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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed.

In Search of the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

Sitting on the premises, it’s my first time
When they stared at me, I thought I’d done a crime
I was in their seat, they thought of me as slime
Sitting on the premises at Church

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises its Holy Ground
The preacher tells us we should let our love abound
I show up on Sunday, more would just astound
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises of Christ’s own Church
For today’s lesson I will not go search
When it’s read aloud my lips will form a smirch
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises I know there’s more
Maybe what the preacher said can tell the score
I don’t want to live my life just before,
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do nothing,
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises grace comes to me
It’s a gift that God gives us all you see.
The gift is so that we can have eternity,
Sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting, Sitting, sitting on the premises, and just do
Sitting, Sitting, I’m sitting on the premises at Church.

Sitting on the premises from sin I’m free
Through the blood of Jesus, I have victory
I tell all the world what God has done for me and
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing, Standing, standing on the promises, of Christ my savior
Standing, Standing, I’m standing on the promises at church.


Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

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,

Amen.

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,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J, Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Blessed

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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

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