DayBreaks for 6/18/19 – Practical Atheism

 

DayBreaks for 06/18/09: Practical Atheism

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

George Barna is a Christian “poll-taker” who researches attitudes of and about Christians and Christianity.  His findings are often very insightful – and often downright frightening.

In a recent article he was being interviewed about the 7 “faith tribes” in America (which includes all the major world religions), Barna noted that 66% of Americans are what he called, “casual Christians” and 12% were “captive Christians.”  Here’s how he described “casual Christians” and their brand of Christianity: “Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.”  The key attraction to be a casual Christian: “The comfort that this approach provides. It offers them life insights if they choose to accept them, gives them a community of relationships if they desire such, fulfills their inner need to have some type of connection with a deity, and provides the image of being a decent, faith-friendly person. Because Casuals do not view matters of faith as central to one’s purpose or success in life, this brand of Christianity supplies the multi-faceted levels of satisfaction and assurance that they desire.”

Captive Christians, on the other hand, are characterized as follows: “Captive Christians are focused on upholding the absolute moral and spiritual truths they glean from the Bible…The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.”

Tony Woodlief, writing in the April 28 issue of WORLD in an article titled “Practical Atheism”, was considering the same topic when he wrote: ‘“Hypocrisy in one age,’” warned Joseph Addision, ‘“is generally succeeded by Atheism in another.’”  Consider this in light of charges that America is becoming, according to a Trinity College survey, less Christian.  It’s not that Americans are converting to other religions, it’s that they are more willing to avow nothing.”  He continued: “What we are in danger of – in our country, in our churches, in ourselves – is practical atheism.  This is not considered embrace of godlessness.  It is instead the slow slide into lives where God is irrelevant…Practical atheism isn’t limited to people who abandon church; it extends to all we who drift from Christ, even as we dutifully attend Sunday services.  It’s in the brief morning prayer that eventually becomes no prayer at all.  It’s in the way we emulate men rather than the God-man.  It’s in the way we brood, as if the things that vex us don’t pass through the hands of a loving God.”

‘Nuff said.  Let us beware, however, of the tendency to bemoan practical atheism and jumping to the conclusion that we are not part of that 66% of “casual Christians”.  Let us invite the Spirit to search our hearts and determine if we uphold Biblical truth, if our worldviews are built around core spiritual beliefs and resultant values, if we define a successful life as an obedient one, or just a comfortable one that allows us to wear a label without having to pay for it. 

Prayer: Search our hearts, O God, and reveal to us the depth of our own depravity, revealing to us the shortcomings in our own practice of faith.  May we consider deeply the questions of faith and obedience and the consequences of practical atheism in our own lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/17/19 – It’s the Little Things

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DayBreaks for 6/17/19: It’s the Little Things

From the DayBreaks archive: June, 2009

I’m not good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries or dates when special things have happened.  Just ask my wife.  She is wonderfully tolerant of me, and after years of marriage, has come to understand that there’s a good chance that I’ll forget something special about any given day.  Still, I try to remember and do something special on her birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary or some other special day.  And, bless her heart, it doesn’t have to be some “big” thing.  In fact, she’ll often say something to the effect that “It’s the little things that matter.”  What she’s trying to say is that if it is a little thing I thought of and it came from my heart, she’d rather have that than something that means nothing to me – or to her. 

Truly, little things matter.  Sometimes they matter a great deal.  We love to visit Civil War battlefields, for example: Manassas (Bull Run), Antietam and Gettysburg.  In anticipation of those visits, I’d researched those battles.  I am most fascinated by Gettysburg – I’ve been there twice and can’t wait to go again.  The battle there raged for 3 days with over 50,000 casualties.  Lincoln was right when he called it “hallowed ground.” 

I can’t help but think about the battle and how it waxed and waned…how it could have been avoided or won or lost by one small decision, a choice, that could have gone either way.  No one planned for a battle there – the Confederate troops went to Gettysburg because they heard that there were shoes to be had in the town – and many of the troops were marching without shoes.  So, a decision to go there to seek shoes, of all things, led into the greatest battle ever fought on American soil. 

