DayBreaks for 1/31/20 – Standing Before God

Image result for standing before God

DayBreaks for 1/31/20: Standing Before God

My faith roots come from a very legalistic background. A common question posed to keep us in fear regarding salvation was, “If you sin and are run over by a truck and killed before you can ask for forgiveness, will you be saved?” The answer they wanted to hear was “No” because it was only fear that could keep us young people in line. We were taught (and this part is true) that God was always watching and we might be able to fool people but never God – and that some day the books would be balanced and we’d find ourselves in the most serious trouble imaginable. And so we cried and literally shook with fear for our sinfulness. 

But flip that argument around: are we any better if God is kind, but also safe and controllable? I think not. If God were kind, safe and controllable we have an entirely different problem: he wouldn’t be God at all.

You see, small gods do small things – because that’s all they can do. I like how Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom: “If you have never stood before God and felt afraid, then probably you have never stood before God. (Heb. 10:31) You have stood before an idol of your own making. Worse, your life will remain silly and superficial because you worship a silly and superficial God.”

At the same time, Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. How can he say that? Because as Aquinas said, the cross didn’t secure the love of God, but the love of God secured the cross. All who believe have been adopted. Not only have we been reconciled to that great and mighty and totally holy God by Christ’s sacrifice, but something else happened: we received Jesus’ righteousness – and not just a part of it, but all of it…ALL the goodness of Christ was credited to your account and mine.

What is the practical application of this wondrous truth? Here it is: if you are a Christian, it means that God will never be angry with you again. He has turned his wrath away from you because he credited ALL of Christ’s righteousness to your account. And here it is in a nutshell: how can God be angry at perfection?

It is a truth too good to be true – but it is true. Find freedom because Christ died to give it to you!

PRAYER: God, I can hardly believe you see me as holy and righteous as Christ because you’ve given me his righteousness as my inheritance as your child! No words can ever express enough gratitude for what you’ve done! Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/30/20 – The Death of God(s)

Image result for God Is Dead

DayBreaks for 1/30/20: The Death of God(s)

During the late 50’s through the early 70’s, there was a group of theologians who boldly proclaimed “God is dead.” The idea was somewhat popularized earlier by Nietzsche. It was even featured in Time magazine and other mainline news magazines and the idea had profound implications for our society and world. Debates and symposia on the subject captured great attention.

And then, seemingly as quickly as it rose to prominence in those three decades, the God is Dead movement died. I don’t know exactly why, but I suspect that it may have been because people just couldn’t cope with the implications of a universe without purpose and meaning. Here’s the thinking, as laid out by Steve Brown in A Scandalous Freedom: “Boiled down, those implications amounted to this: If there is no God, there is no value; if there is no value, there is no meaning; and if there is no meaning, you are a turnip growing for a time, dying, and returning to the earth from which you came.”

But let’s think for a moment about this in another way. Although I don’t believe for a single moment that God is dead, there are many gods, including some within me and within you, that need to die. Any selfishness, greediness, holding onto anger, racism, falsehood, pride, mean-spiritedness and the like are manifestations of a god that lives within me and that god is named me! They are all about me, me, me and my right and my interests and they care not for others.

Romans puts it this way: So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:12-13 (CSBBible)

I long for the day when I’ll be able to say “My gods are dead” so that only the rightful God remains forever.

What are some gods of yours that need to die?

PRAYER: Father, we need Your help in slaying the false gods in our lives so that You along reign within us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

On a side note, I like this:

Image result for God Is Dead

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/29/20 – Veterinarians and Taxidermists

Image result for taxidermist and dog

DayBreaks for 1/29/20: Veterinarians and Taxidermists

It was during the 2000 Democratic convention that someone commented that there wasn’t much difference between the views of Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush. When he heard that, Lieberman said, “That’s like saying there is no difference between a taxidermist and a veterinarian, because in both cases you get your dog back.”

This DayBreaks isn’t about politics, but about Christians, non-Christians and freedom. There are some Christians who bring light, salt and hope to the dark world while the light of other “Christians” doesn’t shine into the darkness. It is a very, very sad and tragic commentary that the world can’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. The blame for that doesn’t fall on the non-Christian, but squarely on the shoulders of Christians.

Why has our light faded? Perhaps because we’ve taken our freedom in Christ to mean we can do anything we want without repercussions. We think that’s what freedom means – being able to do anything my heart desires. If that’s what we think Christian freedom is then we’re sadly mistaken. As Steve Brown points out in A Scandalous Freedom, the real freedom Christ died to give us compared to the freedom that many Christians experience is like the difference between the vet and the taxidermist: with both you get your dog back but one collects dust while the other jumps, slobbers and barks!

