Saved by the Lamb

A tourist once was visiting a old church in Germany and was surprised when he looked up to see the carved figure of a lamb near the top of the church’s tower.

He asked someone from the church why it was there and was told that when the church was built, a workman fell from a high scaffold.  His co-workers rushed down from the top of the scaffold to the ground, expecting to find the man dead.  But to their great surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured.

How did he survive? A flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower at the time, and he landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved.

To commemorate that miraculous escape, someone carved a lamb on the tower at the exact height from which the workman fell.

We talk about mankind’s “fall”.  We use that term to describe our falling out of relationship with God, from our original sinless state.  At the same time that we fall out of that relationship with God and became guilty of sin, we fell into death.  We surely all would have died if not for the Lamb!

The Lamb Who Is Strong to Save

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for all that you have done for us in your atoning sacrifice!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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Attitudes and Motivations

It isn’t easy having a good attitude at work some days.  Mondays always seemed tough – after a couple of days off, it is hard getting out of bed early to go to a job that you may not like very much.  And of course, if it has been a three-day weekend, it seems twice as tough.  After being on vacation for an entire week or two or three?  You just as well hand me a pair of pliers and have me start yanking my teeth out one by one, or to pull out my tongue with said pliers.  I know what it is like in the secular world – I worked there for a long time!  It can also be that way in spades in a ministry position, too.

Where art thou, o motivation?!?!?!

How we view what we do is vitally important.  It gets to our attitudes and motivations – the reasons we do the things we do.  We often separate our faith life from our secular life and that’s a mistake.  As Christians, all of our life is to be centered around Jesus – and whatever we do is to be done for Him and His glory – not ours.  The following holds true whether you are talking about secular work or ministry work:

Someone has said there is a huge difference between having a job at church and having a ministry at church.

If you are doing it because no one else will, it’s a job. If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it’s a ministry.

If you’re doing it just well enough to get by, it’s a job. If you’re doing it to the best of your ability, it’s a ministry.

If you’ll do it only so long as it doesn’t interfere with other activities, it’s a job. If you’re committed to staying with it even when it means letting go of other things, it’s a ministry.

It’s hard to get excited about a job. It’s almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.

An average church is filled with people doing jobs. A great church is filled with people involved in ministry.

How do you view what you do in your church?  How do you view your daily work?  Whatever we do, in word or deed, we are to do it in such a way that we are presenting it to God as a gift!

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. – Ecclesiastes 9:10

PRAYER: Lord, it’s the middle of the week right now and we’re getting tired and worn down yet again.  Help us to have positive attitudes and godly motivations for what we do that people will be amazed at our effort and you can receive the glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

Essential Personnel

Recently, the city of Atlanta and other southern cites were hit with snowstorms the likes of which they’d not seen for years.  Traffic accidents were everywhere, people couldn’t get to work, schools were closed.  Governments issued warnings that all “non-essential personnel” should stay indoors and off the streets and highways.

We don’t live where it snows, but the phrase “essential personnel” is still familiar to us.  The phrase is trotted out whenever there is a shutdown of any sort, or even when there are layoffs.  It isn’t just snowstorms or floods, it happens with earthquakes in California, or when tornadoes tear p the mid-west and wreak havoc.  At such times, only “essential personnel” are needed.  That term in such conditions usually refers to maintenance people or road crews, ambulance drivers, fire fighters, electric and gas company workers, truck drivers – a whole host of service people who are taken for granted when things are running smoothly.  We call them “essential personnel.”

Essential Personnel ONLY

Think about that phrase.  Think about what it means to be essential personnel.  Then, if you want to be humbled, think about what it is like to be non-essential personnel.  Consider the fact that the world can go on without some of us – and ultimately it will go on without any of us!  The good news is that in the church we are all, or at least should be, essential personnel.  We are called to be a special group of people and to do some important things.  Everyone has been given a gift by the Spirit for what purpose?  For the “building up of the body.”  You may be the only person in your congregation with a particular spiritual gift.  And the simple truth is that the body won’t function at its maximum unless you are using your gift – whether you are the only one with it or not.

Don’t think you aren’t important to the local body.  You are important to God.  You were made just as you are because He needed you to be that way to serve in His kingdom.  You are “essential personnel” to the mission of Christ in your local congregation.  Be there so the body can function at its maximum capacity!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, that though we are created beings, you find value and use for each of us.  Help us to be all and do all that You desire for us to be and do!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

Evidence of Life

We live in a world that is dangerous – you don’t need me to tell you that.  It seems that in many ways, civilized people and nations have a hard time in correcting things that are wrong.  Can well-meaning people ever really end terrorism?  I don’t know – I doubt it.  I believe that hearts must be changed and that isn’t something that can be imposed from outside.  In Somalia, pirates hijack huge ships for ransom – and seemingly no one can stop it.  Others will kidnap leaders of companies, politicians, citizens of another country – and demand ransoms be paid for their freedom.  Those who negotiation for the release of such persons usually insist on proof of life, or evidence of life, before any ransom will be given.

 

Evidence of Life

Jesus is vitally interested in our life.  He wants us to die to ourselves so he can live out his life through us.  And that means we will grow to become more like Him.  Isn’t that what a disciple is?  Disciples study with a great teacher.  Scripture is very clear: we are to grown in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are to be transformed and conformed to His image.  Those who follow Christ must grow.  We are not going to bloom overnight into fully grown spiritual giants.  Dr. Dwayne Dyer said in his book, Your Erroneous Zones, “How do you distinguish between a flower that is alive and one that is dead? The one that is growing is alive. The only evidence of life is growth.” So it is with the life of the Spirit.

 

One well-known evangelist has noted that despite the statistics that suggest a burgeoning church, the church today is not growing.  It is merely getting fat. That is, persons are coming into the church but they are remaining spiritual babes. They are not growing. “We are simply multiplying spiritual babies,” he charges. To be alive is to grow. Peter encourages us “to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3: 18).

What are you doing to grow?  How much effort are you making to get good nutrition (the Word), good counsel (the Spirit) and exercise (service and ministry) in your goal of becoming Christ-like?

PRAYER: God, we want to be alive for you, to live for you, to become like you!  Don’t let us settle into complacent lives that are content with being lukewarm!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

NOTE: Interested in an evangelical Christian web site that explores issues of faith as it relates to daily living?  Check out the Evangelical Christian Internet gateway on Patheos.

The Great Gospel Mystery

27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. – Colossians 1:27 , ESV

In his book, He Has Made Me Glad, Ben Patterson describes what he calls the “twin children of grace: gratitude and joy.  In the Greek language, grace, gratitude and joy all are related by the same root.  Grace is from charis, gratitude is eucharista, and joy is chara. He goes on to describe what Frederick Buechner called the “crucial eccentricity” of the Christian faith, which is the very unique and odd thing which the Father does to forgive sinners: “he doesn’t give them the bad things they deserve but the incredibly good things they don’t deserve.  The great gospel mystery is not that bad things sometimes happen to good people, but that such a good thing has happened to bad people.  The guilty and broken have discovered that ‘While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8).  What else can we be but grateful?…Grace evokes gratitude like the voice of an echo.  Gratitude follows grace like thunder lightning.”

One of the greatest hurdles that unbelievers have to overcome (and believers, too, for that matter) is that bad things happen to “good people.”  From a biblical standpoint, there are no “good people” because we “have all gone astray”, “there is none good.”  I can understand the hurdle, though.  There are responses to help overcome the hurdle, but they still require faith.

The simple and amazing point of grace is the opposite: that something as wonderfully good and incredible has been done for those who were “bad people” – and that’s all of us.

Therein is the mystery and glory of God and of His gospel.  Amazing, isn’t it?

PRAYER: Glory to You, Lord!  We rejoice in Your goodness to us, that You have given us Your great and wonderful grace, even at the price of the life of Your Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dragonfly Holiness

Author and blogger Karen Spears Zacharias has a way with words and is a delightful read.  In a recent blog post, she described an encounter she had with a dear friend whose body was wracked by terminal cancer and who faced imminent death.  Here’s a re-telling of a portion of their conversation:

“Think of me whenever you see a dragonfly,” she said shortly before dying.

“Why the dragonfly?” I inquired, curious. There had been no special mention of dragonflies between us prior to then. No hilarity over their wickedly-tapered beings or shared wondering over their translucent nature.

“Because,” she answered, “they have to leave the familiar waters to get their wings.”

As humans, we are much like those dragonflies.  Due to our fleshly bodies, we are prone to certain actions.  There are things that our bodies and human natures are very familiar with – sin, giving in to temptation, anger, jealousy, envy, self-interest.  Those are the familiar waters that we must leave behind if we are to “get our wings.”

We have a long journey to make from the natures we were born with to the nature and mind of Christ that God wants us to have.  Our nature must be changed, we must put off one nature so that the new nature can live in power.  Just as the dragonfly larvae must leave the water of their origin to get their wings, we must leave the old man behind and become new creatures in Christ.  How’s your journey going?

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NIV)

PRAYER: Give us the courage to be willing to leave our natural human natures behind so we can be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/10/11: Despair and Discouragement

NOTE: This is the first test DayBreaks at the WordPress.com blog site….bear with us as we work out any kinks…

Despair and Discouragment

God created our emotions – all of them.  And all of them have their proper place and use.  Some emotions help us stay alive when we are threatened (fear), some help us make commitments and keep them (love), and still others help us cope with life in other ways.  Of all human emotions, two of the most dangerous and deadly are despair and discouragement.

Do you know how the great composer Tchaikovsky died?  While there are multiple versions of the story, one of them that is attributed to a reliable source says the end of Tchaikovsky’s life was determined four days after one of his symphonies received an unfavorable reception in St. Petersburg. The great composer was apparently despondent over the critique of his work, and even though he was already feeling ill, he deliberately drank a glass of unboiled water in the middle of a cholera epidemic.  His friends who saw him do this were shocked and appalled.  When they expressed their alarm, Tchaikovsky told them that he was less afraid of cholera than other illnesses.  Cholera, however, was not a respecter of persons and within a mere 4 days, he died of the disease.

This was a sad and tragic death – needless and useless.  That one of the world’s leading composers should have died by such a foolish and fatalistic act is shocking.

There are spiritual parallels that we need to consider.  There are people everywhere who are slowly killing themselves because they have grown hopeless about their lives and they are ready to give in to the despair they feel.  They may not drink unboiled water but they are killing themselves nonetheless by pursuing unhealthy lifestyles, taking pointless and senseless risks, they are being crushed by oppressive stress – all because they have lost any and all hope.

Change is possible.  Redemption is available, and there is hope as long as there is Jesus – and there is always Jesus!  With Jesus, all things, including rebounding from despair and discouragement is possible.  He offers us hope, peace and joy.  To a large extent, whether we will have peace and joy or despair and discouragement depends on how much trust we have in Christ.

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:11, NLB

PRAYER: Lift us from our lives of despair.  Help us to trust in Your wisdom to choose what is right and best for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

For an archive of the past DayBreaks, click here:  DayBreaks Archive