The Wesley Quadrilateral

In the 18th century John Wesley, the man behind the Methodist movement developed a method of theological reflection used by Methodist and other Wesleyan branches of faith. In the 20th century, The late Dr. Albert Outler, professor of systematic theology at Perkins School of Theology coined the term, “The Wesley Quadrilateral.” It is important to note that Wesley never used the term. Some have used the term “Methodist Quadrilateral” in its place.

A quadrilateral, regardless of the measurements of each side has four sides. When using a quadrilateral to demonstrate a theological idea, one must identify each side of the quadrilateral. A quadrilateral has four sides, and each side represents the elements, Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. Outler and likely Wesley as well would say it is not an equilateral quadrilateral. I am not math guy so using those words isn’t easy for me (lol).

Scripture is the most important leg of the quadrilateral. When reflecting on a theological idea of issue, one should first ask, what does Scripture say. The Bible is our basis, it is and should be the base of all we do. I believe one of the reason that Sunday school, Bible Study, small groups, and other things are important. So many in our congregations today do not, by the own admission, know the Bible. You only learn the contents of any book by opening it and reading it. Bible study, no better yet, being a Christian is not easy. We have to be willing to take appropriate actions to grown in our faith.

Tradition – Wesley the traditions of the Church were important and Methodists today still do. That being said, Wesley also understood that traditions weaken over time. The traditions weakened over time if the next generations do not know and understand the traditions and their purpose. It is necessary to teach those being raise in the faith and it is not a task for parents alone. When God baptizes a child (God is the primary actor in baptism. It may be the pastor’s hands but it is God’s action) as a congregation you made a promise before to God that you would raise this child in the faith. By tradition many people touch and impact the child’s life. Outler argued we should let tradition have its place. Tradition helps us grow our faith and understanding. Wesley states that those of strong and clear understanding should be aware of its full force. Tradition is a key link to all of Church history.

Reading the promises God makes to us in Scripture can be thrilling. What the Christian faith promises is a journey we call salvation.”What the scriptures promise, I enjoy”.[9] Again, Wesley insisted that we cannot have reasonable assurance of something unless we have experienced it personally. John Wesley was assured of both justification and sanctification because he had experienced them in his own life. What Christianity promised (considered as a doctrine) was accomplished in his soul. Christianity is a culmination of the promises of God in Jesus Christ. Through his death on a cross, Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of God. Tradition points to the promise and shows its reality in an abstract sense, experience makes it real. Experience makes it personal. God gives us a personal experience of salvation. God gives us eternal light.

Reason – Wesley’s time was during the Enlightenment. He and most every person working in an area that provoked thought believed Scripture is the foundation of all faith, Wesley wrote: “Now, of what excellent use is reason, if we would either understand ourselves, or explain to others, those living oracles.” Wesley believed that without reason one could not understand the truths of Scripture.

Application – When I was in seminary I struggled with a good bit of this. My senior pastor, the late Bobbie Weber, explained by applying it in a way I had not heard of before. I don’t remember the thing Bobbie used but we will use the love of God. That was a favorite topic of Jesus.

What does Scripture say about that. Does Scripture cover the idea of a loving God who loves us and if we allow it, will direct our lives. Scripture says that if we say we love God but don’t love neighbor the truth is not in us. Scripture also says “God is love.”

I know there is more but for our purposes today, we have talked about that one enough. We know God loves us and our biggest authority says we can believe that promise.

Now, what does tradition say about God’s love for us? If we study the lives of Christian martyrs we can see evidence that they knew God loved them and even in the face of death they held on tight to the faith. Their parents and their teachers in the early Church made sure they knew the sacrifice God had made for him.

She knew about experience. As they were taught to her she heard about the pain and anguish that went with learning the faith. She started playing and when she played she felt God surrounding her. That is experience.

Now that we have seen the evidence of Scripture, what history has taught us of tradition, and what we learn through experience, ours and the church’s. Can we draw conclusions about the love of God. That would of course be a safe assumption. We might need more evidence on a more complicated theological problem but with this method we can search our way into a reasonable answer just about every time.

Have a blessed day.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

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April Fool!!!

It would seem that the tradition of April Fool’s Day at least dates back to England in the 1700 when teenagers started playing practical jokes on one another and then anyone else they thought they could get away with terrorizing.

