DayBreaks for 9/10/19 – Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

Happy and sad at the same time?

DayBreaks for 9/10/19: Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I have spent some time lately with some very discouraged and unhappy people.  Let’s be honest: if we look at this world for very long at all, there is much to get discouraged about!  Disease and death, disappointment, rejection, mistakes in judgment, financial challenges, relationship difficulties…you know the score.  Life is tough.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason said: “In short, Scripture never suggests (unlike many churchgoers) that the wearing of a cheerful countenance is a good tonic for the world.  On the contrary, in Ecclesiastes we read, Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart (7:3).  How is it we have bought the lie that a Christian’s face is only publicly presentable when the corners of the mouth are pushed up?  The Apostle James actually exhorts us to …grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom’ (4:9). As the poet Emily Dickinson put it in her trenchant style, ‘I like the look of Agony, because I know it’s true.’

“Undoubtedly Scripture exhorts us to ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ and to ‘Be of good cheer.’  Yet nowhere are we commanded to ‘put on a happy face.’”

We are encouraged to rejoice because we know our names are written in heaven.  We are not to delight in the suffering per se, but in what the suffering is building into our character, knowing that the Lord has a perfect plan for us that will result in wholeness some day.  In the meantime, false cheerfulness may lead to charges of hypocrisy.  Job and David knew what it was to hurt and to weep and wail as a result.  But they also knew that they couldn’t stay with their focus on themselves and their troubles indefinitely or the burden would have become crushing.  They eventually lifted their eyes upwards to receive the help they needed in the time of their greatest pain. 

God doesn’t deny you the right to be honest about your feelings.  Quite the opposite!  He wants you to be honest with yourself and with him and others about them.  It is only then that He can begin to shape us into the image of the Suffering Servant who offers His joy to the entire world.     

PRAYER: Let us be honest with our pain and hopeful in our upward glances!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19 – Imposing and Proposing

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19: Imposing and Proposing

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I don’t think that there are many who would disagree that our culture has become very contentious.  It is clear in how the opposite sides of the political spectrum have labeled their opponents in the last election and in the current health care debate.  What has happened that Americans are now calling others “idiots”, “racists”, or insinuating that they are Nazi’s or worse because they don’t agree with the position and thinking of their opponents.  What has happened to civilized discourse, where women and men of conviction could respectfully and honestly disagree with one another without resorting to name-calling?  Have we become so immature as this would suggest? 

It isn’t just happening in the political world, either.  It happens to Christians – and sadly, sometimes Christians are not just the recipients, but the dispensers of such vitriol as well.  The balance of the world looks at Christians and labels us: ignorant, superstitious, old-fashioned, stupid, duped and the like.  Reminds me of Jesus’ words to us telling us to expect persecution because the persecuted him and the prophets before him.  And, he elsewhere told us that we’re blessed if we are persecuted for His name’s sake.

But is that persecution always without cause?  One of the most common complaints about Christians is that “You’re always trying to impose you views, beliefs and values on others!”  I fear that in some cases, that may be an honest and accurate description of how some Christians go about trying to Christianize the world.  And, I don’t believe, that’s Jesus’ model for evangelism.  Are we to share the gospel, and the Biblical worldview with others?  Absolutely!  It is not called the “Great Commission” for no good reason!  It is one, if not our greatest calling in this lifetime, to love others so much that we’d share truth with them about how they can be saved.  But that’s different than imposing one’s views.

Consider: how would you feel if you lived in a fundamentalist Islamic country, or in India where Hinduism is so strong, and you lived under a government that imposed those beliefs upon you as a Christian?  Simply put: we can’t impose our beliefs on others.  People must come to Christ freely – not by imposition nor by sword. 

So, what are we to do?  We are to propose a better way, not try to impose our viewpoint.  Jesus didn’t impose His view on the Pharisee or the apostle – He simply invited people to come and follow him and see if his way wasn’t better than what they had known all their lives.  In short, he proposed a better way.  We are to invite them to the marriage feast of the Lamb…not to put them in straight-jackets, truss them up like prisoners and force them to come.  It is “whosoever WILL…” that can come, not “whosoever is forced to come” that will find life.

As Rick Warren put it, as Christians (especially in our sharply divided culture in America today), we tend to see others as the enemy rather than as the mission field.  People are not our enemy – falsehood and Satan are the enemy.  People are simply lost…or found.  Let us be about the business of proposing a better solution.  We have nothing to fear from the honest exchange of ideas, for truth, handled rightly, will be seen for what it is.

