DayBreaks for 9/17/18 – Resignation and Acceptance

ACCEPTANCE

DayBreaks for 9/17/18: Resignation and Acceptance

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

I recently read an article by Jill Briscoe that dealt with struggling and troubles in this world.  We often think we have troubles – they seem real enough to us and I don’t mean to disparage any hardship that anyone is going through.  But, by and large, we Americans know very little of trouble compared to the rest of the world.  Sure, we worry about how to make our house payments, but there are countless millions (billions?) in this world who don’t have a house at all.  Our health issues are troubles – no mistake about that.  But at least, we have “modern medicine” available to us while many people must either suffer through their illness alone in order to get well – or they die. 

How do (or should) we deal with difficulties?  Should we just resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll have trouble (just like Jesus said we would)?  Should we accept it, and if so, how?

Resignation and acceptance are two different things.  Some religions are resigned to fate: Hinduism, Buddhism for example.  The Christian, alternatively I believe, is to accept suffering and use it for a greater purpose.  “Resignation is surrender to fate; acceptance is surrender to God,” said Elisabeth Elliot. “Resignation lies down quietly in an empty universe. Acceptance rises up to meet the God who fills that universe with purpose and destiny.…Resignation says, ‘It’s all over for me.’ Acceptance asks, ‘Now that I’m here, Lord, what’s next?’ Resignation says, ‘What a waste.’ Acceptance says, ‘In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord?'”

Who is Elisabeth Elliot?  You probably know: she’s a woman whose husband lay flat on his face, dead in a river with an arrow in his back—martyred for Jesus. What did Elisabeth do? She said, “In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord? I know that my Redeemer lives. He died to make me fit for heaven; he lives to make me fit for earth. Now, what are you going to redeem, buy back, out of this situation?”

Elisabeth Elliot took the hand of her 6-year-old daughter, and Marge Saint, the wife of another martyred missionary, and they walked to that tribe that had killed their husbands.  When they arrived at the jungle village, they weren’t killed; they were accepted. They proceeded to translate the Bible into the language of the tribe, and the whole tribe came to Christ.

At age 17, Marge Saint’s little girl, Kathy, told the story of that day and more. She said, “I remember at 15, I stood in the river where my father had died, and I was baptized by the man who killed him. That man is now the pastor of that tribe.” 

Would the Elliot’s and Saint’s have asked for the troubles that life brought their way?  Absolutely not.  Yet they did accept it – they didn’t give up in resignation and say, “Oh, well.  I guess this wasn’t meant to be.”  In the loss and turmoil, they sought some way that God would turn their tragedy into something purposeful. 

When we are faced with difficulties, don’t just resign yourself to the hardship.  Seek to see and understand how God can use it in a redemptive way and create something beautiful and eternal out of it. 

PRAYER: Father, we don’t understand all that happens to us here, and we don’t like much of what happens.  Keep us from bitterness.  Open our hearts to Your divine redemptive purposes in what takes place and show us Your glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 09/14/18 – A Shaken Soul

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DayBreaks for 9/14/18: A Shaken Soul

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card, From the Studio:

(Peter) went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”  Acts 10: 27-28 NRSV

“Jesus can make anyone clean, even the last person on earth Peter would expect to be clean: a Roman soldier, [possibly] one of the very ones who had crucified Jesus.  What an earthquake in Peter’s soul!  It was direct assault on his most basic beliefs.  But Jesus had come to shatter and redefine everything.  Certainly it is a shattered Simon who makes his way, for the first time in his life, into a Gentile dwelling.  He will find there men and women like himself who want nothing less than to eat the true bread of heaven.  People who, though they live in darkness, have nonetheless seen a great Light!

“The crowd Peter would have crossed the street to avoid, would have denied meal fellowship with, seems now bathed in a new light.  He sees bright eyes and hungry faces. He looks out at men and women, boys and girls who will suffer every bit as much as he will in the years to come for their allegiance to Jesus. He looks out on brothers and sisters.”

