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.  ><}}}”>

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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 5/29/19 – Recognizing Heresy

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DayBreaks for 5/29/19: Recognizing Heresy

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DayBreaks for 2/05/19 – Three Kinds of Faith

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DayBreaks for 2/05/2019: Three Kinds of Belief

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

In his recent book, Faith & Doubt, John Ortberg describes three kinds of “faith” and suggests we all practice three kinds of faith (or hold three kinds of convictions, if you please).

FIRST: Public faith/conviction: these are the things we say we believe when we’re surrounded by others, like what politicians say in order to win favor, curry votes and get elected.  No sooner is someone put into office than they backtrack on the things they said that they believed at one point or another in their campaign speeches.  A Biblical example of this kind of faith is King Herod, who told the wise men that after they’d found the baby Jesus, to come back to him and tell him where Jesus was so that “I can go and worship him, too.”  After all, it never would have endeared Herod to anyone if he’d said, so that “I can go and kill that baby.”  This is very hypocritical faith at best.  It changes based on who we’re around because we’re trying to impress them and make ourselves feel good.  And it can happen a LOT in churches and in Christian fellowships!

SECOND: Private faith/convictions: these are tricky because they are things that we truly believe that we believe, but when circumstances change, we find out that we really don’t believe it very much after all.  These are often things that we desperately WANT to believe, and we may even fool ourselves into thinking we do believe them.  A biblical example is Peter, “Lord, I’ll never deny you.”  I truly believe that Peter believed that of himself…but Jesus knew Peter’s heart better than Peter did.  And so, when the circumstances changed from the warm and friendly confines of the upper room to a courtyard of the high priest after Jesus’ arrest and shouts of “Kill him!” filled the air, Peter found out what he really believed at that point in time.  And it isn’t what he would have wanted to believe about himself, but it was the truth.

THIRD: Core faith/convictions: these are what we believe deep down inside, in spite of circumstances or surroundings.  These are the things for which we are willing to lay down our lives, if necessary. Ortberg says, we always act in accordance with what we truly believe when the chips are down.  That means we must become students of our own behavior – analyzing how we live, how we act, what we do in a wide range of circumstances and settings – and from that we’ll find out what we really believe.  Peter’s private faith became a core conviction later in his life when he was martyred for Jesus. 

So, here’s a brief summary:

Public faith/conviction: what we say we believe;

Private faith/conviction: what we think we believe;

Core faith/conviction: what we really believe as evidence by what we do.

What’s the point?  I fear that many of the things we think we believe are not core convictions.  For example, we say we believe God is everywhere and sees everything, right?  But, do we live as if we’re aware of His eye on us at ALL times?  Or, do we do things in secret that are shameful…and we do them because we really don’t believe He sees us while we’re doing them? We say we believe we should obey the law, yet did you speed today when you were driving?  We Christians say, “I’ve accepted Jesus as the Lord of my life,” but have we really?  If so, why don’t we obey him in caring for the needy (instead of pretending we don’t see them)? Scary, isn’t it, when we stop to contemplate what it is that we TRULY believe – even what we TRULY believe about God and Jesus.

In some things, we don’t know for sure what is a private conviction and what is a core conviction until our conviction is tested – and then it is revealed for what it truly is. 

PRAYER: Oh, Lord, with David we ask you to search our hearts and see if there is any deceitful way in them, reveal to us the truth about our faith that we might cling more tightly to Your Son and the forgiveness He gives us.  Help our private convictions regarding Jesus to become core convictions, and if necessary, to even survive the fires of martyrdom.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 01/02/19 – Commitment

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DayBreaks for 01/02/2019: Commitment

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

Commitment.  How committed are you? “Well,” you might say, “that depends on what you’re asking about.” Fair enough. How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus?

What is commitment? We think of it as “stick-to-itiveness”. Or we think of it in terms of dedication to a purpose or determination to reach a goal. Those aren’t bad, but there’s another aspect of commitment that really shows whether or not we are “committed”. It came in a devotion from Bob Gass Ministries. Here’s what he had to say: “If I could pick one word to describe commitment, I’d pick the word – alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Paul said, “…all men forsook me…” (2 Tim. 4:16).

“The place of commitment is the place where God intervenes on your behalf. When the three Hebrew children of God made the commitment, God brought them out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he said, ‘…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ (Dan. 3:29) That’s what the world is waiting for, somebody who’ll put everything on the line, get into the fiery furnace and let the world see God’s power.”

Commitment….alone. Perhaps that is the true measure of our commitment, don’t you think? Am I willing to stand for God all alone? Am I willing to stand alone for my marriage? Am I willing to stand alone for God in a workplace that is overwhelmed with darkness and that is openly hostile to Christ? The Hebrew children had God, and each other. What if they’d been alone?

I see in this concept the power of fellowship, but also the demand for commitment even if we, like Daniel, have to stand alone. It’s easy to say we’re committed when we sit in a pew on Sunday morning, but the real test of our commitment comes outside the walls of the church building when we are alone in the world.

Let me ask again: How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus? What you do when you are alone will tell you the answer to these questions – and reveal the depth of your true commitment!

