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,

Keith



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

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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