“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.”

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THINK

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,
Keith



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

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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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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,
Keith



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.



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Choices, Choices

14 “So now, revere the LORD. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the LORD. 15 But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the LORD.”
16 Then the people answered, “God forbid that we ever leave the LORD to serve other gods! 17 The LORD is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we’ve gone and in all the nations through which we’ve passed. 18 The LORD has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God”
(Joshua 24:14-18, Common English Bible).

Do you ever, multi-task? I do. Do you multi-task in ways that are less than productive? Yep, that’s me too. It started today just after lunch. I picked up my laptop and pulled two music books out the drawer. Then I sat down and started to work. Before I knew it, my brain was hard at work on several projects. I was thinking about the song I was working on and what I was going to write on the blog today. It didn’t stop there. I was also thinking about what work remained on another project. While I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to fight off an afternoon nap that it seems like more and more, as I get older, my body, demands. When I was a kid, I never wanted to take naps. All it seems I have to do these days is be at home. What I need to do is choose which project I am going to work on now, and put all the others aside until I have the first one finished.

When I was in seminary, I used what I called at the time, “The Firefighter Method” to get things done. Whatever the next fire might be, a test, a paper, a sermon, whatever needed completion next, that became my choice of project.

It can be challenging to make choices sometimes. Things seem equally important. For the student who has two papers or two tests on the same day. What about the parent who has to have breakfast ready, but also has to have lunches ready when the buses come to carry the children to school. Then there is the business executive who has only partial control of the personal calendar and finds two people have scheduled meetings to attend with overlapping times.

The Israelites faced choices just as we do. Our lesson today points to that. It would also seem that they made the wrong choice just about every time they faced a choice. Again and again, the Israelites faced the same decision. Do we follow Yahweh, or do we follow the God behind curtain number “2?” The most significant difference would be, they already knew about both the choices. The god behind curtain number “2” was a god made with human hands. Yahweh demonstrated over and over both the love and the power that God gave to the Israelite people. That they would even consider this was an insult to God. In the end, the Israelites choose Yahweh. They would, however, waffle again. It was a vicious cycle. Yahweh would make a covenant with Israel. As soon as they settled, the terms and were well into the agreement made with God, they would choose wrong and live the life they wanted until God had enough and delivered a new punishment. The Israelites would repent, and the whole cycle would begin again.

God gives us that same choice too. Our biggest problem is, the false gods of our world are much more subtle than the false gods of the Israelites day. Our gods include the god of instant gratification, the god of the micro mentality, the god of rugged individualism, and that names only a few, and don’t get me started on the gods of sports.

Each of us must decide who we will serve. Which God will you choose? I can speak for no one except me, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Blessings of Joy,
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.

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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,
Keith

Copyright 2019, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved