DayBreaks for 9/18/18 – Saints Among the Killing Fields

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DayBreaks for 9/18/18: Saints Among the Killing Fields

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

There’s a man in Croatia named Bosada.  One day, his Serbian neighbor came to him and handed him the keys to his home and said, “Would you look after my house for me and my pigs and my cattle and sheep?” Bosada said, “Sure. You’re my neighbor.  You’re my friend.  Our families have lived together here for 500 years.”  What the neighbor didn’t tell Bosada was something that every Serb knew, but the Croats didn’t: every Serb in that Croatian village was doing the same thing that very day.  They had been forewarned by the Serbian army to get out; the army was coming to blast the Croats and their homes to kingdom come the next day.

The next day, the tanks did indeed roll in and they blasted all the houses, leaving just ruins.  Only two houses out of 39 were left standing: half of Bosada’s home and a house across the street (which was then used as a prison to torture people).  Then a peace accord was signed—an uneasy peace, if it could even be called that.  When the United Nations peacekeepers came, this little village with Serb houses sitting up on the hillside began to be repopulated by Croatians headed by Bosada.

Bosada, who was a Christian and pastor of the local church, said, “We must show the way.  We must go back and rebuild the church.” And he did, taking his daughter with him.  Even though the UN peacekeepers were there, Serbian soldiers came out of the forest and took both Bosada and his 17-year-old daughter up among the trees.  They took his daughter away and raped and tortured her.  They took a bayonet and thrust it through Bosada seven times, but he didn’t die.  “Well, old man,” they finally said, “we’re fed up beating you.  I think what we’ll do is let your own people kill you.”  So they brought the daughter back and said, “Now off you go home through the minefield.  If you make it, your own militia people will kill you at the other end because it’s after curfew.”

Bosada took his daughter’s hand and set off through the minefield.  While he was being tortured, he’d said to his torturers, “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls. This is the wrong thing you’re doing. I will go to heaven, but where will you go? I know that my Redeemer lives. Why don’t you turn to my Redeemer?”

Bosada and his daughter did make it through the mine field and survived, but what is inspiring is the message he gave to his torturers.  Did any respond, did it have any kind of impact on the future actions of his tormentors?  I do not know.  I only know I wish I had the courage of my brother in the Lord, Bosada.

We may never walk through literal minefields.  We will hopefully never be tortured because of our faith.  Yet, we still walk through minefields strewn with deadly devices planted by our enemy and the prevailing spirit of this fallen world.  May we walk it with the grace of a saint in deadly places.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the faith of those like Bosada, whom we will most likely never meet on this earth.  Thank You for preserving both he and his daughter.  Thank You for preserving us.  Give us the courage and grace to act like our brother in the face of great evil and danger.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 9/10/18 – Ready to be Interrupted

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DayBreaks for 9/10/18: Ready to be Interrupted

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008 – Michael Card’s “From the Studio”, 8/23/08:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. – COLOSSIANS 4:5

“My friend and pastor Denny Denson was in the middle of a sermon one Sunday morning when a young man he had been witnessing to for months slipped into the back of the church. The young man was a victim of crack cocaine and had more than once tried to get off the drug, promising to someday attend our church. When Denny saw him walk in that morning, he was hopeful and excited that he had come.

“After a few minutes the young man got up and walked back outside. Denny understood at once what he needed to do. He stopped in the middle of his sermon and asked the congregation to go to prayer. With that, he followed the man outside and caught up with him a block from the church. After perhaps fifteen minutes the two of them came back inside with good news. The young man had finally accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The remainder of the service was spent in worship. Denny never finished his sermon!”

Isn’t it interesting how we get set on a course of argument or action and are loathe to deviate from it in ever the slightest ways?  As I read Mike’s account of his friend, Denny, I tried to picture myself on a Sunday morning as I deliver a message, and I asked myself, “What would I have done in the circumstance described?”  I’ll be honest…I’m not sure what I would have done.  Part of me is ruled by “order” and “the plan” and I might have foolishly kept on preaching when I should have stopped.  Preachers are very prone to thinking that whatever they are talking about is the most important thing at the moment – that people have come to listen to what’s being said.  And I’m sure that there’s a certain amount of truth in that mindset – a preacher should have a message from God for the people – they shouldn’t be speaking at all.  But, “church” isn’t about the sermon – church is about Jesus and humans who need Him. 

Denny Denson recognized that fact and had the wisdom and courage to stop in the middle of his prepared remarks.  It didn’t matter that the prepared sermon wasn’t finished – Denny acted out a far more important sermon by stopping and going to the young man.  It’s what Jesus would have done, I believe.

How willing are you to be interrupted from your carefully laid plans in order to be responsive to human need and the leading of the Spirit?  Will you stop what you’re doing today and truly love someone like Jesus if the opportunity arises?  Jesus was being interrupted all the time – and we never hear him complain about it even once.  May we become more like him!