Galen’s Thoughts: how would you and I have reacted if we had the chance to preach the gospel to the crucifixion detail that crucified Christ?  How would you and I have reacted if invited to preach to the high priest and scribes who had Him arrested, beaten, spit on and condemned?  Would we have done it, or would we have pulled back in revulsion?

Each one of us knows someone that we just find, well…repulsive.  Someone who has done something so heinous either to ourselves or to someone we loved, that we can’t even stand the thought of being near them.  Would you share the gospel with them?  If not, why not?  Do you believe that’s how Jesus would have acted?

Let us remember that we’re not called to go into all the world and preach the gospel only to those who are fine, upstanding citizens and likeable folk.  For the most part, those people didn’t listen to Jesus (in fact, it was the upstanding citizens of Judea who had him arrested and put to death).  The repulsive – those with leprosy, the lame and mute (who everyone believed were sinners or they wouldn’t have had those ailments – even the dead and the sick of many stripes and colors, were the ones who listened to Jesus and responded to him.  If we want to fulfill the great commission, we must carry the gospel to everyone – everyone – even the Hitler’s, bin Laden’s, Pol Pot’s and mass murdering rapists.  That’s our job.  How they respond is their choice.  God won’t ask us if we convinced them – but will ask only if we “went” in obedience to the command. 

PRAYER: Keep us from prejudice and pride that might lead us to not share the good news with those who are most eager to receive it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/12/18 – The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18: The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk–you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice–you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation-that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.

Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. One might wonder if it is worth the struggle, but that won’t be a question we even contemplate once we step out of this world into the next.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us be patient with you and with ourselves in the transformation. Keep us from despair and discouragement on the journey home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/11/18 – But I Do

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DayBreaks for 9/11/18: But I Do

If we believe in Jesus, we know the boundaries are erased inside and out, for there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer but when he got to the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

We might be tempted to think that what the missionary did was insignificant and a waste of money. I bet God didn’t feel that way about it.

PRAYER: Open our eyes to opportunities around us today to demonstrate that we are changed people who love others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/10/18 – Ready to be Interrupted

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DayBreaks for 9/10/18: Ready to be Interrupted

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008 – Michael Card’s “From the Studio”, 8/23/08:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. – COLOSSIANS 4:5

“My friend and pastor Denny Denson was in the middle of a sermon one Sunday morning when a young man he had been witnessing to for months slipped into the back of the church. The young man was a victim of crack cocaine and had more than once tried to get off the drug, promising to someday attend our church. When Denny saw him walk in that morning, he was hopeful and excited that he had come.

“After a few minutes the young man got up and walked back outside. Denny understood at once what he needed to do. He stopped in the middle of his sermon and asked the congregation to go to prayer. With that, he followed the man outside and caught up with him a block from the church. After perhaps fifteen minutes the two of them came back inside with good news. The young man had finally accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The remainder of the service was spent in worship. Denny never finished his sermon!”

Isn’t it interesting how we get set on a course of argument or action and are loathe to deviate from it in ever the slightest ways?  As I read Mike’s account of his friend, Denny, I tried to picture myself on a Sunday morning as I deliver a message, and I asked myself, “What would I have done in the circumstance described?”  I’ll be honest…I’m not sure what I would have done.  Part of me is ruled by “order” and “the plan” and I might have foolishly kept on preaching when I should have stopped.  Preachers are very prone to thinking that whatever they are talking about is the most important thing at the moment – that people have come to listen to what’s being said.  And I’m sure that there’s a certain amount of truth in that mindset – a preacher should have a message from God for the people – they shouldn’t be speaking at all.  But, “church” isn’t about the sermon – church is about Jesus and humans who need Him. 

Denny Denson recognized that fact and had the wisdom and courage to stop in the middle of his prepared remarks.  It didn’t matter that the prepared sermon wasn’t finished – Denny acted out a far more important sermon by stopping and going to the young man.  It’s what Jesus would have done, I believe.

How willing are you to be interrupted from your carefully laid plans in order to be responsive to human need and the leading of the Spirit?  Will you stop what you’re doing today and truly love someone like Jesus if the opportunity arises?  Jesus was being interrupted all the time – and we never hear him complain about it even once.  May we become more like him!

