The Volunteer Watermelon

18 “Consider then the parable of the farmer. 19 Whenever people hear the word about the kingdom and don’t understand it, the evil one comes and carries off what was planted in their hearts. This is the seed that was sown on the path. 20 As for the seed that was spread on rocky ground, this refers to people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. 21 Because they have no roots, they last for only a little while. When they experience distress or abuse because of the word, they immediately fall away. 22 As for the seed that was spread among thorny plants, this refers to those who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth choke the word, and it bears no fruit. 23 As for what was planted on good soil, this refers to those who hear and understand, and bear fruit and produce—in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one.” (Matthew 13:18-23, Common English Bible)

Before I went into the ministry, Cindy, our boys, and I spent a year living in my maternal grandparent’s house. My grandfather had Parkinson’s Disease and they moved in with one of my aunts for help in his care. Our role was to live in the house and take care of things while my grandmother decided what she was going to do with the house.

One day I was in the backyard and saw these strange looking leaves growing in the center of the yard. Right there in the back yard, surrounded completely by St. Augustine grass. I really thought it was a weed.

I didn’t bother me. It wasn’t poison ivy or anything. I mowed around it. We moved there in early August. While I didn’t do anything to kill it, I also didn’t encourage it. If you know about Texas and August, it is hot and generally there usually isn’t much rain. I wasn’t helping either.

A few weeks later I looked again and saw three small watermelons on that vine. I saw my grandmother a few days later and said, “I have watermelon growing in the backyard.”

She said she and my grandfather had eaten watermelon out there at the beginning of the summer. They picked seeds out and spit seeds out that fell to the ground. Some took root and grew. Those three watermelons never got big or ripe.

I understand that farmers call those watermelons “volunteers.” They weren’t planted, they grew on their own.

At times in my life, when I think of “The Parable of the Soils,” why would anyone plant where it would seem there is so much more bad soil than good soil. Of course I knew that, at least in theory, that is all the land some people have that they can use for planting. If they want to eat, they have to use what they have.

Several years ago I made a couple of trips to Heifer Ranch in Arkansas. There they experiment with many different soils for farming in different parts of the world. I saw them trying to make so many different soils effective for planting.

Of course when Jesus tells this parable he has an explanation for each element of the story. He tells that the thorns choke out some, some fall on the path were they are useless. Others start to grow but don’t establish a good root system and wither in the harsh environment. But others, the ones planted in good soil take root and yield a crop.

In this year when we seem to have so much going on, could we be seeing all the soils existing around us? There is so much going on in 2020 and if you are anything like me, I am past ready for this year to be over and we are barely half way through what is obviously a difficult time. Before the first quarter was over we were facing a lock down from a global pandemic. We have seen racial unrest like we haven’t seen since the 1960s. We have endured politicians and their usual election year rhetoric (that assuredly will get worse before it gets better). Now we are facing a rebound of the virus that seems to grow almost exponentially each day. It would seem on the news every night there is some new threat. And, I haven’t mentioned any of our personal crises.

The good news is, the Church has worked finding new and creative ways to share the Gospel and love of Jesus with this hurting world. From internet worship and drive-in services to blocking off every other pew for face-to-face worship, and so more the Church scatters seeds!

Some seeds land in the path and birds eat them. They aren’t taking root and never will. Some land in rocky areas. People dig in but won’t root well. Some grow in tight places that can’t survive like seeds rooted in thorns. But, know this, God is working among people and some seeds will land in good soil. These are ones that God sends our way who put down roots. They will grow and make a difference for the Kingdom.

May such be the case for all of us.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Plant Held without Love

In Memory of Faithful Former Church Member

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered.

“The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’

29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvest time I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.”’”

3Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 Jesus replied, “The one who plants the good seed is the Human One. 38 The field is the world. And the good seeds are the followers of the kingdom. But the weeds are the followers of the evil one. 39 The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the present age. The harvesters are the angels. 40 Just as people gather weeds and burn them in the fire, so it will be at the end of the present age. 41 The Human One[d] will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that cause people to fall away and all people who sin. 42 He will throw them into a burning furnace. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Those who have ears should hear.” (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, Common English Bible).

