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 12/23/15 – L’Enchante

DayBreaks for 12/23/15: L’Enchante

“There is a beautiful story recounted every Christmas in the forests of Provence in southern France.  It’s about the shepherds who came to Bethlehem to see the child.  One brought eggs, another brought bread and cheese, the third brought wine.  And the fourth brought nothing at all.  People called him L’Enchante.  The first three shepherds chatted with Mary and Joseph, commenting on how well Mary looked, how cozy was the cave and how handsomely Joseph had appointed it, what a beautiful starlit night it was.  They congratulated the proud parents, presented them with their gifts and assured them that if they needed anything else, they had only to ask.  Finally someone asked, ‘Where is L’Enchante?’  They searched high and low, up and down, inside and out.  Finally, someone peeked through the blanket hung against the draft, into the crèche.  There, kneeling at the crib, was L’Enchante – the enchanted one.  Like a flag or a flame taking the direction of the wind, he had taken the direction of love.  Through the entire night, he stayed in adoration, whispering, ‘Jesu, Jesu, Jesu – Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’” – Brennan Manning, The Lion and the Lamb

I wonder what I would have done had I been one of the shepherds?  Would I have scrounged up some gift out of my pack to take with me to Bethlehem?  If so, what would I have taken?  After all, what gift could a poor shepherd have that the child Jesus would need, or could use?  Certainly, they could not take anything like the gifts which the magi bore on their caravan.

But perhaps, if there is anything to the ancient story (and even if there is not), L’Enchante had something to take but thought better of it.  Perhaps L’Enchante realized that no matter what he had, there was nothing marvelous enough on this earth to lay at the feet of the baby Jesus.  And in that moment, he had grasped a great truth.  I think, perhaps, that he realized that what this baby deserved was not gifts which were so inadequate, but our wonder and our worship.  And so, L’Enchante took the only thing with him to the manger that the baby would ever want: his heart.  Hour after hour, pouring out worship, gazing in amazed and overwhelmed wonder at the Miracle that lay on the hay, too enchanted to talk about trivialities.

May we all be overwhelmed with the enchantment that Jesus brings with him.  May we all give him our wonder and love and worship.  May we avoid the trivialities that are so frivolous and meaningless and focus on the one thing that is needful – to worship the One who is our Savior.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we live in an age where it is hard for us to be amazed at anything that is good.  It seems that the evil that is present in the world is still able to amaze us when we hear about our cruelty to one another, but seldom do we fall to our knees in amazement.  Help the Christmas Truth to enchant us and capture our hearts anew this week.  May we truly worship Jesu!  In His name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/27/15 – Two Kinds of Dogs

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DayBreaks for 2/27/15: Two Kinds of Dogs in Worship    

If you are a Christian, chances are good that about 48 hours from now, you’ll be headed to worship somewhere.  At least, for God’s sake (and His glory!), I hope so.  Worship is challenging.  True worship is very challenging.  We forget what it is about and why we do it.  But I thought that this illustration was a good one and might be helpful:

There are two kinds of dogs in this world. There are the dogs who eat everything and anything (like our yellow Lab!) – toss them a scrap of anything, meat, cauliflower, mushrooms, shoe leather – and they will literally snap it out of the air and scarf it down without hesitation – in the twinkling of an eye!

Then there are the dogs that approach every tidbit offered to them with suspicion. They stop, they sniff, they consider, and then they finally — they either accept the goodie offered to them or simply turn and walk away.  The spoiled doggie message being sent here is that the gift you offer is accepted with the attitude that “I am doing you a favor by eating this.”

The “scarf hounds” joyously gulp down whatever comes their way from our hands because they trust that we are always offering them something good, something that they want and they need.

The “spoiled dogs” also show up for treat time, but they convey an attitude that suggests that we need them to be there and, indeed, are fortunate that they did us the favor of showing up to entertain us. These pampered pooches take their invitation as a given, and their finicky feeding manners emphasize that they are “gracing us” with their presence and their acceptance of what we offer to them.

When you go to worship on Sunday, will you be going as a “scarf hound” or as a “spoiled dog”? Will you be there because your soul trusts in God’s providence and presence, and hungers for the divine gift of being able to draw near to God? Or are you here because you are doing God a “favor” by showing up? Do you somehow imagine that God needs your presence and the witness of your worship in order to validate God’s divinity?

PRAYER: May we all be hungry for our encounters with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 2/23/15 – 10,000 Years

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DayBreaks for 2/23/15: 10,000 Years    

 

In worship on Sunday, we sang a version of the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace/I’ve Been Set Free and it was wonderful.  We’ve sung it before, and I’ve sung the traditional Amazing Grace since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, but for some reason, a part of it that has always been my favorite struck me with even greater force today than before.  It’s the verse that says, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun…”

I don’t know why, but for some reason, I pictured my dad while we sang that today.  My dad has been “there” over 17 years now.  And as we sang today, I pictured my dad bright and shining.  It was a wonderful moment for me.

I’m sure that my dad, just as Moses’ face shone after being in God’s Presence for just a short while on Sinai, now glows with the reflected glory of the Lord.  And then, I began to wonder what we will look like after we’ve been there 10,000 years.  At what point will that glory max out?  I don’t think, though I’m not sure, that it will.  Consider this verse: 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) – And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

I grant you that I’m not much to look at now.  And, quite frankly, neither are you.  But can you imagine what we will look like after having been in God’s Presence after 10,000 years, or 100,000 million years – if the glory is ever-increasing? 