Another theory says that this day of foolishness dates back to France in 1582 and surrounds changing from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar as mandated by the Council of Trent in 1563. Some people failed to recognize January 1 as New Year’s Day. On the old Julian Calendar, the new year celebration was the last week of March, culminating on April 1st. These “fools” were the recipients of all kinds of jokes and pranks including placing paper fish on their backs and calling them April fish. It symbolized a young fish, easy to hook and pointed to the idea of a gullible person.

April Fools’ Day traditions grew in England during the 1700s. In Scotland, there was too much fun and foolishness for just one day. The tradition became a two-day event where people were sent on phony errands the first day and then sneaking feathers or “kick me” signs on people’s rear ends.

Before my ministry days, I was a programmer/analyst with the FDIC. I walked into my office one day. I turned on the light followed by the radio as I always did. I had the radio tuned to my favorite country station or at least I thought I did when I left the night before. What was coming from the speakers was classical music. Occasionally, after I left for the day, a co-worker across the hall would come in and turn my radio until time for her to leave an hour or so after I left (we were on a flex work schedule). Since she hadn’t come in yet I couldn’t ask so I went over to change the station. Just as I reached for the dial the DJ came on and said, saying the time and my favorite station’s call letters. What?

I hadn’t even thought about the date. It was April 1st, 1990. I started looking around for one of the other country stations. I had no idea what was going on but when I found that one, they were playing the Rolling Stones and Deep Purple. I’m not saying anything bad about hard rock or classical but when you are expecting country… I dialed up the local Christian station and they were playing classical. It seemed that every FM radio station in Houston had overnight changed there format and the whole time I was oblivious to the date or at least if I had realized April 1st, I didn’t put two and two together. I am going to blame it on the fact that I am not a morning person and it was still way too early. My brain wasn’t awake until 10:00. At about 9:00 when the morning drive-time shows wound up the stations all shouted “April Fool’s” and switched back to their original formats for the next show. I admit it, I was pranked big time. I was gullible. It was also the best April Fool’s prank I have ever seen.

A few years ago a picture of the football field from my Alma Mater, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas was floating around the internet. I didn’t fall for this one but I would still rank it as one of my favorites. It appeared perfectly normal except the green field turf was orange and the orange end zones were now blue (orange, blue, and white are the school’s colors). It wasn’t like it was unreasonable colors like purple and white (arch rival Stephen F. Austin’s colors). Though I knew it was an April Fool’s prank, I loved the orange field. I knew (or so I thought) it was unique and no other school would have a field like it.

Someone with a whole lot better photo shop skills than mine, had spent a while, doing the painstaking task of digitally changing the green field to orange and the orange end zones to blue.

history.com has a page (click the history.com link) of the nine most outrageous April Fool pranks in history. Interesting though, the prank may actually be on HISTORY as this particular prank was not on April 1st. Instead it was January 1st at the 1961 Rose Bowl between the Washington Huskies and the Minnesota Golden Gophers though neither school had any intentional part to play in the prank which was actually done by Cal Tech, who had nothing to do with the game except the prank. Cal Tech is well known for the pranks they pull.

The Washington cheerleaders handed out colored cards to the Washington fans telling them that if they held the cards up at halftime while the Washington band played, it would spell “Huskies.” It didn’t. A group of Cal Tech students switched out the cards. When the cards spelled “Cal Tech” instead. The Washington band stopped mid-song.

While not an April Fool’s prank, I do find pretty funny. I must admit, I have enjoyed many pranks and have pulled a few and had a few pulled on me. As long as they are done well and where no one gets hurt, I find them funny. Perhaps I shouldn’t, but I do.

The Church, in Christian tradition has such a day. The Sunday after Easter in tradition is called, “Holy Humor Sunday.” Many congregations still celebrate the day under a variety of names including Holy Humor Sunday. It usually does not fall on April 1st, it could happen. People would and do dress in the brightest clothes they own. Decorations are done in bright colors as well. People tell jokes. It creates a light and festive mood. It is all a part of continuing the Easter celebration and in honor of God playing the biggest practical joke on Satan in history, not letting Jesus stay in the grave.

Somehow, just as April Fool’s Day will not carry the same fun this year as it has in the past, I think we will miss out on the fun of “Holy Humor Sunday.” I am going to give it some thought. I know a little humor is something we could all use about now.

