Waves of Life

waves and lighthouseNestled amidst the lush beauty of Western Kentucky there's a place I cherish in my heart.  Our cabin overlooking Lake Barkley was more than just a retreat. It was the canvas upon which countless precious memories with loved ones were painted.  Weekends were a symphony of fishing excursions, lazy afternoons on the dock, picnics, walking through the nearby woods, campfires, and the exhilarating rush of boating, rafting, and skiing adventures.  I consider myself fortunate to have had those wonderful childhood experiences.  Time seemed to move slower when at the lake.

I can remember my young self in the boat between my mom and dad.  We were out bass fishing and after about thirty minutes I was done; I wanted to move around and just wished I had something else with me to do to keep my mind satisfied while I waited.  Strange how life turns.  Nowadays I just wish I was bored sometimes.  I remember great detail from my childhood and how in that particular moment I felt “stuck.”  It seemed to me we’d been out there for hours and the fish were not “biting”and it was hot.  But it was there, under my dad's guidance, that I learned invaluable lessons of patience and resilience.  Beyond the pursuit of the biggest catch is what I now realize were intentional moments of getting away from the busy, taking time to forge deeper connections, share laughter, and revel in the simple joy of togetherness.  As an adult, I realize more and more what havoc our busy and chaotic lives can bring to our health, relationships, and overall well-being.  On days like today when I am missing my grandparents, my parents, my sister, my childhood best friend and other close ones who have graduated to heaven, I can replay those beautiful memories I hold in my heart.  When I remember, I can see and hear them once again for a little while.  Every time I get to see a lake or when I’m at the ocean, I’m still amazed at the feeling of peace I find just sitting and staring at the water. 

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Hope and a Future

hope and a futureThe prophecies of Ezekiel and Jeremiah were directed to the Israelites.  But the message of these Prophets is the same today for you and me as well as any believer who has become dried up, feeling cut off and with little hope.  There can be any number of reasons why believers become dry and stagnant.  We go through dry periods in our lives but God does not intend for us to remain in that condition.

We are responsible in large part for our walk with the Lord becoming dormant.  One major cause for the clog in our spiritual arteries is unconfessed sin.  We all commit sins daily.  The minute the Holy Spirit brings those sins to our conscience we should stop and immediately agree with the Spirit that we have indeed sinned.  The importance of this is to stay in tune or in harmony with the Lord’s will.  Keep those spiritual arteries clear.

Another infraction is having an unforgiving sprit.  If left unattended, it will eat away at you like a cancer.  The list goes on: spotty worship attendance, lack of fellowship with like-minded believers, etc. To add to this, our spirit gets burdened with illnesses, sorrows, misplaced priorities, and sundry other things.  But, our faith can become strengthened through adversity.

I don’t subscribe as others that material blessings are a guarantee with an absence of suffering.  I believe God is in the business of healing the body and mind, but there are those times when the Great Physician proves to us that no matter what life holds, His grace is sufficient and we can count it all joy with the peace that surpasses all understanding.

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A Few Is Enough

GideonA few is more than one and less than several.  /Sometimes./  Many of us would feel safe to say that we have a lot of acquaintances, and we may even like some of them.  /Sometimes./  But when push comes to shove, we have only a few true/blue friends; those who stick with us through thick and thin, and walk beside us through hell and high water.  Oh yes, I know the names of these friends of mine.  There’s hardly a richer blessing. 

I like that word, few; it gives me wiggle room.  There can be no number affixed to few.  I am also fond of the word, perhaps.  It allows me to make a supposition or answer a question, yet without saying anything.  Now, perhaps, I’m about to make a point.  We’ll see. 

Scripture records that our omniscient Lord created mankind to accomplish magnificent even miraculous feats for His glory.  Countless accounts of chosen individuals with sin-sick hearts, with their own self-serving agendas in place, did not accept their assignments eagerly (Noah, Moses, Esther, Rahab, Simon Peter, Saul of Tarsus, and Mary Magdalene).  Many of God’s appointed crusaders never quite grasped the significance of their calling, with some embracing martyrdom before witnessing the effects of their cause.  For those He calls, He empowers.  Omnipotent God created in them a new heart and steadfast spirit, refashioning their being into becoming Holy, yes Holy in His sight.  Only then, did these lovers of their own souls choose and succumb to their Almighty God’s ordained decrees.

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Shopping for a Savior

navidad"I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum; that's fit to give our king, pa rum pum pum pum.  Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum?  Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum.  I played my drum for him, pa rum pum pum pum; I played my best for him, pa rum pum pum pum.  And then he smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum; me and my drum."

