Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church July 5, 2020

Sermon: Where in the World is Elwood?

12 The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
    those who curse you I will curse;
        all the families of the earth
            will be blessed because of you.”

Abram left just as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him. Now Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all of their possessions, and those who became members of their household in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, at the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites lived in the land at that time. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I give this land to your descendants,” so Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. From there he traveled toward the mountains east of Bethel, and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and worshiped in the Lord’s name. Then Abram set out toward the arid southern plain, making and breaking camp as he went. (Genesis 12:1-9, Common English Bible)

Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church

Phone (936) 564-8427
Email info@perritteumc.org

Mailing Address

638A N University Dr # 255
Nacogdoches, TX 75961-4617

Physical Address

1025 Durst St
Nacogdoches, TX 75964-5063

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

Where in the World is Elwood?

12 The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
    those who curse you I will curse;
        all the families of the earth
            will be blessed because of you.”

Abram left just as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him. Now Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all of their possessions, and those who became members of their household in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, Abram traveled through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, at the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites lived in the land at that time. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I give this land to your descendants,” so Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. From there he traveled toward the mountains east of Bethel, and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and worshiped in the Lord’s name. Then Abram set out toward the arid southern plain, making and breaking camp as he went. (Genesis 12:1-9, Common English Bible).

It was almost lunchtime one day in May, 1991. I was in my office at Fondren and the Southwest Freeway in Houston. I was a programmer/analyst with the FDIC. I was working on some random computer code when my phone rang.

It wasn’t a call I got at work. My calls usually were about a program I had written and someone managed to find a way to break, doing something they weren’t supposed to do and the program wasn’t designed for.

Occasionally a Scout leader would call to talk about some activity. We were very involved in Scouting then. Our boys were young and very involved.

Cindy called to talk about kid stuff and if any of us had anything in the calendar that night. It might be what was on the dinner menu.

I wasn’t used to calls about church work. I was, after all, an employee of the Federal government. They wouldn’t have had much positive to say about church.

It was a surprise then when I heard, “Keith, this is Asbury Lennox.” The late Dr. Asbury Lennox was then the District Superintendent of the old Houston East District. I had anticipated a call, but I assumed it would come one night at home. I never thought he’d call during the day the workday.

Dr. Lennox said, “I have called to talk about an appointment. The cabinet met with Bishop Oliphant and we want to appoint you to Elwood.

Before I realized it, the words tumbled from my mouth, the title of this sermon, “Where in the world is Elwood? I hadn’t said it. I knew Texas pretty well, but have learned not as well as I thought. I hadn’t heard of Elwood and and many other places in the Lone Star State. While it is on some state maps, Elwood isn’t even a town! No wonder I hadn’t heard of it.

Elwood is a rural community about 12 miles northeast of Madisonville in rural Madison County. The closest real town, if you can call it that, is Midway, named that because it’s located about midway between Crockett and Madisonville. Midway’s population at the time was 333. Today it has declined to 229 as of the last census.

The only store closes at 6:00. The Walmart in Madisonville closed at 8:00. Our closest neighbors, other than cows were over half a mile away.

At one time, Elwood, then named French was a thriving town and the county seat for Madison County. That was before anyone thought about Madisonville.

Today Elwood consists of a few residences, ranch land, and the Baptist church. I am sorry to say, the Methodist church closed a few years ago. The building is there but belongs to the Elwood Cemetery Association today.

That was a culture shock for a city boy used to 24 hour Walmart stores and convenience stores that never closed, even on Christmas Day. Elwood took careful planning. To get something after 8:00 PM required driving an hour each way to Huntsville, or doing without. Only something important made that drive.

The title of today’s message, “Where in the World is Elwood?” is because of that phone call 30 years ago. I could just as easily titled it after a good number of the places like, “Where in the world is Lovelady, Kennard, Mt. Sylvan, Van or Grapeland. I thought I knew Grapeland but I was talking about Grapevine. I’ve heard it from many since then. “Where in the world is…” Groveton or Huntington. I did know where Prairie View is but it isn’t the same one.

I had heard of Canton, but I didn’t know where it was. I had to look for it on a road map in the days before most any of us had a GPS in the car.

I knew where to find were Tyler, Freeport and Diboll. I made trips to Tyler when I was younger. I went fishing a few times in Freeport. And, my mother’s family used to have a family reunion every year in a little community a little larger than Elwood, named Central, just north of Lufkin.

I could have titled the sermon, “Where in the world is Santa Fe?” and no, not New Mexico. This Santa Fe is in Galveston County, on the mainland. I hadn’t heard of it before a UM ARMY.

