By Bill Byrnes

“ Friends–it’s been said–that MONEY is the root of all evil. Well, let me tell you–that is WRONG! Money itself, is not the root of all evil–it’s the LACK
of money. That IS the root of all evil.” Pastor Frederich Eikerenkoetter- a.k.a. “The Reverend Ike”; circa 1975-1978
The title sounds good–but–what is Christian Capitalism? There is no set group of principles, certainly, no dogmas here!
Christian Capitalism is NOT Socialism—in any way shape or form, and certainly, it has nothing to do with Communism!
However, it is NOT any type of endorsement for the current system of corporate greed–and–face it–when you look at income distribution over the last 40 years–how could you possibly deny the existence of greed that permeates our corporate domain?
Yes, there are several different definitions of Christian Capitalism. It all depends on who you’re talking with. Extreme Conservatives might say it’s another form of (God forbid-lol) Communism; extreme Liberals might add that it’s just another way of pushing the envelope away from inevitable forms of income sharing. My contention: Christian Capitalism is what God had in mind all along!
First, let’s look at the broad brush-strokes of this picture. After God gave Noah the 3rd Dispensation (beginning w/Genesis:8 : 20-21) , it was clear that God would allow Governments to take his place and rule mankind. To me, the question then becomes how wealth should be distributed. If God would no longer rule man, what would be the most efficient way of getting that job accomplished? If all wealth belongs to our creator, and he wanted it shared with all humans—how could that be accomplished in a fair and equitable manner? As usual—the answer lies in the Bible (where else?).
There are no verses that state, outright, that capitalism is preferred. However, there are mentions in the New Testament that definitely lead
the reader to that conclusion. Example: in Luke: 19:11-27– the Parable of the Ten Pounds; whereas Jesus was using a metaphor to explain the Kingdom of Heaven, I find his wording quite interesting.
Luke: 19:26: “For I say unto you, that every one that hath, shalm that hath not, evl be given; and from hien that he hath shall be taken away from him.”( READ the entire parable!)
I realize that this verse could easily be interpreted by Conservatives who would say that it points to wealth being controlled by those who know what to do with it, namely, people at the top of the income “pyramid”. However, (assuming that you have read the entire parable) I contend that, really, Jesus was referring to giving wealth to the other servants–people at the bottom of the income level. What you have, then, is an affirmation of a “pure” form of capitalism – where people at the “bottom” receive some measure of wealth, and use it to build more wealth.
Think about this, then review the thoughts expressed by Pope Francis (Nov.,2013) He said, “That’s what does harm: greed in any relationship with money…having more, having more, having more. It leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others. It’s not the money itself – but the attitude – what we call greed. Then the greed makes you sick because it makes you think of everything in terms of money…that destroys you…”.
And, in the end, greed is the instrument of idolatry because it goes along a path contrary to God has done for us. St. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ, who was rich, made himself poor to enrich us. That is the path of God: humility, to lower oneself in order to serve. Greed, on the other hand, takes us on a contrary path: you – a poor human – make yourself God for vanity’s sake. It is idolatry! ….And all the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world – to advance humanity – to help, to help others. …Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of only possessions.”
What makes more sense from a logistical standpoint than to have men distribute God’s wealth to other men? And, when you look at the early history of Capitalism – it appears that the system was working fairly well. Then enter greed…with the sweat-shops and robber-barons and other “twists and turns” that began changing the system into one motivated by greed, and not humility – others were exploited – NOT served!
So, it appears the opening quote from Reverend Ike, though laughable at first hearing, was only a “groundbreaker” for the remarks of a Pope approximately 40 years in the future! Remember…I’m not stating that the rich should give us anything; heck, we just want to earn our pay. And, we feel that we are already earning it – so please, just pay us!!




by Bill Byrnes

“Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” Amos: 5:14 

Have you ever wondered, “Does God talk to me–or anyone?” My answer: YES–he definitely tries to COMMUNICATE with us. Hope you caught the distinction between “talking” and “communicating”. The reason is that it might be easy to overlook His attempted communications with us if our attitude is to wait for that super, deep, “heavy” Ten Commandments type of voice. Instead  we should just settle back and observe events and realize that  certain things might not have occurred without His intervention. At the least, if we ask Him for something, or if we have a question,  we should be ready to receive his answer. Of course, we know he works from his timetable on ALL things. But, I’m sure, sometimes, he can take our timetable into account. For instance, I’ve known several people who have asked God if they should marry that certain someone. I’ve also known people who ask His advice on making major purchases. Even though these questions might require immediate “assistance”–you never know. Answers might take a lot longer than we can imagine. Rest assured, if you talk to God–HE DOES LISTEN. So understand that even a “non-answer” has meaning!


He does listen…”

We could think of examples all day long. But I must also assert that there’s another “player” lurking in the shadows– you guessed it–Satan.

We know that Satan is a great deceiver. It’s not difficult to infer that Satan would love nothing more than to trick us into thinking that the communication we’re getting is from God — when in reality–it’s from him!


He wants nothing more than to trick us.

The next question, then, is –how do we tell the difference? How do we know if it’s God or Satan? The answer is pretty easy to find. And, where do we go for that answer? It’s the same place we go for any and all answers–the Bible!

There’s no guessing as to the meaning of this passage from Mark: 9:7: “And there was cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud saying, ‘This is my beloved son–LISTEN TO HIM!”.  During this transfigurationGod, himself, proclaimed Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and that his word constituted the new law. We were to LISTEN TO JESUS from that moment on!



That was easy to establish. However, not all answers come to us is one concise sentence. We’ve established that Jesus is our source for any knowledge–next question how do we use knowledge from Jesus to decide if any “communications” we receive are from God or Satan? This, also, is not difficult, but it’ll need a little more explanation.

It would be easy for me to say, “Just read the parables”. But that isn’t the answer. True, Jesus’ parables give tremendous depth to his philosophy, however, there has got to be a simpler, all-inclusive way to apply his teachings–and there is!

Matthew:22:36-40: “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all they mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is LIKE UNTO IT.  Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets!”.

           I don’t think it can get any simpler than this! This was an incredible, very God-like”, achievement. Jesus actually took the voluminous contents of Mosaic law and converted them into  two simple rules that could be remembered by the uneducated, illiterate, minds of the common folks of that epoch.

What I find very interesting about these two laws( laws = commandments) is that laws usually govern ACTIONS. But these dictate the way people must think– BEFORE they act! It’s as if Jesus knew that he was giving us a way out of our predicament of deciding our titular question–God or Satan?

I could put volumes of examples together–I won’t. Instead, every time, and anytime, you think it’s God who’s talking to you–subject it to the test of Jesus’ two great commandments: does your action show, or demonstrate, your love of God–the actual feeling of LOVE–not just obedience? Next–is your action something that you would approve your neighbor doing to you–or to your family?

You can “take it from here” regarding any more examples. If your comparison isn’t clear–then PRAY before committing any action. Don’t forget what I said earlier about “non-answers”. If that’s where your path leads–be cautious. If God needs time to give you your answer–who are you to rush him? Above all, don’t forget the “third player”-Satan! He always has quick answers–quick and very costly. It’ll take all eternity for you to pay his price!


“What is the greatest commandment?



Reporter—Bill Byrnes
Micah:5:2 : “But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto me he that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of old to everlasting.”
Note: There exists an old legend about the Magi: On the way to Bethlehem, the Magi lost sight of the Christmas Star. Fortunately they knew their destination–Bethlehem. They arrived well into the afternoon. After settling near a local inn, it was close to dusk when one of them went to draw some water from the inn’ s well. An unusual phenomenon gave them what they needed–at the bottom of the well!
Jerusalem, November, 7 b. c. :
When you’re a reporter looking for a story, you find the biggest newsmaker in the biggest town and just chill-out, waiting for anything to happen. On the Judean “beat”, that means you hang-out in Jerusalem, and, of course, the person to watch is King Herod. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you stumble upon a big story. I must be pretty lucky, because what I’m about to relay to you is, probably, the biggest story in history!
It was late afternoon and I was at my favorite hang-out–outside the East Wall of the magnificent Temple of Jerusalem. It was the most used entrance, and, I also had the best vantage-point of any action–going in or coming out. I didn’t dare try to enter temple grounds: there are several areas inside the temple where gentiles are forbidden–under penalty of death–which was well-known to be among Herod’s favorite penalties! King Herod
(the Great) had not been feeling well lately–something about some unknown or undiagnosed malady causing him lots of pain. Anyway, I wasn’t going to chance raising his ire, even from a perceived transgression of sacred ground.
At this time I witnessed quite an arrival. It was a procession the size of one usually belonging to a visiting dignitary, however, all I observed was three stately-looking men in the lead. All of them dressed in garments resembling those worn in areas North and East of Judea. What set them apart immediately was their pants–typical of Babylonian and Persian areas, and almost never seen on Judeans. After some brief consultations at the gate with some priests of the Sanhedrin they entered–just the three of them. The remainder of the procession waited outside and gave care to their camels.
I approached the lead attendant of the remaining group. He was quite an affable man, named Azariah. His story definitely got my attention. The entire caravan had been on the road approximately 5 months. He wasn’t sure since he had nothing that measured days, weeks or even months. His approximation was based on cycles of the full moon. The men who led the caravan were called the Magi. They weren’t kings, but very learned men, scholars, who were extremely advanced in the study of movements of the stars. I mentioned “Astrologers”– but he never heard that word before. He added that their studies were proven accurate in predicting many different events.
“Azzie” ( my nickname for him–he liked it) added that unlike Kings or other members of nobility, the Magi mingled & spoke with common workers almost daily. They seemed to welcome inquisitive minds regardless of who they belonged to. The oldest was Melchior, with white hair and a long beard, then there was Gaspar, who looked the youngest since he was beardless with a ruddy complexion. The third was Balthazar, slightly older than Gaspar, but black-skinned with a heavy beard. My host said that when asked where they came from, the Magi would only admit to somewhere in the Babylonian region. This made sense to me because I heard that Babylonia was a world leader in knowledge of astronomy and astrology. Azzie didn’t know their origin because he wasn’t with them when the journey began. He lived in a small village, north of Babylon, less than halfway to the town of Mari, first city as you go northwest on the trade-route to Jerusalem. They reached his village in need of a lead attendant. The current lead-man became quite ill and would be unable to complete the trip. His family would be able to nurse the lead-man back to health while Azzie took his place–a fact that made him a front-runner for the job. The Magi cared about their workers and this set their minds at ease.
At this point I asked, “ Okay, but why was this trip even necessary? It’s not like Jerusalem was the other side of the world, but it’s still a five to six month trip! What was so important? The answer I got left me speechless! Bottom-line—the Magi had to come to Judea to pay homage to a newly born “king” of the Jews. The long awaited Messiah had been born! Needless to say, that answered my question–big-time! The obvious follow-up: “Azzie, how did they know? Did they tell you anything?”
The nicest thing about talking with Azzie is that he got right to the point. Politics or other considerations didn’t cloud his language. Anyone who knew anything about Jews knew about the Messiah. His coming has been fore-told for thousands of years. He was to be the great deliverer of the Jews…and all mankind! We sat down next to a small grouping of camels. Talking seriously while standing could have been construed as conspiratorial–certainly not something you would want next to the home castle of a vicious king.
Azzie began, “ Yes, my friend. They explained it to us, even though they knew we wouldn’t understand. You see, they, and all other wise men in their area, were familiar with Jewish prophecies about the messiah’s coming. Their study of the stars predicted to them WHEN he would be born! I didn’t know what was more amazing–the birth of a god among humans, or that the Magi could predict when it would happen! It has to do with some stars they had names for.” He took a deep breath and continued, “ The names were Saturn and Jupiter. Also, there’s another group of stars called Pisces, and when Saturn and Jupiter took the same position in the sky, appearing as one star, and entered Pisces together–that meant something very important was about to happen for the Jews”. I quickly jumped in asking, “Did they use the word conjunction?” With a quizzical look on his face he said, “I don’t know exactly–that sounds familiar. But the amazing thing was that they knew it would happen ahead of time! That’s right! They said that they could compute the movements of the stars. They actually started their journey before this first conjunction happened!”
I knew what a conjunction was, and that it was something that usually carried significance to an astrologer. Then I gave a short laugh, saying, “Azzie, relax a minute. Your explanation is wonderful! But, you said “first”–were there more?
“Oh yes”, he added, then quickly back-tracked, “..and no.” You see, they said they were expecting to see another one while they were in Jerusalem. We just arrived here and they haven’t seen it yet.” I didn’t know if he could answer my next query, but I asked it anyway, “Do you know what they are doing with the Sanhedrin? What might they know?” He answered with a wry smile, “ I’m not sure, but I think they want to know what the high-priests have heard about it, and, where the birth might be taking place. They said they have an idea where it might occur. Other than that, I only wish they would consult me before they do anything.” We both chuckled at that remark.His smile continued as he asked me, “ If you wish, you can come with us for the rest of our journey–if you don’t mind working as my assistant. The pay is, of course, minimal.
I replied, “Just sign me up–money is not the issue with this story! When do I start?
“Immediately. I need help cleaning up the camel dung”, he said laughingly.
“When we’re finished, you can head home and pack some things. Then come back here and sleep with us. I’m thinking that we’ll probably rest overnight and start our journey, wherever we’re going, in the morning. Plus, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get to know the camels–they can be quite finicky with strange faces.”
With that last comment, I gave him a quizzical glance. He picked up on my non-verbal cue and added, “Just be sure you’re talking to the right end–sometimes you cannot tell the difference!” We both laughed as I left.
Within a couple hours I returned. The magi had finished their business within palace walls and were seated around a small camp-site finishing, what appeared to be, a meager meal. Azzie introduced me, and, in a most unassuming manner, they invited me to sit, which I couldn’t wait to do. This invitation to sit was their recognition that I was welcome to join in their conversation. I thanked them for their action and asked them what had transpired in the palace. As was customary, the eldest–Melchior–spoke first.
“I realize that Azariah loves to converse with anyone who gives him the opportunity. So I assume that he’s given you the details about our trip?”
“Yes sir. And it’s an incredible story–one that needs to be told.”.
“Yes Bill, and I’m sure it will be, but first, I must ask you what you know about this King Herod? We’ve heard many things. However, we know better than to always go by rumors.”
“Very sound, sir. But all I can say, is that Herod is incredibly ruthless.”
I gave them Herod’s background and list of achievements, but finished with the following observation, “But, of course, anyone who ever disagreed with him, including members of his own family, came to a most disagreeable end.”
Balthazar noted, “We do understand, but remember, that this would be rather common among Kings.”
Gaspar jumped in, “Indeed, we must remember that all kings are not known for being open-minded.” Then he smiled as he added, “We are not surprised by your description of Herod, though he appeared quite intelligent in person. Usually, established kings are also very diplomatic.”
I quickly exclaimed, “You met King Herod? Did you tell him the purpose of your visit?”
Melchior answered, “Why yes. Only for a short time, but why hide our purpose? After all, we need a little more information and he helped us. Did we do something wrong?”
“I can not judge that, but, first–did you find out where the Messiah would be born?”
“Yes, and, fortunately it’s not far–only about four hours away. It’s a town called Bethlehem.”
“Well, lets hope Herod is very open-minded. He hates competition, and I think the Messiah might definitely qualify for that. But, I don’t want to cast any foreboding thoughts…not yet at least.”
Gaspar yawned and replied, “Excellent. Thank you. Well, maybe we can find out more from him in the morning. He insisted that we meet with him before we leave. With that last bit of news perhaps we should get some rest. Tomorrow will be very busy… and, perhaps, quite eventful.” He looked me directly in my eyes as he concluded,” Bill, thank you for your direct manner. My companions and I have to check the skies before turning-in.”
I returned his courtesy, “The pleasure of your conversation has been its own great reward. Goodnight.”
Fortunately, Bethlehem was close because the “short” morning meeting with Herod lasted the entire morning and into the early afternoon! But, Azariah had us pack everything so we were ready to go. When the Magi came out of the East Gate, they had some quick words with Azzie, then came over to me and quickly told me to ride with them.
As we journeyed South towards Bethlehem, I couldn’t help notice their faces taking on more of a “glowing” disposition–almost euphoric. I tired of waiting for them to give me the cues to talk, so I started things off: “Your Majesties…” (using this term as complementary; I knew they weren’t kings) “…if I didn’t know any better, I’d say things went well with Herod?”
Balthazar answered, “Not necessarily…not bad…not good. He wanted as much information as we could explain. I wasn’t sure if he was more interested in the ‘if’ as much as in the ‘when’ part of our calculations. Thanks to you we were prepared for dealing with his questions. But that’s not why we feel ecstatic.” He got this giddy grin on his face as he continued, “You see, last night we saw it again–the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn into Pisces happened again last night. It has MONENTOUS meaning.”
“And…”, I added, coaxing him to continue.
“And…that confirms our calculations! We know what will happen…I mean, what already has happened….HE IS BORN!”
I excitedly jumped in, “Did you mention this to Herod?”
“Yes, but it shouldn’t matter! He will be safe. After all, his father will protect him!”
He dug his heels into his camel to speed up. As all of us followed his action, he roared at us over the commotion– “Quickly–let us make haste.” His last exhortation made our spines tingle, as it would have for any mere mortal: “Tonight, with luck, we shall see God incarnate!”


Psalm 68:29: “Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee.

We arrived in Bethlehem about a couple hours before dusk. It was an amazing sight. A little hamlet–normally with only abut 1,000 inhabitants, had transformed into a crowded hub of humanity. This was because of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar’s order that all residents of Judea were to return to their home-land and register for a census. We could only guess that the total number of visitors to be a few thousand. The big question was how would we be able to find a newborn in all of this?
Melchior assigned us our tasks while he went to seek accommodations for the group. He returned in about thirty minutes and directed us to an open area we could use as a camp-site. While I worked with the other attendants setting up tents I noticed the Magi seriously discussing something. I couldn’t hear them. However, their euphoric visages of earlier were replaced by tense and worried looks, with some of their exchanges being a little “loud”. They waved me over to them. I arrived, and kept to the same tact of “extreme” courtesy I used before now. I looked at all of them directly, and said, “I would be honored if I can be of any service to you.”
“You can if you control the Heavens!”, said Melchior.
He continued, “We are perplexed as to how we find a man, his wife and a newly born infant in this sea of humanity!” Also, we trusted on seeing our conjunction “star” one last time. All our calculations, which have been totally correct and accurate until now, told us to expect it three times. We should have seen it by now.” Then displaying a slightly exasperated look, he added, “Gaspar, come with me. I’ll need your youthful energy to help find a local mid-wife. Perhaps she was involved in a local birth and might know where to find them. Balthazar, perhaps you and friend Bill wouldn’t mind drawing some water from the well.” As he finished his command he motioned to a nearby well. Both of us just mentioned one word: “Yes.”
It was only about ten steps to the well. Balthazar got there first. To his credit, and subsequent good fortune, he started drawing up the water, rather than waiting for the “commoner” to get there and do all the manual labor. I took in all the common motions associated with drawing water so I could be ready to grab the bucket from him when he got it to the top of the well.
Suddenly, he started some movements that were very puzzling. He stopped , moving his head forward into the opening. With his mouth open wide, he jerked his head back–looked up–then back into the well; up, then back again. He looked at me shouting laughingly, “ It’s here—it’s here!” Then he turned in the direction of the two departed Magi, “Melchior…Gaspar…come! It’s here!” He finished his exclamation by pointing upwards. After a few bewildering moments, they realized what Balthazar was referring to, and quickly moved toward us. As they arrived Balthazar shouted, “We were never wrong. It was here all along!” He brought Melchior over to the edge of the well–pointing into it–then directed the elder’s gaze up to an exact point of the sky. A huge grin enveloped the lower half of Melchior’s face, as he turned to me, with hands clasped together. Then, he placed his hand on my shoulder, pulled me to the edge of the well, pointed downwards, and said, “Praise God–friend–look there–in the water…at the bottom of the well!”
At first, when I looked into the bottom of the well, I didn’t notice anything. Then Melchior leaned over next to me, then said in a fatherly tone, “ I forget that you’re not a trained observer”. The he took my left arm at the base of my forearm, just above the elbow, saying, “Hold out your index finger.” He moved my arm straight up, then a little left. “There, you see it now? There, just above your index finger!” When I saw it…it was stunning. “How is it possible to see in at the bottom of the well, and not with normal observation?” He answered, “It’s something that we’ve only heard about, never seen–until now. The patriarch continued, “ What happened was that the star was always where it is, now. But the sunlight was so bright at this particular point in our world it blocked out any sight of the conjunction–even though it appears as one star, brighter than any other star in the sky. But the long, dark shaft of the well restricts the vast amount of bright light that was blocking our view. Also, the still water at the bottom is a perfect lens to capture the image. Now, Gaspar and Balthazar are calculating its exact position–we’re sure it will show us the way. Now, why don’t you and Azariah pass out some rations to the other men. The three of us must change into garments fit to meet a king! We all must hurry!”
The entire procession was and moving when dusk was over- taken by the early nighttime sky. I noticed the star was still visible, but much lower in the sky–and becoming dimmer! We arrived at our destination–only about 20 minutes from our encampment. As we walked towards a very basic structure resembling a small stable, or manger, I was overcome by humility. The night was incredibly still–hardly a sound. But the Magi, in their kingly attire, were breathtaking! In red, blue and purple satin robes with hats to match, anyone seeing this would think they were the true kings!
Yes, we all had the chance to see the newborn king. However, I must end the story here. This will sound somewhat dramatic, but subsequent events have cast an ominous shadow into my recounting.
Early this morning, the Magi and their procession bid me a fond farewell. Gaspar explained that over-night all the Magi had the SAME dream! According to him, they received a message from an angel warning them not to return home thru Jerusalem; that they should take another route and soon. This confirmed my fear that King Herod was somehow the reason for the warning. Therefore, I will not give any other details about visiting Jesus, the infant’s name, lest those details are used in ways to identify him. Despite the huge celestial birthday announcement, “stealth” should be the new by-word.
Also, I realized the true meaning of Balthazar’s words from the night before, when he said “…his father would protect him.” What occurred at the bottom of the well was not some chance occurrence. It was really God’s way of protecting his son. If the Magi knew what the star meant, then there would be others who would also know the meaning. What better way of protecting him than to hide the “messenger” of his birth. I laughed at the thought of it. The greatest event (possibly) in the history of the world, and its calling card could only be found…. at the bottom of a well!
To All of you: Have a Blessed and a Merry Christmas. Thank you for being readers!


By Bill Byrnes

      John 3:16:     For God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life!


…we can drink from a special brew..”

Those of us who are over 40 (& in my case-69)  are very fortunate at this time of year.  The reason–we can “drink” from a special brew. It’s a Yuletide formulation so potent that the first “sip” totally grabs control of your mind & transports you into other places & other times. The best part of it is no hang-over, no headaches, no nausea….no munchies! It’s just a total “mellowing-out”. Dickens was the first to popularize this notion  when he referred to it as the “Ghost of Christmases Past”.


There are also those who, unfortunately, feel just the opposite effect. Their Christmas-time reflections might trigger some awful, traumatic memories from the past, or just some case of  holiday  melancholy. I wish them only the best, with the hope that they can, at some point, start adding to the “plus” side of the holiday ledger of emotions.

Over the past several years each time that I’ve imbibed this Christmas brew one point has become very clear: the warmest and best memories are of giving. There’s few memories I have about receiving gifts. These are from when I was a toddler (and for any other guys my age–yes, my Robert The Robot broke right away too!). But, each episode of  my Christmas giving leads me down the same path: at times I’ve given a lot, other times, not as much–but I’ve never given everything!


The boy pictured above is not Bill Byrnes!

Now you know where I’m going with this story, especially given the quote from John. Will we ever be able to, even remotely, understand how much God loves us that he gave us his only son. He literally gave us EVERYTHING: his love, his Son, the path to everlasting life! He also gave us a special dessert, (for lack of better descriptions) let’s just call it “humble-pie”.

Just think about it: the birth of Jesus was the GREATEST event in the history of the world! This event even changed the perception of time: all years prior referred to as “B.C.”, years after his death as “A.D.”. Man’s greatest event and who on earth even knew about it? Just a handful of people for sure; but there were no announcements, no huge celebrations (by mortals), no emissaries, no banquets or parties. The only celebrants were Mary& Joseph, some shepherds & 3 Kings who followed a star. Talk about humble beginnings– the greatest Prince ever–and his first nap was, most likely, taken in an empty cattle-feeder! It was only fitting that years later, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus paid tribute to the humble multitudes.  Matthew 5:3;5:5:  “Blessed is the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”…”Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.”.


“…talk about humble beginnings…”!

The main advantage of enjoying this “Heavenly” pie is that it is always topped-off with an ample portion of pride. Once you’ve tasted humility, and swallowed your pride, any arrogance you might have dissipates and you truly appreciate the value of giving. You experience a richness of flavor to your life gained only by knowing that  acts of giving, no matter how  insignificant the object or effort , were truly their own reward when they enriched the lives of  others. Matthew 25:34; 25:40: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand ‘Come, you that are blessed by my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…because those of you who gave to the LEAST of  members of my family…gave to me!’”. 

So, this Holiday season, after the shopping and “endless” errands. Don’t forget to kick-back and enjoy whatever portion of Christmas Brew you’ve accumulated–and don’t forget at least a smidgeon of humble-pie. It’s a great combination! Better yet, it grows each Christmas…next year-you’ll have more!

Have a Blessed & Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday season!  Love to all of you!

Your Prescription is Ready!

By Bill Byrnes

As a tree gives fruit; healing words give life, but dishonest words crush the spirit.             Proverbs: 15:4

As we start another Holiday season, many start their annual ride on an emotional roller-coaster that includes, among other feelings, discouragement, hopelessness & depression. At the least, this mix can be confusing–at the most–devastating!


A lot of us who have ridden on this “highway to Hell”(myself included) have found a way off. It’s marked by a sign where “exit” is spelled with five letters: BIBLE! There’s no self-help here; no “…isms” or “…oias” for you to contend with. It’s a very simple, no-cost first step. Open a Bible to the Psalms.

Also referred to as “songs”, the Psalms consist of 150 short passages that have several themes .Many describe God’s reaction to the “afflicted” heart–his anti-depressants (so to speak). Probably the most familiar is Psalm 23: “…lay me down in green pastures…”; “…He is with me when I walk thru the Valley of Death…”, etc., BUT there are several others just as comforting.

So, for any of you about to start your ride on the “Holiday roller-coaster”, take a brief exit & pick up some “anti-depressants”– for example, try some portions of Psalm 37. Your prescription is ready! No insurance necessary!

Psalm 37:

1-9:       Don’t be upset because of evil people. Don’t be jealous of those who do wrong, because like the grass, they will soon dry up. Like green plants, they will soon die away. Trust the Lord and do good. Live in the land and feed on truth. Enjoy serving the Lord, and he will give you what you want. Depend on the Lord and he will take care of you. Then your goodness will shine like the noonday sun…Don’t be upset when others get rich or when someone else’s plans succeed. Don’t get angry or upset; it only leads to trouble,

11-13:      The meek shall inherit the earth and will enjoy complete peace. The wicked make evil plans against good people. They grind their teeth at them in anger. But the Lord laughs at the wicked because he sees that their day is coming.

16:18:26-28:      It is better to have little and be right than have much and be wrong. The Lord watches over the lives of the innocent, and their reward will last forever. Good people always lend freely to others and their children are a blessing. Stop doing evil and do good so you shall live forever. The Lord loves justice and will not leave those who worship him.

39-40:   The Lord saves good people, he is their strength in times of trouble. The Lord helps them and saves them; he saves them from the wicked because they trust in him for protection.

          And, like most other prescriptions, there are several additional treatments. Don’t forget the always popular (and comforting) Psalm 23. Perhaps, you can top-off your doses of Psalms 23 & 37 with some Psalm 91. They’re all good! Better still, your prescription has unlimited refills–no side-effects! Shop anytime–at your friendly neighborhood Bible–open 24/7 for the rest of your life! Just head for the aisle marked “Psalms”.


                                                             PSALM 91- Excepts

 2-9:   “The Lord is my refuge and my fortress. I will say to him ‘You are my God and I trust you’.  He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection. You will fear no danger at night or any arrows during the day. Don’t be afraid of diseases that come in the dark or illnesses that strike during the day. At your side, 1,000 people may die but you will not be hurt. You will only watch and see the wicked punished! You have made God your protection–your place of safety.”

10: 14-16:    “The Lord says ‘Whoever loves me I will save. Whoever knows me, I will protect. They will call me and I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will give them a long full life, and they will see how I can save’.”





by Bill Byrnes

Romans: 2:1-3: “If you think you can judge others, you are wrong. When you judge others, you are really judging yourself guilty because you do the same things they do. God judges those who do wrong, and we know that his judgment is right. You do wrong yourselves. Do you think you will be able to escape the judgment of God?”


With all the natural disasters occurring in the past few years haven’t most, or all of us “believers” been asking ourselves, “Is God punishing us?–and if so, why?” Yes, I’ve been wondering that too, and I’m glad that I never came up with any kind of answer… until recently.
What “lights my fuse” on any questions like these are the rants by the right-wing extremists who continue to misinterpret the Bible to suit their own political agendas and personal prejudices. Can’t you just hear them spouting their verbiage: “The reason God punishes us with this drought(or with all these tornados, fires, floods or whatever) is because this country recognizes Gay marriage”, and/or “…because this country favors abortions & birth control!” My favorite runs something like this: “God never intended America to be a socialist country and that’s where Obama is taking us”. (Note that they never say Pres. Obama!)
Well, to all the right-wingers who think like this–I hate to be the one to tell ya’ –but– YOU’RE WRONG!!! Furthermore, IF God is punishing us it’s because we STILL AREN’T doing what the Bible asks us to do!
Before I go any further, let me back-off a little and say that there’s MANY, wonderful, well-intentioned believers, conservatives (and being a conservative does NOT make them “bad” or misguided people), who espouse the extremist views mentioned above. My gripe is not with them, but with their religious leaders, who keep telling them what to think, instead of leading them to the Bible and letting the word of God help them with their decision making! I wonder if these are the same leaders backing the extreme right-wing GOP candidates who say they are disciples of Ayn Rand, a well-known, self-proclaimed ATHEIST?
So, maybe I don’t have all the credentials in front of my name that they do, but this much I can say: I read the Bible and I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior! And, these are the only credentials anyone needs to enter into this discussion, or any discussion about what the Bible says!

“And a voice came down from Heaven and said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, and with whom I am very pleased.’ ” Matthew:3:17

Make no mistake about it. When Jesus was born, life became a “whole new ball-game”, and he would be the umpire! “I have not come to destroy the law, or the prophets, but to fulfill the law”. Matthew:5:17. He simplified the voluminous Mosaic laws, and the Ten Commandments, into two simple rules that everyone could understand: Matthew:22:36-40: “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first & great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets.” Furthermore, Jesus taught that ALL sins are forgivable including speaking against him or the Father! The only sin that COULD NOT be forgiven: “…anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit, now or in the future.” Indeed, anyone could receive forgiveness, and therefore salvation, by accepting him. John:8:12: “I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will never live in darkness, but will have the light that gives life.” Jesus added to this thought with his metaphor comparing himself to a vine: John:15:1-2;4;7: “I am the true vine, my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit…Remain in me and I will remain in you. A branch cannot produce fruit alone, but must remain in the vine. In the same way…you must remain in me. If you remain in me and FOLLOW my teachings, you can ask anything you want and it will be given to you.”
Let me add this caveat: forgiving someone does not mean that you agree with them–or that you would do the same things. To me, forgiveness means that you accept the fact that true judgment of their actions is an issue best settled by God! Therefore, we MUST NOT judge others, or execute laws that punish others based upon our judgments.
Luke:6:37: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not and ye shall not be condemned. Forgive and ye shall be forgiven.”
With these thoughts in mind, I’ll ask this question: IF God is punishing us with these natural disasters who is he really punishing? Does it make sense to think he would punish us if we WERE following the teachings of Christ? In the opening paragraph, I said that I had not come up with any kind of an answer…until recently. My answer is this: IF God is punishing us with these natural disasters… then it’s because we, still, have NOT followed the teachings of his son! Don’t forget John: 7: “ If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want and it will be given to you.”. Conversely, if we do NOT follow Jesus’ teachings, “..(we)they are like a branch that is thrown away and then dies.”.
To the right-wing extremists: our country did not start going downhill when prayer was banned in public schools; it started when we stopped praying outside of school, and when we stopped reading the Bible and started relying upon others to do that for us!

Don’t Leave Home Without Him!


By Bill Byrnes

Part 2:  Don’t Leave Home Without Him  

“And deliver those, who through fear of death were all their lifetimes subject to its bondage.”Hebrews:2:15


Being afraid of death makes us part of the largest club in history. But, the opening quote from Hebrews really addresses the notion that we cannot be afraid to live! Now, let’s look at a quote from Ephesians: 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Now, we have it!

Being afraid of death should only make us afraid of going thru life without

attending to our natural “gifts”  from God which he has given us to do good works in the name of Jesus Christ; gifts and tasks which He ordained for each and every one of us before our birth! In short, maybe we’re afraid of dying because we feel we haven’t lived the type of life we should have lived to fulfill that “higher calling”.

Now, I won’t go off on any tangents about what your higher-calling might be–that’s your business. I mentioned that only as one possibility. Haven’t most (if not all) of us ever been confronted with a choice of doing what we “have to” do, as opposed to what we would like to do? Which path did you choose?

Well, I’ve “been there-done that”. And, I remember the mixed emotions I felt regarding my choices about taking the “Christian path”, or the profitable one.

Each of us will discover (if we haven’t already) how these paths will intersect. But, until that time, we must all trust in God (and Jesus) to show us the way. Despite the ups and downs, twists and turns, our only certainty is that we cannot understand the workings of HIS schema.  

          Don’t let your faith be compromised by hard choices! Remember–we must trust in God’s plan for each of us! Don’t forget that Christ’s resurrection means that there is hope for each of us. Despite the fact that we all must die—something far greater comes after the sting of death–and it will last for eternity! As a famous poem once concluded, “…you’re gonna’ be a long-time dead…” .

Regarding dying, then, we must face up to the only question that matters: Do we accept and believe that Jesus Christ IS our Lord and Saviour? As long as we believe the answer is a resounding, “YES”–our fears about death should subside. And, when we leave home each morning, we shouldn’t depart with fears about not coming home. It should be like the

T.V.  commercial’s “punch-line”:  “Don’t leave home without it”. Only our punch-line would be: DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT HIM!  




John:14:6: “Jesus said unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one cometh to the Father but by me.”




Author’s note:   A special thanks to Pastor Ted Max at Vale Community Church, Bloomington, Il., for his sermons on “Phillipians”. Those sermons inspired me to write this 2-part series. For more of his excellent work, go to