Smart and not Afraid: Lessons from a Turtle

12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. 16 It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you— 18 and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:12-18, New Revised Standard Version).

Giuseppe’s granddaughter and Bill’s mother was a four-years-old when the Great Depression began. One day in 1930 Giuseppe brought home a pair of box turtles for Bill’s mother. Giuseppe fenced in the yard to keep the turtles in. As was for most pets during the great profession, the turtles, ate whatever the family ate. They named the male Horace. Bill, the author of the story said he regrettably never asked why an Italian family would pick such a name for their pet turtle. His best guess was that there had been an Italian poet of some note named Horace.

Bill said he never knew the name of the female who, around 1950 escaped the fenced in backyard. They found the turtle at the neighbor’s home who refused to give it back. So then it was one box turtle, Horace, and Giuseppe reinforced the fence.

In 1990, Bill’s great-grandfather Giuseppe, was long deceased and his grandfather was recently deceased. His grandmother decided to sell her home and Horace’s habitat in New York and get a much smaller place near her sister in New Jersey. She called Bill and asked him to take over the now 60-year-old box turtle. He agreed and with a friend’s help and some books and articles about building an outdoor habitat for a box turtle, Bill did just that.

Over the next 25 years, Bill said he learned a lot about turtles. Horace is on a healthier diet these days. His people don’t feed him table scraps. He eats a balanced died of fruits and vegetables and worms and bugs. The article Bill wrote was published in 2012. About that time, Horace lost a leg to a predator. Bill’s daughter made a comment to Bills story about Horace in 2013 and said Bill came through his hibernation fine. I could find nothing new about Horace since 2013.

Until reading Horace’s story and doing some research for this sermon, I had no idea how long box turtles lived. They are right there with talking birds and us!!!

I learned box turtles don’t travel far from where they are born. If a human picks one up in the woods and carries it home to be a pet, the turtle has some kind of homing mechanism built in and will work itself quite literally to death trying to walk home. Turtles have no concept of glass and will beat itself up trying to get past the glass and go home.

I learned that turtles hibernate. As a reptile, they don’t handle the cold so they hibernate. I always thought turtles like we see around here were amphibians. I never thought about them as a reptile though that one doesn’t surprise me. Their periods of hibernation are vitally important to them and they can lose as much as a quarter of their body weight during hibernation.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that the most vulnerable time in a turtle’s life is when they are young. After they are hatched, for several months their shells are not fully hardened. Some predators like alligators and crocodiles can, if they have unusually strong jaws, break the shell of an adult, any can break the shell of a hatchling. Only 20 percent of hatchlings live part their first year. But, if they make it past the first year, living to a very old age improves dramatically. It is not uncommon for turtle to live to be 100 years old.

When I started on this search for turtle data, I wasn’t really looking for much of what I have said this morning. I was focused on finding one thing. I remember as a kid, when me and my friends would play with a turtle, we knew as soon as we picked it up, we would startle the turtle and legs, feet, claws, tail, and head would all be pulled into the shell and that shell was closed and locked just about as good as a bank after closing time. Oh, that was something else I learned, not every turtle can pull itself into its shell. Only the box turtle can close itself up tight.

So I knew a turtle retreated into its shell when it was scared. I wanted to know the other times a turtle hid out in its shell. There were two I found and both are related. Neither was surprising. The first is to sleep. I guess I always assumed when looking at a turtle when I wa a kid that they were still fearful so they had not come back out. It is likely that at least some of that time they were asleep. The other is to hibernate. Since I didn’t know turtles hibernated, I also didn’t know they did that in their shells.

Turtles hide themselves well when they sleep. They bury down and hide themselves VERY well when they hibernate. Aside from their first year, hibernation and sleep are the two most dangerous times for a turtle. Sure, they have the protection of their shell but they are still very vulnerable.

I have give quite a bit of thought lately to the turtle’s hangout, its shell, its house. They are there to hibernate and fight off the cold of winter. They are there to sleep. And, they go there when they are afraid.

In those ways, we are a lot like a turtle only we don’t carry that house around with us. I think of the proverbial story of the tortoise and the hare, no wonder tortoise was slow. More than a quarter of its body weight is that house he or she carries around on their back.