I couldn’t have titled the message, “Where in the World is Sweeny?” I knew where it was long ago. But I did hear the question many times when I would tell people I had been appointed there. Much like Tyler, nobody questioned me on. “Where in the world is Nacogdoches?” when I told people about this appointment.

The point of all this is to say, for all of us, there are places in the world we know little, if anything about. Yet often these are some of the very places where God calls us to go and most needs us to go.

Such was the case for one of the great heroes of the Bible, Abraham, or Abram as he was called in our lesson this morning. God spoke to this 75-year-old man and told him to pack up all his stuff and move, only God didn’t tell him to move to Elwood or Nacogdoches or Grapeland or some other named place you might find on a map or with your GPS. God told Abram to move to the land God would show him. Friends, God was asking Abram to take a great leap of faith.

But, God didn’t ask Abram to take a walk on the wild side. God made Abram some promises too. The biggest promise was, God would be there and that Abram would be blessed.

Abram went packing and God made another promise, Abram, descendants would inherit the land where he stood. Abram never saw that promise fulfilled, but he knew God would keep the promise.

If we continued on in Genesis we would see God’s faithfulness in those promises. God blessed Abram in virtually everything. God promised land to Abram’s descendants. God saw to it. In time, those descendants grew in number as promised. If you keep reading, in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, as promised, Abram’s descendants inherited the land God promised.

God gave a faithful man a task. The man did as instructed. God made promises and kept them, including a promise of blessings on a faithful man.

Blessing is a recurring theme throughout Genesis. Really it is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. When people remain faithful, they receive God’s blessing.

The same is true for us. God asks us to start a faith journey together. It is something that in many ways will be different. But, we don’t travel alone. We travel together as the people of God in this time and place. Further, we don’t just travel with each other, God travels with us.

Friends, if we are faithful to God’s call, we will be blessed.

Someone emailed me a little clip I thought I would share with you as I close the message.

At first I thought God was my observer, my judge, keeping track of my wrong doings to see if I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was sort of like the President. I knew the picture but I didn’t really know God.

Later, I recognized God, and life was like a bike ride, but a tandem bike, and God was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know when God suggested we switch but life hasn’t been the same since.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was boring but predictable. We took the shortest route. When God took over there were delightful long cuts, up mountains and rocky places and fast speeds! Sometimes I could barely hang on. I was scared sometimes, God reached back and touched my hand.

I met people with gifts I needed: gifts for my journey, our journey, God’s and mine. Then we were off again. Then God would say, “Give those gifts away, extra baggage, too much weight.” So I gave them to people we’d meet.

I learned then that in giving we receive. Our burden was light. I didn’t trust God at first, being in control of my life. “What if God wrecks it?” But God knows, “bike secrets,” how to make it bend in sharp corners or jump high rocks or to fly through scary passages.

I’m learning to shut up and pedal in strange places. Now I enjoy the cool breeze on my face, with my delightful companion. And when I’m sure I can’t do any more, God smiles and says,”Pedal.”

We have work to do. Let’s be faithful like Abraham. If we are, God will bless us to be a blessing. Oh, and don’t forget, pedal!.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Reckoning Coming?

By Drew Weber

20 The young man replied, “I’ve kept all these. What am I still missing?”

21 Jesus said, “If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away saddened, because he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I assure you that it will be very hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 In fact, it’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

25 When his disciples heard this, they were stunned. “Then who can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.”

2Then Peter replied, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you. What will we have?”

28 Jesus said to them, “I assure you who have followed me that, when everything is made new, when the Human One sits on his magnificent throne, you also will sit on twelve thrones overseeing the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And all who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or farms because of my name will receive one hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first (Matthew 19:20-30, Common English Bible).

I have known Drew Weber since he began in ministry in 2008. The biggest reason I got to know him was, at that time my wife was on the administrative staff at Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church in Galveston, Texas. Drew went on staff there several months after Cindy did. Since that time Drew and I have had several long conversations, theological and otherwise. When I developed some health issues while serving at First United Methodist Church and Oyster Creek United Methodist Church in Freeport, Texas, Drew filled the pulpit for me a few times and always was outstanding.

When Drew left Moody he went to First United Methodist Church in Cameron, Texas followed by First United Methodist Church in Jasper, Texas. He now serves as the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Texas.

The “Prosperity Gospel” or “Word of Faith” movement has thrived in the 21st Century despite its unbiblical theology. Purveyors of this type of preaching and teaching wrongly proclaim that God’s will for your life is financial and physical well-being. Teachers of prosperity theology claim that through faith in Christ, positive speech or “positive confessions” and financial donations to these ministries the result be financial blessings and physical well-being for you and your family. Hmmm….I seem to remember Jesus saying, “You cannot serve both God and money.” And Paul wrote to Timothy, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” There seems to be a great deal of money loving in this teology.