It is another “Song Styles Saturday.” I am sharing with you today a poem I wrote with the intention of putting to music but have not done so yet. This is a poem I have wanted to write for a few weeks not.

I have always loved the parable above. I think I have preached that lesson in just about every church I have served. I preached this text one Sunday. It was a sermon that went well. A man met me at the door. The region around this church was known for one particular agricultural product. This man was a principle grower. As he was leaving worship that morning we shook hands and he said, “Keith, a weed is just a plant nobody loved.” That was more than 15 years ago. It has obviously stuck with me since and has grown to mean a great deal to me.

I discovered a few weeks ago that he had passed away. I am not sure how long ago but he is someone I will not forget and my poem “A Plant Held Without Love” I write in memory of him. If I can get permission from his family, I will edit this post to give him the full honor due him.

Once a man was a little tike,
He looked around both day and night
A gift for mom, he knows she’d like,
Flowers would make her day so bright.
Colors of yellow, green and white
A child’s gift seems so so very right?

Dandelions that bloomed held in hand.
In Mom’s vase he knows they’ll look grand
Mom kissed and squeezed her son’s small hand
Some told him that his flower was weed
But he gave flowers for loves deeds
Were his flowers now only weeds?

Weeds he can’t understand or see,
Nor hear about while watching TV?
Flowers still bring to his Mom’s glee.
Despite the words for weeds he hears
Strange sounds that ring loud in his ears
As some eat dandelions with cheer.

Blooms that are weeds he says can’t be.
Some see flowers and some see weeds
And the dreamers of bright green leaves
People drool over harvested sheaves.
Food for the journey, strength for now,
Ready to serve, this is my vow.

Strong dandelions push up, won’t quit
A plant that grows through dirt and grit
One plant that we see in three ways
Flower, food, and weed seem to stay
A paradox in a firm plant
For people to decide we can’t.

Weeds he can’t understand or see,
Nor hear about while watching TV?
Flowers still bring to his friend glee.
Despite the words for weeds he hears
Strange sounds that ring loud in his ears
As some eat dandelions with cheer.

Today the weeds won’t go away
See God’s faithful are here to stay
God’s great harvest will come one day
The weeds and wheat, will move apart
God calls us to reach out for hearts
So all are here for God’s next start.

May we know God’s love for all these
The sprouts, the weeds, the wheat, and leaves
We pray to God, all will know Thee.
Repent so forgiveness we’ll see.
To live alone our love will decay
All are weeds we meet on the way.

Weeds he can’t understand or see,
Nor hear about while watching TV?
Flowers still bring to his friend glee.
Despite the words for weeds he hears
Strange sounds that ring loud in his ears
As some eat dandelions with cheer.

Along our way, we think we know
We judge the weeds so they won’t grow
Yet even wheat is stomped and mowed
The man said God does see all three
A weeds not loved by you or me
Lord forgive me, for this I plea.

A weed is a plant, hated by all
It is beaten down large or small
A weed is a plant nobody liked
Dug with a spike, cut with a knife
A weed is a plant, held without love
May I treat all like you above.

Weeds he can’t understand or see,
Nor hear about while watching TV?
Flowers still bring to his friend glee.
Despite the words for weeds he hears
Strange sounds that ring loud in his ears
As some eat dandelions with cheer.

A weed is a plant, hated by all
It is beaten down large or small
A weed is a plant nobody liked
Dug with a spike, cut with a knife
A weed is a plant, held without love
May I love all as you above.

A weed is a plant, hated by all
It is beaten down large or small
A weed is a plant nobody liked
Dug with a spike, cut with a knife
A weed is a plant, held without love
May I love all as you above.

A weed is a plant, held without love
May I love all as you above.

