DayBreaks for 11/14/19 – It Is Here

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DayBreaks for 11/14/19: It Is Here

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. – John 16:1-4 (NIV)

Jesus often couched his messages and teaching in riddles or parables that were designed to be understood only by those who had open hearts and eyes.  In what is surely a sad commentary on human nature, not even those who were the closest to Him often grasped what He meant.  But in this passage from John 16, Jesus spoke in point blank terms.  There was no mistaking His message to those who followed Him: “…a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” 

We have lived in religious freedom in the United States of America for about 235 years.  What a blessing!  I fear that we’ve come to a point in our country where we no longer experience much religious freedom.  Of course, I’m speaking in relative terms – we have far greater religious freedom than in China where churches are forced underground, or in Muslim countries or even in countries where Buddhism or Hinduism are practices.  In such countries, lives are sacrificed – literally – on the altar of obedience to God every day.  We aren’t there yet in the United States.  I hope we never will be – but such hoping on my part may just be wishful thinking for myself and those I love.  It may be best for the kingdom of God if such persecution were to come to this land. 

Seldom does persecution arrive “full blown.”  There are usually steps and phases – the proverbial slippery slope – where small things are first lost.  Then, if no one notices or raises an alarm, the next step is taken…and the next…and the next, until finally one wakes up to find the persecutor knocking on the door.  Think it isn’t happening here?  Consider this excerpt from “Cross and Culture”, an evangelical blog written by my youngest son, Tim: “Bill McGurn has an excellent article on two “Christian Girls, Interrupted.”  The first girl, Amanda Kurowski, was ordered by a judge to attend public school because, essentially, the judge determined that the girl should be exposed to ways of thinking other than those of her religious parents.  Amanda’s parents are divorced; her mother has primary custody, but her father has been concerned about the effect of home-schooling on her “socialization.” 

“The judge determined “that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  Yet due to her “rigidity on faith,” the court concludes that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”  In other words, the judge determines, essentially, that she must be sent to public school in order to get away from her mother’s narrow religiosity and be exposed to other worldviews.  Pretty extraordinary stuff.  As McGurn writes, “Just how extraordinary [this line of reasoning is] might best be appreciated by contemplating the opposite scenario: the reaction that would ensue were a court to order a young girl out of a public school and into an evangelical one so she might gain “exposure” to other “systems of belief.”

Religious freedom still exists in America – provided you aren’t a vocal Christian of the evangelical stripe.  Are you ready for the knock on the door?  Will your faith stand the test – or has it already been compromised? 

PRAYER: Lord, we pray for renewal and repentance in our country that we might return to You!  We pray that we would love our enemies, regardless of what they might do to us, that Your kingdom may grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/24/19 – Armchairs and Earthquakes

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DayBreaks for 9/24/19: Armchairs and Earthquakes

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

Do you have a favorite armchair that has grown accustomed to your shape and form – a place you like to sit (or recline, if you’re lucky) and just veg?  I have one.  It’s in our front room and from there I can watch TV, plug in my notebook and surf the internet, process email, read, study, write or listen to music.  I am very fond of this chair (as is my dog, Casper, who likes to crawl up on my lap, especially if I pop out the footrest and get really comfortable!) 

Armchairs are great.  They are made for one purpose and one purpose only: to make you comfortable.  Ya gotta love ‘em!

There are, however, drawbacks to armchairs.  For all their comfort, the greatest danger is that they’ll make us too comfortable.  I can fritter away an entire afternoon sitting in my chair entertaining myself instead of cleaning out the garage, washing the car, doing some yard work or even washing the dishes!  All of those things need to be done, but when I’m all comfortable in my chair, I seem to lack motivation to get up and do any of those things that might even remotely resemble work!

Still, I’m convinced that God doesn’t begrudge us some relaxation and comfort.  In fact, I’m sure He doesn’t.  After all, one of the names for the Messiah and the Spirit is “Comforter.”  That being said, it is true that God doesn’t want us to get too comfortable – at least not with things of this earthly life. 

It is easy to sit in our armchairs and pontificate.  We can wax eloquent on politics or the latest world events.  We can speak with great passion about the needs of the orphans and hungry.  We can talk and give lots of facts about the plight of those living in the third world and what should be done to make their existence better.  It’s easy to sit in an armchair and talk about important things…but it’s even easier to do nothing BUT talk about them. 

We need to consider that our God is the kind of God who is alive and who is not hesitant to take action, who shakes the earth from its place (Job 9:6) from time to time.  It seems that it is His penchant to shake the earth around us particularly when we get too comfortable in our armchair.  And when He does, our armchair shakes right along with it.  The question then becomes, what will we do when that happens?  What will become of all those trite and quaint sayings we have about God as we sit in our comfy chair?  Will they change?  Will they turn to accusations or recriminations? 

I’ve lived through numerous earthquakes in my many years of living in California.  I don’t enjoy them, but I will confess that they get your attention and make you pay attention.  We should be grateful for the earthquakes of life, for those times when God shakes us out of our comfort induced, sleepy haze.  It may be uncomfortable and stir us up – but more often than not, that’s precisely what we need!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for not letting us grow too comfortable that we forget our responsibilities and fail to serve You or others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/19/19 – Alaska Lessons #3 – Peace

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DayBreaks for 9/19/19: Alaska Lessons #3 – Peace

I suppose in a way this DayBreaks is mislabeled. It’s about peace in a way, but more accurately the deceitful appearance of peace when there is none.

At one point during our time in Alaska, a naturalist led a small group I was with out onto the tundra and up onto a  hillock. We ate lunch there (after careful instructions to keep our eyes peeled for bear and not to leave anything behind). When we were sitting there, we watched a mother grizzly and her cub on a sloping hillside opposite us (they were quite a distance away!) We all sat in silence, just watching the majestic animals move.

Then, at one point, our guide said, “Just listen. What can you hear?” To be honest, all I could hear was the sound of the wind on occasion, the sound of my own breathing, the sound of blood rushing through my ears and the occasional bird calling. It was so peaceful and quiet. That started me thinking about the peace that is to be found on the vast slopes and tundra of Alaska.

But that peace is deceptive. That very afternoon, the mother grizzly may have taken down some animal for dinner. The moose cow will vigorously defend her calf with her very sharp and hard hooves – even taking on full grown bears. Wolves will chase caribou for miles in pursuit of a meal and a golden eagle swoops down from on high to snatch an unsuspecting and unwary rabbit or pika. Bull moose fight with one another, sometimes to the death, to gain mating rights with a harem of cows. The wild of Alaska may sound and even look peaceful, but it is deceptive.

The bible warns us: Jeremiah 8:11 (NIV) – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace. In context, God is excoriating the leaders – political and religious – who pretend that nothing is wrong, that there is nothing that threatens harm due to their conceit and greed.

We need to be careful to not be lulled into a lack of alertness for danger surrounds us at every bend, over every hilltop. We have an enemy who doesn’t slack off when we are weak or wounded – he attacks. But he wants us to think the world is just fine, thank you, and that we don’t need to be worried or wage war against a culture that has discarded God’s truth. 

We also need to be careful that we are not guilty of emulating those God rails against in Jeremiah and lulling others into a false sense of wellness.

Let us be alert at all times, for the enemy seeks whom he may devour!

PRAYER: Help us be vigilant and not mislead by our own desire for peace when there is none. Give us discernment to recognize false claims that would lull us into comfort! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 5/30/19 – 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.  ><}}}”>