In today’s Scripture reading Jesus tells a man who is already prosperous to go make others prosperous right? You might think that if you heard some of the prosperity gospel preachers, but it is NOT what the Gospels say. It isn’t even what this story says. In it, Jesus says, “If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me.” (1 Timothy 6:10) That sounds like the opposite of a prosperity gospel.

I am of the firm belief that prosperity theologians and preachers are leading people straight to hell! Well, Drew, come on now, that is a little bit harsh isn’t it? I mean, after all, God seems to be blessing their ministries and if it gets people to start thinking about faith then isn’t it a good thing? No, it’s not and I believe God has had enough. I predict that many of these large churches, famous ministries, and prominent figures in this false gospel campaign will start to fall from grace. I believe that over the next two years God will start to break the yoke of this demonic teaching as one after the other falls from their lofty perch.

Here’s why prosperity theology is awful.  It completely misses the entire point of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t come so we can all live our best lives now. If that’s the case then why did my Christian sister die of cancer at age 21? Prosperity teachers would say that she didn’t think positively, donate to their ministries, or have enough faith. Furthermore, I know a lot of faithful Christ followers who are struggling financially. Are they not making enough “positive confessions?” Oh, and what about the Christians who are getting their heads chopped off in the middle east? If they would only watch the right “preachers” and donated to them they could be alive and living their best life now. 

Friends, if you are watching any of these teachers and preachers you need to stop immediately. It is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ – it is something entirely different than anything found in Scripture. Jesus came so we can be forgiven for our sins, have a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and live with God forever in heaven. God’s purpose for your life is to be molded into the image of His Son and lead others down the path of truth and life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This is the Gospel and Jesus said that there will be struggles along they way but He will never leave us nor forsake us. However, he never once talked about financial and physical well-being as the point of His coming to Earth. 

I urge you to pray for people to be rescued from this dangerous branch of “Christianity.” I urge you to pray that people will stop supporting these ministries. I urge you to pray for churches that stand on the Word of God to have pews filled on Sunday morning. The “Prosperity Gospel” is no longer just a nuisance, it’s a force of the Enemy and I believe God has had enough. Time will tell.

Today is the last day of this round of guest blog posts. It was great to hear from so many of my family and friends. I look forward to hearing from them again and others too. I hope to have another post soon. He had to have back surgery during this time and he really wanted to write a post. I will give him a day whenever he gets healed.

As usual for Saturday, we will have a music focus tomorrow. We will have a patriotic focus here on my blog post tomorrow. Check out the blog at revbroyles.me.

Called – Send Me

After that I will pour out my spirit upon everyone;
        your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
        your old men will dream dreams,
        and your young men will see visions.
29 In those days, I will also pour out my
    spirit on the male and female slaves.

30 I will give signs in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 32 But everyone who calls on the Lord’s name will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be security, as the Lord has promised; and in Jerusalem, the Lord will summon those who survive. (Joel 2:28-32, Common English Bible)

Sam Cutrone currently serves as the pastor of Alexander Chapel United Methodist Church in Bryan, TX. He has a powerful testimony. Sam and I have worked as colleagues but I am proud to call him friend.

O let the Son of God enfold you
With His Spirit and His love
Let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul
O let Him have the things that hold you, And His Spirit like a dove
Will descend upon your life and make you whole.
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs.

It was just a month ago that we, in liturgical congregations celebrated Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Pentecost is the Sunday we celebrate God sending the Holy Spirit upon His Disciples in the upper room. The hymn above reminds us of this poignant powerful moment in which God fulfilled His promise to the Church. The account is a humbling reminder how the disciples had to remain open in order for the Spirit to be poured into them. This happened when the disciples let their lives be enfolded into the life and message of Christ. Secondly, they had to open their hearts in order for their souls to be fed. Finally as they gave Christ all their doubts, fears, and anxieties they were healed.

How have you felt enfolded into God’s love?

Since the age of 15 I knew I was called to ministry. However it took me 30 years to fulfill my calling. In 1990, I served a small church in Martindale, Texas. It was a small rural church with 15 congregants. They were a Godsend into my life. One Sunday I had to inform them I had been removed as a candidate for ministry by the District Committee on Ordained Ministry. Hence, I would be unable to remain at the church (appointment). It was a bitter pill to swallow. As I told them, about the decision, I found a strange peace deep within me. I felt a profound love touching my heart that morning. The people were shocked because we had been together for 2 years. But I reassured them the conference and district leaders knew what they were doing: the church had to trust the process. I must admit these were some dark moments for the church and for me as we grieved together. As we wept we found the Spirit leading us to a deeper understanding of Christ’s love we had for one another and a resilient strength to trust in what God was doing.

