"Trust and Obey"

trustOne reason I like the old hymns best is because I'm old.  Although the new songs are clever and catchy, they are low in calories.  If you want to feel the agony of Jesus on the cross and understand its meaning, just sing "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."  Is there no other way?  I'm not sure.  However, I am sure you won't be happy in Jesus if you don't trust and obey.  But what about that word "happy"?  It seems a little loose-ended.  And "happy in Jesus"?  Why not happy in God the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Do I have any business changing the lyrics of John H. Sammis' hymn?  I should ask my pastor, but then I know what she would say.  She would say, "Danny, you sweet little man, you are very wise and once in a blue moon you make the right decision.  Go for it!"  Yes I will.  I will change "happy" to "joyful" or "peaceful".  Not sure which, and I will change "Jesus" to "Trinity".

I am a wise man so while I have the microphone, I think we'll do some case studies.  Abraham trusted God so much that he was willing to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.  Then God provided the sacrifice.  The rich young ruler did not obey Jesus when asked to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor.  He went away unhappy.  The disciples trusted the authority of Jesus and in obedience went throughout the world spreading the Good News.

It seems safe to assume that to "trust and obey" is pretty good advice.  So, I think now we'll sing all the verses of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."


"Ye Must Be Born Again"

born againA peanut farmer from Georgia became our 39th U.S. President in 1977.  Jimmy Carter, at age 98, is now in hospice care.  The bold approach to his Christian faith he shared in "Dixie Drawl Dialect" was music to my ears.  I remember the puzzlement cast on much of the media by Carter's reference to himself as a "born again Christian."

When Jesus told Nicodemus that in order for him to see the "kingdom of God" he must be born again, he too was perplexed (John 3).  "Can a man be born again when he is old?  How can he enter his mother's womb a second time?"  Jesus explained that a man has a natural birth, but then must have a spiritual birth to become a child of God with an earthly union and a heavenly inheritance.

So, can one be a Christian and not be born again?  Is there a difference between a nominal Christian and a spiritual Christian?  Can you try to be your parent's child?  Can you try to be a child of God?  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).




"Be Thou My Vision"

Be Thou My VisionI actually welcome the influx of determined newcomers to my gym each January 2nd.  For by and large, most of those with “unflagging vitality,” adorning their matching workout attire (headband included) are in worse shape than I am.  By the end of January, with few exceptions, only the regulars remain, once again able to carry on their normal exercise regimens sans novice interference.

Whether it be a New Year’s resolution or a daily effort to do better, we’ve all been there.  Have you ever been so sick and tired of trying and failing that you simply want to give up?  I have.  Perhaps we put too much emphasis on a new year rather than a new day.  I don’t think giving up or self-pity are viable options.  Should we not set our sights beginning from this moment on. I resolve… to keep resolving.

In writing to the Philippians, Paul offers this advice, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

As a church, can we press forward harboring grandiose memories of a packed house and being content with the star in our crown implemented by being the Great Banquet Church?  Have we not put all of our eggs in one basket?  Where are those with the “unflagging vitality"?

One who is occasionally thrown from an electric bicycle should not be expected to offer sound advice.  Thanks be, as a church and as an individual we have the same source - “Be Thou my wisdom and Thou my true word...Still be my vision, O ruler of all.”

Christmas Uncensored

Winking Santa"Santa looked a like lot daddy, or daddy looked a lot like him."  Brad Paisley

There is a vey secret society, Scrooge, Bummer & Pitt, whose sole purpose is to ruin your Christmas.  It’s highly unlikely that any of you have ever heard of this loathsome organization of enlightened thugs.  You ask then, "what is you source of information?"  Sorry, it’s a secret; no need to Google.  I’m reluctant to even share some of the society’s repugnant propaganda, but feel I must.  In 2006, when I was still quite young, the society-sanctioned lyrics of Brad Paisley’s yuletide hit was the final blow to my Kris Kringle affirmation.  The devastating revelation of no HoHoHo, however, is minuscule compared to Scrooge & Company’s varied details of the sacred birth.  Let’s take a look at some of the smarty pants’ declarations.  Jesus was not born on December 25th. If so, Black Friday is is the most important shopping day the year; surely, God would not have us mess with the economy.  The wise men did not show up on the night of our Savior”s birth and Jesus may not have been born in a stable.  Have you ever seen an "Out of Order/ No Longer Working” nativity scene?  And a pregnant Mary could not have made the 65 mile trip to Bethlehem on a donkey?  Well, she surely didn’t arrive by Uber.  For those who wish to rain on my Christmas parade, I ask “so what?”  There will always be a nonnegotiable substantiated account of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Over 700 years before my Lord was born, Isaiah wrote: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God,The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Danny Byrum

A Broken and Contrite Heart

a broken spirit“Good grief, Charlie Brown.”  The irritation and frustration the Peanut characters routinely expressed toward pitiful Charlie Brown is the same grief many of us express toward our sin.  “I know I shouldn't have done it, but good grief, I never said I was perfect.”  Then, there is that colossal sin; the wound is still open and a relentless haunt remains.  Ponder, if you will, though painful as it may be, the sin that broke your heart.  King David knew of such a sin as this.  His anguish is chronicled in Psalm 51 following Nathan’s confrontation.  David’s abominable encounter with Bathsheba and those acts that followed indeed had their dire consequences but as David, we must realize that any sin is first and above all against God Almighty - "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only I have sinned” (Vs 3&4).  With that admission can come cleansing - ”Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (Vs 7).  Our loving Lord delights to then deliver the repentant desire - “Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Vs 10).  Restoration, the scripture teaches, cannot be produced with sacrifices or burnt offerings (Vs 16).  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart O God, You will not despise” (Vs 17).  This, dear reader, is “good grief.”

Speech Often Regretted - Silence Seldom

think before you speak“Liar, Liar, pants on fire - your nose is longer than a telephone wire”  Castaways - 1965

“Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.  Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down."  (Proverbs 26:17, 20)

Likely, few of you have committed these verses to memory or recall this quotation credited to Washington socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth, “If you haven’t anything nice to say about
anybody, come sit by me”.  Sad but true, the tongue, too often, becomes an overworked and harmful muscle.  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  (Ephesians 4:29)

One is of the many valuable lessons my parents taught me was to keep unpleasant family matters private.  Shouldn’t this principle apply to the church family as well.  The number one attribute I expect from a friend is loyalty.  I know quite well those who have remained with me in the “good, bad and the ugly”.  Nothing less should be expected from me.  We are admonished in James chapter 1 to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  Ah, Proverbs 17:28 grabs my ears by this reminder, “even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Danny Byrum

If God Be for Us, Who Can Be Against Us?

JosephOne of the most comforting truths, yet perhaps mysterious, is God’s sovereign control over any harmful acts of others toward us.  He can and does restrain such acts; we do not always understand why such acts prevail at one time and are restrained at another.  However, we can be assured that through God’s infinite wisdom and love, our good is the ultimate intention.

A familiar classic illustration is found in the story of Joseph.  When Joseph’s brothers decided to sell him into slavery God did not restrain them.  Neither did He restrain Potiphar’s wife when she maliciously and unjustly accused him.  But in God’s time He turned those circumstances around.  God was orchestrating the wicked acts of people exactly as He planned in order to accomplish His purpose through Joseph.  In the end, Joseph could look back over all the difficult events and say to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  (Genesis 50:20)

God is never the author of sin, but sin can never thwart His plans.  Paul said, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  (Romans 15:4)

Danny Byrum