"Have you wise guys decided what you are taking to the Manger Open Stable?" quizzed Balthasar.  "I shall take my standard gift of gold," replied Melchior in a confidant drawl.  "You must remember, all that glitters is not gold."  "Well put my good man, well put." commended Gaspar.  "My policy is when you don't know what to give, give frankincense."  "You might be right. Just play it safe," reasoned Balthasar.  "But surely any king would appreciate the expense and aroma of myrrh."

Not unlike this tongue-in-cheek wise men scenario, you too may be pondering over your own Christmas shopping fiasco.  Pehaps the shepherds in the field were, indeed, the wisest men.  They didn't give the idea of gift giving a thought.  The shepherds were initially frightened by the angelic host, but they were told to, "Fear not, for we bring you tidings of great joy.  Today in the city of David, a Savior has been born who is the Messiah."  The consensus of the shepherds was then, "Let's go see."  They went to Bethlehem where they found Mary and Joseph along with the baby who was lying in a manger.

"Mary treasured all these things in her heart."  Luke 2:19  Her treasure was not their presents but their presence.  The joy of the Father, however, was mixed with sorrow and pain, for in the darkness He could see Golgotha.

Danny Byrum

 

What About the Holyday Inn?

holiday inn"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David; To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:4-7 KJV

I suspect that I'm not the only guy around who had to memorize and recite the second chapter of Luke sometime during elementary or middle school (junior high). I remember having to stand in front of Ms. Moore's 7th grade class and recite it. I was so scared, I didn't really know what I was saying, but I must have done OK. I didn’t have to repeat the 7th grade. Ever since then, I've often wondered about the "Bethlehem Inn" and inn keeper. Through the years, the inn keeper role has always been one of the more popular ones in kids' Christmas pageants. I was all set to write something nasty about the inn keeper, but before I put pen to paper, I thought I should do a little research. What a bummer to find out that many biblical scholars don’t believe there was a "Bethlehem Inn" at all.

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Putting the "X" Back in "Xmas"

chi rhoSometimes it seems as if we've wandered away from where Jesus would have us be. Are we really doing His will by boycotting stores that advertise "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"? Didn't He challenge us to be in the world, but not of it? How do we make good witnesses to the unchurched by avoiding them? Is it our goal to separate ourselves from nonbelievers, or to share with them our Savior?

We celebrate Emmanuel - God with us - at Christmas. Shouldn't we joyfully remind others, as well as ourselves, that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son to die for us all? Instead of being offended when we see an "Xmas" sign on a storefront, let's be sure they know the X is the Greek letter Chi, the first letter in the Greek word Χριστός, or “Christ”. It has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years, and xp, chi rho,  chi rho  has been a Christian symbol since the days of the Emperor Constantine.

"Put Christ back in Christmas" - sure, but maybe it starts with "putting X back in Xmas".

Father, sometimes it’s difficult for us to be nonjudgmental. Help us to see our world through the eyes of Jesus. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to share your love with ALL your children. Amen.

"Am I a Soldier of the Cross?"

micah6 8"Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb; and shall I fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His name?"  Isaac Watts

I shall consolidate November's two holidays into one sentence.  I am thankful for our country's veterans, past and present.  In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed November 26th to be a day of thanksgiving.  The Thanksgiving holiday is now celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month and has become my favorite holiday of the year.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law that November 11th of each year would be Veteran's Day.  At the ripe old age of 21, my parents were determined to get married.  My grandfather's plea, "Now Vivian, don't you know there's going to be a war," fell on deaf ears.  James Byrum and Vivian Blanks married and in 9 months and 27 days their first child was born and died on that same day.

My Dad and his two brothers all served in World War II and each came home alive.  Matthew 24 asserts that wars and rumors of war will continue.  The Mideast Peace Agreement negotiated by President Carter at Camp David in 1979 seemed quite promising, however the Biblical fracas is still very much alive.  Striving toward peace is a noble venture, but believing in a lasting peace is naive.

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" tells of the narrator hearing Christmas bells during the Civil War, but despairing that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men."  The root of war is not over land ownership, or one's right to use some canal, or one's claim to this or that natural resource.  The root of war is SIN, red, yellow, black, and white.

So what is required of us?  We are to treat all people fairly and justly, to be kind and loving toward all others, and to walk humbly with our Lord (Micah 6:8).  We are, perhaps above all and by any means available, commissioned to share the loving and redemptive message of our Lord Jesus Christ on Princeton Road and throughout the world (Matthew 28). 

Shalom,

Danny Byrum