We may not carry a shell around but we still find ourselves seeking the shelter of our homes. Just as the turtle needs the security of its shell to protect it from predators during its vulnerable times, we seek that same kind of security.

The turtle’s world is pretty scary. They have many different natural predators and when those vulnerable times come, they place themselves in the best possible position to survive. The box turtle pulls itself tightly into its shell and seals themselves in. When ready to sleep, the turtle may push itself into a hollowed log or up under leaves.

When we are at home and about ready to go to sleep we go around the house and make sure everything is closed up and locked. We want that additional level of security.

For the turtle, the desire is just like us. The turtle wants to make itself as secure as possible before it goes to sleep. First under leaves or plants or wood, pull in the head and the extremities, close up the shell and then sleep.

Hibernation is a bit different. Because the cold weather makes a difference, the heart rate slows, temperature changes, other things in their body changes. The place where turtles set up for winter may or may not be more secure than where they slept the night before but to bury itself or close the ends of that hollow log added make that place warmer and more comfortable for hibernating. In the cold, with all the physical changes for the turtle, they are at risk to the cold. The best line of defense from predators is to disappear. The best defense from the cold is to add layers of protection around the shell and then pull up inside the shell.

Of course, you and I don’t hibernate. That being said, when cold weather rolls around, we often do sleep longer. We spend more time inside because it is more comfortable. Much like a box turtle, when we head for our sleep time in winter, we do make sure the house is closed up and locked. We make sure that the household heating devises are operating appropriately, meaning off if that is what should happen, and throw an extra blanket or two on the bed. They keep us as warm and the weight gives us comfort. Our Loose Threads group understands that as they regularly sew weighted blankets for autism patients.

The third thing that sends a box turtle hiding in its shell is when something scares it. Fear, and knowing the comfort and safety of its shell will pull up inside.

Every living creature has fears and something they try to do to keep themselves sake. From the turtle’s shell to natural camouflage, to growls, rattles, hand hiding, animals try to protect themselves from whatever they fear.

The human animal is really no different. We all have fears. I know people who don’t name their fears but I am convinced after talking to them that they have fears but don’t want to let others know or want to take control of what scares them.

I have told you before, I hate snakes, but it is more than that. I am flat out afraid of snakes. Yet it is still even stronger than that. I have an irrational fear of snakes. Still pictures of snakes don’t bother me too much but if I see a snake in a movie or television, I hide my eyes until its gone. That snake on the screen can’t hurt me but I am still not looking.

Several years ago, back in the late 1990s, Cindy had a job working in a chiropractor. This guy loved to scare people with his life sized statue of a rattlesnake. He would set the snake on the floor just outside an examining room or office. Then he would hang back for the reaction when someone saw the snake. When it was my turn, I saw him set the snake on the floor. He came back in and we carried on a normal conversation like I knew nothing about the snake. When I left the room a few minutes later, I simply stepped over the snake, turned around and laughed at the good doctor. He said he loved to scare people and that getting scared was good for you.

Until just recently, I thought him to be joking. While preparing for this message I discovered, The Adventure Collection Blog said there are a number of benefits when you get scared.

Fear keeps you safe.
Fear helps you lose weight
Fear temporarily boosts your immune system
Feeling fear-in the right dose-can be fun and exciting
Fear gives you a natural high and a sense of empowerment
Fear helps you manage stress and relaxes you.
Fear helps you stay in the present moment and to focus
Fear socializes you and bonds you to other people
Fear allows you to live life to the fullest
Fear gives you clarity on what’s really important in life

All over the Bible we have people telling others Don’t be afraid. In the Emmaus story, Jesus tells the disciples in the boat, right before Peter walks on water,. “Don’t be afraid.” An angel tells the shepherds outside of Bethlehem.”

Then here, Paul says to, “Work out you own salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING. In other places in the Bible we find places that talk about the fear of God and living in the fear of God. I have long argued that the Fear of God is to be in awe and respect of God. We also know that God loves us. That alone should remove some of our fear.