PRAYER: Jesus, don’t let us become slaves to the plan we’ve formulated for our day, but rather let us be open to Your plan for us this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/04/18 – The Creation Groans

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DayBreaks for 9/04/18: The Creation Groans

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

About 10 days ago, at 3:11 a.m. in the morning, I was awakened by the sound of a tree splitting and falling somewhere near our property.  We’ve had a tree come down on one of our outbuildings once before – and I must say, it is impressive what a tree can do when it falls on a structure.  And, living on a hillside as we do, there are trees up above our home and others that surround it.  At 3:11 a.m. it was far too dark to know where the tree fell – even though I got up to make sure that it hadn’t fallen on a car or part of the house.  I couldn’t see where the tree was, but when I stuck my head out the patio door, I could smell the scent of dust in the air and knew it couldn’t have been too far away.

But what struck me was the awful, cracking, splitting and sighing of the wood under strain as it gave way and fell, pulled by gravity.  It was as if the tree had fought as long and hard as it could, only to finally give up the struggle.  The groaning made me recall the passage from Romans that describes the “entire creation” groaning and moaning as a result of the fall, longing for relief.  And, after returning to bed, I lay there thinking that perhaps the sound of breaking tree branches is part of this groaning. 

There is a verse that struck me as I thought about the time when the creation will be completely released from its suffering.  It’s found in 2 Peter 3:10 (NIV) and it says, But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

I’d never pondered before what the cause of the roar would be, but I have a couple of thoughts.  It could be the roar of the Lion of the tribe of Judah which will resound throughout the vanishing universe.  Or, it could be a roar let out by the creation itself as it is finally released from the frustration in which it has been held for these innumerable years.  After all, if the stones could have cried out in adoration of the King during his entry into Jerusalem, why not think that it will cry out in relief when it is set free?  Behold, I make ALL THINGS new is the promise.  The Psalmist spoke of the language of the stars that fills creation with speech.  Won’t it be something when we hear them set free to sing their song of praise to the Creator?

PRAYER: We join our hearts and prayers in longing and anticipation of the great moment when all will be set free from the bondage that has come upon the universe because of sin and evil.  May we prepare ourselves to join in the great shout of deliverance that will take place when we lift our eyes to the sky and see our Redeemer!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/31/18 – When Paul Got It Wrong

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DayBreaks for 8/31/18: When Paul Got It Wrong

First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for the apostle Paul. It is quite possible that more people will be in heaven because of his work than any other mere mortal who has ever lived. But that doesn’t mean he was perfect. In fact, I have found one place in Scripture where I’m convinced that Paul got it dead wrong. It’s here in 1 Timothy 1:15 (CSBBible) – This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them.

Paul was right about why Jesus came, but Paul couldn’t possibly have been the worst of sinners because I am. Here I am, 66 years old, still struggling with sin! The things that should have died in my long ago are still struggles and it seems they shouldn’t be alive and kicking, not now, not this far along in the journey. What is wrong with me!?!? Why am I this way???

I am this way, I reckon, because I still carry about with me a fleshly body and a human nature that are by definition corrupt. There is nothing, we are told, that is within us and our earthly composition that is anything other than dead – and the dead smell bad, just like my sin smells bad – even and especially to me. 

My guess is that unless you are a total neophyte to the concept of sin that you either feel like I do or have felt this way when the enormity of your own sin sits on your shoulders like a great, immense anchor. And that, my friends, is depressing, isn’t it?

We would do ourselves a disservice if we stopped reading at verse 15, though, for Paul goes on to say this: But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.

What do I do when my sin and struggles are crushing my spirit with shame, and when our enemy is tormenting me with guilt? I remind myself of verse 16, and of this verse (Rom. 8:1-2) – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

God sees my sin. He doesn’t like it but he doesn’t hate me for it – it just breaks his heart. But when I launch out into eternity, having trusted myself and my eternal destiny to the hands of Jesus, I shall not be disappointed, I shall not be put to shame, for I, even now, bear my great guilt no longer. I face no condemnation because Christ faced it for me, and for you. Glory be to God!

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on me a sinner! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/29/18 – Not for Two Minutes

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DayBreaks for 8/29/18: Not for Two Minutes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I have a lot of questions that I’d like to ask God.  I know that I have no right to ask Him anything – except that He seems to welcome our questions and He seems to even encourage them.  That doesn’t mean He always tells us the answer.

One of the most difficult questions that anyone can ask God is posed when they stand over the casket of a child.  Marshall Shelley, at one time an editor for a Christian magazine (Leadership), had a baby boy named Toby who was born at 8:20 p.m. on 11/22/91.  Toby died two minutes later, at 8:22 p.m..  Here’s what Marshall had to say: “My wife Susan and I never got to see him take his first steps.  We barely got to see him take his first breath.  I don’t know if he would have enjoyed softball or software, dinosaurs or dragonflies.  We never got to wrestle, race, or read…What would have made him laugh?  Made him scared?  Made him angry?”

It turns out that Toby was born with a very rare genetic disorder.  Three months after Toby died, Marshall and Susan’s two-year-old daughter, Mandy, died.  Understandably, in their deep grief, the Shelleys wrestled with their faith and their God.  “Why,” Marshall wrote, “did God create a child to live two minutes?”