Consider the Confederates decision not to push the attack at the end of the first day when they had overwhelming advantages in numbers.  By that one decision, it gave the Union troops time to get to Gettysburg and settle upon the high ground – easily defensible.  Consider the Union commander’s decision to deploy troops on a hill (Little Round Top) at the southern end of the area, where no fighting had taken place.  Some of the fiercest fighting would occur there on day two, and if the Union troops had not been present and held their ground, the entire Union army would have been flanked and the war would most likely have been over.  Consider Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line on day three, believing that they’d break there – in spite of the advice of his “war horse” General Longstreet – who said such an attack would be disastrous – and it was, as Pickett’s charge failed with horrendous loss of life.

Single decisions.  Thousands of lives affected forever.  History changed.  Reputations made or destroyed.  Life is like that.  And here’s perhaps the scary thought: spiritual decisions have eternal ramifications, not just ramifications for our three-score and ten years.  What kind of decisions are you making?  Where will they lead you?  What will their effect be on those around you – and on those you love – both now and beyond the grave?

Prayer: Lord, we cannot know the full impact of the decisions we make on ourselves, let alone on others, so we pray for Your wisdom to guide our decisions and make them wise.  May we honor Your will with the choices we make this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/14/19 – The Most Frequently Spoken Word in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 6/14/19: The Most Frequently Spoken Word in Heaven

What is your conception of heaven? Do you picture it as some sort of ethereal, cloudy, up-in-the-air-somewhere existence? You probably don’t picture it as floating around on a cloud with a harp, but you might picture it as a place where all that happens is singing praises 24×7 in a world where 24×7 is meaningless because time is no more. While I deeply love worship, I certainly hope there’s more to it than that – and I think it will be much more than that!

You know what I look forward to? Meeting Jesus and loved ones and great people of faith from all the ages are part of it, and I hope that my beloved pets will be there. But what I really look forward to is learning constantly and getting answers to the things that I don’t understand while I’m limited by my finite mind and the view from this world’s portal.  

C.S. Lewis once said that the most frequently spoken word in heaven would be, “OH.” As in, “Oh, now I understand.” Or, “Oh, now I see what God’s plan was.” Or, “Oh, now I see the reason for the trial I went through.”

Can you identify with that? I sure can.

We are told that God’s plan will work out for us for the good if we love him. But that doesn’t mean we understand why babies are stillborn, why someone kills one of our children in an act of violence, why cancer stalks us or why we are rejected and cast out. I honestly don’t think we’ll know those answers until we get to heaven. I suspect I’ll be saying “Oh!” a lot. For now our challenge is to trust him that all that happens is meant for our good and not our harm.

Jeremiah 29:11 (CSBBible) – For I know the plans I have for you—this is the LORD’s declaration—plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

PRAYER: Give us patience and perseverance, Lord, until the answers to our confusion are made clear! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/13/19 – Dihydrogen Monoxide and Truth

DayBreaks for 6/13/19: Dihydrogen Monoxide and Truth

School’s out. Summer’s here. Kids have been waiting for this for weeks. All summer and nothing but swimming, riding their bikes, endlessly playing video games, and vacations. While kids live in that world this summer we adults will be living in another. There is the economy and the struggle to keep Wall Street and Main Street happy and accountable at the same time. There are conflicts within our nation, not to mention the conflicts between nations.

If there is one thing I have learned in life it’s that everybody has their own version of the truth.

And we have to try and find the truth among all the “truths” that present themselves to us. It is very hard these days to know who to believe. Everyone is trying to lead us to their version of truth. In 1997, Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair by showing how conditioned we have become to alarmists spreading fear of everything in our environment through junk science. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical “Dihydrogen monoxide” because:

  1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
  2. It is a major component in acid rain.
  3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
  4. Accidental inhalation can kill you.
  5. It contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape..
  6. It decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes.
  7. It is found in tumors of terminal cancer patients.

He asked 50 people if they support a ban.

43 said yes

Six were undecided

And only one knew that dihydrogen monoxide is … water.

We are afraid of looking ignorant so we are prone to believe anything.

Truth. Pontius Pilate asked his wife: “What is Truth?” Little did he know it was standing right in front of him. It’s a question that plagues everyone who tries to do the right thing.

When it comes to questions about life and its meaning, you will hear many who claim to have the answer. But doesn’t it make sense that the only one who really knows is the one who created life in the first place?

Don’t fall for the “fake truth” that our culture tries so hard to sell us. Settle for THE truth and you’ll never go wrong.