The bottom line is, fear is not such a bad thing. The thing that makes fear bad is when we let fear take control. If I know there is a snake in the yard, no longer do I want go out in the yard. I seek the safety of my house. But, if I go look, I don’t see the snake. I am not staying in the house because I fear the snake. I am going outside because that is where I feel best. I will not let the snake control my life.

For the past two months we have been staying in. We have avoided just about all things out. I am more than ready to be out. This extrovert needs out of the house and back around people. This preacher is glad to be able to look into people’s eyes today instead of only looking at empty seats and a camera lens. Though I know God is with me, it is still a scary world. I know this, I am not going to let my fears be in charge. Just like a rattlesnake in my yard might keep me out of his way, the possibility of a rattlesnake in the yard tells me I need to keep my eyes open if I don’t want an unpleasant encounter but so can getting out of bed in the morning.

Friends the fear we feel is not a bad thing. I am glad gave it to us. Because of fears, in some settings it causes me to be alert and think about the best way to protect myself should the need arise.

I don’t stay home because I fear the virus. I don’t wash my hands just because it is good hygiene. I don’t wear a mask because I am going out on a robbery binge. I do all these things because there is something scary out there. Because God gave me a gift of respectful fear, wisdom says, I should do all I can to protect people around me and encourage others to do the same. In reality, if by being a bit afraid and use that fear to motivate me to protect myself and be an example for others, that’s what I should strive to do. It’s what we should all try to do.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Rainy Sunday Blues

Many years ago I was in a used book store. A book got my interest and I bought it. When I got home I put it on my shelf and promptly forgot about it (It happens a lot). A few months later I noticed it and picked it up again. When I opened the book a newspaper clipping floated down. On it was several hymns, about 10 I think. They were all funny. It had a line about the hymn followed by a line about our human condition. For example…

“We sing, ‘There Shall be Showers of Blessing,’ but we won’t go to church in the rain.”

I lost the clipping. It may be in an old box somewhere but who knows where. I can only remember four of them, and hopefully, I don’t lose them too, I have written a song for each. I have used some of them here. This could be one but I don’t find anything that says I have.

So, in honor of the rain here in Deep East Texas this morning, I thought I would share “The Rainy Sunday Blues.”

There shall be showers of blessing
From God a promise we gain,
We hear the blessings on roof-tops
It sounds a whole lot like rain;
 
Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.
 
There shall be showers of blessing,
Today rain will keep me in bed.
More sleep I’ll find it relaxing,
Skip church, read a novel instead…
 
Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.

There shall be showers of blessing
raincoats will keep our clothes dry
wet is my head as the rain falls
lost that umbrella of mine…

Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.
 
There shall be showers of blessing
I pray the waters soon peak.
blessings on blessings around me,
rain hasn’t stopped here all week…

Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.
 
There shall be showers of blessing
The dog tries to shake his fur dry.
He raised his head to the heavens
And barks at the rain in the sky…

Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.

There shall be showers of blessing,
Today I stayed home on a lark.
blessings are gone its just water,
I think I will build me an ark;

Showers of blessing,
Blessings God knows that we need
We think we’ll melt just like sugar,
So, from the showers we flee.
 
There shall be showers of blessing,
Thunder won’t run me away.
We need rain for a harvest
Thank God I’m in Church today
 
Showers of blessing,
Some rain will not keep us away
We will not melt we’re not sugar
Through showers we’ll worship today.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Law of the Picture

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:1-5, New Revised Standard Version)…

Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has spoken many times of his college coach, John Wooden. Jabbar remembered of Wooden he never left the locker room a mess. Wooden stayed and picked up trash. Jabbar said, “Some thought it funny seeing the winning-est coach in basketball picking up trash from the wet floor, especially after a road victory. I found it moving, not just because he was conscientious enough to leave the room as clean as we’d found it, but because he didn’t think it beneath him to do it himself.”

My two favorite leadership authors Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last, The Infinite Game, and recently released Find Your Why. The second author is John Maxwell, author of Failing Forward, Intentional Living, and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. There are many more. I’m not sure if Maxwell knows how many he’s written.

In both Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, Sinek tells of a Marine Corp tradition. The higher your rank, the later you eat. The lowest private eats first. The highest ranking officer eats last. The example shows importance to every member of the team. The lowest member knows the highest member sees value in the team. The example shines for all to see.