In those few precious moments we found consolation in Christ’s arms of grace. We discovered that through the years we had learned that God’s love bound us together and kept the cords of ministry strong. We found, in those moments, that Christ’s love was sufficient. While I may have been removed from ministry we were joined in the desire to serve Christ and the community. With hearts full, sorrows shared and remembering we were bound together by God’s love; we left the church that Sunday knowing the Holy Spirit was upon the church and us.

Later that night, I poured out my ardent prayer out before the Lord. I prayed for God’s spirit to comfort the church and my family. I shared with God my disappointments, fears and anxieties; I left everything at the foot of the cross. Later, the phone rang, I was surprised to hear Bishop Earnest Dixon on the other end of the line. He said, “Sam, I don’t know what you’ve done at the church in Martindale but they love you. I think it’s best if you continue ministry with the church. What do you think?” I said, “Well if you think that’s best. Then yes I’ll go.” I continued in ministry for 5 more years. It wasn’t until I moved in 1995 I realized how much they loved me and my family but more importantly how much they trusted God. Unbeknownst to me, the night the Bishop called me, the church had handed the charter of the church to the District Superintendent. They simply said, “if you remove Sam, then remove us! We see the Spirit moving in the Church and want to see what God will do with us.”

It’s a wondrous sight to behold when the Holy Spirit gets involved. Our moment of grace comes when we step aside and let the Holy Spirit fill us with God’s love. Then empty our lives from the fears, anxieties and uncertainties of the world. When we let our hearts be filled with the Spirit we find healing and the ability to trust and love God even more. We are called to the share this hope with others. Take a moment and lift your heart to the Lord, let God’s Holy Spirit fill you with God’s love. Then go into the world and pour God’s love into the lives of those who are thirsty, lost in the darkness, hurting or struggling. This is our purpose and call.

Diversions

Bishop

Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains;
    your justice is like the deepest sea.
        Lord, you save both humans and animals (Psalm 36:6, Common English Bible).

It seems like all I do since the quarantine started is sit with my computer in my lap getting something ready, a blog post, a sermon (I still haven’t started on), Children’s Faith Corner, Devo Live, email , did I mention I still need to work on my sermon, oh yeah, I guess I did.

I need a diversion. Something that will take my mind off the other things, perhaps give me a chuckle. Meet Bishop. Bishop is a dog pound dog. We think he may have some Italian Greyhound or Whippet in him. With the long legs and barreled chest, he is definitely a dog built for running and run he does. This dog loves to run.

In our condo Bishop will sprint across a diagonal path from the home study across the living room into the dining room to under the dining room table, stop on a dime, reverse course and do it again. This can go on for several minutes. It works for him because all those rooms are carpeted.

On occasion I will get him to run across the kitchen floor. It is tile and you can hear his nails run across the floor trying to gain some kind of traction that just isn’t there.

At my mom’s house, there is no carpet at all. But when Bishop woke up this morning, he was full of energy and started to run. With the floor plan of the house Bishop can run a lap from the living room into the formal dining room, then to the kitchen followed by the breakfast nook, and back into the living room. While there is no carpet in the house there is a large area rug in the living room. Traction was in short supply but he tried his best to run. The result was pretty funny.

Bishop is not a dog who will give you kisses. I have never had a dog before that didn’t want to lick people. Bishop never has. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t affectionate. He is. He likes to cuddle and get his face close to yours and then rub his head into your neck.

He also likes to sleep on the foot of my recliner. He will jump up on the chair, push his way between my legs, curl up and go to sleep. When he wakes up he is ready to run again.

Bishop Dude (as we call him) is truly a blessing from God. He has provided a lot of joy and comfort. When I was sick back at Christmas, Bishop was with me almost all the time. He stayed in my chair with me. He was doing his best to take care of me. He really didn’t “help” at all but he sure brought some joy.

I needed a diversion this morning. Bishop provided me that. And, God provided me with Bishop. I am so thankful for my little dog and the joy and distractions he provides to Cindy and me.

Christian comedian and singer, Mark Lowry came out on stage wearing a T-shirt saying, “Dogs Go to Heaven – Psalm 36:6.” Ever since I was a kid I have hoped that to be the case. While it may be taken out of context, Lowry uses Psalm 36:6 to give those of us with pets hope we will see them again.

Mark Lowry at the Dove Awards

While I was trying to find exactly what Mark’s t-shirt said, I ran across an article that was talking about quarantined pets and the way the help us.

“…pets are providing comfort and relief to desperate people. For ages, cats, dogs, and the occasional rabbit have been beloved companions. But in an unprecedented moment like this one, they’ve become, essentially, emotional first responders.” Does that mean I have to pay Bishop? How much is my co-pay?