Be Blessed,

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Making Lollipop Moments

28 One of the legal experts heard their dispute and saw how well Jesus answered them. He came over and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The legal expert said to him, “Well said, Teacher. You have truthfully said that God is one and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one’s strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he had answered with wisdom, he said to him, “You aren’t far from God’s kingdom.” After that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34, Common English Bible)

Yesterday we talked about Drew Dudley, a guy giving away lollipops to people during college registration. While jokingly playing “matchmaker” with his supply of lollipops, he was just out having some fun. He had no idea they would take him seriously. The girl found Dudley on campus four years later. She tells Dudley that she and the guy started dating and had kept dating all four years of school. She tells Dudley he had made a difference for at least one student, her. That day, she was ready to give up before she ever started. Drew and that lollipop made a huge difference for her. And the biggest part of the story? Drew Dudley could not remember the encounter with the girl and her now boyfriend?

About six years ago, every Wednesday I went to the local elementary school and listened to kids read all day. Most of them were behind grade level and the teacher thought reading to me might get them move closer to grade level.

When Julius’ teacher came in, she said she was going to send him to me. He was three grade levels behind in reading. For the whole school year, I listened to Julius read. We would talk and he told me he was afraid he would be taken from his family. He and his six siblings lived with grandma. His mom was in jail. No one knew who his dad was. The two of us just talked.

One day after I had finished listening his teacher came in to take Julius came in to take Julius back to class. She sent the boy back to class, She said, “I want you to know how much you have helped him.” She reminded me that at the beginning of the year, he was three grade levels behind. At the end of the year he was back on grade level. I told the teacher that Julius’ improvement had more to do with her than with me. She was with him five days a week. I was with him for an hour.

She said he also went from being a behavioral problem to a model student. She was convinced it was because he had a positive male role model. That was something new to his life.

I knew what I was doing mattered. If it didn’t I would have found something different to do with my Wednesdays.

Steve was a student in my government and economics classes. I also had him in my psychology and sociology classes. Steve said he wanted to be a psychologist when he finished school.

He was the first student I met at that school. Once school started I saw some problems in his writing. It wasn’t a huge deal but he and others struggled with their writing. Because of that struggle, I had them write more than I might have otherwise. One day, write after I had given them a writing assignment, Steve asked, “Have you ever thought about being an English teacher and writing coach?”

Steve and I talked one day this week. Steve is the only one of my former students that I talk with. I wanted to see how he felt about his first year of college went. He said it was great. He was particularly thankful that I had pushed him in both of my classes. He said, “Whether you know it or not, you have made a difference for me.

Lollipop moments are those times when we make a difference with those around us. I am thrilled to hear someone say I made a difference. That is what I do. That is how we do it. I love talking about how these kids have touched my life. I pray the mark I leave behind is a changed life. Changed lives are my goal in life.

So, what can we do to impact lives and change lives to figure out ways we can go out, and with God’s help have lollipop moments.

  • Volunteer to tutor math or reading at your local school
  • Clean up a park
  • Buy a meal and give it to a homeless person
  • Give a homeless person get clothes from a thrift shop. Help twice.
  • Sew blankets for kids in the foster-care system
  • Smile at someone who is obviously having a bad day
  • Work with an elementary school teacher to have a class birthday party during school one day and celebrate everyone’s birthday.
  • Go to the local nursing home and do something directly with residents
  • Go to the local nursing home sometime that isn’t Christmas
  • Teach someone something.

I have barely scratched the surface of what these moments might look like. You can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be big it just needs to show you care.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Go Bury Your Junk

trowel

You shall have a designated area outside the camp to which you shall go. With your utensils you shall have a trowel; when you relieve yourself outside, you shall dig a hole with it and then cover up your excrement. Because the Lord your God travels along with your camp, to save you and to hand over your enemies to you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you (Deuteronomy 23:12-14, New Revised Standard Version).

I was driving and listening to Adam Hamilton’s book, Half Truths: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves and Other Things the Bible Doesn’t Say. It bounced around in my head for a while. Hamilton used this strange little passage in the book.

I have read the Bible all the way through. I have read this passage at least a few times but I don’t remember it. It left no impression on me. I read it and moved on. Nothing stuck with me, until I was driving that day. Hearing what Hamilton wrote, I have thought and rethought these three verses.