Prayer: Teach us the kind of commitment that you have shown to us, Lord, even as you endured the loneliness of this world, this life, and the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/06/18 – God and the GPS

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DayBreaks for 12/06/18: God and the GPS

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

From a sermon (“Choices”) by John Ortberg:

“I can’t live Jesus’ life and Jesus knows that, but he says: You can ask me to come and live my life in you.

“I’ll give you a picture of this. Nancy and I were in a part of the country we had never been before. We were going to be driving on obscure back roads, so we got a rental car, and the guy at the counter said to me, ‘Along with this car, if you want, you can also get a GPS system.’ Have you ever used a GPS system? You plug it in and punch in your destination. A woman’s voice will tell you how to get wherever it is you are going. Well, when the guy at the counter asked if I wanted one, my immediate response was, ‘No. That is going to cost something. I don’t need that. I can find where I’m going without that.’ Anybody want to guess what my wife weighed in with? ‘Get the GPS.’ So, we got the GPS.

“Here’s the deal: You can get the box. You can have the lady in the car, but that doesn’t mean you trust her. If you trust her, what do you do? You do what she says. You go where she tells you to go. She says, ‘Turn left,’ you turn left. If she says, ‘Turn left,’ and in your heart you think, ‘But I want to turn right,’  and then you remember, ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is death.’ Okay?

“To follow Jesus means I will do what he says. I will mess up a lot. I’m going to need his power. I know that, but I form the intention. I say to him, ‘God, with your help, as best I can, I will do what you say. I will give you my life, my time, my obedience.’

“Here is the thing: If that is not your settled intent, then it is best to be honest about it. If that is not your settled intent, then whatever else you might be, you are not a follower of Jesus. An admirer, maybe. But he is looking for followers. He is looking for somebody who will say, ‘All right, God.’

“There is something else you need to know about him—something that is also true when dealing with a GPS system. At one point when we were driving in this car, I was quite sure the lady was wrong. She said to go left, and I didn’t go left. I went right, because I knew she was wrong. Then as an interesting response, she said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’ I knew she was wrong, so I unplugged her. That’s the beauty of that little box. You can unplug her.

“I got lost as a goose. My wife enjoyed that immensely.

“So we plugged that lady back in, and you know what she said? ‘I told you so, you little idiot.’ She said, ‘You think I’m going to help you now? You rejected me. You just find your way home by yourself.’ No—she didn’t say that. She said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’

“Now see, that’s grace. As soon as you’re ready to listen, as soon as you’re ready to surrender, God will say, ‘Here is the way home. Execute a U-turn.’ That’s repentance. ‘I’ll bring you home.’ That is grace. That’s Jesus. He is the only one with authoritative wisdom about how to live. He is the only one who brings about the possibility of forgiveness for your sin and mine. He is the only one to give any kind of realistic hope of conquering death, of life beyond the grave.

“Why would you not give your full devotion to Jesus? He does not present himself as a good, spiritual teacher to be admired from a distance. He presents himself as Master, as Lord, as the one to be followed and served and obeyed and worshiped. There is no other way. He is it.”

PRAYER: For grace and mercy we thank You, Almighty and Eternal God.  Thank You for giving us direction.  Give us the wisdom to follow it faithfully!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/07/18 – The Easy Road

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DayBreaks for 11/07/18: The Easy Road

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone in Africa saying, “Some people would like to join you. What’s the easiest road to get to where you are?” Livingstone replied, “If they’re looking for the easiest road, tell them to stay in England. I want people who will come, even if there is no road at all!”

Isn’t it just like human nature to look for the easiest way to get somewhere? Seldom do we want to put in the hard work to blaze new trails. So we look for the easiest way. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that in some matters, but when you start talking about spiritual things, it gets really risky.

Satan specializes in “the easy way” – the path of least resistance. Think about this example: why did Jesus come to the earth? To save mankind and regain that which was lost for God’s cause, right? So how did Satan tempt Jesus in Luke 4:5-8? He offered Jesus the “easy way” to get what he wanted. After showing him all the kingdoms of the world, he offered them to Jesus if he would “…worship me, it will all be yours.” It would have been the easy way to get the “kingdoms of the world”, their “authority and splendor” – much easier than going to the cross and dying! But Jesus knew that even though it may be the easy way, it wasn’t the right way.

In the case of Dr. Livingstone, he understood the same thing that Jesus did: those who seek the easy way aren’t made out of very tough stuff. They have a tendency to quit when things get hard and the heat gets turned up in the kitchen.

God wants people who will come to Him no matter what the cost. He’s made the road available through Calvary. When there was no road in the past, he parted the Red Sea and His children walked through on dry ground.

Where is God sending you? The road may not be easy – in fact, you can bet that it probably won’t be easy. Maybe you can’t even see a road to get there. Don’t worry – He’ll make one just for you!

Whenever you are tempted to take the easy road – think twice and make sure you know where it will lead before you start walking!

PRAYER: Lord, give us the fortitude to choose your pathway no matter how difficult rather than taking the easy route to nowhere. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>