DayBreaks for 4/29/11 – A Slob Like One of Us

DayBreaks for 04/29/11 – A Slob Like One of Us

It was back in 1996 that Joan Osborne released a pop song that hit the charts.  What was unique about this song was the question it kept posing: what difference would it make if God were one of us, “just a slob like one of us” is how she put it.  There were those, myself included, who at the time thought this was at the very least bordering on the sacrilegious.  Then I realized that many, including his family and neighbors, thought Jesus was sacrilegious.  They couldn’t come to grips with Jesus’ claims to be the Divine Son of God.  They couldn’t reconcile their memories this runny-nosed boy that they remembered from his childhood with the picture they had of God as “one of us.”

There was reason that they struggled to accept it.  It all started out with rumors of his parentage, of family members who believed he was insane.  They struggled to believe that if he were truly God, that people would have rejected him – especially the religious leaders who should be able to recognize God if he did, indeed, appear in our midst.  The crucifixion, of course, sealed it for others – no righteous man, let alone God, would die on a tree as a criminal.

Joan Osborne wasn’t the first to struggle with the dilemma.  St. Augustine put it in more beautiful prose when he said “Man’s maker was made man the He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused of false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.”

Ms. Osborne, I’ve got news for you.  God did become a “slob like one of us” in the sense that He totally and completely entered into our existence and our experience.  He immersed Himself in it and drank it to the dregs.  If you want to know what it would be like if God became one of us, look at Jesus.

PRAYER: Our Great High Priest, thank you for identifying yourself with us, for bearing not only your own griefs, but ours, too.  You are beautiful!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 4/28/11 – A Step Beyond the Range of Light

DayBreaks for 04/28/11 – A Step Beyond the Range of Light

Walking in the light, trusting Him in the darkness...

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 

In the 14th century, a French monk told an allegory about a donkey who was confronted with two equally desirable, attractive and delicious bales of hay.  The animal stares, hesitates, stares some more…and eventually starves because it couldn’t come up with any logical justification for eating one bale of hay instead of the other.

On the surface the story is entertaining, but it holds very real meaning for believers.  For faith to even exists, there must be an element of risk.  If something is certain, no faith is required.  For example, if you are certain that when you jump up off the ground you will not drift off into the deep freeze of space, you can jump in full faith/certainty that you’ll come down again.  But if it were a 50/50 proposition, would anyone ever jump up?  We have faith in the law of gravity.

Some things in life are nowhere near as certain (at least on the surface) as the Law of Gravity.  There are those who struggle with making a decision about whether to believe or not.  It becomes much like the dilemma faced by the donkey – they just don’t have enough certainty to move towards faith, or away from it.  That middle ground is the most dangerous place to be because there is no passion in the relationship with God…it has become an intellectual dilemma and nothing more.  Faith that is seen as a puzzle to be solved is not biblical faith.

Philip Yancey suggests that “Faith means striking out, with no clear end in sight and perhaps even no clear view of the next step.  It means following, trusting, holding out a hand to an invisible Guide.  …faith is reason gone courageous – not the opposite of reason, to be sure, but something more than reason and never satisfied by reason alone.  A step always remains beyond the range of light.”

Are you venturing beyond the range of light?  If you wait for certainty, you will never have it.  Those who come to Him must believe He is the rewarder of those who seek Him…a premise accepted on faith, for there is little in this world to prove the nature of the reward.  That proof remains to be seen…but today can be glimpsed only through seeing beyond the range of light visible to human eye.

PRAYER: Let us leap into Your arms in faith and not hesitate simply because we are not certain of things we cannot see!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 4/27/11 – Loyal In Spite

DayBreaks for 04/27/11 – Loyal In Spite

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. – Isaiah 42:1-3

Loyal

I know a few people who never seem to have doubts about their faith.  For them, faith just seems to come naturally.  It doesn’t seem to need any watering or cultivating – perhaps they have the gift of faith.  My own faith has not always come that simply.

I know that we are to be like little children – trusting, not worrying about what our Father can or will provide.  I wish that I were that way more often.

I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone with the doubts that have at time caused me to ponder the reality of the Christian claims.  I don’t feel that I’m weaker for having explored those questions – quite the contrary – I feel I’ve grown through those explorations.

The church in many places and times, has judged harshly anyone who admitted to doubts.  Philip Yancey, in Reaching for the Invisible God, wrote: “Reading the biographies of great people of faith, I must search to find one whose faith did not grow on a skeleton of doubt, and indeed grow so that the skeleton eventually became hidden.  In his novel The Flight of Peter Fromm, Martin Gardner has a professor suggest that today’s intellectually honest Christian must choose between being a truthful traitor or a loyal liar.  Adam, Sarah, Jacob, Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, Thomas, Martha, Peter and many other characters in the Bible demonstrate a third category: the loyal traitor, who questions, squirms, and rebels yet still remains loyal.”  It was the next sentence that really struck me: “God appears far less threatened by doubt than does His church.”