Think funny and if you have a good April Fool’s story (where no one got hurt), please share it in the comments below.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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The Once & Future Economy Making New Connections

All the ships of the sea and their sailors
came to you to barter for your goods.
10 Men of Persia, Lud, and Put
were in your army, serving as your warriors.
They hung shields and helmets in you;
they gave you splendor.
11 Men of Arvad and Helech
were stationed on your walls all around,
and Gammadites were in your towers.
They hung their shields all around your walls;
they perfected your beauty.

12 “Tarshish was your trading partner because of your great wealth of every kind. They exchanged silver, iron, tin, and lead for your merchandise. 13 Javan, Tubal, and Meshech were your merchants. They exchanged slaves and bronze utensils for your goods. 14 Those from Beth-togarmah exchanged horses, war horses, and mules for your merchandise. 15 Men of Dedan were also your merchants; many coasts and islands were your regular markets. They brought back ivory tusks and ebony as your payment. 16 Aram was your trading partner because of your numerous products. They exchanged turquoise, purple and embroidered cloth, fine linen, coral, and rubies for your merchandise. 17 Judah and the land of Israel were your merchants. They exchanged wheat from Minnith, meal, honey, oil, and balm, for your goods. 18 Damascus was also your trading partner because of your numerous products and your great wealth of every kind, trading in wine from Helbon and white wool. 19 Vedan and Javan from Uzal dealt in your merchandise; wrought iron, cassia, and aromatic cane were exchanged for your goods. 20 Dedan was your merchant in saddlecloths for riding. 21 Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your business partners, trading with you in lambs, rams, and goats. 22 The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you. They exchanged gold, the best of all spices, and all kinds of precious stones for your merchandise. 23 Haran, Canneh, Eden, the merchants of Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad traded with you. 24 They were your merchants in choice garments, cloaks of blue and embroidered materials, and multicolored carpets, which were bound and secured with cords in your marketplace. 25 Ships of Tarshish were the carriers for your goods.

So you became full and heavily loaded
in the heart of the sea. (Ezekiel 27:9-25, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

“So Preacher, you sayin’ we’re going back to the barter system because of this bug that’s floatin’ around?”

Well, yes and no, but I am glad you asked. First of all, barter has never completely gone away. I remember when I was a kid in the Boy Scouts going to some Jamboree type events (I never went to a jamboree) and doing patch trading while I was there. I never did much trading because I really never knew the value of a lot of the patches. I feel pretty certain I over-paid for some because I would only trade for patches I liked, not to increase the value of my collection.

Not long ago I made a trade, guitar for guitar. I had an electric I didn’t play anymore. It wasn’t a favorite and I have other electrics and I would prefer playing acoustics. A fellow guitar player/collector played my electric and asked if I would consider a trade. When we made the trade it immediately was the oldest guitar in my collection. I don’t know its exact value but, unlike the patch, I don’t think I overpaid in that deal.

Cindy, Wayne, Christopher, and me spent my first two years of seminary living in Canton, TX where I served as associate pastor. Canton (where the statue in the picture above came from) is famous for its “Trade Days” or “First Monday.” The official name is “Canton First Monday Trade Days.” They claim it is the world’s oldest and largest flea market. It is a big deal. Many of the vendors work all month and “First Monday Weekend” is when they get paid.

First Monday is such a big deal to Canton, there is no city property tax. None. Zero. There are still school and county property taxes but First Monday takes care of the rest.

It really isn’t on the First Monday of the month. The market opens on the Thursday and runs through Sunday of the weekend before the first Monday of the month. The tradition dates back to the 1850s when the circuit court judge came to town on the first Monday of the month. People in the area came into town to stock up on supplies, catch up on the news, watch some of the court proceedings and often see a “hanging” or two. Naturally, those coming from outside of town would bring their wares along to sell or trade. Originally, First Monday only happened on the First Monday of the month. Over the years it expanded and today the only parts of “First Monday” that are related to the weekend now are the name and a horse auction. Barter still often happens on the weekend.

A fairly new telephone app is available called “Next Door.” Since the Covit-19 virus locked us all in our houses, some people, and I can see why, have sought out ways of completely avoiding some of the stores, particularly grocery stores. Besides, stores don’t have things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and until just recently distilled water and toilet paper (we actually found those over the weekend). So, if I have hand sanitizer and you have Lysol Spray (we’ve been looking for three weeks) we might be able to make a trade. Baking supplies are also getting harder to find so if I have extra flour and you have extra sugar, a swap might help us both.

I sincerely doubt that we will ever move fully back to the barter system. How else would we buy cars or houses?