I guess I need to bring this to a close as Bishop is standing by my chair waiting to jump into my lap. It won’t be long before he is up here, paws in the middle of the keyboard. Then work will be impossible.

Have a blessed day.

Seeking the genuine,
Keith

copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission given for non-commercial use of this post

Oh, and just so you know, before anyone asks if the Bishop knows I named my dog after him, the answer is no. It is no because Bishop is not named after the Bishop. He had the name when we got him from the pound. I thought it the perfect name for a Methodist preacher’s dog so I left it just as the pound had named him.

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Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/pets-animals/people-are-adopting-pandemic-pets-during-coronavirus-and-its-restoring-our-faith-in-humanity/ar-BB11B2Rw?ocid=spartanntp
Southern Gospel News Magazine

Tyler and Bug-Bug

31 When Judas was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Human One has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify the Human One in himself and will glorify him immediately. 33 Little children, I’m with you for a little while longer. You will look for me—but, just as I told the Jewish leaders, I also tell you now—‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” (John 13:31-35, Common English Bible)

A few nights ago I watching something, the news or something. Exactly what watched I can’t recall. Maybe I was on the internet or something. However it happened, I encountered a news story that grabbed my attention. Last night I went back out on the internet trying to find the story. It wasn’t hard but I still don’t know where I saw it. It was one of those feel good stories. As surprising as feel-good stories might be, this was one in my experience really stood out.Tyler is a three year old boy who lives in Clinton Mississippi. Like many young children, Tyler loves cars and trucks. Tyler isn’t just interested in his toy cars and trucks, Tyler loves the real deal. Most kids probably do. Unlike other kids though, the truck Tyler loves the most is the garbage truck. That for me is the surprising part of the story. I don’t know how developed the sense of smell is for three-year-olds but I do know how bad a garbage truck smells .

Back at Thanksgiving and Christmas Tyler (and his grandmother) made goodies for the garbage truck crew. When Tyler’s birthday came around, the crew had a stuffed animal for a birthday gift.

It is not a relationship without risk. On garbage day Tyler wants to rush out to meet the truck even though if he was late, the truck would wait (they have neve waited for me but then again, I’m not a cute three-year-old that made them goodies at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Other days, Tyler impatiently waited with cookies on the curb. He ran to meet them all but at first, he ignored most of the crew to grabbed onto his best friend’s leg. This was Tyler’s “Bug-Bug.” I don’t know what Bug-But’s name is but he works for Waste Management.776

It doesn’t take a lot of looking to find that Tyler and Bug-Bug have a special relationship. As you can see from the picture above, Tyler is an Anglo young man and Bug-Bug is African=American. Tyler’s mom says, Tyler never notices the color of his friend’s skin, he just sees his special buddy. She also said, Bug-Bug doesn’t notice that Tyler is white. They share a special bond.

This post is about loving one another. It isn’t a post about race though this is a great example of how we should treat each other. This began not as a story about the friendship between an Anglo-American, boy and an African American man. It started with that boy’s fascination with a garbage truck.

That being said, had that man not taken the time to show an interest in that boy, there would have been no friendship and absolutely no story.

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” I can’t help but think, Tyler and Bug-Bug have accomplished that love one another part already. In fact, think they have it down pat.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

In Search of the Genuine,
Keith

copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission given for the non-commercial use of this material.

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Source: https://youtu.be/vvqZ4pKyRn8

We Do What We Can

The picture above is a picture of the ship I served in the Navy, the USS Mt. Whitney. It is an amphibious command ship, now having the home port in Italy. I knew she had been in the shipyards over there. The Navy plans on using this ship for another 20 years. That is interesting because, at least according to an article I read sometime back, the Mt. Whitney is the third oldest ship in the fleet now. The Mt. Whitney‘s sister ship, the USS Blue Ridge is number 2. And the oldest is this really old ship, dating back to wooden hulls, the USS Constitution.

When I was in the Navy, Mt. Whitney‘s home port was Norfolk, VA. The Blue Ridge‘s home port was San Diego, and the Constitution (really only used for show and ceremonial purposes today) has her home port in Boston. That was almost 40 years ago. Today Mt. Whitney‘s home port is in Italy. The Blue Ridge is in Japan. Constitution is still in Boston.

Today in the waters off the Italian port city of Gaeta, the Mt. Whitney played the Italian national anthem. It may sound funny, an American Navy ship playing a foreign country’s national anthem. It isn’t the first time, I feel pretty certain it won’t be the last.