Hamilton said, “You most likely have never heard a sermon on this passage (I am paraphrasing). I don’t Ive heard a sermon on it, I know I’ve never written or preached one.

It could have been different in the late 19th century. Indoor plumbing was coming into its own. Homes were getting this convenience. Many thought churches should get the convenience too. During New England winters or Texas summers, going to the outhouse was brutal. Preachers used this saying God didn’t want indoor plumbing in churches, that God intended everyone to go outside. They would “…designate an area OUTSIDE the camp…” Might this have carried a literal reading a bit too far. I am thankful for indoor plumbing.

Hamilton’s use of this passage did get me to thinking. I have thought a great deal about it since hearing that chapter. For a while I was thinking that perhaps I was supposed to preach a sermon on the passage, but I decided against it. I really don’t want to explain excrement to young ears that might be present. The more I thought about it the more I thought, a blog post might be the better way to go. At least to me, it just made more sense.

No, I am not going to write about burying something in a whole in the ground. I am not going to write about going outside the camp to take care of things. No, my thoughts haven’t been about anything quite so literal.

Here is the thing, the passage talks about going outside the camp because God lived and moved in the camp, making the camp holy. So, I got to thinking about where God lives today. Where is that holy place today. Some might make the argument that God lives in the Church. And, at least to a degree that would be true. After all, God is omnipresent so God is everywhere, including our churches (Lord I pray that is true).

I think our comparison would need to be something closer to home. I can’t help but think of Revelation 3:20, “Look! I’m standing at the door and knocking. If any hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to be with them, and will have dinner with them, and they will have dinner with me (Common English Bible).” God’s home, God’s residence is within us.

So, what is within our “camp,” within us that God would call indecent? Remember, the passage says, “…your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you…”

I started compiling a list. The list starts sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good,idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry,jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.” OK, I know, it really isn’t my list, its Paul’s. You can find them in Galatians 5:19-21 (Common English Bible). And, I doubt it is an all-inclusive list.

We have things to leave behind. Bury the past and move forward with God dwelling inside us. And, if we bury them and leave them there, God won’t see “…anything indecent among [us].” God us within us. Without all that mess lives we will be living holy and keeping our camp holy.

Sometimes I think God can and does use the unusual to speak to us, even a Scripture passage about literal stuff we need to leave behind so we might leave some of the things behind that block the Spirit within us from leading us in the holy direction God wants us to go.

Take your trowel, did a hole, and leave the junk behind in favor of a stronger relationship with God.

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Smart and Not Afraid: Fear Factor

31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 New Revised Standard Version)

When I was doing youth work during my first two years of seminary, I had a set of rules I gave the kids. Initially there were four. I told them if they would follow those four rules I wouldn’t have to make up any more. Yeah, they tested me and I did have to make up a few more. The new ones and three of the original four don’t matter for our purpose today but the last rule said, “God gave you a brain, please use it. If you think it might get you in trouble it probably will. Don’t do it.

Once upon a time NBC television show called Fear Factor? We never watched it much. The first time I saw it, I knew I wasn’t going to watch much. I knew they were in constant violation of Keith’s last rule. God gave you a brain please use it.

Contestants were challenged to do things that seemed more than just a little frightening. There were no snakes that first show but I knew it was coming. Too many of us have that fear.

I got no push back from Cindy. Her fear is heights. Christopher did give us some push back but that was to be a teenager giving his parents a hard time.

I wouldn’t have participated in the show. The prize money was $50,000 and that isn’t enough. Even without snakes, there were scorpions, bugs, maggots, and worms to name only a few.

I question the sanity of bee keepers allowing bees to cover his their face giving them a bee beard. I am not worried about getting stung by a bee. I have been stung before and probably will again. It isn’t pleasant But, to be stung by hundreds of bees. No.

They might had contestants dangle from a rope, attached to a helicopter 100 feet in the air if the scorpions, bugs, or snakes were not enough. After a few years they started running out of ideas and had contestants start eating and drinking things most of which were just plain disgusting. If you don’t know, trust me on this one. You DON’T want to know.