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, rule 13 is, “The Law of the Picture,” defined as, “people do what they see.” Fred Rogers was a master at setting an example, people could do what they saw. He knew what was right and lived it. The episode he had a refreshing dip of the feet in a child’s pool. When the postman, an African-American, comes by, Mr. Rogers invites him to join in. It was shocking, unheard of, at the time. He left the audience knowing that, regardless of who it was, nothing would have been different. He gave the children permission to do what they saw.

Paul understood too. “Put others ahead of yourself.” I \hear him saying, “Be a leader, eat last.” He encourages readers to be of one mind with Jesus. And, Jesus said, he didn’t come to be served but to serve.

Over the course of my career I have learned leadership a little at a time. I doubt I will learn the lesson as well as Russell. Russell was a youth in a church I served. He was a great kid.

The youth had a pancake breakfast one day. Russell was making pancakes. He was so proud of his pancakes. You would be hard-pressed to find someone more proud of his pancakes than Russell.

If you asked about a career he said he was going be a farmer like his Dad.

Russell was also a leader at school. Though he played a position lacking glamour, Russell was a captain on the football team. He had the respect of the players around him. They wanted to play with Russell.

One October afternoon the sky started getting cloudy. The rain started. Lightening filled the sky. Coach called the players into the locker room. Russell helped some of his teammates. When he was running toward the locker room lightening struck and killed Russell.

Every player had a story to tell, what Russell did for them. I think Russell understood that leaders eat last.

Our time has too many leaders not eating last. They fail to set an example, making their leadership questionable at best. Perhaps they don’t understand or they don’t care that people do what the see. It impacts society, on a variety of level. We do what we see and have disregard for the well-being of others. We have forgotten, never knew, or don’t care to put others ahead of ourselves.

We are better than that. We need to give love and compassion. Until we can rediscover love and compassion we will never be all we can be or all God calls us to be.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

What’s Wrong with Us?

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:8-10, New Revised Standard Version).

WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? Though I read quite a bit of news, somehow I missed the story of the security guard at a Target store beaten by two brothers because he, I feel certain, followed the instructions of management, told the brothers if they wouldn’t wear a mask please leave the store? I ask again, WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? HAVE WE LOST OUR MINDS?

While I am not tired of the Constitution or individual rights, or the Bible, I am VERY tired of people believing their rights outweigh the rights of others or the social good. Acting as though my rights are superior misses the idea of Freedom.

If I go to Target, I have the right and reasonable expectation for a safe shopping experience. If the security guard was cut instead of a broken arm, there would be an expectation for Target to clean up the blood for public safety. Would anyone say we have a right to play in the blood? Yes, it is a disgusting comparison but thinking the rights of some outweigh other’s rights or public health concerns is disgusting itself.

In other stories, people protesting and blocking a store’s entrance over the same issue. Does a merchant not have the right, refusing service to an individual who won’t comply with the merchant’s right to protect him or herself, customers, and employees. Then there was a woman who reportedly was assaulted and called diseased because of her mask. Again, if you have the right to not wear a mask, doesn’t she have the right to wear one if she chooses?

How would we feel if we had surgery and somehow discovered the surgeon not wearing a mask during surgery? While I know something like that probably would never happen, I wasn’t wearing a mask during the operation? Refusing to wear a mask a mask during surgery, individual right or not, is unhealthy and irresponsible. Not wearing a mask in public is equally bad.

The question has lost some popularity the last two decades, but it is still valid. “What would Jesus do?” is not in style. The answer seems to simple. What would Jesus do? He would likely wear a mask.

The greatest commandment was, “Love God” and “Love neighbor.” I refer to that a lot. When I look at society, our unwillingness to stay home (and I am not talking about going to work), or maintain social distancing, or wear a mask all say we probably don’t love for neighbor as much as we claim. Our lack of love for neighbor is only a short walk to lack of love for God.

Accepting that wearing a mask is an individual right doesn’t mean we should exercise that right. We all share in the responsibility for public health. And, we should hold one another accountable.

