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

"I Know the Plans"

Jeremiah 29 11Jeremiah 29:11-13
I like to make lists and check each item off upon completion. There are days when this routine is the most gratifying thing that happens. No, thank you; I do not need your pity. I find pleasure in completion.  Then, there are other days when I wad up my list and throw it in the trash or at someone.

“We make the plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  Proverbs 16:9  In other words God always has the last word.  Determined to get in the last word has caused me more than a little grief in life.  Did your parents ever say to you and likely you have said to your children, “because I said so!" God said it first.  Do we try to plan our life and hope God agrees with us?  Are we ticked off if He doesn’t?  Why are we so afraid that God is going to make us do something that will make us unhappy? 

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4  I struggled for years to grasp the ambiance of the word "delight".  Think of something that delights you.  Doesn’t it bring a smile to your face.  You smile at God because you know He loves you and knows what is best.  He smiles back at you because you understand.  You are in tune with one another.

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Freedom

John 8 32"But it's all right now.  I learned my lesson well.  You see, you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself."  "Garden Party" by Ricky Nelson, 1972

I was chatting with a treasured couple at a garden party last weekend.  Certain that I had something worthy to say, I shared, "I am so happy that there were no mosquitoes invited tonight."  In like manner, Justine shared, "I think that it is time that I do something I want to do."  Then, in what could have been interpreted as a grin, Truman shared, "Sweet Thing, that is something you have always done."

Hey "sweet thing," the world has your back.  If Elvis and Frank did it their way, why shouldn't we ALL?  And the icing on the cake is they had too few regrets to mention.  When I reflect on my regrets I want to vomit.

When I was a student at UK, the Lord sent me a local "spiritual" girlfriend to jump start the never ending process of getting my act together.  One late fall evening while we were sitting in my car (in the front seat) parked on Rose Street, this Godly young woman began writing a message on my heart.  Perhaps not what I had wanted, but no doubt what I needed.  My girlfriend, Sally Metcalfe, still a much valued friend after fifty years, shared this truth with me: "Freedom is not doing everything you want to do, but the ability to do those things God wants you to do."

Wow!  I'm not sure where in the Bible it says that, but I'm sure it's there somewhere.  You say, by golly, I'm my own man or woman.  I say, how unfortunate.  "You have been bought and paid for, so honor God with your body."  1 Corinthians 6:20

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed by the faithfulness of God's Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I don't ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose." Galatians 2:20-21

Dear brothers and sisters, oh haste the day..."Free at last!  Free at last!  Great God Almighty, we are free at last!"  Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963