In 2017, MTV ran the show. The stunts became even more extreme, and more disgusting. In 2018 Fear Factor got cancelled for the final time. Eating bugs, carrying worms in their mouths, being covered in maggots all fall into that category of, what were you thinking, God gave you a brain, use it.

Last week we began a sermon series, “Smart and Not Afraid.” We talked about fear and how it isn’t a bad thing. Want to be tough and not afraid of anything. We talked about researchers reporting on benefits fear can bring to life and at the top of the list was, fear keeps you safe.

God gave us fear. Though my fear of snakes sits squarely in line with an irrational fear, Snakes can kill a person and they scare me. That isn’t the irrational part. Snakes on television or in a movie scaring me is. I won’t watch Snakes on a Plane or Anaconda those titles mean that movie is rated “K” for Keith stay out.

That’s where that youth group rule enters into Fear Factor. If I am irrationally afraid of snakes, that rule says, “God gave you a brain, please use it.” Don’t do something you fear, at least not without a plan it could bring harm to someone.

In Scripture, Jesus and others say, “Don’t be afraid.” At times, all of us are afraid. OK, not Jesus and probably not the angels, but the rest of us have fears. If you think your not afraid, you just haven’t found it. We are afraid of something.

Last week Paul said, to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” There are only a few times in Scripture where fear might be thought of as a good thing. In the Old Testament particularly, the words “fear God” or “Jacob feared God” are used. That fear is considered more respect and awe. But, make no mistake, there should be a little fear of God’s power there too.

Last week I said, every time I preach there are a butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I can go be a public speaker in front of a big crowd and not be bothered. My fear is not public speaking. When I stand here, there is a tinge of fear because I know I speak for God. When you speak for the creator of the universe, if there isn’t fear, go sit down. This isn’t your calling.

In today’s lesson, Paul asks, in the Keith paraphrased version, “If God is on our side, can anyone or anything stand against us?” Think about that. If God is for us can our greatest fears be against us? Paul continues “God did not keep Jesus on the bench, even knowing what awaited Jesus God gave him for us. If God would do that, if God loved us that much, is there anything God wouldn’t give us, the faithful? If God says we are acceptable , can anyone bring anything against us? No! Christ died, Christ was raised, and now Christ is at God’s right side, speaking for us. Isn’t that a kick. No matter what we have done, no matter what we have or not have, Jesus is sitting with God and talking us up. Can anything, Paul asks, separate us from the love of God in Christ? Can trouble, suffering, hard times, hunger, nakedness, danger, I am going adding fear, or even death?

 No, Paul says, we who run scared, we with irrational fears, are conquerors who win a sweeping victory by faith, by grace, because Jesus loves us.

Still in the Keith paraphrased version Paul goes on, NOTHING SEPARATES us from God’s love—not life, death, angels spirits, the present past, or future, not powers above or below, NOT EVEN OUR FEARS. Nothing, nothing in the universe can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ!

Ingrid Betancourt camaigned to be president of Colombia when she was kidnapped by guerrillas. They held her in the jungle for six years. With fear her companion, she learned to use it and grow. They carried her into the jungle. She thought they would kill her first she thought. The first night the guerrillas put an iron collar around her neck and bolted her to a tree, high enough that her toes barely touched the ground. There she stayed all night with one sadistic guard watching her. He tormented her all night, degrading her, and stirring up all her fear and emotion.

New days meant continued torment . Every night fear ruled her. She had panic attacks, tremors, and cold sweats. The more fear shown, the more her tormentor played on her worst feelings. One day she vowed to kill him. For weeks she plotted and looked for opportunities to execute the plan. One day she stopped. She said she wouldn’t allow herself to become one of them and began living in defiance. Things were difficult she wasn’t going to allow them to turn her into something she was not.

Not long after her moment they carried her further into the jungle. They built a concentration camp with twelve foot high walls topped with barbed wire and guard towers in each corner.

She overcame using many principles and lifted up three. The first was to be guided by her ideals. They wouldn’t turn her into something she wasn’t. fter arriving at the camp someone yelled for the captives to number off. When at her turn she yelled, “I am Ingrid Betancourt. I am not a number, I have a name. If you want to know I am here, call me by my name.” The guards went crazy but it was nothing compared to the hostages. They feared she would get them into trouble. But, she was living out of her ideals. She was human. The others were too. She wouldn’t give up anyone’s humanity.