PRAYER: Examine our hearts, Father, and reveal to us the attitude we have towards those who are not members of Your family.  Teach us to propose the truth and not to impose.  May Your Spirit give wings to the truth that we share!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 5/31/19 – With Unveiled Faces

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DayBreaks for 5/31/19: With Faces Unveiled

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Glory.  Every school boy dreams of it, of having one blinding moment of glory: winning the Olympic 100-meter dash, being the greatest hitter ever, racing 100 yards for the winning Super Bowl score.  Not everyone will experience those moments of glory, so they settle for something less spectacular.  Brian Kelly did.  He wanted to leave the earth in a burst of glory.  He died and was cremated in July 1994.  His instructions were to pack his ashes into a canister-sized fireworks shell and be fired into the air.  On August 12, 1994, at a pyrotechnician convention in Pittsburgh, the 2 pounds of the earthly remains of Brian Kelly were fired into the air, and he erupted in brilliant colors.  Then, blackness settled in.  It’s a kind of glory, I guess, but it faded quickly.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4 talks about glory.  Isaiah said the “whole earth is filled with His glory.”  Not just isolated pockets, but the “whole earth.”  He’s not just talking about the glorious things that God has made, not talking about that at all.  If you read Paul closely, you’ll see that the ministry we have of Jesus is entrusted into our hands, and that we ourselves are to shine with His glory!  That means that “we’re it”.  You and me – we are the ones who either display or darken the glory of God.  Paul gets very pointed about this in 2 Corinthians 3:7-11, where he wrote that God’s glory is in the gospel and person of Christ: “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letter on stone (the law of Moses), came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of his glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in compassion with the surpassing glory (Jesus!).  And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Paul was referring to how Moses’ face glowed from being in God’s Presence. His face shone…but then it started to fade.  The glory wasn’t Moses’ own…it was God’s, and Moses couldn’t hold or keep it.  So, Moses veiled his face – in the beginning to hide the radiance which was hurtful for others to look upon, but after it began to fade, he hid his face so others wouldn’t see that the glory was fading. 

But get this: that’s not the case with us. Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV) (emphasis mine, GCD)

Moses only saw God’s back, but we know “the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  Moses had to veil his face, but we can walk around without a veil.  Moses had to hide the fading glory on his face, but we’re invited to openly display it – because it doesn’t diminish with us, but in fact, it shines in us with “ever-increasing glory.”  Moses every day, became a bit more like his old self, but every day, by the Spirit that comes from the Lord, each day we become a little less like our old self and a bit more like Jesus!  We carry not only God’s name and nature, we also carry His all-surpassing glory!

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  

Here’s perhaps the kicker that keeps us straight on this matter: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.   

All we can do is carry His glory in clay jars, jars that are fragile and rather boring in and of themselves.  We carry it inside of us – we are the clay jars – chipped, cracked, we break easily and we are just as prone (if not more so) to carrying trash as we are to carry treasure.  Believe it or not, the world will either see His glory in you and me, or they will not see it at all.  They see His glory any time that they see our plainness transformed, when something God-like breaks out from our plain and ordinary lives and others see it – even if it’s only its backside glimpse.  But it is there, within us, unmistakable if we are His. 

If God doesn’t go with us, there will be no glory in the clay pot that is our earthly body and spirit.  All we have to distinguish us from everyone else is what’s in this clay pot, this clay jar.  Unless God fills our jars, our bodies, with His mercy-loving, grace-giving, justice-doing Presence, we are nothing.  BUT…here it is, this is it: if He does go with us and we stand in constant awareness of His Presence, our task is simply this: to live with an unveiled face.  Our job is nothing more, and nothing less, than keeping the clay jar uncovered.

It is often in the brokenness of the clay jar (much like that which was seen when Gideon’s men broke their clay jars during their night victory over their enemies) that the glory of God is best revealed. 

Prayer: Our clay jars are weak and prone to fracture and leakage, Lord.  May our clay jars reveal Your glory and may our faces be unmasked and unveiled so that the ever-increasing glory of the Jesus who fills us can be seen!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/30/19 – Love or Hate?

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DayBreaks for 5/30/19: Love or Hate?

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

How many times has someone spoken to you about a “loved one” that they are fearful are not believers?  Almost certainly, you have loved ones yourself that are not disciples of Jesus.  And it seems that when that is the case, many times the believers in their lives are afraid to say anything to their friends about their spiritual condition.  That may be just due to not really knowing how to tell someone about Jesus, but I think that more often than not, there’s another reason.  To tell someone about Jesus isn’t complex: just tell them what Jesus has done for you.  You don’t have to make erroneous claims such as “I’ve never been tempted by sin again after I became a disciple,” or “Everything has been great since I became a Christian.”  Please don’t say such things: they identify you right away as a liar.  Be honest about your sin, be honest about your present struggles and how hard it is to live a Christian life, but tell them about the peace and joy and love and hope that has taken over your heart because of HIS goodness, and HIS promises…not your goodness or perfection.

Sometimes God has used unbelievers to make some of the most significant statements about faith and people of faith that I’ve ever read.  Take Nebuchadnezzar, for one, Darius for another.  Even the demons make amazing statements: “I know who Jesus is, but who are you?”  They know, all right.  And even they call Jesus “Lord”.

I recently ran across this statement by Penn Jillette, who is not only an atheist, but a foul-mouthed comedian to boot.  But this is worth reading because perhaps it shows us that perhaps our fears of telling someone about Jesus need to be replaced by something else: a recognition that failure to tell them about Jesus shows that we really don’t love them very much at all. 

“Atheist Penn Jillette is one half of Penn and Teller, a duo that has been headlining Vegas shows for years with comedy and the art of illusion. Penn has never been shy about his disbelief in God, often writing about his conviction in articles and best-selling books. Yet in an on-line video blog that can be found on YouTube, Penn shares a story about the time a gracious Christian businessman gave him a Bible as a gift. Penn goes on to use the story as an opportunity to point out that Christians who don’t evangelize must really hate people. Here’s the direct quote from his video blog:

“I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who do not proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, uh, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize, [saying] “Just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself”—uh, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize them? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming to hit you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”  – Bill White, Paramount, California; source: “Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible,” YouTube.com 

More important, indeed.  Let’s get our perspective right and start to tell people about Jesus!

Prayer: Oh, Father, we invite your Spirit to search our hearts and to convict us of our great need to share Jesus with those we know and love – in fact, with everyone we possibly can!  Let our hearts burn hot with enough love that we will tell the truth and entrust the results to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/29/19 – Recognizing Heresy

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DayBreaks for 5/29/19: Recognizing Heresy

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

I fear for the church – greatly.  It’s not because I think that somehow the devil and his minions will come up with some new “super weapon” that will allow him to prevail against the church (Jesus has already promised us that such a thing won’t happen). There will be no super weapon devised that will overthrow the rule of God.  What I fear are the same old weapons that Satan has used so effectively in the past.  And the weapon that has probably wreaked more destruction than any other is ignorance of believers when it comes to knowing what the Word has to say.  I’ve recently been engaged in a bit of blog banter with some other believers on the topic of whether it’s good for believers to try to understand the thinking of people such as Richard Dawkins, etc.

I’ve had many people tell me before that they don’t think a Christian should read anything but the Bible (interestingly, often I find such people eager to read “Christian fiction” of dubious quality and debatable, at best, theology), but they feel that certainly we should never study what unbelievers think.  It seems that some folks are afraid that if they read what unbelievers think, they may become unbelievers.  (This doesn’t seem to me to give much credit to the Spirit, nor to Jesus’ ability to keep us safely in His family.)  Perhaps that’s why I found the following interesting as a “case in point” using a non-Biblical, non-Christian example to make a spiritual point:

“A popular misconception—perhaps a Christian urban legend—is that the United States Secret Service never shows bank tellers counterfeit money when teaching them to identify it. The agents who do the training, so the legend goes, show bank tellers only examples of genuine money so that when the phony money appears before them they will know it by its difference from the real thing. The story is supposed to make the point that Christians ought to study truth and never heresy.

“The first time I heard the tale as a sermon illustration I intuited its falseness. On checking with the Treasury Department’s Minneapolis Secret Service agent in charge of training bank tellers to identify counterfeit money, my suspicion was confirmed. He laughed at the story and wondered aloud who would start it and who would believe it. At my request he sent me a letter confirming that the Secret Service does show examples of counterfeit money to bank tellers.

“I believe it is important and valuable for Christians to know not only theological correctness (orthodoxy) but also the ideas of those judged as heretics within the church’s story. One reason is that it is almost impossible to appreciate the meaning of orthodoxy without understanding the heresies that forced its development.”  – Roger Olsen, The Story of Christian Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1999), pp. 20-21

If we don’t know the Word, we won’t know heresy when we hear it.  That’s why our FIRST obligation and responsibility is to STUDY the Word, to consume it thoroughly, until we are able to wield it as a sword…and only then to delve into trying to understand why unbelievers feel as they do.  How can we find the flaws in their reasoning and their “faith” if we don’t even understand what they believe and why? 

As I’ve said before, the truth never has anything to fear from untruth.  It is the Truth that will survive and untruth will be destroyed.

Prayer: Forgive us for being such lazy students of Your Word.  May we consume it and internalize it and be consumed by it – so that we are equipped to recognize Satan’s tools of heresy which are often very subtle.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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