Blessed… A House of Prayer and a Hideout for Crooks

Then Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It’s written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you’ve made it a hideout for crooks.” People who were blind and lame came to Jesus in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and legal experts saw the amazing things he was doing and the children shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were angry. They said to Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” he answered. “Haven’t you ever read, From the mouths of babies and infants you’ve arranged praise for yourself? Then he left them and went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there (Matthew 21:12-17, Common English Bible).

One day, early in the morning, while serving a former church, the church secretary called me. Vandals and/or thieves had broken into the building over night. It appeared that there was more vandalism damage than things that were missing. Still, it was rather unsettling.

When I arrived at the office and first walked into my study, the first thing I noticed was, the guitar I kept in the corner was gone. The second thing I noticed was, my computer monitor had been overturned.

An interior office door had been kicked in but nothing appeared to be missing. When we walked to the sanctuary, we found the lead guitar player’s guitar sitting on a few steps. They left the guitar but stole the case. We walked to the parlor and found a television was stolen. Down in the preschool at the other end of the building, most of the damage was vandalism. It was in the nature of shaving cream the vandals found in a supply closet that was sprayed all over the office and hallways.

Without question, things could have been worse. No one was hurt. Not too much damage was done and not too much was stolen. My guitar nor the guitar player’s case were ever recovered.

For a short period of time, our church was a haven, we didn’t know it and would never have allowed it had we known, but it was a haven for thieves and vandals. Thankfully they were long gone before the arrival of anyone on the staff.

At the same time as this happened, our congregation was in the middle of a prayer vigil. People were coming to the church during the day and evening to pray and still others would pray at night. It was also close to Easter time. When I read this passage back then, the irony of a hideout for thieves and a house for prayer all in the same building.

While I know Jesus meant that the priests and the Pharisees were cheating the people or allowing the people to be cheated. Jesus wanted those same people to be able to come to the temple to pray. Because we are all sinners, even if we remove the money changers from the equation, there were still thieves and other sinners occupying the temple.

We are no different today. Our churches are filled with paradox as we have thieves and sinners coming to our worship centers to pray. But friends, I don’t think that would bother Jesus as much as it bothers some of us. Jesus’ complaint wasn’t against your average sinner who was working, praying and trying to find change. Jesus complained about those who would take advantage of a situation. If we are on our knees, it is difficult to take advantage of a brother or sister.

Does your prayer focus ever target the changes that need to be made in you? Which will your church be, a hideout for thieves or a place of recovery and prayer for sinners? The answer is up to us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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