DayBreaks for 1/20/17 – A Flower in Life

DayBreaks for 1/20/17: A Flower in Life

Note: Galen is traveling this week so he’s recycling some old DayBreaks.

FROM THE DAYBREAKS ARCHIVE, January, 2007:

There is a very poignant tale in chapter 19 of John about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.  These were two very prominent men – both part of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem), and both were men who had opportunity to hear Jesus teaching.  Nicodemus even came to Jesus by night once to discuss matters relating to the kingdom of God but was confused when he was told that he needed to be born again.  Joseph is unknown to us until Jesus’ death when he boldly goes to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus so he can bury him in his own unused tomb.

These men were not the typical Jewish leaders.  We are told that Nicodemus was a man seeking the kingdom of God.  That’s high praise coming from the gospel writers.  It indicates a heart that is searching for Godly things, for His will and His rule in the world and the hearts of men.  I think that they were good men who were secret admirers, perhaps even to some extent, secret followers, of Jesus.  And that is where the tragically sad part of this story begins.

In John chapter 19.38-42 we find Joseph taking the body of Christ and Nicodemus bringing burial spices.  This is, of course, after Jesus has been crucified and died.  Have you ever thought about what Nicodemus and Joseph did while Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin?  Why is there nothing in scripture that shows them standing up in his defense or speaking out to give him the benefit of the doubt?  Did they excuse themselves from that meeting or were they there but just too afraid to say anything?  Perhaps, though we don’t know, like many so-called leaders today, they didn’t have the courage to speak what they believed at critical times. 

Now, however, they are finally paying tribute to the one who they had failed to stand up for in life.  As William Barclay put it: How much greater would loyalty in life have been than a new tomb and a shroud fit for a king!  One flower in life is worth all the wreaths in the world in death.

How often am I like Nicodemus and Joseph?  I know who He is.  It is obvious to anyone who will really take the time to examine His claims and teaching.  Christ is on trial before my peers and the world every day.  What am I saying in His defense?  Am I saying nothing like Nicodemus and Joseph did?  Do I excuse myself from the discussion? 

Jesus wants us to live with him forever.  He waits for the day when he can hold us in his arms and welcome us home.  Those things will happen.  But he also wants my loyalty in this life – before I get to heaven.  Let us give him our tribute now and it’ll only make heaven that much sweeter!

PRAYER:  Lord, we need Your courage to stand for Jesus, to put our feet squarely on the ground and boldly proclaim the truth about Him.  Help us not to be afraid of what others may say, think, or do to us.  May we honor You not just in eternity, but in this life as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/19/17 – Admiration or Imitation?

DayBreaks for 1/19/17: Admiration or Imitation?

Note: Galen is traveling this week so he’s recycling some old DayBreaks.

FROM THE DAYBREAKS ARCHIVE, January, 2007:

I am constantly amazed at the diversity of God’s creation.  Why, there are enough breeds of dogs alone, to keep my little mind fascinated endlessly, let alone all the other kinds of animals.  Diversity can be good.  Too much of the same old thing is considered dull and boring – and we tire quickly of the “same-old, same-old.” 

As much as we might enjoy diversity and appreciate that it delivers us from boredom, there are times when we don’t really want it.  We don’t want to go to the jeweler to buy a ring and be told that it is 23k gold, only to find out that it’s not really gold, or not really 23k.  If you pay for an original “one of a kind” work of art, you’d be disappointed to find out that it wasn’t really “one of a kind”, or that it wasn’t really unique. 

When it comes to being a Christian, we would hope to only find the genuine article.  However, Soren Kierkegaard described two different kinds of Christians: those who imitate Jesus Christ and a second type, a much cheaper brand – those who are content to admire him.

I think Kierkegaard has struck a chord to which we need to listen.  It really isn’t hard to admire Christ.  Many in the world, even those who aren’t Christians, admire Jesus.  The ethical quality and spiritual nature of his teaching has never been equaled in the history of the world.  And so he is admired.  Admiration doesn’t cost us anything.  But imitation costs us our lives.

I have a hunch that Judas admired Jesus.  Would he have followed Jesus for 3-1/2 years if he didn’t at least admire him?  I think not.  Admiration of Jesus doesn’t make us disciples, nor does it make anyone a Christian.  It is only acceptance by faith of Jesus, and a life of discipleship – of imitation of the life of Christ – that makes us Christians.  To that extent, I think Kierkegaard was wrong – there is truly only one kind of Christian – one who imitates Christ in their thoughts, words and actions.  The other is a false Christian – the kind to whom Jesus would say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

What kind of Christian are you?