If we claim ourselves as a Christian, we generally claim ourselves as people of the Word too. Many of us claim belief in a word-for-word literal acceptance of Scripture yet somehow, we manage to ignore Scriptures about loving neighbor. Is some Scripture more important than another passage? I find no evidence of that. For whatever it’s worth I believe, that even in a society that places such importance on individual rights, it is not always about us.

We also should never lose sight of this, when I wear a mask, I don’t just wear it to protect me, I also wear it to protect you. As fellow citizens on a planet in crisis, I owe you that. To do otherwise would be selfish of me.

Paul says in Romans 13. “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law… Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” That last verse is direct and hard-hitting than any we have read for today’s post. Love does no wrong to a neighbor.

Paul says that so much better than I, so I think I will stop.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Blame Game

16 These people are always grumbling and blaming others; they follow their own evil desires; they brag about themselves and flatter others in order to get their own way. 17 But remember, my friends, what you were told in the past by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “When the last days come, people will appear who will make fun of you, people who follow their own godless desires.” 19 These are the people who cause divisions, who are controlled by their natural desires, who do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred faith. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and keep yourselves in the love of God, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal life. 22 Show mercy toward those who have doubts; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; and to others show mercy mixed with fear, but hate their very clothes, stained by their sinful lusts. (Jude 1:16-23, Good News Translation).

Jude’s letter speaks to 21st Century culture. When I read chapter 1 last night I knew where they blog was going today.

Regardless of your political views in society or even in the Church, the amount of finger pointing is staggering. And, for those of us who blame others but refuse to take any responsibility? Well, we are part of the problem. Republicans blame Democrats, liberals blame conservatives and never fear, the opposite is also true.

During the Covid-19 scare I came to realize just how bad the problem has become. I made the digital collage above. Over the past two months I have heard everything, every one up there be blamed for this pandemic. Might the bat or the mosquito hold an amount of responsibility? Could be. What about the tiger? The tiger is a victim at least as much as we.

How this got my attention was two men in the pictures, Greg Abbott and Andrew Cuomo. One is a Republican, one is a Democrat. One is on the east coast, the other, the southwestern Gulf Coast. The most common thing each shares is, they are both governors of large states which would give them some amount of power.

That each has had someone place responsibility on them for the Covid-19 pandemic is ludicrous. This is blaming and finger pointing just for the sake of blaming and finger-pointing. No wonder some blame the tiger.

Like most people, I have my political opinions. People who know me well know what many of those opinions are. Many of you would agree with me. Many others would not. And, in the circles of friends and family, I have done some finger-pointing myself. I am not proud of that.

What I am really trying to say is, we are in a crisis. Things are hard. Having the responsibility of leadership does not make them easier. Having the responsibility to make decisions that impact not just the millions in the United States but billions around the world should not be taken lightly regardless of the President or Congress, important decisions rest in their hands. On any level of government, important decisions rest in their hands.

It isn’t my intent to self-serve with the above Facebook meme. Someone shared it with me (outside Facebook). When they shared it with me I thought, “It is true that I have never pastored a church through a pandemic, it is equally true that the high school principal has never tried to lead a school and the teacher has never tried to teach through a pandemic either. Congress has never tried to legislate during a pandemic and its been a very long time and is a very different world since the last time a President tried to lead through a pandemic. In truth, none of us have tried to do anything through a global pandemic before.

If we try to live by Jude’s words in the lesson, we shouldn’t be pointing fingers any time, but, we also say we are people who live out the words of Scripture. We say we believe the Bible. If that is true, its time to stop blaming. An election is coming. Instead of blaming, go vote.

Jesus said, “By this they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (My paraphrase).

I think it was my mother who taught me, when I point a finger at someone else (the blame game), there are three more pointing back at me. I may not make the mistakes I blame on others, but I make more than my fair share. Let’s take the lead and then perhaps our leaders can learn something from the followers that it’s time to stop playing the blame game.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: Breakthrough Prayer for Me

Psalm 30:11-12
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
    you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul[b] may praise you and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 30:11-12, NRSV)

Rao was a Hindu yogi who devoted his life to prayer and holy thought. Through discipline, he did remarkable things, or so people thought.

Rao decided people should see faith in action. In 1966, he announced he would walk on water. Invitations went out to Bombay’s high society. The cost? $100 a ticket, a lot of money in 1966. Still, people came for the show, and the miracle.

They weren’t disappointed. Rao was a mystic picture. He stood with his beard flowing, robe hems at his feet. Lowering his head he prayed, and then lifted it.

He was ready to walk on water. He walked to the end of the pier. He stepped off on the pond, and sank. Was his prayer a breakthrough prayer? Probably not.

Our God, I understand, is not the god Hindus seek. If Rao sought God, in my experience God generally doesn’t seem too willing to break the laws of physics. It would take a breakthrough like we haven’t seen. Can God? Yes. Will God? Probably not.

Today is the last instalment of Prayer 101. I could say more. It could be a permanent topic. There is always more to say about prayer. In each of the last four posts, Rev. Sue Kibbey defined breakthrough prayer as asking God to break through in situations beyond human capabilities, doing what only God can.

We discussed breakthrough prayer in our cities/communities, churches, friends, and families.

Things are hard now. Money is tight. People can’t work. We haven’t attended church in weeks. We need a breakthrough. Know this and take it with you, God is good and when God breaks through, the future is bright. Let’s pray God will break through, and God will. Our expectations may find disappointment but God will break through if we pray for it.

Today we ask God to break through in us. I saved “us or me” for last. Theologically and individually, it should be. Think about the Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, which art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for every. Amen.”

Here Jesus modeled prayer. It never says I, me, mine, etc. but our, us, and we. If Jesus’ prayer grouped individuals with others, we aren’t as important as we may think.

Psalm 30 is a song of joy. The psalmist looks at good and hard times, for God’s power breakthrough. He sees God’s hand and sings for joy.

I ‘m drawn to the last two verses. “You changed mourning to dancing. You dressed me in joy so my being might sing praises never stopping. LORD, God, I will thank to you forever.” (Paraphrased)

Have you had that kind of joy? To find joy, requires God. We won’t find joy ourselves. We won’t be satisfied. We’ll find some happiness but we still search.

We can’t find joy from friends or family. They fall too. They have good intentions that fall short and disappoint.

Churches are the same. People outside Church blame Church in hard times. The Church falls short. It’s an easy target. We know, the Church isn’t the building it’s people and people fail.

To find what’s missing look for a breakthrough. If you want joy we find like the psalmist, God has to make a breakthrough. Anything else will fail.

Years ago I knew a teenager who graduated high school and enlisted the Air Force. He signed his papers then got scared and ran. He turned to drugs and sunk the bottom. The Air Force released but he still went the wrong way.

His mother tried to get him home. He demanded she leave, permanently. She left. With no alternative, she left but never gave up. She prayed. She asked for a breakthrough for her son (my words).

She told friends hers and his. She shared with me, ask I pray. She was embarrassed but wasn’t going to quit asking or telling.

Her son didn’t like where he was but couldn’t ask for help. He grew up in church. Forgot prayer. Finally, he prayed. Several things happened, it was God, this prodigal found home. The last I heard he was off drugs and alcohol. He was working and back in church. God made a breakthrough.

Through God’s lifesaving, life-changing grace, God broke through and a life changed.

It happens with breakthrough prayer. If we ask God to breakthrough, God will. Maybe not on our timetable or our vision, but it will happen.

I know we pray but more than pray, focus on prayer. Be diligent. God will break through. Don’t be a person of prayer, be a person of breakthrough prayer.

Have a Great Day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: Breakthrough Prayer for My Family

One time, after eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah got up and presented herself before the Lord. (Now Eli the priest was sitting in the chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple.) 10 Hannah was very upset and couldn’t stop crying as she prayed to the Lord. 11 Then she made this promise: “Lord of heavenly forces, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me! Don’t forget your servant! Give her a boy! Then I’ll give him to the Lord for his entire life. No razor will ever touch his head.” (1 Samuel 1:9-11, Common English Bible).

Reverend Sue Nilson Kibbey defines breakthrough prayer as asking God to intervene in ways we cannot. She challenges people to pray for breakthrough. Her challenges ask Christians to imagine seeing God-sized breakthroughs in difficult situations.