I believe that God gave Marshall the answer that he and his wife needed to hear – an answer that I would not have anticipated.  Marshall shared that answer: “He didn’t.  [And] He didn’t create Mandy to live two years.  He did not create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).  God created Toby for eternity.  He created each of us for eternity…”

It seems that whenever we lose someone we love, or even a pet, we ask “Why?  Why is life so short?”  We are so earth-bound that we can’t see (or we fail to remember) that God didn’t create any of us for just a few minutes, years or decades on this earth.  We are all created to live in eternity and that is His desire for us.  It doesn’t take away the pain of loss that we feel in our hearts, but it gives us a different perspective with which to see the things that happen to us.  And perspective is something we so often lack in this world.

God made you for eternity.  For now, you are here.  Let’s make the most of the present while preparing for forever.

 PRAYER:  We are thankful, Father, that You didn’t just create us to live and few years and then be gone like the morning mist, but that You formed each of us for eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/21/18 – Against All the World

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18: Against All the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

A man by the name of Athanasius, an early bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed the heretical teachings of Arius, who had declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. After suffering 5 exiles, Athanasius was finally brought before the Roman emperor Theodosius, who demanded that Athanasius stop his outspoken opposition to Arius’ teachings. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius is said to have quickly responded, “Then I am against all the world.”

Most of you who read DayBreaks work in the secular world (or are students or home-makers). It’s difficult working in the world and trying to be a Christian. I know what it’s like – I worked in the secular workplace for years. I’ve seen how companies frown on employees exercising their right to express their faith. I’ve seen how something as innocent as a group of employees gathering together for breakfast before Christmas to sing Christmas carols can lead to protests from employees who are of other faiths. Those kind of things make it hard to express your faith in ways that are noticeable. So, we feel all alone – surrounded by disinterested (at best) co-workers or overtly hostile ones.

I imagine Peter felt that way when he denied the Lord. Where were the remainder of the apostles? Nowhere to be seen – but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. They just didn’t “stick” together – they scattered and their faith was individually tested. I’d be willing to bet that you probably aren’t all alone – there are probably other believers who may be feeling just as isolated as you. (Remember how Elijah thought he was all alone, too, after fighting with the prophets of Baal? God reassured him that there were others who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.) More often than not, it is our fear of letting our light shine that keeps us feeling alone. And it is much easier to stand strong if we stand together instead of scattering like the apostles did at the crucifixion.

The need to take a stand is crucial. If we can’t do it now, what will happen when the day comes that you are truly alone? How will you fare then? Would you have the courage of Athanasius? Would I? Until then, find a brother or sister and start a workplace bible study at your lunch break once a week. You might find other brothers and sisters you didn’t know you had, and who knows, you might even have the privilege of leading a few others to Christ!

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage that makes us able to stand against “all the world”, whether it is before Presidents, kings or emperors.  As Your body in this world, may we draw strength from one another and stand strong for You and truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/20/18 – From the Perspective of Years

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DayBreaks for 8/20/18: From the Perspective of Years

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

At the risk of being premature and appearing to be wise and all-knowing, I’d like to share something with you that I think I have finally managed to learn in my 56 years of treading this earth.  Are you ready?  Here it is: life is not about now.  Oh, I know that there are bills that must be paid NOW, there are decisions that must be made NOW, there are chores and responsibilities that have to be met NOW.  Oh, yes…don’t forget taxes that must be paid!

But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about.  I’m talking about important things, things that I just wasn’t emotionally, mentally or spiritually equipped to even begin to grasp until now.  Perhaps it’s because I’m starting a new sermon series about all the things that Scripture talks about as being unseen that it’s just now coming clearer to me.  Still, I’ve struggled to find a way to express it myself, and then I finally ran across something that Elie Wiesel wrote in From the Kingdom of Memory that seems to me to say it perfectly.  (Wiesel, of course, is a holocaust survivor who has written and spoken eloquently about that horrific time in history, and about life in the aftermath.)

Here’s what Wiesel had to say that seemed to put this all into perspective for me: “Well, yes, at the time I was too young to understand that eternity does not exist except in relation to the present.  I was not mature enough to understand that it is eternity which lends this moment its mystery and its distinction.”

We are so preoccupied with living life to the full in the here and now, thinking that it is what is happening to us that gives life meaning and direction.  It is not so.  Surely, it must not be so!  It is what lies ahead that gives our lives now meaning and purpose, for we were not meant to live this life forever.  If the amount of time we spend here on earth versus in eternity is any indication of the relative importance, it is eternity that must dominate our consciousness and our thinking.  We must find the way to do this without abandoning the present, but also without ever making the fatal mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.

Have you noticed the context for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:9-12? – For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In the context, Paul seems to be speaking, at least partly, of eternity – it is then that we shall see face to face, we won’t be trying to hold on to foolish things of this world any longer.  All that occupies us here, tends to be childish compared to ultimate realities.

PRAYER: God, give us eyes to see this life through the clearer glass of eternity that our priorities and attention is focused on things above and not things below!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.