Her second principle was, to build unity. The guards new their jobs and they did them well. They manipulated with fear, mistrust, whatever would tear them apart and make them feel alone and isolated. She worked repairing damage. Her first escape attempt was with Lucho. They tied themselves together. By day they hid. At night they got into water with alligators and piranha, allowing the current to carry them downstream. Lucho was diabetic. They slowed and when he became sick, and the guerrillas caught them. Because she stayed with Lucho unity grew among her and the captives. She couldn’t leave Lucho behind Her ideals wouldn’t allow it.

The third principal, develop faith. Ingrid said by this point she had a master’s degree in escape. One captive, a former police officer she called Pincho, was held the longest. He asked her to help him escape. She was surprised. He was more afraid than anyone. They first had to teach him to swim, not easy for a prisoner. One day he asked Ingrid, “Suppose I am in the jungle and wander in circles unable to find my way out. What do I do?” Sbe said, “Pincho, grab a phone. Call the man upstairs.” He said, “I don’t believe in God.” Her response was classic. “God doesn’t care, He’ll help you anyway.” A few days later, Pincho was gone. The guards said Pincho died, claiming finding his body half eaten by an anaconda. Seventeen days passed. Ingrid knew because she had counted each torturous day. On day 17, news exploded from the radio: Pincho was free and alive They heard him say, “My fellow hostages are listening. Ingrid, I did what you said. I called the man upstairs, and he sent a patrol that rescued me.”

Not long afterward, the Colombian army rescued all the hostages. It was six years for Ingrid. She learned the transformation power of the principles she learned, to live by her ideals, to foster unity, and develop faith. Ingrid always felt fear. It wasn’t about not having fear. It was about surviving. Without ideals she wouldn’t have fostered unity and without unity she wouldn’t have had the faith carrying her and others through.

I believe she also lived out my last rule. She used the brain God gave her to do all those things. To do otherwise, the person she had been wouldn’t survive. And, most importantly, she knew that NOTHING would separate her from the Love of God in Christ Jesus her Lord.

_____

Be Blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Dance Girl Dance

It is another My Song Saturday. I had several things on my plate so I didn’t get a song written again this week but I have a few you haven’t seen before and this is one of them. Right after my youngest granddaughter, Sydney, was born in January, many of you will remember she gave us a scare. After she had come home but before she was a week old, she started having some problems. She was flown from Tyler, Texas to Dallas and spent six weeks in NICU. Having nothing else I could do but pray, I made a song for Sydney and it was part of my prayer. Some of you read “Hello Little Girl,” others have heard me sing it. I knew when Sydney came home and Cindy and I went to Tyler to see them, if I brought the song for Sydney I better have one for her big sisters too. As it turned out I needn’t have worried about Natalie. She is five and had way too many other interests besides her grandfather’s music. Jenna, on the other hand, was very interested. I have Jenna pictured above, is eight now. Obviously the picture was taken a few years ago. But, this is my favorite of Jenna’s dance pictures and I mention it in the song. Jenna loves dance and she seems to do well. Who am I kidding. She is the best one out there! But I am not partial at all. Never mind that I know virtually nothing about evaluating dance talent. I do know she gets through the dance which is more than her Gramps could do!! I was glad I got to write this song for her and mostly I appreciated the huge hug she gave me when I finished playing it for her and her parents.

This song is not a spiritual song. Still, I wanted to share it with you today. Dance Girl Dance has original lyrics. The tune is not original, it is sung to the tune of “Lord of the Dance.” I hope you enjoy reading it.

Oh, for those of you who know Cindy, is there any doubt whose Granddaughter Jenna is???

You’d sit in the grass when you were small,
Grab it in your hands even when it was too tall.
You’d lay in the grass and study and learn
But from the grass to dance you’d turn.

Dance girl, you really love to dance,
We can see your joy even at a glance,
Your steps move across the floor’s expanse,
You are happy and we see it so dance girl dance.