PRAYER:  Lord, we want to be true disciples, yet we are afraid at times of where You may lead us and what our discipleship may cost us.  Help us to believe the truth – that no matter what the cost, it will be well worth it for the wonder of truly knowing Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/10/17 – The Word Does The Work

DayBreaks for 1/10/17: The Word Does the Work

This was so good that I just had to share it. It’s from a blog by Mike Livingstone (mikelivingstone.com):

“The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”*

“More recently, David Platt has asked: “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” (Radical)

“Would it be enough?

“Tozer got it right: “Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.”

 “Like Tozer, we should be concerned that so many people in our churches want to be entertained while they worship. We should be concerned when we no longer recognize the difference between the two. And we should be concerned by the growing belief that adding more entertainment value to worship is necessary for the church to accomplish its mission.

“I may stand alone, but it grieves me when I see worship services characterized more by props, performances, and pep rally atmospheres than by any sense of divine sacredness; and hallowedness giving way to shallowness.

“This is not about worship styles. The issue is not traditional versus contemporary versus blended worship. It’s not about organ versus worship band. That discussion misses the point completely. This is about the heart and focus and intent of worship. The real issues, for me, are these:

“1. Who or what is the spotlight really on? If the figurative spotlight in our church services is on anyone other than God, it is not worship. If the spotlight shines brighter on human performance than on the gospel of Christ, it is not worship. If anyone other than Jesus is receiving our adulation and applause, it is not God we worship.

“2. What message are we communicating? The message of the church—the message the world needs to hear from us—is not, “Come and have a good time,” “Come and be entertained,” or “Come and find your best life now.”

Tozer said: “Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name.” The message of the church is the message of the cross. Lest we forget, Jesus’ cross was a source of entertainment only for those who mocked Him as He hung on it.

“3. How are lives changed? “But our methods are attracting and winning people!” some will say. Tozer addressed that sentiment: “Winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ?”

“David Platt and the church he pastored, The Church at Brook Hills, decided to try to answer the question, “Is His Word still enough for His people to come together?” They stripped away the entertainment value and invited people to come simply to study God’s Word. They called it Secret Church. They set a date—on a Friday night—when they would gather from 6:00 in the evening until midnight, and for six hours they would do nothing but study God’s Word and pray. People came. A thousand people came the first time and it grew from that. Soon, they had to start taking reservations because the church was packed full. Secret Church now draws tens of thousands of people via simulcast in over 50 countries around the world—with no entertainment, no bells and whistles or smoke machines.

“Why do they come? Platt explained in an interview: “People are hungry for the Word. There’s really nothing special or creative about it. It’s just the study of the Word …. The Word itself does the work!”

“People are hungry. They are hungry for a diet of substance, not candy. More of the Word. Deeper into the Word. Less of what Tozer called ‘religious toys and trifles.’”

PRAYER: Lord, let our love of “worship” never supersede our love for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/9/16: Saving John Doe

DayBreaks for 8/09/16 – Savind John Doe

From the DayBreaks Archive for August, 2006:

Have you seen “Saving Private Ryan”? It is supposedly about as graphically realistic (at least in the first 26 minutes or so) about the horrors of war as you can get in a movie. I don’t like that kind of stuff at all. Veterans, by and large, say it is pretty realistic – but they say it just doesn’t go far enough in picturing the awful human carnage of war. But the message is somewhat clearer because of the brutal visual honesty of the movie: victory is costly. Dwight Eisenhower, who ordered the D-Day invasion depicted in the first part of the movie, had this to say: “There are no victories at discount prices.”

In the cross we see only what our sin cost God. What if we could see that awful carnage of sin through God’s eyes? Because we can’t see the future, we sometimes can’t see how our sin maims, cuts, pierces and destroys our relationships with those around us and the world we live in, let alone God. We can’t see, in graphic terms, the way our selfishness tears out hearts and leaves people bleeding in our wake of sin. We can’t see the effect of our sins on our children and grandchildren (Ex. 20:6). And it isn’t just the sin of things we do that will affect them, but the sin of the things we don’t do that will possibly have an even greater impact on future generations.

Another thought: if I am trying to gain victory over some sin in my life – I shouldn’t think the victory will be cheap. It will come hard. What am I willing to lose to gain the victory? We want the victory to come easily, cheaply – but when it comes to defeating sin issues in our lives, we have to be ready to go to war with that sin.

How far am I prepared and willing to go to play a role in the “salvation” of others? Would I do what the troops did on D-Day to save someone’s soul? To use a crude analogy, Jesus stormed the fortified beach of sin and took all the bullets for me. Would I take even a single bullet for the soul of my best friend, let alone my enemy?

Of course as Christians we picture the horrible carnage of the cross and the beatings that preceded it, and rightly so. It was at one and the same time the ugliest and most beautiful even that ever happened. I hope we never forget the ugliness of what our sin cost God.

PRAYER:  Are there words, Lord, to thank You for coming to rescue us, to save us?  Help us to be able to grasp even a fraction of what sin does to You, and what it does to us.  Help us be holy, even as you are holy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I’ve read a lot in the past few years about the Jewish holocaust.  What a horrible and terrible chapter in the life of humanity!  One of the loudest questions of all time is asked about the Holocaust, and was echoed by Harold Schulweis in For Those Who Cannot Believe:  “The Holocaust mocks my faith.  For at the core of that faith is the conviction that God breathed into the nostrils of human beings an inviolable human soul, that God created the human being in His image and in His likeness.  The taunting dissonance between that faith and the facts of the Holocaust disturbs my belief.  The picture of a child hanged in the presence of parents in the concentration camp brings to mind a rabbinic commentary on the hanging of a criminal based on a verse in the book of Deuteronomy 21.23: A criminal sentenced to death and hanged must not remain overnight upon the tree because it is “a reproach to God.” Why a reproach to God?  The rabbinic answer is offered in the form of a parable: Once a noble king had a twin brother who violated the law and was hanged on a tree in the public square.  People passing by the corpse of the king’s twin took him to be the king and shouted, “Behold, the king is dead!”  The king was humiliated.  

The parable is breathtaking.  God and man, at some level, are as it were twins.  To deface the image of man is to blaspheme the Creator of that image.  God is not raised by lowering the human image…Who before the memory of cremated children can declare the twinship of God and man? …But where was the Adonai (the Lord) in Auschwitz?  Where was the power and mystique of Adonai within the hell of the Holocaust?”

“Where was Adonai in the Holocaust?  Adonai was in Niuvelande, a Dutch village in which 700 residents rescued 500 Jews, including 100 Jewish children.  Adonai was in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose citizens hid and protected 5000 Jews under the inspired leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme.  Adonai was in the rat-infested sewers of Lvov, where Polish sewer workers hid 17 Jews for 14 months.”  His list goes on, and he finally says: “Holocaust scholars now estimate that there were between 50,000 and 500,000 Christian rescuers.  Whatever the number, there were too few.  Sadly there are always too few moral heroes in history.”

“How ironic that our children … know the names of Klaus Barbie, Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler but not the names of those who risked their lives to hide and protect the Frank family….When the rescuers are asked “Why did you risk all this?” they typically respond “What else could I do?  What would you do?”

For today, let’s just ask ourselves the questions that Schulweis’ book asked: “That question places a mirror to my soul.  Would I open the door?  Would I hide this pursued pregnant woman?  Would I take care of her needs?  When rations during the war were so meager would I risk getting extra food without raising suspicion?   Would I take an infant into my home whose cries might reveal our hiding place?  What would I do with their refuse or with their bodies after their death?  Stefa Krakowska, a Polish peasant, hid 14 persons in her home, ranging from age 3 to age 60, in a home in which a simple pail served as the toilet.  When an older Jewish woman fell sick and knew herself to be dying, she turned to Stefa.  “My God, my dead body may bring disaster to you. What will you do with my body?” She feared for the others’ safety.  She died.  At night, secretly and in stages they buried her dismembered body in Stefa’s garden.” 

“Sadly, there are always too few moral heroes in history.”  What a haunting observation.  But there is good news, too. To be a moral hero you don’t have to be a king, wealthy, powerful or attractive.  What you do have to do is be faithful…and that’s something that any man or woman can choose to do.  You, and I, can be moral heroes for the cause of Christ.

I’m often afraid to speak out because God’s point of view isn’t popular.  As a group, Christians today lack the moral courage to speak, live and act on our convictions and on what we know to be truth.  Let’s be the moral heroes that this world so desperately needs and that God wants us to be.  Let it never be said that in our day there were no moral heroes.  Let us be those heroes to our friends, family, co-workers and even our enemies.

PRAYER:  Give us moral courage to follow You through life and death.  Let us, as we stand around the campfire when You are on trial in this world, not deny You, but let us speak Your name boldly, proudly, humbly.  Let us be the heroes You need us to be in our own day and age.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/02/16 – Stand

DayBreaks for 3/02/16: Stand

Eph. 6.10-13 (NIV): Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your STAND against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to STAND your ground, and after you have done everything, to STAND.

“When St. Patrick and his brothers were proclaiming Jesus to the pagan kings of Ireland,

My roots began their journey, threading their way into the gritty soil along Pescadero Creek.

My leaves peeked through the decaying litter of the redwood forest

And I began my climb toward the sky.

Oh, I’ve seen my troubles:

Fifteen hundred years of flames roaring up the canyon.

I’ve felt their crimson tongues lick at my bark until deep, bleeding wounds left me in naked agony.

My lower branches are centuries gone, victim to a hundred raging devastations.

And yet I stand.

I once looked up at my elders and wondered if I would ever be so high, and grand, and majestic,

Yet one by one they would totter and fall with a whoosh and a crash.

Beetles and windstorms

Fires and flood,

And yet I stand.

Wounded, yet I stand.

“Beautiful” would not describe me today, though perhaps “persistent”.

Blackened scars bear mute witness to my history,

Deep gorges touch my very soul.

Scar tissue and burls flow down my base like hideous lava to cover my nakedness,

And yet I stand.

“Tallest Tree” says the placard at my base,

“Two hundred twenty-five feet” the board declares.

Wrong.

For even at my age I’m still creaking and swaying and stretching, and I’ve grown some feet since then.

Huckleberries and tanbark oaks flourish far below,

The great-grandchildren of my great-great grandchildren tickle my knees with their greenery,

And yet I stand.

Jays and jackrabbits,

Foxes and field mice dart about in my shade, because I stand.

Stand in spite.

Stand because.

Stand for the forest that needs me.

Stand to proclaim the glory of God.

Stand a score of feet higher than my nephews and nieces.

Stand to see what they cannot in their wooded blindness.

Stand to feel the fog bathe my face.

Stand to drink in the morning sun.

Stand to serve.

Stand.

Stand.

Stand.

“Copyright by Ralph F. Wilson, used by permission, all rights reserved.”

Galen’s thoughts:

This poem makes me cry in shame to remember all the times that I’ve failed to stand during the firestorms of life, when I’ve let the wind of trial or temptation break and defeat me.  We’ve all been wounded in this life, none of us escapes the pain of the human existence.  But, will we stand?  When the enemy rages against me, will I stand tall and strong and feel the Son touch my face?  Will I fall with a crash?  Am I still growing and reaching ever higher and higher toward heaven?  Can those around me find shelter in His presence within me because I stand?  Am I a blessing to those seeking shelter from the pain of this life?

We must stand because the forest of humanity needs the Savior.  They must see Him in us.  We must reach a little higher than ever before so that others can see our example and be encouraged to stand, to grow and to reach towards heaven themselves.

Oh, God, I want to stand for You!  Lift me up, set me upright and make me stand!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Almighty Father, without you we are nothing.  Without you we fall before every wind that blows.  Thank you that you will not break the bruised reed, but will strengthen us so we can stand – moment by moment, day by day, make us strong in the power of your great might!  May we stand strong for you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks 3/01/16 – A Rescued Reputation

DayBreaks for 3/01/16: A Rescued Reputation

Lieut. Col. Norval E. Welch commanded the 16th Michigan on July 2nd 1863 during the afternoon struggle for Little Round Top, Battle of Gettysburg. Holding the right flank of Strong Vincent’s brigade line, Welch commanded only 150 men that day.

As the lead regiments of Confederate General Hood’s division–veteran Texans and Alabamians—attacked his position, Welch apparently lost his nerve and withdrew with the regimental flag and about 25 other men.  The rest of the regiment remained in the fight.  Strong Vincent, moving to bolster Welch’s flagging line, was mortally wounded.

Attempting to protect his reputation, Welch blamed others for his cowardice.  Returning to Michigan on “sick leave,” he took up some recruiting duties in Detroit.

Despite his tarnished reputation, Welch returned to command the 16th Michigan one year later.  At the Battle of Peebles Farm on September 30, 1864, even though his enlistment had just expired, Welch led his men over the Confederate ramparts, calling to them “On boys and over.”  First to mount the heavily defended redoubt, Welch was struck by a Confederate bullet in the head and died immediately–redeeming his reputation by his brave death.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, who had commanded the 20th Maine at Gettysburg and won the Medal of Honor for his efforts that day, commented after the war about Welch and others who had some bad moments in battle:

“Among these men were some doubly deserving—comrades whom we thought lost, bravely returning. . .  If sometime a shadow passes over such spirits, it needs neither confession nor apology. . . Welch, of the 16th Michigan, first on the ramparts at Peebles’ Farm, shouting, ‘On boys, and over!’ and receiving from on high the same order for his own daring spirit…” If Properly Led webpage….

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t discard us for a single failure? Or for a bad reputation? Aren’t you glad that He forgives over and over, welcoming us back to His arms?

Courage is rare, but Jesus invites us to live lives of courage, to go “On men and women, and over!” when it comes to the battle with our mortal enemy. The question is whether or not the church (and we as individuals) will rise to that challenge or whether we will take the flag and run for shelter. Will be found in the midst of the charge? Will you go “On…and over”?

If you have failed in the past, don’t let that stop you today…or tomorrow!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Give us the courage of your Spirit that we might not shirk our duty and cower in shame! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.