It wasn’t even the first time for Mt. Whitney. On my first cruise to Europe in 1978 we entered the port of Dublin. I was part of the ship’s honor guard for that cruise. We went to a national cemetery in Dublin where Vice Admiral W.L. McDonald laid a wreath at the Irish equivalent of “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” It was a moving ceremony and the band played the Irish National Anthem. No, we were not on the ship but it was a ship’s function. 40 years ago, it was for ceremony.

Today it was the Mt. Whitney showing solidarity with the Italian people through this Cobid19 world crisis. While the ship’s crew and a large compliment of private mariners who work on Mt. Whitney, the people around them are their friends and neighbors. It was their way of saying we are with you, this is about all of us.

A few months back, one of my old shipmates posted a Facebook meme with our old ship on it. The meme said, “When I was 20, this was my happy place.” I said then, I won’t say it was my happy place, but I sure had some happy times there.

Mt. Whitney had several loving if not complementary nicknames. She was called the “Funny Twenty,” “Building 20 (We didn’t leave Norfolk very often,” “Fat Albert.” That is just a few.

With what the captain and crew of Mt. Whitney did yesterday I am certainly proud of my old ship. Playing the Italian national anthem may seem small thing, but sometimes even small things can make a big difference.

Yesterday morning, early, Cindy and I went to Walmart to buy supplies for two friends in need who live in a local retirement home. They are under quarantine and can’t get to the story.

He is a Navy guy to but I met in ministry not in the Navy. If he was on and read this I would insert just for him, “we are both Navy guys, only he was on a ship with wooden hulls and decks.

The truth is, I have no idea if Blue Ridge after returning played the Japanese National Anthem or not. I am thinking likely not.

The Mt. Whitney could have come home and done nothing. That is nothing uncommon. We could have ignored our friends needs

What can you do? The list is endless, shopping, cooking, talking on the phone and even if you can do nothing else, you can ALWAYS pray.

Find something you can do and start telling the world you are there to help.

Let’s all do what we can’t. Be smart, but get out and help. When Cindy and I got the the retirement center, Cindy called our friend who came to the front door she could have stayed shuttered inside.

Please, be careful out there, do what you can for someone else, and I know you will be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

If your church could use some prayer, leave us the book

And if your church needs prayer during these difficult times, please leave your church name in the comments and I will create a list. You can come to a post on Facebook and find a church for which you want to pray.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission Given for non-commercial use of this material

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Source http://www.military.com

A Complicated Guy (Psalm 17)

Psalm 17

A prayer of David.

17 Listen to what’s right, Lord;
    pay attention to my cry!
Listen closely to my prayer;
    it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie!
My justice comes from you;
    let your eyes see what is right!
You have examined my heart,
    testing me at night.
You’ve looked me over closely,
    but haven’t found anything wrong.
    My mouth doesn’t sin.
But these other people’s deeds?
    I have avoided such violent ways
    by the command from your lips.
My steps are set firmly on your paths;
    my feet haven’t slipped.

I cry out to you because you answer me.
    So tilt your ears toward me now—
    listen to what I’m saying!
Manifest your faithful love in amazing ways
    because you are the one
    who saves those who take refuge in you,
    saving them from their attackers
    by your strong hand.
Watch me with the very pupil of your eye!
    Hide me in the protection of your wings,
        away from the wicked
            who are out to get me,
        away from my deadly enemies
            who are all around me!
10 They have no pity;
    their mouths speak arrogantly.
11 They track me down—
    suddenly, they surround me!
    They make their plans to put me in the dirt.
12 They are like a lion eager to rip its prey;
    they are like a strong young lion lying in wait.

13 Get up, Lord!
    Confront them!
    Bring them down!
Rescue my life from the wicked—
    use your sword!
14 Rescue me from these people—
    use your own hands, Lord!
Rescue me from these people
    whose only possession is their fleeting life.
But fill the stomachs of your cherished ones;
    let their children be filled full
    so that they have leftovers enough for their babies.

15 But me? I will see your face in righteousness;
    when I awake, I will be filled full by seeing your image (Psalm 17:1-15, Common English Bible)

Yesterday I said during my sermon that I liked the Naaman story because I can imagine it playing out in my mind. I can see Naaman getting to Elisha’s house and becoming angry because Elisha refused to come out. I can see him becoming frustrated as he bathed in the Jordan the first six times and nothing seemed to change. I can see the excitement he would have when he comes up the seventh time (as I tell it, the body clean of leprosy was the discovery of his men). I can see that whole story unfold.

Stories about David are different. First, I can’t imagine being king of anything. That might be the result of growing up in a country that is not a monarchy but the truth of the matter is, I have no desire to be President either. All it takes for me is to see a picture of a president, ANY president and compare pictures of when they went into office and when they left office and I am convinced it is not the job I would want.