There are many who, driven to despair by doubt they felt they could not express for fear of being ostracized, walk away from the church.  Would it not be better to bring those doubts into the Light and in a loving, caring way explore them?  There are also many who have brought their doubts up only to be criticized for it…and then they walk away from the faith.

For me, I’m comfortable in the company of Adam, Sarah, Jacob, Job, Jeremiah, Johan, Thomas, Martha and Peter.  The Lord was comfortable with them, too.  

PRAYER: We are all bruised reeds and smoldering wicks, Lord Jesus!  Thank you for your patience and tenderness with our frailties!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 04/26/11 – The First Question

DayBreaks for 04/26/11 – The First Question

You shall have no other gods before me. – Exodus 20:3

It seems that many Christians are in to hypothetical questions.  One of the most popular might be something along this line: If you were told you would be shot if you don’t deny Christ, what would you do?  Would you go ahead and die?  We all know precisely how we would like to answer that question – even what our answer should be.  But the simple fact of the matter is that we just don’t know for sure what we’d do under those circumstances until, and if, we ever face them.  It can get worse, too: what if they weren’t threatening to kill you, but had a gun to the head of your child or spouse?  What then?

I don’t know why, but when we are dealing in hypotheticals, we leap to the worst possible case scenario.  We don’t have to go that far to learn some things about ourselves and what is really in our hearts.  For example, remember the rich young man who came to Jesus claiming he wanted to inherit eternal life, boasting about his having kept the commandments since he was a kid?  Jesus told him to go and sell all he had and give it away to the poor and then come follow him.  And the young man’s face fell and he walked away sad “because he had great possessions.”

Here’s the scenario/hypothetical: What if Jesus asked you or I to do that? Would we?

Again, from Radical, David Platt suggests we’re chasing down the wrong question again.  The FIRST question we need to wrestle with is not whether we’d sell what we own and give it away to follow Jesus, but this one: Is Jesus Lord?

There is a question that should come before all others...is He Lord?

If he is Lord, then no matter what he asks of us, we are duty bound (if we are to be disciples) to do it.  

PRAYER: Reveal our false gods to us, those things in our lives that we bow our knees to rather than to your Lordship, Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 04/25/11 – The Mistaken Message of Christianity

DayBreaks for 04/25/11 – The Mistaken Message of Christianity

The message needs to be clear...

Suppose for just a second that someone came up to you and asked you to explain in a single sentence what the message of Christianity is, what it’s all about.  What would you say?  There would probably be many who might say it is something along these lines: “God loves you and died to save you,” or “God loves me.”  Would those be right answers?

Yes and no.  If one had asked how God feels about you or others, they would be correct.  But are they really the main message of the Christian faith?

In his book, Radical, David Platt suggests that these are not the main point of Christianity at all.  And I think his point is well taken.  What’s wrong with those statements?  They focus on ME.  “God loves ME” or “God loves YOU”…taking the focus off of the real subject matter, Jesus!  Platt goes on to suggest that the typical answer that is given is an incomplete painting of the portrait of Christianity.  The main message should better be stated “God loves me so that I can make His glory, ways, His salvation known among the nations.”

Christianity has never really been about us.  It has always been about Jesus – the God made flesh, the God-man, the Redeemer and Savior of all who trust in Him.  To make myself or any other human the main point is idolatry.

Max Lucado wrote a book not too long ago and titled it, It’s Not About Me.  I suspect that he would strongly agree with David Platt.

Maybe you need to rethink your answer to someone who asks you what Christianity is about. It’s not about me – it’s about the world coming to know the only Truth that can set them free!

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. – Mark 16:15-16

PRAYER: Help us to represent You clearly and fairly to the world that they may know Your greatness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 04/22/11 – The Grave of Christ

DayBreaks for 04/22/11 – The Grave of Christ

The Empty Tomb

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. – Matthew 28:1-8

From Calvin Miller’s Once Upon a Tree:

The grave of Christ – resplendent blight –

Where Easter came to spend the night

Has left us squinting at the sight

To shade our eyes against such light

And cry he is alive and so are we!

Hallelujah!

PRAYER: Hallelujah, Lord Jesus!  To You be glory and honor and praise forever more!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 4/21/11 – The Smell of Eternity

DayBreaks for 04/21/11 – The Smell of Eternity

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. – Isaiah 57:15

The following was written by an unknown Christian woman: “It was a day when the threat of rain hung in the air.  I drove up to a drive-through market in Stony Brook, Long Island, to buy milk and was waited on by a man wearing a turban.  Handing me my change through the car window, he said, with the trace of an Indian accent, “Ah!  The smell of eternity is in the air.”

I was impressed, assuming his mystical words were either the Indian equivalent of “It feels like rain,” or a philosophical observation akin to “The end is near.”  I smiled politely and said nothing.

But he continued, “Eternity,” he repeated.  “Aren’t you wearing Calvin Klein Eternity perfume?”

This is a funny story, but it illustrates several key things for us:

FIRST: things aren’t always what they seem – as the disciples found out on a Sunday morning 2000 years ago.

