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.  ><}}}”>

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.  ><}}}”>