiden name. Instead of Keith, my name would have been, Johnnie Seale Broyles.

I go by my middle name. My name is James, after my dad’s oldest brother and Keith because my mother liked the name.

Wayne, is Michael Wayne, named after my mom’s oldest brother and my hero as a kid, the man I have more respect for than any other man alive. Cindy and I liked “Wayne.”

Christopher is named after my father John. and Cindy and I liked the name “Christopher.” I’m not sure of my motives but it would appear they are done. Wayne has three boys, and all go by their first names. Christopher has three girls and there are no traditions for girls’ names in our family.

In some cultures, a name is everything. Getting a name was a right of passage. A name meant something, related to who you are. For the Algonquin a common name Aranck means Stars. For the Dakota Nation, Tokala means fox. Our word “Sacred” translates to Wahkan in the language of the Sioux.

Of course these are a few of many from the various tribes around the United States. Meaning Similar traditions happen in Africa and Central and South America.

When I started working on this message I learned that many people here in the United States want their child’s name to have meaning beyond what it might mean to their families. At one point I searched Google for and discovered there were in excess of 1.9 billion results for baby names and meanings. That many results indicates a demand for such services.

When Cindy, our boys, and I got to the Wesley that night, Max’s sermon told us many, including yours truly, the meaning of our names. When there is more than one possible meaning, he usually took the one that was most embarrassing. The only one I remember was my own. There are six meanings for “Keith”. “Brave and Courageous, “Keeper of the Forest,” From the battlefield,” “Man of the woods,” “Wood,” “Wind.” Max used Wind. Pointing out that as a preacher I am full of hot air.

That made me think about some of your names. Does anyone know the meaning of their name? Well, I have a list of them I thought I would share with you. For those that already know, see if what you know matches what I found.                           

We don’t have to look far to know the meaning of Peter. Jesus gives us the meaning when he gives Peter the name. Jesus says, “You are Peter…” or “You are Petra” meaning rock or rock man. Jesus goes a bit further with what Simon would do as Peter but we are going to leave that on the table for another couple of weeks.

Santa Cruz, California, in the 1970s, was a very different sort of place. What made it different was a group of people who lived there in great numbers.

They were hippies — or, you might say, has-been hippies. The Summer of Love had long since faded into a psychedelic sunset. San Francisco’s infamous Haight-Ashbury neighborhood had gentrified. The “flower children” who’d once inhabited its “crash pads” now held down regular jobs. Many of these has-been hippies had moved out to Santa Cruz, where the rents were cheaper.

This population of former flower children had a certain impact when their children hit the public schools. One of the things the teachers found difficult was the names of the kindergarten students.

Those classes had their share of Michaels and Lisas and Margarets, but there was also Sunbeam, Time Warp and Meadow. One teacher thought she’d seen about everything when it came to names, until the first day of school came round, and she met a boy named Fruit Stand.

The teacher felt sorry for little Fruit Stand, having to go through life with a name like that, but she decided there was nothing else to do but make the best of it. All through that first day of school it was: “Fruit Stand, can you bring me the chalk?” and “Fruit Stand, are you ready for your nap?” But this little boy seemed oddly distant. He participated in all the classroom activities, but he didn’t seem very happy.

Finally, at the end of the day, it was time for the children to go to their buses. “Fruit Stand, do you know the name of your bus stop?” the teacher asked.

No answer. That wasn’t so strange, the teacher thought, because the boy hadn’t said much all day. One of those shy kids.

But no matter. The teacher had a trick up her sleeve. All the parents had been told ahead of time to write the names of their children’s bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the boy’s tag. And there, neatly printed in block letters, was the word “Anthony.”

Names are important. They’re the labels we bear through life, the invitations we offer up to other people so they may know us better. Should somebody forget our name, or somehow misuse it, we feel hurt, even abused. That’s probably how little Anthony felt, after spending his entire first day of school as Fruit Stand.

There is one more name to deal with in this story. Jesus asks the Disciples who people say that I am. As we talked about last week, it is a pretty easy question to answer when you are surrounded by people with the same understanding as you. There answers were things like, Moses, Elijah, one of the prophets. Nobody said anything about what Jesus’ name actually meant. The two most common understandings are Yeshua and Joshua. The Yeshua understanding defines Jesus as, “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” That Jesus has roots in the name Joshua and means “Jehovah is generous” or “Jehovah saves.”

If anything, the research and all the other stuff I found that I’m not going into or we will be here all afternoon. I picked these specifically because we do know that God is generous to us and Jesus saves, that Jesus is salvation. Some of the other may or may not be accurate, but we know those meanings are true.