SECOND: up until Jesus rose from the dead, a far different scent permeated the air of this planet – the smell of death.  It hung heavy over all of humanity like a second skin, one that couldn’t be washed off of peeled away.  But on Easter morning, the scent of eternity burst forth from a tomb near Jerusalem and has filled not only the air but our hearts ever since.

THIRD: as each day passes, the scent of eternity should grow more and more pronounced.  Time is passing, my friends…and each day pulls us that much closer to the dawning of our eternity.  We must make proper preparations for it!

FOURTH: I would hope that as we traverse the ridges and valleys of this life that the scent of eternity around us grows stronger and that we’ll share it with others.

PRAYER: Lord, you are beautiful!  Let us reflect your beauty and bear your loveliness to the nations and those who surround us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 04/20/11 – Our Fair and Lovely Hope

DayBreaks for 04/20/11 – Our Fair and Lovely Hope

There is only One Way and One Source for HOPE...

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope…- 1 Timothy 1:1

This past week I was in a meeting with some other pastors and we were discussing a passage of Scripture and how timely and wonderful the message was.  There are passages of Scripture that whisper to us in our discomfort and renew our souls.  Most of those passages are promises that God has given to us to encourage us along the way.  One such passage is Psalm 23 – a passage that is perhaps more beloved than any other section of Scripture because it is a passage of hope and comfort.

Words rightly constructed and used are beautiful and, as the Hebrews believed, have great power.  They viewed the spoken word to be akin to an arrow that was loosed from the bow and which flew out into the air: once released, it could never be recalled until it fulfilled the purpose for which it was sent.

Not too long ago, I came across a beautiful piece illustrating the beauty of words from an ancient Syrian Orthodox Liturgy that I want to share with you during this week leading to Easter.  Here it is: How fair and lovely is the hope which the Lord gave to the dead when he lay down like them beside them. Rise up and come forth and sing praise to him who has raised you from destruction.

What is the “fair and lovely” hope which the Lord gave to the dead?  It was giving them himself in death, lying down beside them Himself, becoming like them in death, so that when He rose up again in life, we can become like Him.  As Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:1 above, Christ Jesus IS our hope!

PRAYER: There’s a great day coming, Lord, and we join with the martyrs under the altar is crying, “How long, Lord Jesus?”  Even as we eagerly await the promises of the new world and everlasting righteousness in all things, help us to persevere with patience!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 04/19/11 – Why Christians Can’t Wait

DayBreaks for 04/19/11 – Why Christians Can’t Wait

Its hard to wait when you know the best is just ahead...

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:26

Have you ever noticed how so many Christians seem to be impatient?  They are very frequently impatient with the faults and failings of others – including their brothers and sisters in the Lord’ family.  They are impatient with themselves for not being more sanctified than they are at the present moment.  They are impatient with a world that is full of pain and aggravation and suffering and injustice.  Why is that?

I am sure that there are probably many reasons, but I believe that Jurgen Moltman, in his work, Theology of Hope, has hit upon perhaps one of the greatest reasons: “If Paul calls death the “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26), then the opposite is also true: that the risen Christ, and with him the resurrection hope, must be declared to be the enemy of death and of a world that puts up with death. That is why faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest, not patience but impatience . …Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is.”

It is the Christian hope itself that causes patience at some level.  We know we, and others, are not what we ought to be – and we are impatient for the completion of our sanctification in glory above.  We know that this world is full of suffering and we long for the injustices and hatred and killings and brutality to be done – and that will only happen when the trumpet blast pierces the air and the Lord descends with a great shout.  We long for the fullness of redemption – not just for ourselves, but for all things.  And it is the resurrection and the promises it holds for us that evokes our impatience.  We know something better awaits – and we are eager for it!

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

PRAYER: There’s a great day coming, Lord, and we join with the martyrs under the altar is crying, “How long, Lord Jesus?”  Even as we eagerly await the promises of the new world and everlasting righteousness in all things, help us to persevere with patience!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 04/18/11 – Cape of Storms

DayBreaks for 04/18/11 – The Cape of Storms

The Cape of Storms becomes the Cape of Good Hope

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1 Peter 1:3-5

For many centuries, the southernmost point of Africa has experienced horrifying storms.  The storms were often so severe there that for many years no one even knew what lay beyond that point of land, for no ship that had attempted to navigate around that point had ever returned to tell the tale. It should not be surprising that the ancients had a name for it: the “Cape of Storms.” Finally, in the 16th century, a brave Portuguese explorer by the name of Vasco De Gama successfully sailed around that point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was then changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope.

Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the cape of storms on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on Easter morning Christ moved past that point and showed us the glory that lay beyond. His disciples trembled in fear, even after seeing evidence of His resurrection. Eventually, Christ turns their Cape of Storms into a Cape of Good Hope with His appearance and the peace He brings.

May He turn this day into a Day of Good Hope and your life into a song of praise!

PRAYER: We give you glory and praise, Lord God Almighty, for conquering death and giving us the one, true Good Hope!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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