There is something about freedom that scares the church and as a result many continue in bondage and that’s a real shame because Jesus went to so much trouble to really set us free.

The freedom we have been given isn’t to do anything I want without fearing consequences, it’s about being freed from the eternal consequences of my sin and from the fear of death, but even more, it’s about being free to say “no” to the things that would make it hard for my light to shine, to say “yes” to doing God’s will, not my own. If ever there was a free person, it was Jesus – and even he prayed for the Father’s will, not his own.

Are you still enslaved? You may have gotten your “dog” (life) back, but are you just gathering dust?

PRAYER: Lord, awaken us to the fact that we have misused our freedom and misunderstood it. Help us be living beings full of the joy of being freed from our own will and freed to do yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/28/20 – When Legends Die

Image result for Kobe Bryant

DayBreaks for 1/28/20: When Legends Die

I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan since I was a kid in fifth grade and we lived in southern California, so when the news broke yesterday about the death of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant (along with his 13-year old daughter and 7 other people in a helicopter crash), I was stunned and saddened. Kobe was only 41, but 4 years removed from hanging up his sneakers. Many seemed immobilized by grief. Reactions came pouring in from every walk of life and corner of the globe in this day of instant, world-wide communications. It seems like such a tragic waste.

Alexa tells me that every day there are approximately 156,021 persons who die around the globe. Most of those are the nameless, faceless masses of humanity – people we have never met or even heard of. They lived and died in obscurity.

I couldn’t help but think today about a craftsman from a small village in Israel – fewer than 500 probably lived there – who died one day in a tiny backwater of the Roman world. His life was mostly lived in obscurity and ended in obscurity to those alive at the time. Only a small handful seemed to weep at his death. When he died, there was no mass communication and if people heard of it, it was slow in spreading and few there were who found it to be of interest.

Why didn’t Jesus give his life in the 21st century so everyone could hear about him like Kobe? I’ve heard the explanations but it confounds human wisdom for Jesus to have lived and died when he did – especially if the goal is to have the world come to know him and what he did for them.

I don’t know Kobe’s eternal destiny. I don’t know if he came to believe in the craftsman who died on the cross. I can only hope he did. But I do know this: for all his fame, wealth and glory, Kobe’s death couldn’t and didn’t save even a single human soul. And his fame couldn’t keep the helicopter in the air in order to save the lives of those nine aboard.  And all his world championships, MVP’s, Olympic gold medals and the hundreds of millions of dollars he made putting a ball through a hoop don’t matter at all to God. Kobe has faced the ultimate question: Who do you believe Jesus is? I can only hope and pray he knew the answer. 

Yet, the one who died two thousand years ago saved souls by the millions through his death. And yesterday, while the news filled the airwaves with news of Kobe’s passing, I didn’t see one story on the news about the king of heaven and what he’d done. It is not God’s way to be flashy, but to be humble and work invisibly.

How many of the 156,021 who died today went to heaven because of Kobe? None. Not one. How many went because of Jesus? I don’t know, but if they didn’t, it isn’t Jesus’ fault, but it could be partly mine. You see, like most of us, I was eager yesterday and today to talk about Kobe’s passing with my friends – far more eager to talk about that than I am to tell others about Jesus’ death for them. May God have mercy on my soul. 

One more thing as I contemplate the death of a legend. One very famous man and his daughter died yesterday that I know of, but the vast bulk of the remaining 156,019 died obscure deaths as far as the news is concerned. But with God no one dies in obscurity because Jesus tells us that God even knows when a tiny sparrow dies and we are of much greater worth than a tiny bird. We are known to him, he counts the hairs on our head and knows our name and he longs for us all to be with him. And he is counting on us to tell those around us that he loves them so that the 156,021 who will die tomorrow will live in His Presence forever.

My condolences to the Bryant family.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for living and dying for us. Help us to be eager to tell the world what you’ve done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/27/20 – The Truly Great Emancipator

Image result for Lincoln and a black woman

DayBreaks for 1/27/20: The Truly Great Emancipator

There is a story, true or not, about Abraham Lincoln and a time he went to a slave market. There he noticed a lovely, young African American woman being auctioned to the highest bidder. He bid on her and won. He could see the fiery anger in the young woman’s eyes and could imagine what she was thinking. Another white man who will buy me, use me, and then discard me.

As Lincoln walked off with is “property”, he turned to the woman and said, “You’re free.”

“Yeah. What does that mean?” she replied.

“It means that you’re free.”

“Does that mean I can say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes,” replied Lincoln, smiling, “it means you can say whatever you want to say.”

“Does it mean,” she asked incredulously, “that I can be whatever I want to be?”

“Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”

“Does it mean,” the young woman said hesitantly, “that I can go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes, it means you are free and can go wherever you want to go.”

“Then,” said the young woman with tears welling up in her eyes, “I think I shall go with you.”

This is a story of what God has done for us – and what the Christian faith is all about. We’ve been bought with a price. We have a new master, one who, once he paid the price, set us free. Who wouldn’t want to go with such a master?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that when you set us free, we are free indeed forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/24/20 – Marks of Clarity

Image result for clarity

DayBreaks for 1/24/20: Marks of Clarity

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There are times in my walk with God when things seem very clear.  But then again, there are times when I long for even the slightest inkling of clarity.  At times my relationship with the Lord is so real and palpable that I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the wonder of it all.  But then again, there are times (if I am to be honest with God, you and myself) when it all seems very unreal and like a sham.  And I find myself pondering from time to time: which is real?  Which reflects the real me and my relationship with God?  Am I only fooling myself when I feel so close to Him that I weep? 

William Cowper was a Christian songwriter of years gone by.  He wrote some of the favorite songs of the church, including the hymns O For a Closer Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way His wonders to Perform, and There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.  For a period of time, he lived in a house with John Newton, a converted slave-trader and author of Amazing Grace.  It is interesting how little grace Cowper actually experienced.  For long years he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and was hounded by false rumors of an illicit affair.  As a result, Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown, tried several times to kill himself, and was kept for some of his life in a straightjacket in an insane asylum for his own protection.  During the last quarter of his life, he avoided church entirely.

He wrote these word: “Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I sought the Lord?  Where is the soul-refreshing dew Of Jesus and His Word?  What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!  But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.  Return, O Holy Dove, return Sweet messenger of rest!  I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.”

There are many who might consider Cowper a prime candidate for the title of Christian hypocrite for his struggles, a man who wrote beautifully and convincingly about things he found hard, if not impossible, to put into practice.  I prefer to think of his hymns as being the real marks of clarity in a very troubled life.  He was the one who wrote: “Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”  Perhaps I am naïve, but I see in Cowper’s struggle my own struggles and in his struggling faith, a reflection of my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for redeeming love that loves a wretch like me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/23/20 – Indiscriminate Compassion

Image result for compassion

DayBreaks for 1/23/20: Indiscriminate Compassion

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

In the past 10 days our television screens have been filled with images of incomprehensible devastation in the nation of Haiti.  Just today, one of the headlines is stating that the government of Haiti is claiming that 150,000 bodies have already been buried – and who knows how many have yet to be found and buried?  Stories of children who have lost their parents, parents who have lost children, elderly individuals who have essentially been left to die because no one could get water or food to them in time.  Photos and videos of people shrieking in anguish as they’ve been informed of the death of a loved one, or when they recognized their crushed bodies in the makeshift morgues prior to burial.  It would take a truly hard-hearted person to not be filled with compassion at times like this.  I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by this unparalleled disaster in the western hemisphere. 

Compassion at such times is relatively easy to come by.  There are other times, however, when we struggle to find a compassionate bone in our bodies.  We tend to look at people who have as much as we do (or more) and when they are faced with disaster, we tend to not be as compassionate as we are for the Haitians. 

Perhaps we would be well advised to consider the nature of Jesus’ compassion.  How did Jesus evaluate who was worthy of compassion and who wasn’t worthy?  I don’t see that he ever discriminated when confronted with suffering or need.  Brennan Manning made it pretty clear in Abba’s Child when he wrote: “What is indiscriminate compassion?  ‘Take a look at a rose.  Is it possible for the rose to say, ‘I’ll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people’?  Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light?  It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp.  And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature – even to the one who seeks to cut it down.  This is the first quality of compassion – its indiscriminate character.”

Have you thought about the compassion that Jesus has shown you?  Did you deserve it by your exemplary behavior?  Do you feel that Jesus was obligated to be compassionate to you?  Jesus isn’t obligated to do anything for us, but he is compassionate toward all of us because he can’t help being compassionate to all. He would no longer be Jesus if he stopped being compassionate. As His children, we should be the most compassionate people on earth. But I wonder: are we?

PRAYER: Jesus, teach us to follow in harmony with your compassionate heart that we may be more like you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>