I once did have political aspirations. When I did, my highest interest was to be a senator. If I lost my mind and decided to do that now, please have me committed.

When I read Psalm 17, I see a pretty complicated guy in the psalmist. According the the credit at the top of the psalm, we are told the psalmist is King David. For our purposes today we will assume that is the case.

He definitely knows he is the guy in charge. Read the way he talks to God in this prayer. “Listen to what’s right Lord. Pay attention to my cry.”

We don’t know if, when Psalm 17 was written if David was king or not. We can quickly see language that would make us see him as a king.

Though I don’t really have much to base it on, I think David wrote this psalm after his encounter with Goliath and probably during the time before David ascended to the throne and Saul was out to kill him. I am not sure how I have come to that conclusion but that is what I think. I do know I arrived at the conclusion that Saul is still king because that would have been a time when enemies were after him. But, then again, it could have happened when his son Absalom was attempting to take David’s throne for himself.

As I read this psalm, this idea of a complicated man came pretty early on in the reading. David says he has avoided violent ways (v. 4). I almost wanted to laugh, particularly as I continued to read. David, the guy who planted a stone in the forehead of an opponent. David, the guy who would send a man to his death on the front lines of battle. David, the guy that made his king who the crowds would sing chants about him killing his thousands. David who might not show violence here himself, but he sure wants God to commit violence on his behalf, “Use your sword!” (v. 13).

I too like to think of myself as a non-violent guy. I do have a temper. There is no doubt of that, but my temper has not turned violent. Still, if I am honest, under the right set of circumstances, I feel pretty certain violence could be the result. And that friends, is where it could get complicated for any of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission is given for the non-commercial use of this post.

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And Yet

OK, I put the sermon I had planned to preach tomorrow away for now and wrote something new, more connected to our current situation. I may get back to the Lenten sermon series sometime but I thought I needed to deal with the current issue.

I wrote my blog yesterday afternoon about the current situation. I wrote a new song this morning that is about prayer but it is rooted in the Covid-19. I have made a couple of other related posts today. Just about every conversation I have had has been about the virus.

Frankly, it has barely begun and I am tired of talking about it. I know it isn’t going away soon and I will talk more tomorrow in church and I feel certain on here. But right now, I can talk about something else and for my own mental health I am going to do that.

Just about any time I open my web browser and it isn’t to a specific preset site, I get a list of current articles posted on various sites around the internet. Some days there isn’t much I want to read, others there are one or two and some days there seems to be a lot of low hanging fruit. Yesterday was a middle day. There was only one article that peeked my interest. The headline said, “What Would Happen if Earth Started to Spin Faster?” The opening sentence said, “Even a 1 mph speed boost would make things pretty weird.” I would have liked for them to tell me what was going to get weird and they really didn’t.

The did say that the speed the earth spins constantly varies slightly. If earth started increasing speed, it would be more difficult for us to maintain our spot on the planet because it would constantly try to throw us off. The article said that the oceans would rise at the equator and become more shallow at the poles. They listed other things that would change. If you want to know more, go read the link for yourself (article). That isn’t where I want to make my point.

In my mind I have been thinking about evidence of the existence of God. At least to me, this is clear evidence. How can this all be by accident when as little as a one mile an hour increase (though they did not say it, to me logic would indicate different issues but issues all the same from a one mile per hour decrease) in spin rate. Here is a narrow spin rate window to allow life on this planet to exist as we know it. If you increased the spin wind speeds would increase, there would be changes in gravity, you would lose weight (if you are like me you would enjoy that part) and you would live in a constant state of jet lag. I don’t see how someone could say this tiny sweet spot just appeared.

In the old television show Star Trek: The Next Generation (No, I am not a Trekkie but Cindy really likes it so I watch it sometimes with her) there is a scene where Captain Piccard and this semi-god figure Q are back in time on prehistoric earth. They are looking in this pool some kind of protien or something, and these two ameba kind of things are swimming toward each other and miss each other. Q then says to Piccard words to the effect of, “and life on earth never happened.

I am not trying to say such a story line is how life did come to earth. What I am saying is, in all the vastness of the universe, for everything required for life to come together, I cannot see it happening as an accident.

Christmas Eve, I was suddenly hit with some kind of bug that had me shaking so hard I thought I was having a seizure. It was chills from a fever that ran two degrees above normal. Our bodies are so fine tuned that to be just a bit out of temperature zone can lead us to feel positively awful. It knocked me down so hard, for the first time in my 29 year career, I missed Christmas Eve worship.

Just a slight change in something can lead to dramatic problems. God tuned us to reach maximum efficiency.

