DayBreaks for 03/20/17 – Little Things Add Up

DayBreaks for 3/20/17: Little Things Add Up

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

Long ago in the days of the Roman empire, a general by the name of Quintus Sertorius was in charge of the Roman army in the area around Spain.  It was a vast territory with which he was entrusted.  Being a Roman, he wasn’t acquainted with the term nor experience of defeat.  But general Sertorius had a problem: in spite of a huge area to account for, his army was mostly made up of undisciplined conscripts.  How was he supposed to teach them the discipline necessary to become a strong, forceful army?

He had an idea.  He called for two of his soldiers: one was the most physically dominating warrior in the army – a mountain of a man with skills and strength to match.  The other man was the puniest, weakest of the conscripts.  After the two men came forward, he had two animals brought out.  One was a scrawny, weak looking pony.  The other was a powerful and intimidating war horse. 

Sertorius ordered that the little pony be put in front of the great warrior, and the mighty war horse in front of the weak man.  He then told them that they had the same job to perform: pull out the horse’s tail.  But there was one difference: the mighty warrior was to grasp the horse’s tail and pull it out all at once, while the weak man was to take it one hair at a time and pull out one hair each time until the tail was gone.

You can guess who was successful.  Here’s the point: it takes lots of little things to add up, but it is through the discipline of knowing that small things add up to big achievements and victories that something gets achieved.  Seldom, if ever, are great things accomplished by one person and their giftedness.  At some point their strength either runs out or it is not great enough.  That’s why God gives us the church – a band of brothers and sisters – each uniquely gifted, but whom alone cannot achieve much of anything.  Together, however, it is a different story. 

Think about the apostles.  Individually they weren’t much to brag about – fishermen, tax collectors, with some others thrown in – and none of them were experienced preachers or teachers.  And yet, we’re told that they turned the world upside down.  They didn’t do it alone.  They had the Spirit, but they had their Barnabas’, Silas’, Timothy’s, Luke’s, and literally thousands of unnamed and unknown (to us) people who helped them.  But even then, people were won one at a time.  It started in a town in Palestine, but overwhelmed the world. 

It’s true, of course, with sin, too.  Little things add up.  One lie turns into another and soon an entire life is ruined.  One illicit affair and a lifetime of love and family is destroyed.  One dishonest business deal and a lifetime’s work, or a company, can come crashing down. 

Beware of the small things that seem powerless to harm you or to bring you down.  And honor the small contributions that others, and you, can make for the cause of Christ.  Little things do add up.

Numbers 16:9 – (NLT) Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the LORD’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them?

PRAYER: Father, may we be wise enough to know that we are not powerful enough to do great things on our own, for no one can do great things apart from you.  Help us to appreciate the giftedness of others, according to your great pleasure and wisdom.  And keep us from thinking that the little faults in our life don’t add up to great evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/07/17 – Replicating the Story of Jesus

DayBreaks for 3/07/17: Replicating the Story of Jesus

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

I was recently blessed to hear Eugene Peterson speak at a conference I attended.  He is a humble, thoughtful man of seemingly bottomless wisdom.  He is slow to speak – weighing his words carefully to be sure they convey truth from the Truth.  I greatly appreciated being able to sit at his feet for a while and learn.

At one point he was talking about the church and how it is perceived by the world.  There is much that can be said on that topic, but what Peterson focused on was how the church itself replicates the life of Jesus.  Consider how Jesus could have come into the world: with great fanfare and leaflets falling from the sky that was magically translated into whatever language was spoken by the person who picked them up.  He could have come with a PowerPoint presentation that flashed across the underbelly of the clouds above our heads, replete with musical background, bold and contrasting colors and maybe some video clips of what hell is like so we’d all be scared straight.  Or, he could have come and spent his entire time upon this earth turning rocks into bread and obliterating hunger and disease so that no one on earth would every go to bed hungry or wake up sick again.  Wouldn’t those things have been spectacular?!?!?!