Many have vivid imaginations. Still, no matter imagination, God breakthroughs impact lives. God’s power is greater than human imagination. God’s plans are greater than our imagination.

Betty owned a horse farm. She rescued wild mustangs having difficulty in the desert. She gentled them and put up for adoption. Horse ranching isn’t easy or cheap. Betty’s husband Chuck is a trucker and he subsidized the ranch. They had problems from early marriage.

One mustang, Harpo, had problems. He was a metaphor for Betty and Dave’s marital problems. Her voice steady but weak. Harpo bolted. Time for lunch. Chuck made breakfast. He worked all night and slept in that morning.

They met during Bible study. Chuck was a gentleman, unlike Betty’s experiences. Chuck seemed to like Betty for Betty while dating they talk constantly.

While she was out her ex committed suicide her home. Their children found him, leaving emotional scars. She adopted a lone wolf persona. She warned Chuck. He was patient. Their marriage went bad immediately. He didn’t like her parenting. She thought he spent too much money.

Betty hated Chuck’s road trips. They went for days. Her womanizing father and her mother were always on her mind. During trips, she investigated financial data, she found nothing but kept searching.

Betty still didn’t trust Chuck. He hated it. They argued constantly until talking stopped.

Chuck finished breakfast. Betty made lunch and went outside. Eating er sandwich as she watched Harpo. With other horses, by now she had a hand on the animal. It was over then. The horse trusted her. Not so with Harpo, he didn’t trust her. “Trust me,” Betty whispered.

She stopped cold. Reality time, she didn’t trust Chuck, never had. He didn’t love her, or so she thought. He had plenty of reasons to go but he was still here.

Their last phone call, she yelled, “Why don’t you leave? You want to.” He said, “We need help,” the call ended. Betty was scared. Had she given him an idea?

Betty never saw Chuck pray. Prayer matters in our families. Today’s lesson is a story about the prayers of one woman. Hannah was childless. A Biblical-era woman’s identity, person-hood was tied to her father, husband, and children. A blessed woman had sons. Hannah had neither. Her husband Elkinah had two wives, Hannah and Pinnenah. Pinnenah had children and sons. She taunted Hannah mercilessly.

Hannah was sad. She wanted children. She wanted God’s blessing. After eating she prayed at the tabernacle.

Eli watched Hannah pray. First, he thought her drunk but she wasn’t and asks God to answer her.

Hannah’s prayer asks for God’s blessing, a son. If God blesses her, she will give that son back to God. If she prayed for herself, she wouldn’t give him back to God? Hannah asks for “breakthrough prayer.” She wants change in her family. She wanted life-altering change. She needed divine intervention. She got it.  She got Samuel, eventually God got him back.

Breakthrough prayer happens. Ask God to break through for families will change lives.

Betty didn’t know Chuck had prayed for her. He prayed for breakthrough in Betty’s life. He knew he had faults, even in their relationship. He knew Betty needed to trust. Chuck wasn’t her father or her ex. He wasn’t leaving and needed Betty to know she could trust him. He prayed for years.

Breakthrough came in Betty’s corral. She saw Harpo. “Trust me,” she whispered looking into his eyes. She understood his fear. She was scared.

Betty feared Chuck didn’t love her and would leave. Mostly she feared giving God control. She thought God failed her, why trust now?

She stared at Harpo. She wondered about her misunderstanding. After 20 years, Chuck’s still here. He said they needed help… Could they fix this? What signs had she missed?

She and Harpo were alone, but she heard echoing of her words to Harpo, “Trust Me.” She repeated them to Harpo and stepped toward him. Again, again, until she had her hand on Harpo’s shoulder. He didn’t move. The beginning of trust.

Betty realized if she wanted her marriage to work, she had to trust. She and Chuck saw their pastor for help, then marriage counseling. They found Bible study. It wasn’t long before they were in different place. It all started with Chuck’s break through prayer.

Breakthrough prayer can happen for any of us, perhaps not immediately, but in God’s time. For Betty and Chuck, it took years, but it happened.

I don’t know your family situations that need a God-sized breakthrough. I don’t know the situations in my own family. But God knows. That’s what matters.

Have a Blessed Day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved