33 Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?”

35 Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”

37 “So you are a king?” Pilate said.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”

38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked (John 18:33-38, Common English Bible).

An acquaintance and I had a disagreement one night. He had posted something online I knew to be untrue. I had researched the issue in question. I had clear evidence what they posted was wrong.

When I presented the acquaintance with my evidence his reaction was “So, I like what it says. I am posting it anyway.” The post was a disparaging, untrue story about a person of note in society. Obviously my acquaintance did not care for this person (who it was doesn’t matter).

I tried in vain to convince this person that when any of us post things that are false, even about someone we don’t like or don’t agree with, it hurts all of us. For people of faith, when we post things that are not true, it hurts our witness. It hurts all our witnesses as people often judge all Christians on the behavior of a relative few.

If I were to have called my acquaintance “Pilate,” because of the careless playing with truth, I would have highly offended him. But in my opinion, when we ignore the truth in favor of a preferred yet untruthful message, we are dangerously close to placing ourselves firmly in Pilate’s shoes. “What is Truth?”

I love the meme above. The truth is the truth. I happened to agree with my acquaintance about the person in question. The ends do not, however, justify the means.

We live in a time where, it seems to me, we are seeing more and more people messing with the truth in irresponsible ways. It becomes more and more difficult to know the truth at first sight. It becomes a responsibility to each of us to check and should we be proven wrong, take down our misspoken words.

I know a challenged gentleman I will call Tom (not his real name). Tom loves acronyms. I think I may use some of his acronyms in my posts the next few days. They are a bit different but I digress. I thought about Tom several times while writing this post. Tom may be the most truthful person I know. I also believe Tom lives out this acronym without even knowing it.

The acronym is “THINK.” You can see on the meme below that it says, “Before you speak.” What holds true in our speech should be equally true of what we say online.

Before you speak, Think:
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?

In today’s polarized climate, perhaps we would all do well to THINK before we post and maybe we not only will keep Pilate on the pages of Scripture, where he belongs, but we might be living out love of neighbor too. And in that, I believe we would please Jesus. And that, I do know to be true.

Living in the Joy of Christ,

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

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The Stadium is Full

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)

Many years ago I read a book titled, How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard. No, I am not going to try to sell something to you. That isn’t my point at all. Nor is it my point to try to train you to be a salesman. I think it is close to impossible to teach others how to do something that I cannot do myself. I do not work in sales. I have tried it. I am not good at it. I also do not believe in the saying, “Those that can do, those that can’t teach.”

In the book, Girard uses a concept he calls, “Girard’s Rule of 200.” It says, on average each of us knows about 200 people. Girard, utilizing the rule says, if he upsets a client and the client complains to his/her 200 friends about the treatment received, Girard has 200 people upset with him for the one infraction. If those 200 tell their 200 friends, he then has about 40,000 people mad. In other words, he now, at least in theory, has enough people angry with him to fill Minute Maid Park in Houston, where the Astros play baseball. If you then carry it one more step, and those people tell their 200, all of New York City, 8,000,000 people are all angry with him. Yeah, that would probably crush any salesperson’s credibility. Just for fun, if we carried it out through one more round of 200, all of China, the U.S., and Indonesia are now miffed, but I think our hero would have found other work by now.

As I think about what knowing 200 people means I decided to do a little experiment. I numbered from 1-200. Bear in mind, I have over 1000 friends on Facebook. It took me over 45 minutes to recall 200 names. Now that I have to 200, I have many more names floating through my head.

Philippi was a city of about 2000 people in Paul’s day. I wouldn’t call it a small town today. It is not a booming metropolis either. I would say it would be a quaint midsized town.

Paul says to the Philippians, “I remember all of you in my prayers.” I often can’t remember one person for who I was to pray. Paul goes on to tell the Philippians to pray with joy.

Having a joyful heart is not always easy. But, when we remember all those names in prayer, and they pray for their 200, and so on, it won’t take long to realize God’s blessings, on many of our worst days. Then, with every new 200, it doesn’t take long to fill Minute Maid Park with people praying with joyful hearts. Then if we add another and another, might one day we have the world praying?

With the power of God, anything is possible.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With a Joyful Heart,

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

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And if I Can’t Forget?

I am the Lord, your Holy One,   the Creator of Israel, your King. Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise (Isaiah 43:15-21, New Revised Standard Version).

There are some things we can’t manage to forget, even when we want to do so. I spent a good bit of my day yesterday trying to figure out how to use WordPress (for those that don’t know, WordPress is a Google-owned company that hosts this blog) again. Several things that happened during the day that kept me frustrated. When the blog post was supposed to have posted early yesterday morning, it didn’t. Truthfully, it was supposed to have posted early in the morning day before yesterday. It didn’t post then either.

I finally got it to post manually this morning only to find that before I set it aside a year ago, it always posted the most recent blog on the top of the stack and if you want to type in “revbroyles.me” it would put you with the most recent post first. Today if that is all the address you type in, it will still take you the blog, but the post you will see is from July 31st of last year!

Then I discovered that, for whatever the reason, the post was not going automatically to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. At least for Google+, there is a good reason. Google shut Google+ down six months ago. The problem with Facebook is, well, its Facebook.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. It reminded me of my pet peeve with computer companies. They like to fix things that aren’t broken and leaving broken things that began that way. In my almost year away from regularly being on all things internet, I had pretty well forgotten the problem.

In today’s lesson, God says, we shouldn’t remember the things of days past and instead focus on what God is doing in the present, seeing that “new thing” Isaiah tells us God is doing. I think most people would probably agree with me. There are just some people who insist on making it difficult for us to forget “the former things.”

I don’t think God is telling Isaiah to forget everything and worry about the future. It seems clear to me that God wasn’t telling Isaiah to focus on the future at all. What God was saying was, live in the present.

This past Sunday, Cindy and I worshiped at Bethlehem United Methodist Church near Hudson, Texas, not far at all from our home in Lufkin. It is the church where Cindy has her church membership and where we will attend once I “hang up my stole, as it were.” Because we are usually in worship wherever I happen to be serving as a pastor, it is rare for us to go to Bethlehem. The current pastor at Bethlehem is Rev. Cindy Doran. In her sermon, she talked about this particular idea (as well as a few other things) that stuck with me. She pointed out that most of us spend time worrying about the past or we are bogged down in what we might see coming. She also said how interesting it was that when we spend all this time focused on the what is over our shoulder, we are worried about what can’t be changed. Even more thought-provoking, if we spend our time focused on the future, much of the time what we expected and planned for never came to be.

And we fail to live in the present moment. We are unable to tear ourselves free from the past. Many of us live opposite of such ideas too. We are so busy planning we miss the presence of God.

Instead, we need to focus on the new thing. I don’t think it so much means for us to forget the past. We learn from the past. Nor should we neglect to look forward and planning. When we fail to plan, we will likely fail to act. Instead, taking what we have learned, and with the plans we make, I would submit that we live and work in the current moment, striving to make God’s Kingdom, at that moment, as God’s Kingdom is in heaven, making disciples for the transformation of the world.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With a Thankful Heart,

Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Year? Really? How About Something New?

21 Have you not known? Have you not heard?  Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in 23 who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

25 To whom then will you compare me or who is my equal? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.

2Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:21-31, New Revised Standard Version).

It’s really hard for me to believe, but has been almost a full year, just over eleven months since I last wrote a post for this blog. My last post was on July 31, 2018. I had wanted to resume this blog yesterday. It seemed like a good time to get started, the beginning of the month and all. I think I heard something once about the road to someplace being paved with good intentions. I enjoy writing this blog, but then life happens, and it seems to put an unplanned end to what I was doing.

This time last year, I did not know quite yet that there was a change afoot for me in both location and profession. I don’t remember the date. I could probably figure it out, but why? It isn’t that important. When the call did come, offering me the opportunity to teach government and economics (I found out later I would be teaching psychology and sociology too) I jumped. Some might argue that I jumped too quickly. In less than a month I had left Sweeny and was back in Lufkin, living with Cindy again.

Less than two weeks later, I was sitting in my first faculty meeting at Center High School. Just a few days after that, I made a discovery. I had teachers and others who knew their way around a school tell me how hard teachers worked. I never had reason to doubt that. I had no clue. If you don’t think teachers work hard, walk in their shoes for a week or two. I have never worked so hard in my life. I was overwhelmed. If school work were water, I would have drowned. At times I was frustrated. At times, I came to understand why teachers keep doing what they do.

Not long after I moved back to Lufkin, the district superintendent called me and asked if I would be the “supply” pastor at Groveton UMC and Prairie View UMC (this was not Prairie View, the town west of Houston. This was Prairie View, in a rural community, not far from Groveton, called Nogalus Praire). A “supply” pastor is filling a pulpit temporarily. In the Methodist Church, an interim pastor is a pastor who sees to the needs of the church during periods the pastor cannot be present for an extended time. I knew when I accepted this appointment that I would likely be there only until the end of June. That is the way things usually happen. My last Sunday was June 23rd.

As time went along through the school year, it became evident that I was not going to return to Center High School next school year. I was so overwhelmed with the work; I had not completed my required work for certification. There was always more to work on than hours in a day. And, without certification you cannot teach in the State of Texas. When I left school on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I had a pretty good idea that was the end of my teaching career.

So, I no longer have Groveton and Prairie View. I no longer have my school job, what am I going to do? Well, yesterday, I officially became the new pastor at Huntington UMC. It is only a part-time position, but I still did not want to move for Lufkin.

As for something more long-term, permanent (well, at least as permanent as United Methodist Appointments get). As for something more full-time? Surprisingly, I am not worried about it. I have told some of you who have been with me for a very long time; I am by my very nature a worrier. I worry about many things. But with this, I am at peace. Isaiah asks, “Have you not seen? Do you not know?”

I continue to look for a new job, and at times, it is discouraging. Still, I feel like God is leading me to some new things. I am in the process of doing the first edit on my first book, Average Joes. Many of you, particularly those who were in Sweeny two years ago, and preached on all these characters. I’ve been saying since completing the series and getting it ready for more official editing.

I also have been accepted in one of the national freelance writing groups. Doing freelance writing, I think it would be exciting and new. I also have one other idea I am working on, but I will tell you all about them when as soon as I know a bit more down the road.

God is at work. I know God is here with me. I know God is here with us. Scripture promises us that. Scripture also tells us that we will be friends long after we are dead. It is a promise from God.

God is here if only we will pay attention. As I have been thinking about what I was going to write on today, I not only thought of myself and all the new in my life. I started thinking of my kids at school. All of them are about to start something new. Perhaps they are beginning a job babysitting when her parents are out of town. Expand her services and hire a few kids at school.

For others, it might be college, or technical, or electronics. Still others, it is time for (what we said in seminary), got a real job so I’ve got to go get started.

I don’t have an explanation for everything and certainly not all this. I do know wherever we are going and whatever we will there too. God is very present. And where God is, here is no reason to be afraid. Where God is, there is always something new. Where God there is always there is always a reason for hope. Where God i there is always love and grace.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Blessed, Forgiven, and Thankful,


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

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