But, that’s now how Jesus came, is it?  Not one of those things happened when he showed up.  Here’s part of the point: Jesus never, during his entire 30+ years of life on this earth, left the world of poverty into which he was born.  He spent his life as one of the “people of the land” – despised by the ruling religious hierarchy because they were unlearned, sweaty laborers who couldn’t ever seem to put two cents together at one time, but who were always scrambling for their daily bread.  He was humbled, he was broken, he was in the midst of a very sinful people, he seemed powerless before the forces arrayed and conspiring against him.  And, he bled…and bled…and bled…from his hands, back, feet and side.

The church, just like Jesus, could have come in a different way.  God could have preached the first gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost by shouting out loud from heaven so that all the entire universe heard and understood every single syllable and word.  He didn’t.  He used a human mouth (just like He did with Jesus).  The church (like Jesus) exists in the middle of a very sinful people (and the church itself, being made up of people, is sinful).  The church seems powerless against the stratagems of Satan, and is made up of badly fractured, dislocated and broken folk.  And (if the church is true to its calling to be the very body of Christ on earth), as the body of Christ literally bled, the church will bleed, too.  We will bleed out mercy and compassion on the downtrodden like the blood of Christ.  We will bleed because of our stand for faithfulness, to accomplish the will of the Father, even as Christ’s blood fell for the same reason. 

Do you ever wonder why the church has such a bad reputation in the world?  Granted, some of it we bring on ourselves with our hypocrisy and leaders who fall like dominoes, but here, I think, is the core reason: Jesus was a stumbling block because he was broken, bleeding, appearing powerless and as one who associated with sinners.  And that is EXACTLY what the church is to be about, too.  We are to be a broken people (because that’s what we truly are – and once our brokenness is seen and admitted – we cannot be hypocrites any longer).  We are to bleed literally and figuratively because of our love for Christ and for the lost that He loves.  And the church appears powerless.  So, why does the church stink to the world?  Because the church, as Jesus’ body, takes on His nature of being a stumbling block. 

Each of us as Christians are to be “little Christ’s”.  Let’s get on with replicating his story and stop publishing our own!

PRAYER: God, we’ve got a long way to go to be very good reflections of Christ.  As His body here on earth, we feel powerless, we feel bloodied sometimes and broken.  Even as we struggle with what we see in the church and in ourselves, let us remember that you see us differently because we are “in Christ.”  If we are to be stumbling blocks to the world and individuals in it, let it be for all the right reasons – because we are living the story of Jesus visibly, out loud, each day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/06/17 – Venture Out in Faith

DayBreaks for 2/06/17: Venture Out in Faith

Revelation 3:8 (ESV) –I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

“One night at the end of a special Saturday night worship service,” writes Warren Hudson of Ontario, Canada, “a thunderstorm unleashed a bolt of lightning that plunged the church into darkness.” With the congregation seated in total darkness, the pastor felt his way to the kitchen to find some candles. The pastor handed out the candles to everyone present. Persons lit their candles in much the same way as many churches do on Christmas Eve, each person lighting the candle of the person next to them. The worshipers then made their way through the church’s winding hallways to the front door.

“Peering out, we could see the rain coming down in sheets,” Warren remembers. With traffic snarled, people were running for the nearest shelter. Looking around they realized that the entire city was in darkness. “There in the darkness we stood,” Warren writes, “a little band of Christians, each clutching a light, not sure whether to venture out into the storm or stay inside the church in hopes that the storm would soon blow over.”

There in the darkness the light of truth struck him. In this most dramatic way he realized what it means to be the “light of the world.” He writes, “It occurred to me then that this is the temptation I face every day. It is easy to play it safe and be a good Christian in church. It is a lot harder to venture out in faith into the storms of the world.”

It is easy to be a good Christian in church. It is not nearly so easy when we are outside the four walls of a comfortable building – but that is our mission. I suspect that if Jesus were to write a letter to us today he’d tell us that he’d much rather we were good Christians outside of the church building than inside.

Can you choose one thing this week that you will do “out in the storm” for Jesus and for the love of those around you?

PRAYER: Jesus, at the start of this new week, let us not be fearful of the surrounding storm but rather let us be good Christians and servants for you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/3/17 – Don’t Blame the House

DayBreaks for 2/03/17: Don’t Blame the House

I sometimes wonder what is going on with our country and the world. It’s not a pretty sight, no matter where you look. Things are dark and foreboding, broken and breaking down further, it seems. It is discouraging and it seems like everyone is looking for someone – or something – to blame.

John Stott, from Great Britain and one of the leading Reformed theologians before his death in 2011, had these challenging words to say to the church today:
“You know what your own country is like. I’m a visitor, and I wouldn’t presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
“Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, “Where is the light?”
“If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, “Where is the salt?”
“If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there’s no sense in blaming society. That’s what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is “Where is the church?”

Are you looking for someone or something to blame for the way the world is today? Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been looking in all the wrong places.

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on us, your church, for not being salt and light and influencing the world around us for good! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/10/17 – The Word Does The Work

DayBreaks for 1/10/17: The Word Does the Work

This was so good that I just had to share it. It’s from a blog by Mike Livingstone (mikelivingstone.com):

“The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”*

“More recently, David Platt has asked: “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” (Radical)

“Would it be enough?

“Tozer got it right: “Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.”

 “Like Tozer, we should be concerned that so many people in our churches want to be entertained while they worship. We should be concerned when we no longer recognize the difference between the two. And we should be concerned by the growing belief that adding more entertainment value to worship is necessary for the church to accomplish its mission.

“I may stand alone, but it grieves me when I see worship services characterized more by props, performances, and pep rally atmospheres than by any sense of divine sacredness; and hallowedness giving way to shallowness.

“This is not about worship styles. The issue is not traditional versus contemporary versus blended worship. It’s not about organ versus worship band. That discussion misses the point completely. This is about the heart and focus and intent of worship. The real issues, for me, are these:

“1. Who or what is the spotlight really on? If the figurative spotlight in our church services is on anyone other than God, it is not worship. If the spotlight shines brighter on human performance than on the gospel of Christ, it is not worship. If anyone other than Jesus is receiving our adulation and applause, it is not God we worship.

“2. What message are we communicating? The message of the church—the message the world needs to hear from us—is not, “Come and have a good time,” “Come and be entertained,” or “Come and find your best life now.”

Tozer said: “Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name.” The message of the church is the message of the cross. Lest we forget, Jesus’ cross was a source of entertainment only for those who mocked Him as He hung on it.

“3. How are lives changed? “But our methods are attracting and winning people!” some will say. Tozer addressed that sentiment: “Winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ?”

“David Platt and the church he pastored, The Church at Brook Hills, decided to try to answer the question, “Is His Word still enough for His people to come together?” They stripped away the entertainment value and invited people to come simply to study God’s Word. They called it Secret Church. They set a date—on a Friday night—when they would gather from 6:00 in the evening until midnight, and for six hours they would do nothing but study God’s Word and pray. People came. A thousand people came the first time and it grew from that. Soon, they had to start taking reservations because the church was packed full. Secret Church now draws tens of thousands of people via simulcast in over 50 countries around the world—with no entertainment, no bells and whistles or smoke machines.

“Why do they come? Platt explained in an interview: “People are hungry for the Word. There’s really nothing special or creative about it. It’s just the study of the Word …. The Word itself does the work!”

“People are hungry. They are hungry for a diet of substance, not candy. More of the Word. Deeper into the Word. Less of what Tozer called ‘religious toys and trifles.’”

PRAYER: Lord, let our love of “worship” never supersede our love for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/08/16 – The Most Important Vote You Will Ever Cast

DayBreaks for 11/08/06: The Most Important Vote You’ll Ever Cast

Well, the day that many have dreaded has arrived. This quite likely has been the most vitriolic and ugly election cycle for the highest office in our land that has ever taken place. People on both sides are sick and tired of it, ready for it to be over. Friendships have been strained, words have been spoken that should have been left unsaid. But it is election day and we will soon know the outcome.

Many have stressed greatly over and have great fears about what will become of our nation regardless of who wins this election. I understand that…I have my own concerns in that regard, too. But I need to take a step back and remember some pretty important things:

  1. No matter who wins today, God is still in control;
  2. No matter who wins today, Jesus is still seated on the throne and he’s not even breaking a sweat to stay there;
  3. No matter who wins today, my salvation is not affected and I’ll still be called to be a witness tomorrow even as I am today;
  4. No matter who wins today, I need to remember that Jesus promised us that the gates of hell will NOT prevail against His church – Jesus will defend and protect His bride (which is different from our nation!);
  5. No matter who wins today, my hope is to be placed in Christ, not in any human ruler;
  6. No matter who wins today, my greatest allegiance it to the King of Kings and I need to be wise enough to recognize when His interests are at stake and to take a stand for righteousness.

You’ve heard it many times during this election cycle: people of every persuasion are saying that this is the most important vote you will ever cast. Let me tell you the truth: they are wrong. It is not even close to the most important vote you will ever cast. The most important vote you will cast is your vote either for Jesus or against Him. Your eternity hangs on that vote. All the people running for office in this election will die and meet their Maker and answer for what they have done and in whom they have believed and with whom they have cast their lot – with themselves or with Jesus.

Cast your vote wisely!

PRAYER: God, we do pray for our nation today. We pray for the men and women of Your choosing to be elected. We pray for wisdom as people all over this country try to make sense out of all the claims and counterclaims, promises kept and broken, of those who would be our leaders. We cannot see hearts as You can. But more than anything else, Lord, let us vote for Jesus to be our King and Master and find our rest and hope in Him and Him alone! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/17/16 – The Message of Zebulun and Naphtali

Image result for light and dark

DayBreaks for 10/17/16 – The Message of Zebulon and Naphtali

Matthew 4:12-16 (NLT) – When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”

This passage is most often thought of in conjunction with the Christmas story – and for good reason. But there is much deeper truth just below the obvious.

Zebulun and Naphtali were sons of Jacob – and they were the founding members of the two tribes that carried their names. They aren’t as famous as some other tribes, but there is something worth knowing about these tribes and the fact that Jesus went there as he was beginning to announce the good news.

After the death of King Solomon, what had been known as Israel split into two parts: the northern kingdom (which kept the name Israel) and the southern kingdom (called Judah). Eventually both kingdoms would be overwhelmed by surrounding world powers due to their idolatry and disobedience. But the northern kingdom was the first two fall.

Zebulun and Naphtali were part of the northern kingdom that was carried away by the Assyrians in 722 BC. In fact, Zebulun and Naphtali bore the brunt of the Assyrian army as it devastated and destroyed Israel.

By the time of Jesus, the area once occupied by Zebulun and Naphtali had become known as Galilee of the Gentiles because people from all nations dwelt there and it was a wild, wooly and very dark place spiritually – and it had been for centuries.

It was to this place, so dark and vile, that Jesus went early in his ministry. He went to these people who were in a darkness so deep that the people there “sat” in darkness…it was so dark that they couldn’t even move. But Jesus brought to them the Light. Those who lived where death had long cast its shadow saw the Light that had come from heaven above.

So what, you might ask?  Several things strike me about this passage:

FIRST: Jesus isn’t afraid to go into darkness. He came into a world of darkness from a place of eternal light and glory. He did it to bring that light to mankind.

SECOND: If Jesus took the light into the darkness, I must ask myself how good of a job I am doing of imitating my Lord and Master? I am to be like him – and so are you.

THIRD: we are in a time of deep frustration and despair in America right now. We are seeing, first hand, how dark it has gotten in this country that has been historically so blessed by God. We are stunned by the nature and character of the choices before us of those who would lead not just our country, but the free world. It is very, very easy to despair. We live in a land of darkness. But Jesus (and his followers) are still here and that means there can still be light if we choose as his people to be like the city set upon a hill.

Jesus came into the darkness in the Incarnation. He went into the darkness of Zebulon and Naphtali. He entered the darkness of the tomb. And every time he has emerged with victory in hand. Wherever Jesus is, there is hope.

Let’s not lose hope. Let’s pray. Let’s reflect the Light that dispels the darkness!

PRAYER: Thank you for not being afraid to come into the dark to rescue us. Help us to not be afraid to go into the darkness with you. We pray for our nation, that the Light might once more burn brightly as your people repent and turn from the darkness to the Light once again.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.