DayBreaks for 6/16/17 – Places You Never Knew Existed

 

DayBreaks for 6/16/17: Places You Never Knew Existed

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

On June 4, I was blessed (for the second year in a row!) to participate in a fund raiser for a nearby mission that provides shelter, training, food and spiritual guidance to many who have lost their way in life.  They do a great work, and each year they do a fundraiser that is called Extreme Golf.  On that day, those of us who have signed up to raise pledge money, go out and run around a golf course like crazy people, with the goal of playing 100 holes of golf in 8 hours or less.  What a thrill!

But now (this was written on 6/6), I have been reminded of lessons I learned last year during this event:

FIRST: Sometimes people hurt in places you never knew existed.  My body has aches and pains right now that I didn’t have on early Monday morning before the event.  It’ll continue that way for a few days, I can tell.  People all over hurt – and the greatest hurts aren’t in the physical body, but in the heart and mind of humanity.  Perhaps the greatest hurt of all is hopelessness – when people have been so beaten down that they have given up any idea of it ever getting better.  That’s when many are willing to finally accept Christ because they have learned that nothing else works.  But unless we’re on the lookout for signs of pain in people (wincing and groaning have been my signs the last few days!) we will likely pass by them not even realizing they’ve been beaten.  But heaven have mercy on us if we know they’ve been beaten and pass by anyway.

SECOND: Pain is good.  It is a reminder that we are alive and not dead.  Dead people feel no pain.  We shouldn’t give up on people who are in great pain.  They’re still alive and pain can lead to changes. 

THIRD: Pain is also a reminder that we are to become like Him in His suffering.  I don’t think that is specifically referring to physical pain, but that may be a part of it.  Paul, in Philippians 3:10 put it this way: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…  In our hurts, suffered for the cause of God, we become like Christ.  And God certainly knows how much I need more of that!!!!

There is pain all around you.  There is pain on the golf course, in your school, in your work, in your family – and yes, in your church.  The world is awash in pain.  All we have to do is open our eyes and see it.  Will you take the risk of joining Christ in his sufferings for the world?  You don’t have to travel to India or the Congo or Peru, all you have to do is open your heart and eyes, and you’ll see it.  The question is: what will we do about it?

I’m eager for this event to come around again next year.  May I be as eager to bear pain for Him all year long.

PRAYER: Father, let us become like Christ – willing to bear any burden, to carry any suffering – for the privilege of becoming like Him in His death, so that we may also attain unto His resurrection.  Help us to be sensitive to the pain of others and do all we can to point them to the One who can, and will, heal all hurts some glorious day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/17/17 – Would I Say Yes?

DayBreaks for 3/17/17: Would I Say Yes?

There are moments that grab us by the throat and really force us to take a HARD look at ourselves in the mirror. More often than not, I don’t like what I see when that happens.

This past Sunday our lead teacher was telling us about a trip he’d taken the prior week to Lima, Peru to meet with a set of pastors from around the world. These pastors meet once a year and have done so for about ten years now. He shared with us some of the ways the discussion had changed over those ten years.

He said that when they first met, the subject of the Muslim population and faith came up and there was a sense of resignation and desperation. Based on the statistics that were available at that time, they were told that in 100 years, based on the birth rate in Muslim countries and the pace with which the Muslim faith was growing that the population of the world would be 99% Muslim in 100 years. The pastors, all Christians, found that to be discouraging because as Christians we believe that the only way to the Father is through Jesus (John 14:6). There was a sense of despair among the Christian pastors.

In between that time and the meeting they held this past week, much in this world has changed. This year, the reports of the pastors from some of the darkest parts of the world we quite different. They spoke of how literally millions of Muslims are coming to Christ – in unprecedented numbers. Why is this happening? There were two factors:

FIRST: because of thousands upon thousands of visions that are being given to Muslims around the world. These aren’t just happening in one country or two – but all over the world, where men and women who didn’t have any knowledge of Jesus had a vision (or visitation) by Jesus that has led them to faith. I’ve read stories about these visions and they are incredible. We must never think that God is not at work.

SECOND: the rise of radical, militant Islam is driving people from the faith in which they grew up. The vast majority of Muslims are repulsed by the actions of ISIS and other such groups. ISIS was trying to terrify people into becoming Muslims, but God is using that horrible group (and others like it) to bring millions to know Jesus.

Prior to the teaching time, there was a baptismal service where several people were baptized. They were asked the normal questions that the church has always asked those who are desiring to become Christ-followers. And every person who was asked gave the expected response that they recognized that they were sinners who could be saved only by the grace of God and that they believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is always wonderful to witness such things.

But here’s what grabbed my attention at the start of the teaching time. As our lead teacher shared the stories about Muslims coming to faith, he also shared that the stories they heard about the persecution of Christians and the church were heartrending. Millions are coming to Christ, but thousands upon thousands are being martyred for their commitment to Christ. And because it is a fact of life in Muslim countries, when someone wants to become a Christian, the church asks the usual questions, but then the church in those places adds another question that goes something like this: “Are you ready and willing to die for your faith in Jesus Christ as a martyr?” If those wanting to become Christians say no, the church (at least in some places) tells them they are not ready to become followers of Jesus.

That question was not asked of me when I became a believer, and I doubt that it was asked of you, either. And I asked myself: how would I answer that question? Am I ready and willing for martyrdom just to follow Jesus? Are you? And if I had been asked that question, would I have proceeded with the decision to become a Christian? Just because it wasn’t asked doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all be ready to say yes. After all, we are all asked to take up our cross…and follow in his footsteps, even if they lead to death.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know that I should be willing to die for you because you already died for me. I am grateful that I live in a land where I am not confronted with that as an ever-present reality. I pray for those for whom martyrdom is a very real possibility at any given moment on any given day. I thank you for their faith, for their example to us. And I pray, Father, for their steadfastness even as I beg your forgiveness for my own lack of obedience and fear. Give us God-sized faith that will stand in any test, I pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/3/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #5

DayBreaks for 3/02/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #5

Isaiah 6:8 (ESV) – And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Now, I think, we get to the crux of this passage. Isaiah has had an incredible vision. He has realized his own uncleanness after pronouncing woes on everyone else. He has been cleansed by a coal from the altar of offering. And now, God asks two questions: Whom shall I send? And Who will go for us?

I think these are two different questions. One is who God will choose to send in His infinite wisdom? The second is more about who will be willing to go on God’s behalf. In between the two questions lies a vast crevasse called human will and obedience.

If I had been Isaiah, I would have much preferred to stay in the incredible worship scene around the throne, watching the seraphim, hearing the praises of God ringing throughout the ethereal sphere. I would have preferred to stay in that relatively safe, secure, lovely place. I would have preferred to say, “Hey, how about sending Joe? He’d be great for your mission!” My guess is that you would have been a lot like me.

But that’s not what Isaiah said. Here I am! Send me! His encounter with this God who had cleansed him led him to such gratitude that he was willing to do anything that this great God would ask.

I would have done as Moses did, offering excuses right and left: I’m too weak, I’ve got too many flaws, I am too broken, I’m not smart enough or gifted in the right areas. But that misses a key point: God wired us to be weak and broken. God could have created us without the capacity for sin, but He didn’t. He knew the character of Isaiah, that he was a sinner just like me. But God wanted a partner and Isaiah said yes even before he knew where God wanted to send him! Here I am! Send me. I can almost picture Isaiah jumping up and down like Shrek did in the first Shrek movie, yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!”, waving his arms trying to get God’s attention.

Isaiah would be embarking for a mission for God: a mission to turn the hearts of the people back to God so they could be spared destruction. And, Isaiah would fail in that mission – at least as far as we’d describe failure. The people would not turn, they would not repent and God would send them into slavery.

Here’s a point to consider: God wasn’t calling Isaiah to be successful. Did God think Isaiah’s ministry was a failure and was God angry with Isaiah for the lack of results? No. I don’t believe so. God knew when he called Isaiah that Isaiah would “fail”. But He called him anyway. And Isaiah went, not knowing that God knew he would “fail”. Why? Obedience is why. An encounter with the cleansing of God has a way to cause us to obey out of gratitude.

I wonder, would Isaiah have said “Yes” if he’d known he would “fail”? I don’t like to fail. I know you don’t, either. When God calls us, though, he isn’t calling us to be successful, or even to fruitfulness (Isaiah wasn’t very fruitful) – He is calling us to faithfulness.

So, here we are, at the end of our visit with Isaiah, and we are confronted with questions:

Is my response to God’s call predicated on my own sense of whether or not I’m capable or likely to be successful? Or will I be like Isaiah and say “Yes” even before I know where God may send me – trusting in Him to take this shattered, broken vessel and do something for His own name’s sake?

What is my role in what God is doing among the nations? Can I say no? Yes, I can. And in doing so I will miss all that God intends for me to be and do, and most of all, I’d be missing out on a great adventure of relationship with Him.

What is your role in what God is doing in the world? Do you care about people coming to Jesus? God cares about it far more than any human could ever care about it. But he wants to send us. He waits to hear our response to the same questions he asked in Isaiah 6:8.

Do we think it would be too great of a sacrifice for us to make to leave our comforts behind to risk it all with God? David Livingstone had this to say (may not be word for word, but close enough that you’ll get the point): If an earthly commission by an earthly king is thought to be an honor, how can a commission by the Heavenly King be thought a sacrifice?

PRAYER: Search my heart, God. Let me not think of any call from You as a sacrifice, but as the greatest honor in the world. Let me not worry about my abilities or the likelihood of success, but simply of obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/06/17 – Venture Out in Faith

DayBreaks for 2/06/17: Venture Out in Faith

Revelation 3:8 (ESV) –I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

“One night at the end of a special Saturday night worship service,” writes Warren Hudson of Ontario, Canada, “a thunderstorm unleashed a bolt of lightning that plunged the church into darkness.” With the congregation seated in total darkness, the pastor felt his way to the kitchen to find some candles. The pastor handed out the candles to everyone present. Persons lit their candles in much the same way as many churches do on Christmas Eve, each person lighting the candle of the person next to them. The worshipers then made their way through the church’s winding hallways to the front door.

“Peering out, we could see the rain coming down in sheets,” Warren remembers. With traffic snarled, people were running for the nearest shelter. Looking around they realized that the entire city was in darkness. “There in the darkness we stood,” Warren writes, “a little band of Christians, each clutching a light, not sure whether to venture out into the storm or stay inside the church in hopes that the storm would soon blow over.”

There in the darkness the light of truth struck him. In this most dramatic way he realized what it means to be the “light of the world.” He writes, “It occurred to me then that this is the temptation I face every day. It is easy to play it safe and be a good Christian in church. It is a lot harder to venture out in faith into the storms of the world.”

It is easy to be a good Christian in church. It is not nearly so easy when we are outside the four walls of a comfortable building – but that is our mission. I suspect that if Jesus were to write a letter to us today he’d tell us that he’d much rather we were good Christians outside of the church building than inside.

Can you choose one thing this week that you will do “out in the storm” for Jesus and for the love of those around you?

PRAYER: Jesus, at the start of this new week, let us not be fearful of the surrounding storm but rather let us be good Christians and servants for you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/3/17 – Don’t Blame the House

DayBreaks for 2/03/17: Don’t Blame the House

I sometimes wonder what is going on with our country and the world. It’s not a pretty sight, no matter where you look. Things are dark and foreboding, broken and breaking down further, it seems. It is discouraging and it seems like everyone is looking for someone – or something – to blame.

John Stott, from Great Britain and one of the leading Reformed theologians before his death in 2011, had these challenging words to say to the church today:
“You know what your own country is like. I’m a visitor, and I wouldn’t presume to speak about America. But I know what Great Britain is like. I know something about the growing dishonesty, corruption, immorality, violence, pornography, the diminishing respect for human life, and the increase in abortion.
“Whose fault is it? Let me put it like this: if the house is dark at night, there is no sense in blaming the house. That’s what happens when the sun goes down. The question to ask is, “Where is the light?”
“If meat goes bad, there is no sense in blaming the meat. That is what happens when the bacteria are allowed to breed unchecked. The question to ask is, “Where is the salt?”
“If society becomes corrupt like a dark night or stinking fish, there’s no sense in blaming society. That’s what happens when fallen human society is left to itself and human evil is unrestrained and unchecked. The question to ask is “Where is the church?”

Are you looking for someone or something to blame for the way the world is today? Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been looking in all the wrong places.

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on us, your church, for not being salt and light and influencing the world around us for good! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/24/17 – Where Is Jesus?

DayBreaks for 1/24/17: Where Is Jesus?

John 12:26 (NLT) – Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

The meaning of disciple is “follower”. For most, when we think of a disciple, we think of a disciple of Jesus, but a disciple can be any person who follows a teacher or a teaching or a way of life.

Jesus is very clear: if you want to be his disciple, you have to follow him. It isn’t an optional statement or something he said “off the cuff” without thinking it through. If you want to be his disciple, you “…must be where I am.”

Of course, we are familiar with the verse about Jesus that scares us all out of our minds: that we must take up our cross and follow him. But that’s not the point here today. It may sound strange, but I think we need to ask the obvious, simple question: where is Jesus?

Jesus is in your work place today. He is in your school. He is in the hospital. He is in the church. He is in your home. He is on your playground and fitness club. He is in the restaurant where you will eat today. He is in your neighborhood. He is…everywhere.

Jesus isn’t in all those places just for curiosity’s sake or because he’s spying on folks. He is there because he wants to do something there – to touch someone’s life and change them forever. He is there because there is human need wherever there are humans. And you must be there with him – imitating him, doing the things he is doing to comfort and confront, challenge and uplift, encourage and engage people with the reality of who he is and of what he wants for them.

Are you up to the challenge? You must be where he is, doing what he does. If you aren’t, the question must be asked: are you truly a disciple?

PRAYER: Let us be with you all day today, Lord, and with each interaction, help us to imitate you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/13/17 – The Man Who Drove the Nails

DayBreaks for 1/13/17: The Man Who Drove the Nails

FROM THE DAYBREAKS ARCHIVE, January, 2007:

The Bible doesn’t tell us the name of the man (almost certainly a Roman soldier) who drove the nails into the wrists and feet of Jesus.  The Bible tells us the name of the man who betrayed him, but not of the man who actually crucified him.  It isn’t likely that it was the centurion who stated, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” because centurions typically stood around and directed activities and left the work to the private or corporal.  I wonder, though, what the man must have thought as the afternoon wore on and the skies darkened, the earth shook and Jesus died.  I wonder if I’d have been able to sleep that night.  If my wife asked me, “What did you do today, honey?”, what would I have told her?

As I was browsing a book today in the Christian bookstore (it looked real good but I didn’t buy it yet – you know, cash flow!), I was captivated by a thought in one of the books I read.  The name of the book was When God Weeps (I think that was it), written by Joni Earickson Tada and Steve Estes.  At one point in the book, they were reflecting on the crucifixion of Christ and God’s willingness to endure suffering like one of us rather than to distance Himself from what we have to experience. 

Christ had all power – for in him dwelt the fullness of God.  He could have called legions of angels at any time to do his bidding, for how could one of his angels not have obeyed his command?  But what I’d never quite pictured or thought about was this: Colossians 1.16b-17 tells us that everything that exists was created by Christ.  That includes the mountains, lakes, skies, earth, you, me, our dog, and yes, even the person who pounded the nails into his hands was created by the Crucified One.  But Colossians 1.17 also tells us that “…and in him all things hold together.”  I think that means exactly what it says.  At a subatomic level, what is it that makes all the particles of an atom hold together?  Christ’s power.  What is it that makes atoms bond together to form molecules, compounds and chemicals?  Christ’s power.  What is it that holds people together?  Christ.  What holds the universe in control so the moon doesn’t go spinning off into space, or the earth go spinning into the sun?  Science would say gravity – I would say Christ. 

But here’s the thought that I read that struck me: not only did God have to be willing to suffer as a man for man’s sake, but the same God who was suffering as the nails pierced his flesh was holding together the atoms of the man’s body that was doing the crucifying.  With just one thought, Christ could have willed the man’s atoms to dissociate from one another and the man wielding the hammer would have disintegrated and been no more.  According to Colossians 1.17, Christ was the one who held the man together, who willed the man to stay together, to finish the task that he had begun with the first swing of the mallet.

Commitment to purpose.  Commitment to mankind.  Commitment to obedience.  Commitment to love, no matter what the cost.  “Be imitators therefore of Christ…”

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the commitment of Christ to see the job through, to not just start the ball rolling for our salvation, but to drink the cup to the dregs.  Teach us to be more committed to you and self-controlled.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.