I have a friend, though I can’t remember which friend said it but during a discussion of neighbor and the disconnection between people in our society blamed air conditioning. Where it was too hot to stay in the house before we all had AC, people went outside and talked to their neighbors. Now, because its cooler inside than out, the conversations ended.

Because of barter, neighbors are talking and reconnecting again. Perhaps a positive of all this is, the virus may be bringing people together, building connections and relationships among neighbors.

I don’t believe God put this virus on us. I don’t believe this is punishment for watching too much football or attending the theater on Sunday instead of going to worship, of or much more I have heard over the last several weeks. People who have nothing to do with any of that. So, it is either that God ha a problem with all of us, I doubt that, and if God is miffed over some of us but not all of us, God’s aim would be better than that.

No, this isn’t God. That being said, God may not have done it, but God can certainly use it, maybe God will use it and the barter it has generated to bring us back together again.

Have a great evening,

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

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He Lost it All, and…

I realize how kind God has been to me, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.

God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully (Romans 12:3-8, Contemporary English Version).

Magazine columnist Tim Denning, because of the uncertain times we are in, made the decision to call everyone in his phone. He expected to find his friends sitting at home relaxing with the unexpected days off. But when he called a lifelong friend, Denning did not get what he expected. The conversation went something like this:

“How are you doing?”

“I’ve had my fair share of tears this week. I lost my entire business after a 15-minute speech.”

It was not a speech made by Denning’s friend. The friend lived and had his business in Australia. The 15-minute speech actually was made by the Prime Minister, issuing what we are now all to familiar with, a “stay-home order.”

The friend was in the hospitality business. The Prime Minister directed all restaurants and bars to close. When the time came and the government lifted the order, they could reopen.

The problem was, by Australian law, if the businesses remained in business, they would have to pay rent on their facilities. If they closed their doors and went out of business, the rent expenses went away too. Denning’s friend had bookings for the next three month. Over the next hour and a half the friend got call after call canceling their order and informing him they were out of business. At the end of that hour and a half, he was left with nothing. Much as we have heard over the last couple of weeks, Denning’s friend understood the reason for the order but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

Denning asked his friend what he was doing about it. He knew there was little he could do about finding another job just as such efforts here, are pretty useless at the moment.

The friend started doing other things, like taking long walks. He said because he was in no hurry he started noticing things he never noticed before. Things like rocks on the bank of a pond and the ripples on the water on one side of the pond.”

The friend, along with his daughters started building a garden in the backyard. He wanted a place to grow herbs and vegetables. The garden was a place to watch things to come to life.

He started thinking about people like his own employees. He knew he didn’t have the money for all his employees.

Denning’s friend realized he needed to calm himself and stay that way. He started limiting the amount of news he was watching. His daughters started getting time in their relationship that had never happened before. It wasn’t long before the girls started becoming central in their lives. He said it was impossible to find a reason to stay angry when he was with the two of them.

In today’s lesson Paul is saying, “It isn’t about us.” He is right. It is about how we serve God and serve the world. Service and love are traits we all too often fail to demonstrate. We are here to serve one another, to love one another. Paul says to make yourself a sacrifice for your neighbor.

Denning said he was always amazed at his friend’s ability to place himself behind everyone else. But he also was learning, without his friend really saying anything, that joy and fulfillment came when you exercised your ability make life better for someone else. Then Denning wrote down a few things Denning had never thought about but realized were true.

He always leaves you feeling better than he found you.
He makes you smile.
He tells you the good parts of life.
He is fearlessly loyal.
He builds human connections, not business connections.
My favorite: he calls you for no reason at all.

People love working with him and he always lives by one rule:

Doing the right thing is always the right thing.

It’s not what you lose when hard times come. Hard times come for everyone at some point; it’s who you become when things are uncertain and difficult.

Have a blessed,

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Are Reserved

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The Kid Who Changed the World

Originally released as The Boy Who Changed the World in 2010, and renewed in 2014, this children’s book by Andy Andrews in telling a story, really four stories, demonstrates the interconnections of Susan Carver, George Washington Carver, Norman Borlaug, Vice President Henry Wallace.

Wallace wanted Borlaug to do research to develop seeds capable of growing larger plants to feed more people. Wallace motivated Borlaug’s research. But even with all the motivation would likely never been successful without the groundbreaking research done by George Washington Carver. Would George Washington Carver’s research have happened if he had the orphaned boy not gained an adoptive parent in Susan Carver.