We live on, to quote another old television show, The “Third Rock from the Sun.” If we lived on the second rock from the sun it would be too hot to survive. If we lived on the fourth rock (Mars), it would be too cold. It took the perfect placement.

I cannot buy that all this happened by accident. Everything had to be too exact.It took the right spin rate on earth. It had to be earth because the next closest alternatives were too hot or too cold. And then there is the temperature sweet spot. Ockham’s Razor is a principle from philosophy. Suppose there exist two explanations for an occurrence. The one requiring the smallest number of assumptions is usually correct. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation.

One explanation, God exists and drives creation is one assumption. Trying to think of all the possibilities for it to happen and God not exist? Well, that just makes my head hurt.

Have a great evening.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All rights reserved. Permission to use for non-commercial purposes is granted.

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These Bibles Are Not the Same (Psalm 16)

Psalm 16

Song of Trust and Security in God

A Miktam of David.

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,
    in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
    my body also rests secure.
10 For you do not give me up to Sheol,
    or let your faithful one see the Pit.

11 You show me the path of life.
    In your presence there is fullness of joy;
    in your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:1-11, New Revised Standard Version)

Early in my ministry days, before the internet was everywhere, in fact, my first four years in the ministry about all I did on my computer was type things and play the occasional game. I did use an early database management program for keeping the church membership and I was able to generate some of the information I needed for reporting.

While it did make my life easier, I didn’t need it all that much. At that time I still handwrote all my sermons. To type them on the computer I had to be at home. I didn’t have a computer at the church.

When I did something and wanted to look at several at the same time, side-by-side. I had (I still have them, I just don’t use them much), two parallel Bibles which have me eight versions of the Bible in two books. Then, I would add up to six additional versions when I wanted to do serious comparisons.

Later I had a computer program that had several versions of the Bible. Later still, I was able to get on a brand new website, biblegateway.com. With 53 different English translations, I have more than I could ever really use.

When I started working on today’s psalm post, I read it and I was pretty sure I did Psalm 16 yesterday too. My first day with a new psalm I generally use The Common English Bible. So far I have written on each psalm at least two days. On the second day (today is a second day) I use New Revised Standard Version. The third day, if there is one, I use New International Version. I know there is psalm coming, probably in the fall I feel pretty sure I will work with for at least four days. Those days I am planning to use The Good News Bible.

Anyway, while reading today from from NRSV I thought, this doesn’t seem right. I went into WordPress and looked. At first I didn’t even realize the problem. I went and looked back at Psalms 15 and 17. They didn’t even come close. So, I used Bible Gateway and looked at all but one side by side. I looked and then looked at another outside what I could see on the screen. New Revised Standard, was different from Common English. I took a look at NIV. It was right with NRSV. The same for the Good News translation. I tried the Holman Standard. I thought it was published about the same time as CEB so the committee translating it worked well together. Holman Standard was with the other. The last one was King James. It looked the same as every other version except Common English.

When something happens like the differences in the translations, I first try to hear which one seems to make the most sound. If that doesn’t solve the issue I used to go to an interlinear Bible. I thought that might be the most accurate until I thought one day, that might be a literal translation but I have two and there were three places where the translations were quite different. Since I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, I really have no idea what translation does a better job.

In all the versions I looked at, verse three is different in CEB but close to the same across the board.’

Now as for the “holy ones” in the land,  the “magnificent ones” that I was so happy about;  let their suffering increase because   they hurried after a different god. I won’t participate in their blood offerings;  I won’t let their names cross my lips. Common English Bible

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,  in whom is all my delight. Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips. New Revised Standard Version

I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. New International Version

How excellent are the Lord's faithful people! My greatest pleasure is to be with them. Those who rush to other gods bring many troubles on themselves. I will not take part in their sacrifices; I will not worship their gods. Good News Translation

In the CEB, the psalmist is asking God to go put a whipping on those that wandered from the faith. He has nothing nice to say. He is angry because they ran off and now wants God to take care of it

The NRSV, NIV, GNT, all say essentially the same thing. It is praise for those that stayed with their unit. As for those who “went over the hill? (Navy slang for AWOL). They are on their own.

One more thing before I shut this post down. I am trying to give you definitions, or at least those I can find. At the top of the psalm is the word Miktam. Those that address the term at all, are pretty much in agreement. They all say that it is an inscription. The first difference is, GNT says nothing. CEB just says inscription. NRSV says Hebrew meaning is uncertain. And, NIV agrees with inscription but they believe it has something to do with music.

Should you need to look at multiple translations at the same time, go check out biblegateway.com. It is a great resource for Bible study.

Have a great day in the Lord.

In search of the genuine,
Keith

copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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