You looked real cute when you danced in red,
With short white boots a western look you had
You learned your steps and then showed us how
To dance with joy as you show us now.

Dance girl, you really love to dance,
We can see your joy even at a glance,
Your steps move across the floor’s expanse,
You are happy and we see it so dance girl dance.

At Christmas time you danced that special show,
As a reindeer you had a sleigh in tow,
The next time you gave the queen a gift
Work real hard and you’ll learn real swift.

Dance girl, you really love to dance,
We can see your joy even at a glance,
Your steps move across the floor’s expanse,
You are happy and we see it so dance girl dance.

Father, thank you from Jenna. Bless her as she grows up that she might be a woman after your heart. Amen.

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: FLASH

58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died. (Acts 7:58-60, New Revised Standard Version).

When I think of the word “Flash” I think of my Navy days. Being a communications guy, a signalman, meant knowing the priorities used for messages. The classifications are routine (the lowest), priority, immediate, and flash (the highest priority).

To see a message with “FLASH” on it was rare on the signal bridge. When we saw it, it was always important.

Flash prayers are important as were yesterday’s breath prayers. For some people, a flash prayer and a breath prayer are one in the same. I disagree.

Today’s lesson has Stephen, as stones are flying at him and he is dying, saying flash prayers for others. He paraphrased Jesus’ flash prayer on the cross. Stephen says, as he is about to die, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

As I see it (others may define them differently), but yesterday we said, a breath prayer is often used for centering or settling. I see breath prayers as prayers we say primarily for ourselves. These short prayers us carryout Paul’s instruction to “Pray without ceasing.” When we see something, we stop and pray.

A flash prayer is generally prayed for others. When I drive down the road and see an ambulance with lights and sirens going, I will pray, “Lord be with them.” I am praying for the patient and paramedics. The same holds true for law enforcement and fire fighters. What they do is important. What they do is also dangerous. If I see a man or woman in a military uniform, I try to pray with them. If that isn’t possible, it is time for a flash prayer.

The term “Flash Prayer” is an allusion to a camera’s flash. Missionary Frank Laubach gets credit for the term Flash Prayer. These are quick prayers for guidance, strength, protection, etc. such as “O God, help me to tell the truth,” or “God, help me not to lose my temper.” In 1952 Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking. Laubach believed that power came in prayer. One of his methods was walking the street and “shoot” prayers at people. He called this “flash prayers.” He “bombarded” people with prayers of goodwill and love. He said people passing him “shot” prayers at them often turned around and looked at him. https://www.dictionaryofchristianese.com/

I happened on a story from Guideposts I want to share with you today in closing.

Lenore Else was worried about her son Eric who was driving 150 miles home in a terrible storm. Like many mothers, she worried about all her children but she especially Eric since he was a sales red and drove a lot of miles. She also liked knowing others prayed for Eric too and everyone in the family did, even 15-month-old Parker.

The phone rang. It was Eric, sounding rattled, he said, “My car’s been hit by lightening.”

“Are you alright?” asked Lenore asked.

Lenore and her husband Bob found the hospital where they took Eric. He seemed alert and fine. “Lightening flashed across the windshield and hood. The hair stood up on my arms. I felt an electrical surge go through me. With a boom of thunder the engine and power steering died. I skidded off the highway. When I came to a stop, electrical sparks bounced over the hood…”

“He is fortunate,” the doctor said. “Someone is looking out for him.”

Lenore said she started thinking about the prayers Parker prayed for his Uncle Eric. For two months, every night, Parker prayed for everyone as three-year-olds do. Those prayers changed regularly but the prayer for Eric was always the same. They tried to get Parker to pray differently. Parker wouldn’t have it. He continued to pray, “God, keep Uncle Eric safe.”

Flash prayers matter. I know Parker’s prayers mattered. His and ours still do.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Sighs too Deep for Words

Today is Song Saturday. Each Saturday I bring you a poem or song lyrics from either an original poem/lyrics or perhaps from another poet/lyricist. Most weeks I have done fairly well at bringing original work. Today’s post is also original work.