Andrews had an appointment to read to elementary school children. In the conditions our society is living in right now, obviously that wasn’t happening, so he decided to read the book to any child that might want to hear it. He also has study material available for free online.

After I listened to Andrews read his book I wanted to do a little looking around about it online. I really listening to the book. I was surprised when I looked at the book on Amazon. While most of the book reviews were positive, four or five stars, there were a few lower ratings, all of them were one star. I was puzzled, thinking, “how could anyone not like this story?”

It boiled down to three letters that are never mentioned in the book GMO. Before today, while I have heard the letters GMO and I knew it was a food and people were outspoken about what happens to people who eat GMO food. Today I did a little research and found GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. And, at least in my limited reading, no, they are not good for us.

But to focus on GMOs completely misses the point Andrews was making in the book. He emphasized how the characters in his book used God given abilities and hard work to accomplish something they hoped would benefit the world.

What each of Andrew’s characters did was motivated by needs in the world. At their time the world didn’t know what a GMO might be.

The same is true for the author’s intended audience. Further, I would much rather children learn the importance of other people and their contributions, knowing that what happens in the world doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We don’t accomplish things alone. I can say I wrote this post. And, I did, but it wasn’t just me. Cindy took care of other things this evening so I could work. My mom made sure I went to school. Ms. Glidden, my sixth grade teacher and Ms. Foley my fourth grade teachers (hey they are the ones I can remember) made sure I got at least a little English through my thick head. There are also the numerous proofreaders who not only corrected my work but also taught me along the way. There is also the four people Andy Andrews and even Andy Andrews himself. I didn’t do this alone. Rarely, if ever, do we do things alone. Andrews teaches the kids who read his book that very thing.

I still don’t know GMOs. I know enough to avoid them. When my kids were still at home it was my job, not Andy Andrews to feed them. I believe Andrews, through this book, made the world better because it teaches that we don’t move the world alone. But I am also thankful for people who worked to make the world better. Even if they were not successful. Would the world not be better if more of us gave that kind of effort to caring for one another. For me, even though they were wrong, they were right. the world can use more of that.

I pray you have a blessed night.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission given for non-commercial use.

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With or Without an Eraser

Psalm 51

A Prayer for Restoration

For the choir director. A Davidic psalm, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba.

Be gracious to me, God,
according to Your faithful love;
according to Your abundant compassion,
blot out my rebellion.
Wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
Against You—You alone—I have sinned
and done this evil in Your sight.
So You are right when You pass sentence;
You are blameless when You judge.
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

Surely You desire integrity in the inner self,
and You teach me wisdom deep within.
Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed rejoice.
Turn Your face away from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.

10 God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways,
and sinners will return to You.

14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God,
the God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare Your praise.
16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

18 In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper;
build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on Your altar. (Psalm 51:1-19, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Can you imagine a world where there were pencils but there were no erasers? 162 years ago today a wealthy Philadelphia businessman named Hyman L. Lipman filed the first patent for a pencil with an eraser on the other end.

Prior to Lipman’s creation, the pencils used, and they were very common in those days for people working outside and much more. The ink fountain pen was still about 30 years away. Steel nibs were just coming into their own and the majority of business correspondence was done using a quill pen.

The pencil with an eraser on the end was hardly Lipman’s first prosperous business idea. He was in the stationary business. He worked hard and bought out another manufacturer of stationary. A few years later he developed the envelope. Prior to the envelope people wrote business correspondence was on paper sealed with wax and often tied together with ribbon or yarn.

When Lipman decided to take on the pencil, pencils were made of coal and wrapped in something like yarn or fabric. They were quite messy. When someone found a source for graphite led and the Dutch developed a process for encasing the led in wood, the pencil grew in popularity but things were still problematic. When someone made a mistake, it was still stuck on the page. Enter Hyman Lipman with a solution to the problem, the eraser.

The pencil with eraser revolutionized the way people write. And, while there are mechanical pencils these days, the basic wooden pencil hasn’t changed since Lipman’s patented pencil with an eraser.

The psalmist in Psalm 51 might have been talking about using an eraser in much the same way he talked about being purified with hyssop had pencils with erasers been around in King David’s time.

That is what God does for us. When we confess our sin, God erases the sins of our past. Our present becomes clean because God knows how to use an eraser.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission granted for the non-commercial use of this post.

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What Brings Fulfillment

Continuing the Sermon Series “Seven Essential Questions.”

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

I am not that guy. You will not find me in tears over the loss of a car. I have had cars I have liked more than others. It did bother me a little when I totaled in my Buick but it didn’t take me long to get over it. I also do, like most people, get excited when I get a new car but that is because it is something new, at least to me. 

There was another commercial on several years ago. I can’t really remember what they were trying to sell and I looked around on the internet for the commercial but never found it. It had a line in it that said, “The point of a car is not to get you from point A to point B. The car is the point. 

I couldn’t disagree more. But, perhaps that is because I am not a car guy. I don’t like working on them. In fact, I will hardly work on one. I know very little about how the engine and all the components work. I also have little interest in learning. I know were the gas goes. In a pinch I could change the oil and maybe the spark plugs. Beyond that, if it won’t go, call a mechanic. I probably know a little more than that, but I think you get my point. 

I have come to a point in my life that I am not all that excited about driving. When I need to go somewhere, I go. If I don’t need to go somewhere, the keys usually stay in my pocket. The real point of this is a qualifier. I am not a car guy. Cars don’t get me thatexcited. I am a guitar guy. Some people collect cars, I collect guitars. My collection is small, by collection standards, but it is still more than I need in reality. Still, I like them. They are my thing. 

This guitar is one of the oldest in my collection. This one is Sybil. I name all my guitars. I haven’t had this guitar all that long, just less than 10 years. Cindy sometimes makes fun of my guitars and says something like, “You can only play one at a time.” But she has given me one for my birthday on two different occasions and another for no particular reason at all. They always make me happy.

Over the last few years, I have added to my collection. I had one for a long time. I added a second, but it was stolen. Then I added three pretty quickly when I felt like I needed a few different guitars for different purposes. I got Sybil specifically to keep in my office.. 

I have really tried to limit myself. Each of my guitars are part of the collection for a different reason. Two were added for their ability to plug into a sound system. Three are different types of electrics. The rest are there because they have a different sound or so I could have one in my office. One other is not actually a guitar but a baritone ukulele.

I love my guitars. But, I think it is important to say here, while I love my guitars, they are not the source of my happiness. Guitars are not the basis of my happiness. Guitars do not bring me fulfillment. I do find happiness and enjoyment in playing them, but it is really more about the music than the instrument. I hope the same is true for all you car guys watching online this morning. 

I have a wish list on Amazon. I have a lot of different things on it including a few guitars. After Cindy gave me one of those birthday guitars, one I had on that Amazon wish list, I went online to that guitar and a few others that the new one eliminated the need in having. I wasn’t and didn’t eliminate them all. One of the things I found myself doing, however, was looking again, with wanting, the other guitars still on my list! 

Here, I had in my possession a brand-new guitar. I hadn’t had the guitar 12 hours and already I am staring at my computer screen wanting something else! I said to myself, I said, “Self, you are being ridiculous. You have a brand-new guitar you have hardly played yet. You don’t need another guitar right now. Stop, enjoy what you already have before worrying about going out and wanting more.” 

I am not alone in this. We see something and we think to ourselves, if only I could have this, then I would be happy. One of my other things about buying a new guitar, I save my pennies, sometimes quite literally, so nothing comes out of the family budget and nothing goes on credit when I am buying that new guitar. For me, and others that tend to be like me, we scrimp and save for months or even years to buy that thing that would make us happy. Finally, the day comes when we have money to go out and buy that joy maker and we go out and pull the trigger and buy it. 

At that moment of purchase, we are overjoyed with what we have just done. We want to brag on it. We want to show it off. One of the first things I did after Cindy gave me that guitar was to take a picture and put it on Facebook. We are quite happy, and we want everyone else to be happy for us. 

We are happy that is, until the new wears off. We are happy until we see the something new, pretty bauble and then we want that. We are no longer happy. We want that, whether that be a new car, a new guitar, a new deer rifle, new furniture, the list of possibilities is endless. And, if we can make that new purchase, then and only then will we be happy. When we get it, for a time we are happy and then the new wears off or we see something we think is newer or better and we must have it and the process starts all over again. 

There are people with a different kind of problem. They have a legitimate need and agonize over their decision, sometimes for weeks or even months. When they do finally pull the trigger and make the purchase they then agonize, even mourn the spent money. Some even make themselves sick over the loss of money because that money is the source of their happiness. A friend of ours has said, “They are so tight when they hold a penny, they make Abraham Lincoln squeal. It is the same problem but instead of a car or a guitar or whatever, for them, it is money.

