Reboot and Rebuild

Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33, Common English Bible).

OK, it is confession time for me. When I left full-time ministry a year ago, I fell out of some of my habits. I neglected prayer time. I often forgot to spend time listening to God through meditation. Reading and studying Scripture was probably the second thing that fell by the wayside when I started teaching. The first one, without question, was this blog.

Since school let out last May and because I did not return to the classroom (except as a substitute teacher) any excuse I had (and they were not good excuses) really disappeared. It occurred to me that if I was going to be honest with myself I needed to start with admitting to myself that the excuses I used then were pretty lame. But, even worse, today there are no excuses.

For years I have been pretty good about remembering prayer time. I might not always remember all I was supposed to include in my prayer time, but I did remember to pray. I never fully abandoned prayer. When I first started the daily commute to school, I used my drive time, particularly in the morning for prayer time. I figured when Cindy or someone else was in the car I would talk to them. Why couldn’t I talk to God while I driving? It sounds reasonable enough but it wasn’t long before that prayer time was lost to listening to audiobooks during my commute. As I said, I never fully abandoned my prayer times but it was far short of what it had been only a few short weeks before.

The thing is, I would still pray before meals. I would still pray breath prayers as an ambulance or law enforcement or fire fighters past my way. I developed a new habit shortly before I started in the classroom. When someone would ask me to pray for them, I would take the time to stop and pray with them at that moment. I had come to a realization that I would forget and neglect people I had promised would be in my prayers. By praying right then, even if I did forget, I would have been there with my prayers at least once. I did manage to keep that going too.

I guess what I really missed was, I didn’t take the time to listen to God. Prayer is actually pretty simple when you just float a laundry list of requests out there and leave prayer at that and that was my prayer life. I would throw out all the things I wanted God to do but never worried about what God wanted me to do. I realize today, I need to get back to praying the right way, having a two-way conversation with God.

I quit writing things on my calendar. Why bother? My days were pretty structured so why did I even need a calendar. The calendar the school gave me pretty well kept things where they needed to be.

I neglected writing in my journal. I wish I had a written record of my teaching experience. I remember some but certainly not all. I wish I could go back and remind myself of some of the things I experienced and a journal would be a real help.

I also realized I completely dropped what I did on this blog. For months at a time, there was nothing here at all. I told myself that, since I was no longer a full-time pastor I didn’t need to do this anymore. But the truth is, I know I had readers who were not, and likely never will be part of a church I serve. I also know that these pages were part of their devotional readings. I let them down when I stopped writing.

A thought occurred to me today. Over the years in ministry, I have had people say, “Preacher, I used to go to church all the time. I guess I just got out of the habit and once I got out of the habit it is really hard to get back in the habit.”

I don’t think I ever understood that. Even now, I never got out of the habit of going to church. But, that is probably because I am expected to be there, every Sunday. And, while I was no longer full-time, I was still a pastor and it is generally accepted that the pastor will be in church. I did keep up with that one.

I really didn’t understand that getting out of the habit thing until now. I realized, missing worship may not have been a broken habit but all this other stuff was. I don’t have the excuses, bad as they were, for neglicting the spiritual habits that had become an important part of my life over the last 30 years and I still fall far short of where I was a mere 18 months ago.

Another thought occurred to me. It has to do with the Scripture reading. Because I was neglecting these habits and letting them fall to the ground and lost, I was not putting the Kingdom first. Everything else took precedent.

If I am going to be more faithful, I have to get back into these habits. Being faithful means I need that time with God be be filled with faith. I cannot neglect the things hat have become important to my faith walk.

I pray that I will continue to work to re-establish what were some pretty good habits. They are far to important to me to ignore them for the foreseeable future and likely beyond.

Is there something keeping you from seeking first the Kingdom?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

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

A Change in Attitude

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You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love.  All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.  But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other! (Galatians 5:13-15, Common English Bible)

 

I haven’t posted on here in quite a while. I really need to get better about that. I will try. This post came about because of thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for a couple of days. Hope you enjoy. Feel free to leave your comments.

several years things seem to have changed in our society. We just don’t seem to treat each other with the kind of love and dignity and respect I seem to remember from when I was a child. Our society has gotten mean. I wish I could say it just rested in our polarized and partisan politics but nothing could be further from the truth.

I think there may be a couple of things at work. I first started noticing this shift in the days following 9/11. Perhaps part of it is rooted in a fear that we no longer feel safe in our communities. But I think there is more to it than that. It seems to me that this shift also parallels the rise in those of our population who participate in social media. While it is not an anonymous platform, it has become a place where it is easy to attack others, particularly those we do not know and/or who share different ideas from our own.

Because this rise in viciousness has continued to escalate since the last presidential election, we have seen more than the usual mudslinging. The gloves came off early and every candidate has seen the level of hateful rhetoric increase exponentially and they have not been immune from dishing out their fair share and more. And, I wish I could write here that it was just the candidates who were spewing so much hate, but it is not. The level of distrust, the level of animosity seems to come from the citizen as well as the candidate.

I wish I were writing this to beg non-Christians to stop because it was a behavior that, by-in-large was an activity in which Christians were not participating. But to think as such, would be wrong in more ways than I would care to count.

To some degree this is to be expected from non-Christians. I am not trying to say Christians are better than non-Christians or should be better than non-Christians. My point with that statement is simply to say, we shouldn’t expect non-Christians to behave as though they are Christian. How can we expect Christian behavior from people who do not know Christian behavior and have little interest in such?

It seems to me, we as Christians should know better. We are supposed to be people who know and live in the behavior of love. Yet what I see from many cannot be classified as love to anyone’s way of thinking. Paul’s words above serve as a warning to us. “But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!

As I have stewed over this the past couple of days, the meme above floated across my Facebook feed. It gave me an idea. In truth, while I love what the meme says, I really do not expect any politician to cease tearing down their opponents. I actually think that is part of our problem. We used to elect statesmen. Today we elect politicians. It has been a long time since we had a real statesman in the White House. But, I digress.

As I was thinking, the idea ran through my mind, “I can’t stop the politicians from bashing each other, but I can stop bashing them.” I know I am far from perfect and I feel pretty certain that between now and November 8th I will say something negative about some candidate for some office, but I at least want to try.

Because I am a pastor I really try to refrain from talking much about politics, particularly around my church members. Again, I’m not always successful, but I do try. What I want to try even harder to do is, if I speak at all, to speak only positively about the candidates I support. When I talk politics, I want to talk about why my particular candidate should be elected, not why the candidate I oppose should not be.

The truth is, right now, in at least some of the elections I will vote in this November, I haven’t made up my mind. The current political rhetoric out of both politicians and the public I do not find helpful. Tell me what you are going to do, what your candidate is going to do, why that person should be elected and allow me to make up my mind. I will not make up my mind by only hearing why someone in the opposition should not be elected.

As both a citizen and child of God, I pledge to work hard to be positive in the days ahead. Perhaps if we all were to work on that, we might see a change for the better in the society in which we live. I believe as people of faith the Scriptures seem pretty clear. We are to act in love and back-biting is the polar opposite of that. Not only that, if we were to all start focusing on the positive not only would our society seem better, I think we all might be a little more happy in life regardless of who wins any of the upcoming elections.

That is what I think and that is my pledge. With God’s help I believe I can follow through with that. Will you join me?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Grace and Peace,

Keith

Copyright 2016, James “Keith” Broyles, All Rights Reserved