PRAYER: Jesus, don’t let us become slaves to the plan we’ve formulated for our day, but rather let us be open to Your plan for us this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/06/18 – Great Liars

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DayBreaks for 9/06/18: Great Liars

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

I have recently had a very precious sister in the Lord tell me that she wouldn’t be coming to church anymore because she felt the Lord was calling her to a time of withdrawal and study.  I must say, I’m perplexed.

I know people who, when I call them, will tell me that they just didn’t “feel” like going to church on the Sunday past.  I must say, I’m perplexed.

I know people who see someone in need but will pass them by, and if asked why, will respond with something along the line of “I didn’t feel led to help.”  I must say, I’m perplexed.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be.  For in all those instances, and hundreds more that could be spelled out, people these days seem to be more interested in their “feelings” about things than about God’s commands.  We might be tempted to say, “It would be dishonest for me to go to a place of worship and praise God when I don’t feel like it.  I would be a hypocrite.”  Yet, when I look at Psalm 122: 4 (NIV), the motivation that Israel was to have to go up to the temple to worship was not because they FELT like it, but because it was according to God’s COMMAND: That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, to praise the name of the LORD according to the statute given to Israel.

In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson said this: “I have put great emphasis on the fact that Christians worship because they want to, not because they are forced to.  But I have never said that we worship because we feel like it.  Feelings are great liars.  If Christians worshiped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship.  Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith.  Paul Scherer is laconic: ‘The Bible wastes very little time on the way we feel.’

“We live in what one writer has called the ‘age of sensation.’  We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it.  But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting.  Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.”

Pause now for a few moments of reflection.  As you look at your life and your activities – do you determine what you will do based on how you feel, or on what God’s Word decrees?

PRAYER: Holy God, forgive us for letting our feelings become conditions on obeying Your commands!  Let us be led not be our feelings, but by all Your truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/03/18 – The Missing Son

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DayBreaks for 9/03/18: The Missing Son

Matthew 21:28-32 (CSBBible) – What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go work in the vineyard today.’  He answered, ‘I don’t want to,’ but later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered, but he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.

If this passage doesn’t trouble you, you’ve missed the point. If it is just another parable to you, you’ve missed the application.

What we see here are two sons. One is outwardly rebellious, much like the prodigal son in the parable by the same name. He shows no respect for his father, is arrogant and deceitful. He flatly refuses to his father’s face to go work in the vineyard.

The second son appears respectful and says he’ll go – but it was a lie – he never gets to the vineyard to work for the father.

In context, the first son was like the tax collectors and prostitutes – they initially may refuse the invitation to work for the Lord, but when they have a change of heart they do his bidding. The second son was representative of the religious leaders (think pastors and elders of our day) who say all the right things but then don’t do them.

Why is this so disturbing? Because my guess is that we all see ourselves as having said yes to Jesus’ calling, but have we really done what we say and sing we’ll do?  “All to Jesus I surrender..”  “Lord, you are my everything, the Lord of my life!”…but then is he really? What about when saying yes to him causes us to lose the favor and respect of others? What about when saying yes will cost us financially? What about when saying yes will cost you time and energy you feel you cannot spare? How many of  us sit in services, sing the songs and pat ourselves on the back thinking our relationship with the Father is so wonderful, but when called on to demonstrate in action and word that He truly is “everything to me”, pull back? So one huge question is: which son/daughter am I REALLY?

But there is a missing son here, too. The son who says yes and then goes immediately into the father’s vineyard and gets to work no matter what it costs. If you look high and low and try to find this son between the lines, but he’s not there. But he is. That son was the one who was telling the story. He is the son who, when the Father asked him to go work in his vineyard (the world) said, “Yes!” and immediately went regardless of the cost. That is the son/daughter we want to be like who says, “Here I am, father, send me!” 

PRAYER: Help us be true sons and daughters who say yes and then go into the world just as the One who told this story long ago. In Jesus’ name, Amen

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.