As CS Lewis put it: There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

That brother or sister that you struggle to put up with here – imagine them after 10 billion years of glory is visible on their face.  Maybe we’d treat each other better if we did.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for being generous with Your glory.  I pray that even a bit of it might light upon each of us now and that we will see one another as we will be, not as we are.  And, Lord, give my dad my regards!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 2/17/15 – The Lone Ranger Christian

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DayBreaks for 2/17/15: The Lone Ranger Christian   

I’ve heard it and I’m sure you’ve heard it, too: “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”  Someone from our church shared this fairly typical example: “I remember asking a guy (a professed Christian) where he went to church, and he told me he had church every Sunday on the first tee of a golf course.  For him, church was about being in nature and it was him and God.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with being out in nature, but if you look at the Bible, Christianity is not just about me and God, it’s about us and God.  That is, it’s about relationship with God, but it’s also about a relationship one to another.

“Maybe you’re not being constantly tempted with a drink or to take pills…However, maybe you do have this lone ranger mentality that says, “I don’t need people…I don’t need church…I can do it on my own. 

“All I can say from many years serving in ministry and working with people, if you try to “battle” sin on your own, you’re ‘toast.’”

Can someone be a Christian without going to church?  I suppose it is possible.  After all, someone in solitary confinement may not be able to go to church, but they could still be a Christian.  That kind of situation, however, is the exception, not the rule. 

Bottom line: I need you.  And, as hard as it may be to believe, you need me, too.  That’s how God planned it.  And He’s wiser than we are. 

Let’s not go to the tee next Sunday morning, or into the woods as a matter of practice on a Sunday.  We can do better than that!  There was only one Lone Ranger…and he had nothing to do with Christianity.

Perhaps if we do our part, our churches will be better able to fulfill this command and more people will find being in church irresistible: Romans 12:10 (KJV) – Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another…

PRAYER: Keep us from foolishness and foolish ideas that we don’t need the fellowship, accountability and encouragement that only the church can provide!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/09/14 – All Oppression Shall Cease

DayBreaks for 12/09/14 – All Oppression Shall Cease

One of the most wonderful and impressive of all Christmas songs is O Holy Night.  It isn’t easy to sing, but it sure is beautiful!  I don’t know if you’ve heard Celine Dion sing it or not, but if you haven’t, you should!  (Link to Celine’s version on YouTube – you will probably have to skip the ad after a few seconds!)

I learned something about this beautiful song this past weekend that I never knew.  The song was originally written in French in 1847.  It was apparently during the time of the Civil War in the United States that the song was translated into English.  As one soldier in the Civil War heard it, the phrase that stuck in his mind was “…in His name all oppression shall cease.”

Deliverance, by the way, is one of the reasons he came:  Luke 4:18-19 (NLT) – The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.

That phrase gave new meaning to the ordeal that was being experienced at that time.  And today, over 160 years later, it still gives hope and meaning to us, doesn’t it?

With terrorist beheadings, riots in the streets of our cities, brutalization of women and girls throughout the world, the millions of those who are enslaved and oppressed, we are not short on the need for hope.  We do know, deep in our hearts, that one day when He speaks the word, all oppression shall cease…forever.

Until that day, let us hope and pray, let us be instruments of His peace…and let us stop oppressing ourselves.  We may be oppressing our spouse through our words or actions.  We may be treating our children more like slaves than little ones endowed with the very image of God (and a purer image than we adults carry!)  We may oppress our employees…or employers.  We may oppress our animals and friends.  Men often oppress women.

Let’s not.  Let’s do our part to not be oppressors, but deliverers from oppression this Christmas.

PRAYER: Forgive the ways that we oppress others, Lord, and help us be instruments of your peace and righteousness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and must raise his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and put S090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations!

Your support would be deeply appreciated!

DayBreaks for 8/25/14 – Still Singing After All These Years

DayBreaks for 8/26/14 – Still Singing After All These Years

NOTE: Galen and Laurel are relocating to Georgia this week, so warmed-over DayBreaks are on the menu.  New DayBreaks will resume later this week!  From 2004: 

  1. 4:2-9 (NLT) – And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it! The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow.  Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads.  And from the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven lampstands with burning flames. They are the seven spirits of God.  In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.  In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back.  The first of these living beings had the form of a lion; the second looked like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth had the form of an eagle with wings spread out as though in flight.  Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”   
  1. 5:11-14 (NLT) – Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “The Lamb is worthy—the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”  And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb.” 

The vision that John records in the book of Revelation (above) was very similar to a vision that the prophet Isaiah had 800 years earlier (Isaiah 6).  But there are differences, as Mark Buchanan noted in The Holy Wild: in the time of Isaiah, the only ones who sang were the angels.  It was an elite choir, to say the least.  But now, 800 years later, it’s different.  All of heaven and earth join in to sing the song.  That’s one difference, but not the biggest one. 

The second difference: in Isaiah’s vision, the seraphim around the throne use 2 of their wings to cover their eyes.  As holy as these beings are, they would appear to not gaze upon the holiness of God Himself.  It would have been too much, even for them.  In John’s vision, the creatures who surround God’s throne are covered with eyes – all over and on every side.  They still have 6 wings, but even the wings have eyes underneath them.  In short – they can’t help but look upon the Lord who is high and lifted up. 

What changed during those 800 years?  Here it is in a nutshell: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne.”  This is the Lamb of God that John the Baptist declared took away the world’s sin.  

The difference: Jesus.  He is the difference.  Like Isaiah, we are still people of unclean lips and hearts.  But because of Jesus, that which not even angels once dared to look upon is made visible for all eyes to see, and in fact, God invites us to gaze upon the Son who died for us, but who lives forevermore. 

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” 

PRAYER: Give us hearts that are ready and willing to surrender anything You ask of us, Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and must raise his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and put S090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations!

Your support would be deeply appreciated!