DayBreaks for 5/11/20 – The Blessedness of the Persecuted

In This Current Situation, Consider the Persecuted Church

DayBreaks for 5/11/20: The Blessedness of the Persecuted

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness… – Jesus

Does persecution sound like something you look forward to?  Even the very word sounds painful.  I don’t know of anyone who would walk around and say, “You are fortunate when you are persecuted for doing good”…no one, that is, except Jesus.  Do I want to be persecuted?  No!  But Jesus says that if I am persecuted, I am fortunate/happy/blessed!

How can it possibly be true?  A brother at our congregation found the following and shared it with me.  I think that when you read it and contemplate it, you’ll see and agree that those who are persecuted for righteousness truly are the blessed:

When persecution comes into our lives then, according to Jesus, we must conclude the following:
That we have put our complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
That we can truly call ourselves Christians.
That we belong to the kingdom of God.
That we are righteous.
That we have been chosen by the Father and the Son.
That ours is the kingdom of God now and in the future.
That Jesus is truly our Lord and that is why we are being persecuted.
That our salvation is sure and certain.
That we are not false prophets.
That we are not worldly for the people of the world are not persecuted.
That we are in the very good company with many other saved Christians.
That we can know that we are truly born again.
That eternal life is ours.

Can there be any greater blessings than knowing these things?  Now the question is: will we live lives that will cause us to be persecuted for righteousness, or will we hide and remain invisible?

PRAYER: Jesus, we need the kind of courage you demonstrated in your lifetime, to bear persecution for the sake of your kingdom.  Give us spirits that don’t quail and quake in fear when we are confronted with the choice of living and acting in the cause of righteousness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/13/20 – We Lepers

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DayBreaks for 2/13/20: We Lepers

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In his book, God is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg relates the following story:

“Father Damien was a priest who became famous for his willingness to serve lepers. He moved to Kalawao—a village on the island of Molokai, in Hawaii, that had been quarantined to serve as a leper colony. For 16 years, he lived in their midst. He learned to speak their language. He bandaged their wounds, embraced the bodies no one else would touch, preached to hearts that would otherwise have been left alone. He organized schools, bands, and choirs. He built homes so that the lepers could have shelter. He built 2,000 coffins by hand so that, when they died, they could be buried with dignity. Slowly, it was said, Kalawao became a place to live rather than a place to die, for Father Damien offered hope.

“Father Damien was not careful about keeping his distance. He did nothing to separate himself from his people. He dipped his fingers in the poi bowl along with the patients. He shared his pipe. He did not always wash his hands after bandaging open sores. He got close. For this, the people loved him.

“Then one day he stood up and began his sermon with two words: “We lepers….”

“Now he wasn’t just helping them. Now he was one of them. From this day forward, he wasn’t just on their island; he was in their skin. First he had chosen to live as they lived; now he would die as they died. Now they were in it together.

“One day God came to Earth and began his message: “We lepers….” Now he wasn’t just helping us. Now he was one of us. Now he was in our skin. Now we were in it together.

Identification.  I don’t mean your driver’s license or social security number – I mean knowing who you are – is very important.  If I find myself in a struggle with something, I go to someone who I believe can identify with my struggle so we can speak a common language into one another’s ear.  I don’t go to someone who I believe will not have any sense of what I’m talking about or going through.  To do so would be foolish, at best, and downright harmful because we may get very incorrect advice!

Jesus knew when he came that he would have to become like one of us.  Not just someone with a physical body containing 2 legs, 2 arms, 2 eyes, a nose, ears and mouth.  He knew he would have to become JUST like us in all respects.  The writer of the Hebrew letter understood this: For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18

It wouldn’t be enough to just look like us and sound like us.  He had to be made like his brothers “in every way” so that He would understand the misery and despair and desperation of the human heart.  I find verse 18 interesting: he suffered when He was tempted.  Sometimes we may have the idea that Jesus rather easily and flippantly threw off temptation.  Perhaps he did, perhaps the “suffering” described in Hebrews 2:18 was generalized suffering brought on by the very nature of the Incarnation, but I believe this goes beyond generalized suffering. 

When we are tempted, really, truly tempted, and we resist it, we suffer an emotional and spiritual torment of sorts.  We WANT what is tempting us.  And we want it BADLY.  It is painful to say “No!”  It hurts to be obedient.  But it never hurts as badly as disobedience. 

In the final analysis, Jesus went a step beyond what we experience.  We experience sin as sinners.  Jesus didn’t just experience sin, but He “became sin” (2 Cor. 5:21).  It is in all these experiences that Jesus stands before the throne of the Father, pleading the case for us, “We humans…”.

PRAYER: We will never understand all that you took on to be our Savior, Lord – the humiliation, the pain, the suffering – all because your love refused to let us go.  Thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/03/20 – The Deadliest War

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DayBreaks for 2/03/20: The Deadliest War

It has been said that the deadliest war is the one that most of us never realize is being fought. Why? Because by the time we wake up and realize what is happening the war is over and it has been lost.

My guess is that not one single person who reads this has ever crafted an image of wood, metal or some other material and then bowed down to worship it. We wouldn’t think of doing such a thing. But as Os Guinness said, “Idolatry is huge in the Bible, dominant in our personal lives, and irrelevant in our mistaken estimations.” In other words – we read about it, it dominates our lives and we think it is irrelevant to us.

Kyle Idleman wrote in Gods at War, “Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethrones, and the Lord God takes his rightful place, you will not have victory.

“Idolatry isn’t an issue; it’s the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods.”

Let’s explore this issue more in future DayBreaks, but for today, let me pose this single question: What is your greatest temptation that causes you to sin most often and what god are you serving when you give in to it?

PRAYER: God, open our eyes to the truth about idolatry in our own lives and help us destroy those idols so you have your rightful place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/16/20 – Can’t Touch This

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DayBreaks for 1/16/20: Can’t Touch This

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Chrysostom, the ancient Church Father, was a beautiful example of true Christian courage. When he stood before the Roman Emperor, he was threatened with banishment if he still remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot, for the world is my Father’s house; you cannot banish me.”

“But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.

“No, but you cannot,” said the noble champion of the faith again, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away thy treasures.” “No, but you cannot,” was the retort; “in the first place, I have nothing you know anything about. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from man, and you shall have no friend left.” “No, and that you cannot,” once more said the faithful witness, “for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you shall not separate me. I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

How does an ordinary human get such courage?  It surely doesn’t come from our human nature.  It comes from the Spirit of boldness that we have as part of the indwelling of the Spirit…the very Spirit that was in Christ Jesus.  There has never been a braver, more courageous and fearless man than Jesus. 

What we have is secured, not by the power of Rome or the United States, it is not kept by a refrigerator or a preservative additive, it is kept by the power of the Almighty God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – ESV, 1 Peter 1:3-5

PRAYER: Give us courage to live in the power of Your Spirit and to be fearless like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 12/06/19 – Which One is Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 12/06/19: Which One is Crazy?

There are plenty of people in this world who think that Christians are a bunch of crazies who should be put into a looney bin.  I can understand that point of view, actually.  There is plenty in the Good Book that seems crazy when you stop to think about it.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t true – in fact, it is actually an indicator of the truth of the story.  No one would have made up these kind of crazy things: people past childbearing holding their toddlers on their knees, a big boat that saved the human race, young boys felling giants with one projectile, people receiving sight, a virgin birth, the dead being raised.  It’s pretty wild stuff, and I for one can totally understand how unbelievers think we may be nice people by and large, but that we’re not playing with a full deck.

Surprisingly, some Christians think other Christians are crazy, too.  This is usually a label that one believer gives to another when the recipient of the label takes the Word at face value and tries with all their power to live out what they believe to be true.  One might call it fanaticism, another craziness.  Either way, it’s sad that we should ever think someone is crazy for trying to live out the Word as they feel led to do by the Spirit.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan describes the dilemma when talking about how his family, led by their convictions, moved into a house half the size of their previous home so that they would have more money to give to the Lord’s work and more time as well.  The cynics said he was crazy.  Francis’ response to them was: “…in the context of eternity…am I the crazy one for selling my house?  Or are you for not giving more, serving more, being with your Creator more?  If one person ‘wastes’ away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one?  If one person invests her or his resources in the poor – which according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself – and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on this earth, who is the crazy one?

When people gladly sacrifice their time or comfort or home, it is obvious that they trust in the promises of God.  Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense?  Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is?  The way it should be?

“Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.  A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.  As Martin Luther put it, ‘There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day.”  (Lk. 14:25-35; Mt. 7:13-23, 8:18-22; Rev. 3:1-6)

How crazy are you?

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to do crazy things in the eyes of the world, but which are truly reflections of trust in Your promises.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/27/19 – The Blessing of Darkness, #2

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DayBreaks for 11/27/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #2

Yesterday we looked at Psalm 88 – one of only two Psalms that don’t have any ray of hope or light. I want to explore it a bit further today.

In Psalm 88, Heman is very vocal about the source of his trouble: You (meaning God).  God is not hearing Heman. He has had so much trouble that he believes he is near Sheol (the grave) and he says it is God who has put him there. Not only that, but God has caused his friend to distance themselves (vs. 8) from Heman, making him repulsive to them. It is God’s wrath that is heavy on him (vs. 7). In spite of that, He cries out day and night to God (vs. 9) but feels utterly rejected (vs. 14) and is so despairing that he calls the darkness his only friend (vs. 18).

What are we to make of this? Was God to blame for the darkness around Heman? I honestly don’t know, but Heman believed it. His cries are not unlike those of Job.

What is the lesson here for us? I think it may be this – if God is to blame for it (the Spirit inspired these words, remember!) – then it is a tool God is using for our good, not our harm. And what good could that possibly be? Maybe this: the value of the darkness is that it reveals to us if we are in this to serve God or to be served by Him.

It is in the darkness that we find out the truth about our motives. Satan’s accusation against God was that Job only served Him for what God did for him – that Job’s relationship with God was basically a selfish one.

I suspect that Heman learned a great deal from this darkness. And I suspect he figured it out the right way because he was still calling out to God in the midst of the darkness. He wanted answers – which he may or may not have received  just like Job – but the greatest lesson is what he learned about his motivation for being a worshipper of God.

PRAYER: Father, reveal to us, in our own darkness, the motives of our heart and our reason for claiming to be Your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/06/19 – The Tin Man and the God Man

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19: The Tin Man and the God-man

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:

More today on the struggle with sin that wages war within us:

We seem to have a thought that we are to wage war on sin and win the victory.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Sure, we are to oppose evil.  But we need to grasp the truth that the war is not just ours – the war belongs to God.  He was waging war against sin and evil long before any of us were born.  He is the One Who declared war.  He is the One with the tools to fight – and win – this war.  We cannot and will not win the victory.  God must and will win.  He began that long ago, and the major, telling blow was struck at Calvary and sealed on Resurrection Morning.  Yet, even when it comes to dealing with sin, we try to make it all about “me”, “I”, “us.” 

Because of this, the struggle against sin can only be safely and successfully waged if we are in a full, right relationship with Him.  It is when we are not in that kind of close relationship that we will try to fight on our own power and strength – and the result is that we will fall, bloodied on the moral battlefield.  It is in relationship with the Spirit that we will find not only the strength, but the desire to join in the war.  The desire of our heart is evil continually.  That’s why the heart and mind of Christ must be formed in us – and that happens when like Enoch, we walk with Him.

C.S. Lewis, the ever astute observer of things of faith, said that our faith is not a matter of our hearing what Christ had to say a long time ago and then “trying to carry it out.” Rather, he suggests, it is that “The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself.  He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe [Greek: life], into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man.  The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

There is still far too much tin man in each of us, methinks.  The God-man is at our side, walking step by step, waiting for us to give Him more of our tin hearts so He can turn them into life receiving and giving hearts that beat with the passion of the Christ who is our constant companion.

PRAYER: Turn our tin hearts into hearts that are like our Savior’s, hearts that are alive with Truth and power.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/03/19 – Getting to the Root of the Problem

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DayBreaks for 9/03/19: Getting to the Root of the Problem

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 am privileged, by the nature of what I do, to be able to be around and with people who are struggling with life and faith issues.  It is very intimidating, exhilarating and challenging at the same time.  There are many times that I don’t have a clue about what to say or what to do – so I just always try to do what I think Jesus would do or say at that time.  I’m sure that there are plenty of times when I get that wrong, too, but I try, as I’m sure you do, too.

I try to deal with my sin.  Sometimes, I’m successful.  Often, I’m not.  And even when “I’m” successful, it isn’t me, but the Spirit that wins the struggle.  I don’t let the Spirit do enough and I’m sure that’s the problem.  I wrestle with sin in my own strength rather than turning the temptation over to the Spirit to squash.  For some foolish reason, I think I can do a better job of wrestling with the sin than the Spirit can, right?  But is that really true that I think that way, or is it merely that I want to not expose the Spirit to the sin because I want to nuzzle up next to the sin and indulge it yet again?  Is that not the nature of our temptation?  Keep God away from it so I can stay close to it.  A recipe for disaster if there ever was one.

I recently was watching a video with Chuck Colson and Rick Warren and they were talking about the practical living out of Christianity and the struggle with sin.  At one point in the video, one of them (I think it was Rick), made the comment that we need to deal with the root problem when it comes to sin.  Far too often, what we do is more like mowing the grass or pulling off the top of the weed of sin – and expecting the plant to die.  Anyone who has tried that in their yard will be quick to tell you that unless you pull/kill the roots, the weeds will be back again in a furious hurry. 

I fear that all too often our attempts at repentance are rather weak.  I fear that all too often all we are doing with the sin in our lives is “mowing the grass” instead of pulling out the sin by the roots.  There’s this insidious thing inside of us, the struggle perhaps that Paul alludes to in Romans, where a part of us really wants the sin to die and be gone because we get sick and tired of it at times, but there’s also the part of us that revels in the sin and wants to taste the forbidden fruit one more time…and another…and another.  

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. – Romans 8:12-14 (NIV)  This passage makes it pretty clear: the misdeeds of the body must not be trimmed back, but put to death.  And we must join with the Spirit in this endeavor: “If by the Spirit If by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds…”  It isn’t just the Spirit – I must join in the killing.  But I certainly cannot kill the weed of sin without the Spirit, either. 

Isn’t it about time we started pulling our sin out by the roots?

PRAYER: We struggle to even want to do what is right, Lord, and when it comes to putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we confess that we cannot possibly do it without Your Spirit!  Incline our hearts to instinctively turn first to You in times of temptation that we may receive the leading of Your Spirit in the struggle against sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/19/19 – Who Signed Me Up for This?

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DayBreaks for 08/19/19: Who Signed Me Up for This?

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

A woman named Linda is a teacher in Texas and she told the following story about one of her interactions with a first-grade student in her class on the first day of school.  “Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class.  I asked him what he was doing. “I’m going home,” he replied.  I tried to explain that now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. “You’ll go eat lunch now,” I said, “and then you’ll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home.” Ryan looked up at me in disbelief, hoping I was kidding.  Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

Haven’t you felt a little bit like Ryan at times?  We had a comfortable old life before coming to Christ.  By that I mean that we were on familiar ground, we didn’t feel very guilty because we may not have believed in such a thing as sin, we felt we were in control, and we may have even thought we were happy.  Then we became Christians and we find that life changed – not just in small, subtle ways, but in BIG ways.  The requirements are daunting—”Surely the Lord doesn’t expect me to forgive seventy times seven;” “Surely he doesn’t want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me;” “What does he mean, ‘take up my cross’?” “What’s this bit about I must be holy even as God is holy?  How can I possibly achieve that?!?!”

It isn’t long before you want to say, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”  Stop and think about it.  In a way, no one signed you up.  In another way, your parents signed you up without your permission.  In order to get a proper perspective on this, though, I think we must reflect back on Ryan and his consternation for being signed up for a more rigorous schooling challenge.  Would it have really been to Ryan’s advantage to have remained in kindergarten the rest of his life, to have never gone on to higher demands and higher lessons learned?  Of course not. 

God could have said that when we came to Him, we could stay in kindergarten, as it were…and not have to grow or change or stop acting like little spoiled children.  Jesus never misled anyone about the cost of following him.  The cost is high: your own life put on your own cross.  Not literally (most likely) but your life is to be sacrificed to him.  Some may spend their entire Christian lives complaining to God about how hard the Walk is and how unfair it seems. 

Isn’t it about time we stopped complaining about what we signed up for and get on with living it out? 

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you that you have enrolled us in the school of the abundant life.  Help us not to complain about the lessons, but to accept them in faith knowing that they help us to grow into Your likeness.  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.  ><}}}”>