DayBreaks for 1/11/18 – Everything Counts All the Time

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DayBreaks for 1/11/18: Everything Counts All the Time

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Life is chock-full of seemingly innocent little moments of decision.  You’ll make so many decisions today and do so many things that really aren’t very important.  For example: you’ll decide which shirt or dress to wear today – and all things being equal, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.  You’ll decide what to eat (although if you have health problems, that can be important!)  You’ll decide which bank teller to go to, which check-out line at the grocery store.  While we may agonize over which pair of sunglasses make us look the most cool, it’s really nothing more than a trivial decision.  Much of life revolves around trivial things.

But, there are things in life that aren’t trivial at all.  Consider this from the California Southern Baptist (3/2/2000):

“Recently, Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America, spoke at an Evangelism Conference about reaching people in the age of relativism.  He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus.  They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.”  Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self-righteous, narrow and repressive.”

“There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said.  “We are the evidence!  Everything counts—all the time.”

“With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not anymore.  I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for.  Not something they can relate to.  They are looking for a transcendent God.  They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.”

I think Zander had it spot on: “There is a difference between knowing the good news and BEING (emphasis mine, GCD) the good news.”  I realize that in a very real sense, we cannot be the good news.  Jesus came from heaven to give us the good news and be the good news for us!  But, how we act, what we say, even how we think – in a way we can be the good news or the bad news.  Why does the world think of Jesus in such high terms but Christians in such negative ways?  Could it be because we are not being the good news?  Because as the world looks at us, they don’t see Jesus in us at all, but our old sinful, carping and complaining natures? 

Every encounter we have with another human being is loaded with implications for eternity.  Yes – every single one.  What you say, how you act, what we do and even how we think about them matters.  GenX is still seeking a transcendent God, but for them, the proof of His existence is transformed followers of God, people in whom the love of Jesus is perfected by their treatment of others.  It is, after all, what Jesus said would be the one sign of true belief and discipleship.

When you have that casual conversation by the water cooler today – realize it isn’t as casual as it appears.  When you greet the clerk at the grocery store, be the good news personified.  When you come in the door at home at the end of your long and trying day, remember that God expects you to be the good news at home, too.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 KJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the best news the world has ever known.  Help us to not only know him, but to live like him so the good news may be alive and strong within us.  Help us to realize that as Your children and ambassadors in this world, that everything we do makes a difference all the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.


DayBreaks for 12/06/17 – Non-Negotiable Truth

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DayBreaks for 12/06/17: Non-Negotiable Truth

NOTE: Galen is traveling for the next few days.

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Not too long ago, George Barna’s research said that only 9% of teenagers who call themselves “born-again Christians” believe in such a thing as moral absolutes.  Only 4% of non-born again teens believe in moral absolutes.  It would be interesting to see what the statistics say for adults who consider themselves Christians.  I’m sure that piece of data is out there, but I don’t have it readily available at this writing.  But, it’s not really necessary.  If these statistics are real, the point is made.  And why, one might ask, would born-again Christian teens not think that there are moral absolutes?  Most likely it’s because their parents and churches haven’t taught them that there are moral absolutes.  We’ve abdicated the reasoning and logical powers of our youth to relativistic teachers and postmodern deconstructionists who have twisted and blinded their eyes.  And I believe most who call themselves Christians but who are adults, have the same problem.  

In his book, The New Absolutes, William Watkins cited several studies and then concluded, “Roughly three out of four Americans claimed they embraced relativism and opposed absolutism.” (p. 26)

But wait: isn’t the statement, “there is no absolute truth” a contradiction in and of itself?  Isn’t it a statement that purports to make an absolute truth statement even while denying the existence of absolute truth?  Of course it is.  See how easy it is to swallow Satan’s baited hook?

Maybe some of you who are reading this are saying right now: “But there are no absolute truths.”  Okay, let’s test that hypothesis right now.  For those who think that there are no absolutes, at lunchtime today, I want you to go into the lavatory, fill the sink with water, and put your head in and hold it totally underwater for 45 minutes breathing nothing but water.  Then, come out and tell me if there is absolute truth about this statement one way or another: “Breathing water for humans is just as good as breathing air.” 

Some truths are not negotiable, they are absolute.  It matters whether you breathe water or oxygen.  If you breathe water you will drown for long enough, it is an absolute truth.  I guarantee it!

Maybe you are going to the doctor in the next few days.  When he/she prescribes something for you, do you want the precise dosage, or do you want them to tell you that “it doesn’t matter how much you take – take whatever you want to”?  I don’t know about you, but when I go to the doctor, I want him to tell me the right dosage of medication I need.  It wouldn’t be right for him to say to me, “Take as much as you want.”  Too much could kill me, not enough wouldn’t help me; I need the right dosage.  There is absolute truth in this, too!

Maybe you’re flying somewhere this week or for the holidays.  When you get to the airport, do you want the counter person to tell you which is the correct gate and flight and departure time, or to say, “You know, it really doesn’t matter which plane you get on, they all will take you somewhere sometime – maybe even all will take you to the same place.”  No thanks.  Not for me.  I want to know the absolute truth about what flight to get on to wind up where I want to be.

Perhaps you’re saying, “Sure, Galen, but those are physical things.  I’m talking about spiritual absolutes – and there are none of them.”  Again, a self-refuting claim.  To accurately make such a claim, one would have to know every possible fact about spiritual things.  If there is a single spiritual truth that someone doesn’t know or have, that one truth might just well be that there are absolute spiritual realities.  Jesus said there is absolute truth – and He is IT!

With all due respect to the majority opinion in our society, there is an absolute truth. Jesus said, … I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 KJV

PRAYER:  Give us the wisdom to recognize falsehood when it comes disguised as so-called “wisdom” and eyes to see that Jesus is the Absolute Spiritual Truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/16/17 – Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

DayBreaks for 10/16/17: Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

One of the things I like best about the New Testament is that it is so practical. It must have been the fact that Jesus had human beings called disciples always with him that forced him to speak in such everyday terms about everyday problems. Sometimes Christians disagree in the congregation of believers. Sometimes they quarrel. Sometimes they hold grudges against each other. The Scripture for today says that we must never tolerate any situation in which there is a breach of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community.

In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus admits that disciples are going to have conflicts; but they are to resolve them.

It is very true today that the behavior of us church members on this very issue makes Christianity to the outside world either repulsive or attractive.

It isn’t a matter that Christians are perfect and will not have conflicts. There will always be quarrels, differences of opinion on how and who, disappointments with preachers and councils, hurt feelings, bent pride, loss of face, and lots of mistakes. It’s the idea that Christians can resolve these conflicts as no other fellowship can, that Jesus puts before us today.

Comus, a Duke of Florence, had a saying that indicated the limitations of his religion: “You shall read that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.” Isn’t that interesting? I think that sometimes it is harder to forgive our friends than it is our enemies because we expect better treatment from our friends to start with. Enemies we expect to take advantage and betray us, but not our friends. So it is doubly hard to forgive them – including our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We hear a lot from the pulpit talking about how Christians are admonished by Jesus Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their enemies. When in actuality, right there in the pew side by side are Christians who hold grudges, hang on to petty hurts, refuse to forgive and love each other within the fellowship. And when they do this, church and Christianity and the whole practice of religion for them is not the joyful experience it ought to be. They miss a large dimension of belonging to God’s family.

Have you forgiven your friends, your brothers and sisters? I don’t believe that the excuse, “You never said we had to forgive our friends!” will hold water, do you?

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to have the heart that you have shown for all mankind, and be quick and ready to forgive – enemies and friends alike, so we can be like you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/12/17 – A Kingdom of Power???

DayBreaks for 10/12/17: A Kingdom of Power?

Mark 9:1 (ESV) – And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

So, after you read the saying of Jesus in today’s verse, what do you think about the kingdom? Jesus said that there would be those present who heard his words first-hand who would not die until after the kingdom came with power.

Look around you. Does it seem to you that the kingdom has come with power? Does it seem to you that people are acting out and living according to kingdom principles and truth?

When you look at the death and destruction from recent hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, the Las Vegas massacre, the fires in northern California that are like hell itself has been released on earth…does it seem to you that the kingdom has come with power? It sure doesn’t seem so, does it?

But, if we come to that conclusion, we would have to say that Jesus was either mistaken and didn’t know what he was talking about, or he’s a liar. I’m not willing to take either of those positions.

So, how can we explain it? A couple of thoughts come to mind:

FIRST: given the inclination of the human heart to sin and depravity, how can the fact that we don’t all kill, steal, rape and otherwise do the most horrible things be explained? I think some of it is because of the influence of the Spirit at work in creation. All I really have to do is consider my own darkest impulses and the fact that I don’t give in to them somehow is a testimony to the power of the Spirit in my life (not that I’m bragging, I’m just saying that it is only because of the power of the Spirit unleashed in my own heart that I don’t do all those bad things) and I have to say there is some power at work. Imagine what you might do if not for the restraining power of faith and the Spirit at work in you.

SECOND: how many believers have there been since the founding of Christianity? The number must be in the billions, in fact, Google says that in 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with 2.2 billion adherents. How does that happen if not by immense power?!! Scripture is pretty clear that left to our own, we can’t even come to faith.

The kingdom has come with power: power to change individual hearts, power to lead 2.2+ billion to faith in our present age, power to restrain evil individually and culturally. Yes, there is still great evil in the world, but what would the world be like without the kingdom? I shudder to even contemplate the thought!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the Spirit and the power that is working in the world and in my own heart. May the power of the kingdom grow and expand in me, in my loved ones, in your church and in this world for your immense glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/02/17 – Between Intimacy and Fear

DayBreaks for 10/02/17: Between Intimacy and Fear

From our Sunday worship bulletin: “We live in irreverent times when people show less and less respect for positions, traditions, and institutions. At times, we even see this attitude in churches. Many have become very ‘casual’ about the things of God.

“Much of the current preaching heard in evangelical churches teaches us that God desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with us, and indeed He does (Jas. 4:8, John 15:15). We told that we can call God, ‘Abba’ (or ‘Daddy’), and rightfully so. However, there should be a balance between intimacy and awe. Right after James writes ‘Draw near to God’, he continues with ‘Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded’. While the Bible reveals God’s desire for intimacy with us, it also shows us His awesome holiness, majesty, and power. Much of what we find in Scripture is meant to create greater reverence for Him.

“A good example of the proper balance between intimacy and awe is found in the apostle John. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends, part of the ‘inner circle’ of disciples with Peter and James. Six times in his gospel, John calls himself ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’ If anyone had the right and privilege to be ‘chummy’ with Jesus, it was Joh, but in Revelation 1:10-20, when John sees Jesus in heaven in all his glory, with His eyes ‘like a flame of fire’ and His face ‘like the sun shining in full strength, he didn’t say, ‘Hey man! How’s it goin’?’John said, ‘When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as though dead’ (Rev. 1:17).  Here’s someone who knew Jesus as well as anyone ever had, and yet, he was full of reverence and awe at the sight of his risen Lord.”

So, somewhere between casual friendship and terrifying fear, between being with a close friend and the Eternal Almighty God, we are to encounter Christ. I am confident there are times we are to come to Him like a little child and crawl up and snuggle in His arms, but there are also times we need to fall on our face as did the disciple that Jesus loved more than any other. To focus solely on one or the other is to deny the truth in a dangerous way.  

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may we know You in all Your fullness and may we know you both as Abba and as the great I Am! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/01/17 – What to Wear to Church

DayBreaks for 9/01/17: What to Wear to Church

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

I’ve been part of several churches during my lifetime.  As a kid, I grew up in the Midwest (Iowa, to be precise), with the typical mid-western mindset about church and what constituted proper attire.  Even though we lived in rural Iowa and the little church we attended in Jefferson was populated mostly by relatively poor farmers, on Sunday you could count on them being decked out in their “Sunday best.”  They weren’t doing this as a means of impressing other attendees with their wealth or sartorial sagacity, but they did it out of a deep sense of reverence and respect for the God that we worshipped.  Their reasoning, as I now understand it, was along this line: “We should give God our very best in everything – including in how we come to worship Him.  It shows Him respect.”  I can appreciate that a great deal.

I’ve also attended churches that were very laid back in their dress code.  Personally, I prefer it that way.  Come Sunday mornings I’m in a polo shirt and Dockers as I stand in the pulpit – except on very rare occasions.  Why?  Because I prefer it that way.  I hate ties and shirts and suits…to me they seem too full of pretentiousness and preening.  But, if I’m honest, it’s because I really prefer to be comfortable when I worship God.  Is that good?  I think so, but then again, I’m not so sure.  There’s still a bit of the mid-western upbringing in me.  But I also know that if I dressed in my finest, that even then, with my spiritual raggedness, I’ve got nothing to impress God with.  Nor should I try to impress Him, I think. 

So what should we wear when we go to church?  For an entirely different take on it, read on:

“Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? …
“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.

“It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” – Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk

Wouldn’t it be interesting to pass out crash helmets at worship services?   What could be more appropriate if we really believed that God shows up on Sunday…and if we didn’t reign Him in with our human ideas of orderliness and restraint?  I think that I’d much rather have God on the loose than tied down.  We’re the ones who would need to be tied down if we let Him be on the loose in our churches…for He is an awesome God.

PRAYER:  God, Your Word says that You never sleep nor slumber, but I can’t help but wondering if our apathy and comfortableness with You sometimes causes sleep to fill not only our eyes, but Yours, too.  We ask You to be fully alive to us in our hearts, our homes and our churches that You can be glorified in our midst!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/25/17 – The Wheat, the Tares – and the Line Through the Heart

DayBreaks for 7/25/17: The Wheat, the Tares, and the Line Through the Heart

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) – Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares seems strange. In that parable, the lesson is not to try separate the wheat and tares. In due time, they will be separate by the Judge of all. So, why wouldn’t Jesus want us to go out there are start sorting it all out? I think there are obvious reasons: what we think is a “tare” may in fact be wheat in its early stages. How many of us would have seen Saul of Tarsus (a believer in God, even before his conversion, no doubt) as wheat instead of a tare?

One preacher asked the people at his church to imagine what would happen if they adopted a policy of weed-pulling, drawing a circle around their little town and making a vow that no evil would cross that line, that no weeds would grow within that border. He told them, “You know, you and I could spend the rest of our lives protecting that boundary, standing shoulder to shoulder with pitchforks and clubs, making sure that we kept drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling safely on the other side. I think it would take all of our energy and most of our time. But what if we did it? What if we succeeded? What would we have? We would have a town characterized by the absence of evil, which is not the same as a town characterized by the presence of good. And maybe this is what Jesus was talking about all along, that it’s better to have a wheat field with weeds in it than a field with nothing in it at all.”
When that church in North Carolina later began a ministry to the children of a nearby trailer park, they had to decide what kind of ministry it would be. They could have chosen to root out all the sources of evil in that place-to chase down the drug dealers and the deadbeat dads, to confiscate handguns and arrest child abusers. Instead, they chose to put up a basketball goal, to tell stories from the Bible, to put their arms around little children, and sing songs about Jesus. And two years after they started that ministry, two years of going out there Saturday after Saturday to do those things, the pastor got a note in his box at church with five words on it: “Adrian wants to be baptized.” Adrian. The terror of the trailer park. That little girl who had made their work most difficult during the previous two years. Who would have guessed?
Instead of pulling weeds in the field where she lived, they just tried hard to BE  wheat themselves, and somehow Adrian saw that and fell in love with it and wanted it for herself. After she was baptized, there was a little more wheat in the field. And because she was there, soon, there was even more.

I know far too many Christians who continually want to cull the field, making decisions on the basis of assumed or real belief, behaviors, attitudes, speech, political stances, etc. One pastor’s wife looked back into her genealogy and traced it back over 500 years. In the process, they that she had a relative who was burned at the stake in Switzerland. Why? Because he had a different understanding of baptism than those who tied him to the stake, that’s why. They weeded him out. Then they burned him up.
As for me, I don’t always know whether I am weed or wheat. I believe it was Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That includes my heart and it includes yours, too. For all I know, I may even be the weed in somebody else’s garden. Perhaps in your garden.

If Jesus was content to let the weeds be, why shouldn’t I? He’ll sort it out when the time is right for he is far better qualified to do so than any human.

PRAYER: Forgive me for thinking my answers are all the right ones, that I am in any way qualified to separate the wheat from the tares! Let humility rise within us, Lord, and let us just get about the business of being wheat and not something else that is deceitful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>