John 14:4b-6 (ESV) – Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

PRAYER: May your love shine on us, God, so that there will be peace in our family and on the earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/12/19 – The Rock and the Sunlight

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DayBreaks for 6/12/19: The Rock and the Sunlight

I love a quotation and paraphrase of Martin Luther: “Can a rock that has been in the sunlight all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night?”

Think about it: a rock that has been in the warmth and heat of the sun all day will not fail to give off warmth and heat. In the same way, can a Christian who has lived in the sunlight of God’s love not fail to give off warmth and love? No. That is why it is so important that we have first things first. It’s pointless to others to just say, “Start loving each other. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice.” No, no, no – that will not work. First, we need to live in the sunlight of God’s love. We need to bake in the sunlight of God’s compassion. We need to absorb God’s light into us. And then…we start to give off the love that has warmed our hearts.

This is why all the love songs and peace songs that were ever sung have never resulted in real peace or love. Without the Sonlight of God’s love to thaw out our frozen hearts and fills them with the warmth of God that changes us so we can love others as he has loved us, there will be no lasting change in this world. PRAYER: May your love shine on us, God, so that there will be peace in our family and on the earth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/11/19 -The King is Listening

DayBreaks for 6/11/19: The King is Listening

In a far country lived a band of minstrels who traveled from town to town presenting music to make a living. They had not been doing well. Times were hard; there was little money for common folk to come to hear the minstrels, even though their fee was small. Attendance had been falling off, so one evening the group met to discuss their plight. ‘I see no reason for opening tonight,’ one said. ‘To make things even worse than they may have been, it is starting to snow. Who will venture out on a night like this?’ ‘I agree,’ another disheartened singer said. ‘Last night we performed for just a handful. Fewer will come tonight. Why not give back their meager fees and cancel the concert? No one can expect us to go on when just a few are in the audience.’ ‘How can anyone do his best for so few?’ a third inquired. Then he turned to another sitting beside him. ‘What do you think?’ The man appealed to was older than the others. He looked straight at his troupe. ‘I know you are discouraged. I am, too. But we have a responsibility to those who might come. We will go on. And we will do the best job of which we are capable. It is not the fault of those who come that others do not. They should not be punished with less than the best we can give.’ Heartened by his words, the minstrels went ahead with their show. They never performed better. When the show was over and the small audience gone, the old man called his troupe to him. In his hand was a note, handed to him by one of the audience just before the doors closed behind him. ‘Listen to this, my friends!’ Something electrifying in his tone of voice made them turn to him in anticipation. Slowly the old man read: ‘Thank you for a beautiful performance.’ It was signed very simply–‘Your King.’

Your King hears every song and cry of your heart – he never misses a word.

PRAYER: Thank you for how closely you pay attention to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/10/19 – Someone Who Loves You

DayBreaks for 6/10/19: Someone Who Loves You

In his book, Disappointment with God, writer Philip Yancey relates a touching story from his own life. Once while visiting his mother–who had been widowed years earlier before Philip’s first birthday–they spent the afternoon together looking through a box of old photos. A certain picture of him as an eight-month-old baby caught his eye. Tattered and bent, it looked too banged up to be worth keeping, so he asked her why, with so many other better pictures of him at the same age, she had kept this one.

Yancey writes, “My mother explained to me that she had kept the photo as a memento, because during my father’s illness it had been fastened to his iron lung.” During the last four months of his life, Yancey’s father lay on his back, completely paralyzed by polio at the age of twenty-four, encased from the neck down in a huge, cylindrical breathing unit. With his two young sons banned from the hospital due to the severity of his illness, he had asked his wife for pictures of her and their two boys. Because he was unable to move even his head, the photos had to be jammed between metal knobs so that they hung within view above him–the only thing he could see. The last four months of his life were spent looking at the faces he loved.

Philip Yancey writes, “I have often thought of that crumpled photo, for it is one of the few links connecting me to the stranger who was my father. Someone I have no memory of, no sensory knowledge of, spent all day, every day thinking of me, devoting himself to me, loving me . . . The emotions I felt when my mother showed me the crumpled photo were the very same emotions I felt that February night in a college dorm room when I first believed in a God of love. Someone is there, I realized. Someone is there who loves me. It was a startling feeling of wild hope, a feeling so new and overwhelming that it seemed fully worth risking my life on.”

Someone is there who loves YOU.

PRAYER: Help us to believe and trust in the fact that You love us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>