We all are in a position to answer Jesus’ question. We know who Peter is but more importantly, regardless of the many definitions we know about for Jesus’ name, we know Jesus came to save. We know Jesus is the way to salvation. We know those meanings are true.

One of the most endearing features of the animated film, Toy Story, is the way the cowboy toy, Woody, has a name written on the bottom of his foot. The name is “Andy” — the name of the boy who owns Woody and loves him. When the astronaut toy, Buzz Lightyear, is dejected at learning that he’s not a real spaceman, but only a toy, he’s a lost cause until he learns that he has the name “Andy” written on his foot, too. This knowledge empowers Buzz to put his depression behind him, then get up and do what needs to be done.

We have a name written on our hearts, in our baptism. The name is “Jesus.” If we learn to trust that name, to rely on it, to allow it to propel us into a living relationship with the One who is Lord of all, we will find our lives immeasurably fuller and richer.

From creation moving forward, what God wants from us is a relationship, an eternal relationship. Some scholars say the only reason for God to create at all was that God wanted to have a relationship. A relationship is what God wants from us now.

That starts with knowing the name. Names are important. What is your reaction when your mother called out both your first AND middle names, or even worse, your first, middle, AND last names? It got your attention didn’t it?

My last semester of seminary I witnessed something I found amazing. On the first day of my moral theology class the professor called the roll from his class roster. He made sure to tell us to raise our hands when he called our names. We all did, but didn’t think much about it then. That was on a Thursday. He didn’t see us again until after the Labor Day holiday. On that day, he began at the front of the room, pointing at each person one by one and calling our names. When we left class that day the discussion wasn’t about the lecture, it was about a man who knew the importance of names and somehow learned the names of over 45 students (there were about 45 in that class and I know he had at least one more class) over a long weekend. He did more to endear himself to his students than most professors did in a semester, all because he mastered the power of names.

I may not know your names yet. I am working on it. Our masks certainly don’t help.  But, even if I don’t know your name, I know one who does, one who wants a relationship with each of us. Do you know that one’s name?

Today, July 19, 2020, with this post, is my 900th post on the WordPress platform. To celebrate, five people, chosen at random who comment “Average Joe for 900,” here AND email me your contact information using my author email will receive a free copy of my book Average Joe with an Extraordinary Story. Entries (Comments AND emails) must be received by 6:00 PM CDT Friday, July 24, 2020. YOU MUST COMMENT AND email your contact information in order to win. Winners will be drawn at random from entries.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Flat Jesus Project So Far

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! (Philippians 3:10-11, New Living Translation)

On the Sunday before I officially became the pastor at Perritte Memorial, Cindy and I attended worship there. One of the announcements talked about Vacation Bible School for this summer.

Like just about every church in the country, many of the ministry programs, including Vacation BIble School, Perritte was having to rethink the approach to VBS and many of their ministry programs. How could we have VBS when we have to worry about social distancing, keeping things clean constantly, and keeping masks on kids? Trying to do VBS fully online wasn’t really an answer either. Too many kids don’t have internet access. Any church wouldn’t want to leave other kids behind.

That Sunday I heard a new idea. I had not heard of “The Flat Jesus Project” until that day. We got a sheet with three copies of, “Flat Jesus.” The instructions were to color the flat Jesus and cut him out. Then we had a calendar with different assignments each day. July 7th assignment was seven. Find a way for Flat Jesus to communicate seven. On the fourth of July the assignment was “patriotic.”

With the assignment set up, we are to use a cell phone to take a picture and send that picture to our education chair. She in turn is putting them on the church Facebook page.

I got to thinking about it and decided I needed to participate in VBS. I colored three flat Jesus (Yes, I colored them) and started doing the daily assignments. My pictures are above.

As I thought about it, something kept gnawing at me. I kept thinking there was something else I needed to do. My mind went to “Bible” in Vacation Bible School. I decided to start including a Bible verse with the picture of the day.

I write this to recommend “The Flat Jesus Project” to any who are still looking for an approach to Vacation Bible School or other children’s ministry. Today, as much as anytime before, finding ways to demonstrate Jesus to the children of the Church and all the children of God need us all to think creatively during these difficult times.

Whether you use “The Flat Jesus Project” or not is up to you. How each of us go about doing God’s work in the world today is up to each of us to use the gifts God has entrusted to us to serve all of God’s people that we can help them on their journey with God.

For years I have had a good time in my various congregations with the children of the church. One time I had orange hair and another time pink hair by the time it was over. Yet another time, I had no hair and not even a beard. I might have liked that back in May when I was really wanting a haircut.

The thing is, for now at least, I can’t have that kind of fun with the kids like I have with VBS for years. Now I need to find ways to make a difference in the life of the kids in my community. I think I can do that with “The Flat Jesus Project.” Do you want to join us?

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved