“You Are U.G.L.Y.”

1Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? Don’t you know that you have the Holy Spirit from God, and you don’t belong to yourselves? 20 You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Common English Bible).

In my last post, I told you about my friend Tom (this is not his real name. Because I do not have permission to use his name, I am using an alias). The first Sunday I met Tom was my first Sunday as the pastor of his Church. He walked up to me, and out of the blue said, “You are U.G.L.Y.”

While I wouldn’t have argued with Tom’s assessment, I was taken aback by his words. Regardless of the feelings, one may have, those are not words we generally hear someone say at church. I had never experienced such a thing.

When I looked at him and heard him speak, it was quickly evident that Tom was a man with special needs. I likely would have let it go anyway, right before worship is not the time to get into a debate with someone, regardless of the topic. I was not going to get into that with someone who had special needs.

I don’t remember what I said to him, probably something like, “OK.” Then I turned and headed to the chancel. Tom grabbed my arm and said, “Wait!”

I wasn’t thrilled about stopping. I had a couple of last-minute things to do before worship began.

I did stop. Tom put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Unconditionally, God Loves You.”


Tom loves acronyms. Every Sunday, if Tom was there, I heard at least one or two acronyms from him. Many of them he wrote. I would know when he was working on one. He would come up to everyone and say, “I need a word that starts with “H.” I don’t ever remember him giving me a subject to meet his “H” need.

“You are U.G.L.Y, Unconditionally God Loves You.” After Tom said those words to me, he finished but saying, “And you know what? I’m U.G.L.Y. too, and I want everybody to know I’m U.G.L.Y. They need to be U.G.L.Y. too.” With that, he let me go on to the chancel and begin worship.

Time has passed by quickly since that Sunday morning. I doubt I will ever forget Tom and his love for acronyms. It has been a while since I last saw Tom. I miss him.

During the time I was Tom’s pastor, Tom reminded me again and again about the strong relationship he has with God. He understood better than many of us that the outward doesn’t matter to God. What matters is that you love God, and that love is what is in your heart.

And Tom was absolutely right. He is U.G.L.Y. I am U.G.L.Y. Are you?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With a heart of joy (When you know Tom, he is going to make sure you feel joy),

Keith

Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

P.S. My next post will be another of Tom’s acronyms, “You are B.A.D.”

A Cup of Cold Water

40 “Those who receive you are also receiving me, and those who receive me are receiving the one who sent me. 41 Those who receive a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. Those who receive a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 I assure you that everybody who gives even a cup of cold water to these little ones because they are my disciples will certainly be rewarded (Matthew 10:40-41, Common English Bible).”

          Children never cease to amaze me. Amid last Saturday’s tragedy in El Paso, an eleven-year-old boy, was feeling anxious for what was happening in his hometown. Who could blame him? The senseless taking of human life occurred in a store he likely had been in many times. Even had he not been in that particular Wal-Mart, I would sincerely doubt he had never been in a Wal-Mart. Few people, in today’s society, could say they have never been in one of the mega-chain’s stores. After all, even those who might refuse to shop there today, likely have spent time there in the past. For a child to feel anxious because this happened in his town at a store he was familiar with, could be frightening. Many adults could well have similar feelings.

The CBS story, featured Ruben Martinez and his mother, Rose Gandarilla. Rose told the television audience that she suggested to Ruben that he think of a way to make himself feel better and maybe to help someone else in the process.

Ruben came up with the El Paso Challenge (#elpasochallenge). He dared (challenged) people around the world to honor the 22 victims by performing 22 random acts of kindness. He went on to say these acts could be mowing a lawn or donating to charity. Those were the only two CBS mentioned, but I feel pretty confident Ruben could think of several more.

Our scripture today finds Jesus telling the disciples the blessings for those who show kindness to the twelve as they go about their mission. Even something that seems as insignificant as a cup of cold water will find a reward.

I doubt Ruben is seeking an eternal reward with his challenge. I do believe this young man is gaining a clear understanding of the joy that can come from serving others. Oh, and he is practicing what he is preaching. We went out and took food to those still working at the scene.

We all can take a lesson from Ruben Martinez.

          And may another child never need to feel anxious because of the heart-breaking actions of people they don’t even know.

Finding Joy in Tragedy,
Keith



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

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Thanksgiving in July?

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me.  Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 12:1-5, New Revised Standard Version).

No, I have not lost my mind. The Church has done Christmas in July for decades. When I served in Grapeland, we had a week of Bible school one year when our theme was Christmas in July (I had never seen so many Chrismons in one building before). So why not, Thanksgiving in early July.

I know some of my students from last school year would jump at the chance. Several told me, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love all the food!” As I said, they would jump at the chance. One of the young ladies in the class, Miss Carter, described her grandmother’s cornbread dressing to me in vivid detail. I wasn’t impressed by her recall or her ability to paint a mental picture. I am one of the five people in the world that thinks cornbread dressing is a waste of perfectly good cornbread. Regardless of what I think, Miss Carter would love to have at least one more day of Thanksgiving.

Truth to tell, while I don’t care about cornbread dressing, I do care about the other foods around a Thanksgiving table, particularly pecan pie. It is evident when you look at me that I have rarely encountered a meal where I didn’t find something good to eat. I have no trouble finding something else and leaving the dressing for those I love, who, for some reason like ruined cornbread. Besides, who wouldn’t want more football?

While I would love to have more than one Thanksgiving, my reasoning has nothing to do with food or football. I believe there is always something for which we should thank God.

Michael Schaffer, a few years ago, wrote in The New Republic that Thanksgiving is our all-American holiday. Regardless of our beliefs, whether we are Christain or atheist, whether we are Jewish, Muslim, Roman Catholic, or United Methodist (or any other believing or unbelieving group) there is ALWAYS something for which we should give thanks.

“There is always something for which we should give thanks?” Does that mean we should give thanks when we are sick? I don’t think that means giving thanks for being sick, but what about being thankful for God creating doctors and putting the needed knowledge into their head? What about giving thanks for the researchers who work diligently to find cures for the things that ails us?

“So does that mean we should be thankful for the person who steals from us?” Of course not, but we can be thankful for that neighbor who got a good look at the burglar and described this person to the police. Oh, and there is that other neighbor who got the license plate number and the police now have an excellent place to start in their search to restore your property and bring justice for the crimes.

“Should I be thankful, my uncle passed away last year?” No, but you should be thankful that your uncle is no longer in pain. Even more, you should be grateful for the gift of salvation. Because of that gift, your uncle just may have heard those words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

There is always a reason for Thanksgiving. God is with us. God is around us. God is active in our lives and in the lives of those we love. And where God is, there is always a reason for Thanksgiving.

Without question, there may be times in our lives when we feel that God isn’t there. But our God is all-powerful (omnipotent) and always present (omnipresent). We may, at times, have to spend much of our time looking for God’s presence. That does not mean God is far away. And, I am convinced, even when we fail to see God’s presence, if we look back on those hard times, we will not only see God’s presence, we will see God was at work in ways we would never have dreamed. God is always present, and where God is, there is still a reason for Thanksgiving.

Yes, I want Thanksgiving in July, but that is just the start, and it has nothing to do with food or football. And, I don’t wish to have Thanksgiving on its traditional day in late November. I don’t even want to see us increase the opportunities for thanksgiving from just November, to November and July. That is because with all God does in our lives and that God is always present and working in our lives, today and every day we have reason to give thanks. When we recognize what God does for us, every day is a good day; all days are good days to be Thanksgiving Day. Don’t wait until November. Thank God today.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Keith

Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, Spirit’s Breath Ministries, All Rights Reserved

Be sure and click on the follow button email updates when I write a new post.



Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Be sure and click on the follow button email updates when I write a new post.