There are still others who attempt to find their joy in alcohol, drugs, food, gambling and other forms of destructive behaviors. We think something is missing from our lives so we go in search of that missing elements in an alcohol bottle, drug abuse, improper use of foods with things like over-indulgence, and yes, I know, I am speaking to myself again, and with various forms of gambling. 

Still others, search for their joy, fulfillment and happiness in their leisure time activities. I will be happy when hunting season comes again. I will find fulfillment on the end of my fishing rod. I will find joy when I can spend my day reading or practicing my music or playing a ball game. Without this activity I am not whole or complete. 

God did not make us to be musicians or athletes or academics. We may have God given gifts in one of these areas or many more, but this is not what God created us to do. You can’t practice all day every day. We can’t spend our lives with our nose constantly in a book. You can fill in other blanks as necessary. Further, some of these things can be taken away. Athletes age and can no longer compete at the same level. Do you remember me mentioning a stolen guitar? If that is where I find my fulfillment and joy that would mean someone could rob me of my joy simply by stealing the right something of which I place such great importance in my life. 

If we depend on any or all those activities to find our happiness, joy and fulfillment, we always come up short. When we come up short, our lives will never be all God intends them to be or calls us to be. 

What God did create us to be is disciples, servants, His children. When we start looking at things from that perspective, it begins to change the way we see things that we believe are our sources of happiness, joy and fulfillment. 

Do you want to find fulfillment? Do you want to have joy? Do you want to be happy? Paul, in our lesson this morning, gives us a pretty good clue. “…make your bodies a living sacrifice…” In other words, if we want to find our true place of happiness, joy and fulfillment, if we want that peace that passes understanding, we first have to stop worrying about ourselves and place in the forefront of our lives our real intended position as disciples, as servants, as children of God. 

Do you want to feel fulfilled? Go work on a house with Habitat for Humanity. Be a scout leader. Volunteer at one of the schools. Go be a pink lady, or a pink man and volunteer at the hospital. The possibilities for service are endless. Fulfillment is going to come when we realize that we are not the most important thing in the world and start reaching out to make the world better for other people. 

You want to know joy? Be a real disciple in your giving, not only to your church but to the real work of God in the world. Support what our ladies are doing with Loose Threads, Pack Pals. Sponsor a child for education in a third world country. Support the work of agencies that work to bring clean water to parts of the world where clean water is scares. I promise you, there are more places to give than any of us have money. There are more places that can use our time and talents than we have of either. Wherever you choose to give, what you give will make a difference. 

Here is what it comes down to. If you want to find real fulfillment you must be transformed. We must move from a self-centered focus to a servant focus. We are called to be at work in the world, using all God has given us to move forward the Kingdom of God in this time and place.

Several years ago, I came to understand, every church needs at least two ministries, one it does for the community it is in. The other that reaches past the city limits to serve God’s world. Every Christian needs at least three ministries, one for their church, one for their community, and one for the world. They can be the ministries done by the local church or ones they do elsewhere. The big thing is, to have ministries that touch the world around us in the name of Jesus Christ.

In his memoirs about surviving the World War II concentration camps, Eli Wiesel, author of the classic book Night, claims that he and his father motivated each other to survive. Wiesel needed to stay alive to take care of his elderly father. That became his motivation for surviving the concentration camps. He knew that if he died, his father would give up hope and die also. 

Wiesel wrote, “The Germans tried to get the inmates to think only of themselves, to forget relatives and friends, to tend only to their own needs. But what happened was just the reverse. Those who retreated to a universe limited to their own bodies had less of a chance of getting out alive, while to live for a brother, a friend, an ideal, helped you hold out longer.” 

Wiesel had the right idea. Where do we find fulfillment? We won’t find it in a car, a bottle of alcohol or in abusing illegal drugs. We won’t find it in our parents, our children our friends as they can’t give it to us, but we might find it, not from them but in service to them and others.  We aren’t likely to find our joy anywhere else. We won’t even find it in a guitar. But, if we use that guitar, or most anything else for that matter, as a tool to help us be a servant for God and others, there is a really good shot at finding our happiness, our joy our fulfillment. Because at the end of the day, if we want fulfillment, we first must remember to serve, because, in the grand scheme of things, its not about us.

I hope your weekend is blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved
Permission granted for non commercial use

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