DayBreaks for 9/18/18 – Saints Among the Killing Fields

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DayBreaks for 9/18/18: Saints Among the Killing Fields

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

There’s a man in Croatia named Bosada.  One day, his Serbian neighbor came to him and handed him the keys to his home and said, “Would you look after my house for me and my pigs and my cattle and sheep?” Bosada said, “Sure. You’re my neighbor.  You’re my friend.  Our families have lived together here for 500 years.”  What the neighbor didn’t tell Bosada was something that every Serb knew, but the Croats didn’t: every Serb in that Croatian village was doing the same thing that very day.  They had been forewarned by the Serbian army to get out; the army was coming to blast the Croats and their homes to kingdom come the next day.

The next day, the tanks did indeed roll in and they blasted all the houses, leaving just ruins.  Only two houses out of 39 were left standing: half of Bosada’s home and a house across the street (which was then used as a prison to torture people).  Then a peace accord was signed—an uneasy peace, if it could even be called that.  When the United Nations peacekeepers came, this little village with Serb houses sitting up on the hillside began to be repopulated by Croatians headed by Bosada.

Bosada, who was a Christian and pastor of the local church, said, “We must show the way.  We must go back and rebuild the church.” And he did, taking his daughter with him.  Even though the UN peacekeepers were there, Serbian soldiers came out of the forest and took both Bosada and his 17-year-old daughter up among the trees.  They took his daughter away and raped and tortured her.  They took a bayonet and thrust it through Bosada seven times, but he didn’t die.  “Well, old man,” they finally said, “we’re fed up beating you.  I think what we’ll do is let your own people kill you.”  So they brought the daughter back and said, “Now off you go home through the minefield.  If you make it, your own militia people will kill you at the other end because it’s after curfew.”

Bosada took his daughter’s hand and set off through the minefield.  While he was being tortured, he’d said to his torturers, “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls. This is the wrong thing you’re doing. I will go to heaven, but where will you go? I know that my Redeemer lives. Why don’t you turn to my Redeemer?”

Bosada and his daughter did make it through the mine field and survived, but what is inspiring is the message he gave to his torturers.  Did any respond, did it have any kind of impact on the future actions of his tormentors?  I do not know.  I only know I wish I had the courage of my brother in the Lord, Bosada.

We may never walk through literal minefields.  We will hopefully never be tortured because of our faith.  Yet, we still walk through minefields strewn with deadly devices planted by our enemy and the prevailing spirit of this fallen world.  May we walk it with the grace of a saint in deadly places.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the faith of those like Bosada, whom we will most likely never meet on this earth.  Thank You for preserving both he and his daughter.  Thank You for preserving us.  Give us the courage and grace to act like our brother in the face of great evil and danger.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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.

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 9/07/18 – The Miracle of Stone Soup

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DayBreaks for 9/07/18: The Miracle of Stone Soup

I love the story of a Christian missionary hiking the high Andean trails to a remote village in Peru. He found a rock along the road, a curious geode, and put it in his backpack as a souvenir. That evening he strode into the village to a very unfriendly welcome. No one offered him a bed. No one asked him to sit by their fire. He learned that a famine had plagued the Indians for over a month. And the people were starving. Each was simply afraid to share amidst so much deprivation.

Praying to Jesus how to help them, he got an idea. Calling the Indians around a campfire he preached God’s loving care in Christ. Then he said, “I’m going to feed you by making some stone soup. Yummm! It’s tasty! I grew up on it! And you’ll like it just fine!” Then he opened his backpack and produced the rock he’d found that morning.

The Indians scoffed, “Stone soup! Why that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“Trust me,” the missionary assured them. “See! I’ve brought the stone. But I’m going to need a pot to put it in.” An Indian woman quickly volunteered her pot.

“And I’ll need about two large buckets of water to boil the stone in.” A man, shaking his head, brought the water. So, in went the stone, in went the water, and over the fire the pot was suspended. Curious now, the villagers began to gather around the pot, peering into its contents. The missionary began to stir the pot and drool. “You know, stone soup sure is good with carrots!” To which an Indian said, “I’ve got six carrots!” He quickly fetched them and they were cut up into the pot. Then the missionary smelled deeply of the bubbly broth and sighed, “Some potatoes sure would add to the flavor.” From pockets and other hiding places came dozens of spuds. They were quickly added to the soup. Soon people were bringing onions, celery, and bits of meat to top off the pot of stone soup. And within the hour a community was formed around that stew pot. All ate. And all were filled and they heard the story of Jesus Christ.

Believe John 6:1-14 as a miracle of Jesus in multiplying the bread and fish, if you will, or believe Jesus’ miracle in the selfish human heart causing the multitudes to share. But above all, remember this: The next time you see a need or feel inadequate, don’t look at the hillside, look in the basket. Don’t count the difficulties presented. Look at the resources possessed. Don’t measure your problems. Measure God’s power!

PRAYER: We have been too concerned about our adequacy and resources, Lord. Help us to trust in the One who has no limits and then to act in His name! 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.