Earlier this week, as I was working on something else I happened on Romans 8:26 (you can read the verse below). I’ve read it many times before as Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. As I looked at it this week, the verse spoke to me. Yesterday I wrote the lyrics.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it.

Song Lyrics Based on Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, New Revised Standard Version).

Intro

Verse 1

With beaten soul, my world struck down,
Devoid hands look for Jesus’ crown
The pain grows deep, I seek a way,
Friend, where will my empty heart stay.

I’ve nothing left, but one small seed
Restore me this, broken soul pleads.
These broken strings play songs not heard
I pray with sighs too deep for words.

Prechorus

With my deep groans far out of tune,
Help me Lord to sing your song soon.

Chorus 1

No words to speak, no song to play,
I am empty, fill me I pray
These broken strings might play songs heard
I still pray with sighs too deep for words.

Verse 2

Temptation surrounds God’s people,
I’ll praise God, under the steeple,
Freedom calls me, fly like the birds,
We pray with sighs too deep for words.

Prechorus

Deep groans now coming into tune
I know I’ll sing God’s great song soon.

Chorus 2

I still can’t speak, no song to play,
I am empty, fill me I pray
New strings to strum play songs now heard
And l pray with sighs too deep for words.

Bridge

Spirit power enter I pray
Fill me with grace, your love to stay
Lord when I pray, you’ve always heard
Yet I pray, sighs too deep for words.

Chorus 3

For this old string, there’s life anew.
The sounds of Grace, you play here too.
God’s sounds are sung, your blessings heard
I speak with sighs too deep for words.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

On Corporate Prayer

Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said: “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…
21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 20:3-18, 21, New International Version).

Several years ago, after worship, as was my habit before the virus, I greeted people at the door, shaking hands with people as they left.

It was fellowship lunch Sunday. Most church members were staying to eat. After greeting a few who were not staying, there was a person hanging back wanting to talk with me.

I don’t remember the conversation but only a few minutes passed when the first interruption came. A youth was sent to tell me I needed to come say the blessing. My response, “Go back and tell the adults, I am in a conference and I will be there as soon as I can.”

I thought someone would say, “OK, pastor is out of pocket. We can wait for him to say the blessing or I will say it and we can eat.”

WHAT WAS I THINKING? Five or ten minutes later a different youth had the same message. I said, “Go find Mr. Smith (lay leader) or Mr. Jones (Chair of the Board) and ask one of them to pray.” Yeah, that didn’t happen either.

A third youth showed up. I just put up my hand and said, Go. I wrapped-up my conversation and went to the fellowship hall. I walked in saying, “There are at least 50 Christians in here. That there is no one to pray so you can eat, I have no sympathy.” I prayed and we ate but Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones came up too me saying, “Preacher, praying in front of everybody is your job.”

That is the way many people are about being the voice in corporate prayer. People with a solid prayer life, will not pray in a group.

Some folks question if such prayer is Biblical. I am not sure where that idea comes from. Our lesson today is part of a corporate prayer. Much of Judah gathered to pray.

In Genesis 9 Noah and his sons pray together. God talks, Noah and sons listened. Flip it over and the same is true. Corporate prayer has been part of God’s people’s experience from just about the beginning of creation.

Corporate prayer is powerful and every believer can and should participate. When I was in seminary a group of Native American United Methodist pastors were also in school. During corporate prayer, these men and women all prayed vocally throughout. They knew corporate prayer.Someone began but everyone joined in. People spoke at once, all over the room. If you listened closely, you might here the Holy Spirit.

Corporate Prayer teaches us about prayer. Some of my earliest memories of prayer had someone praying out loud.

When we are involved in corporate prayer, we NEVER pray alone. Equally true, when we pray we never pray alone. God is with us. It is corporate prayer with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s says in Romans, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:28, New Revised Standard Version).

Prayer: corporate, personal, written, intercessory, flash, breath, all are prayer. If our words aren’t enough, the Spirit intercedes for us. We are people of prayer. It should serve to remind us of this, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, New Revised Standard Version.)

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved