DayBreaks for 9/12/17 – Take This Poor Indian, Too!

DayBreaks for 9/12/17: Take This Poor Indian, Too

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

When you go to the grocery store (or sporting goods store!) the next time, if you buy something, you have to give something in exchange to get it.  It may be currency that you hand over, it may be a debit or credit card – but one way or another, in order to get what you want, you have to give up something.  It is at that moment that you make a decision about the value of what you want.  Is it worth $10?  $20?  Are you willing to part with the price that is demanded to get what you want? 

We’re used to having to pay for things.  In fact, most of us who are Baby Boomers grew up really struggling to receive anything as a gift.  There’s a pride in us that blocks our being able to be gracious recipients of anything that we haven’t had to pay for.  We often talk about having to “swallow our pride” in order to take a handout.  Sad, but true, I fear. 

And so it is that when it comes to Christianity, perhaps this is the biggest stumbling block of all.  We want to pay for our salvation.  We just can’t get it through our heads that we can’t do that.  That salvation has to come to us as a gift, freely given, to be freely received. 

An incident is related of a missionary who came into contact with a proud and powerful Indian chief.  The chief, trembling under conviction of his sin, approached the missionary and offered his belt of wampum as atonement.  “No!” said the missionary, “Christ cannot accept a sacrifice like that.”  The Indian departed, but soon returned offering his valuable rifle and the most beautiful skins he had taken in hunting.  “No!” was the reply, “Christ cannot accept those either.”  Again the Indian went away, only to return with a conscience more troubled than ever.  This time he offered his wigwam, together with his wife and child—everything for peace and pardon.  “No,” was the reply even to this, “Christ cannot accept such a sacrifice.”  At this the chief seemed utterly oppressed; but suddenly he somehow sensed the deficiency, for, lifting up tearful eyes, he cried out, “Here, Lord, take this poor Indian too!”

The chief in the story had to weigh values and what he was willing to part with.  He began with a simple wampum belt, escalated to a rifle and skins, only to be rebuffed.  At the next encounter, the chief thought he was giving all he had – his home, wife and child – truly a costly thing.  But even that wasn’t enough.  What God wanted was the man himself.  And when the chief finally understood that all God wanted was “him”, salvation came to that man. 

We’re often willing to part with things that aren’t all that important to us.  Thank goodness God didn’t feel that way.

PRAYER:  I fear, Lord, that I’m not very generous when it comes to giving up my own life and ways.  We’ve grown comfortable in our skins.  We’re willing to pay some price, but often we’re not willing to pay the full price to follow you.  I thank you that salvation cannot be earned, for our striving would become cause for pride.  Help us to open our hands to receive the gift of your life, and in gratitude to give you the gift of ours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 9/11/17 – As Though It Were Not Serious

DayBreaks for 9/11/17: As Though It Were Not Serious

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

You know how it is when you receive bad news about someone you love.  It may have come as the result of some tests they were having run – is there a tumor or not?  If so, is it malignant?  Or, someone has been in an accident and you hear their voice through the phone, “I’ve been in a crash – and I’ve got some injuries – but nothing serious.”  Until you get that last little bit of information “It’s nothing serious,” you’re on pins and needles.  Until the lab report comes back clear, you contemplate the possible cessation of your life.  Those words, “It’s nothing serious,” can be some of the most comforting words we’ll hear. 

Sometimes, though, those words can be deceptive.  Consider the diagnosis that comes back and says all will be well, only to later discover that the diagnosis was wrong, that the test results were incorrect.  “It’s no big deal,” is another way of saying about the same thing.  Nothing to worry about…but while it may not be a big deal to that person, someone else who was affected by it may think it is a huge deal.

We have different ways of seeing things, and I understand that.  I suppose it is inevitable.  But it disturbs me deeply when Christians are divided on things that Scripture clearly calls sin.  We’ve heard the culture decrying religious thought and beliefs for so long that we’ve bought into a brain-washed mindset.  Somehow, in our arrogance, we’ve bought the lie that just because the laws of our land (or any other) say that something is legal that it means it must be okay and that it can’t therefore possibly be sin.  Even when the Bible is point-blank on the subject! 

We would do well to remember that God says judgment will begin not with the heathen, but with those of His own house (1 Peter 4:17).  When His own people have become indistinguishable with unbelievers there is great cause for fear.  When His own people cannot tell right from wrong, it is totally incorrect to say, “It’s not serious, it’s no big deal.”  Listen to these words, spoken by God, to His great prophet Jeremiah: (6:14-15) – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.  Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.  In context, God is talking to His own people, addressing them about what is about to happen because they have minimized the Word of the God and its authority.  Why was God so angry at his people?  We get a pretty good clue in verse 10: To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

It seems that the people of the Lord had chosen not to listen to God’s Word any longer.  Why?  Because they found it offensive.  What was offensive about it?  They didn’t like what it said – it called sin, sin – it pointed out their evil and the evil in the cultures that surrounded them.  And they didn’t like it because they loved the culture more than they loved the Word of the Lord.

How I fear for modern American Christians who can’t see the truth when it’s printed on the pages of the Bibles right in front of them.  And that includes me.

It is serious.

PRAYER: Father, we are so blinded by our human desires and selfishness that we don’t love Your Word and honor its truth.  We close our ears because your word offends us with it’s demands for holiness and righteousness and for turning away from the sins we love so much.  Help us once more to find pleasure in Your Word, to love truth more than convenience and even more than our own lives.  Pour Your Spirit of revelation out upon us that we can have our eyes opened and ears unclogged once more to perceive and practice truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/08/17 – God’s Glory

DayBreaks for 9/08/17: God’s Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love to read the passages of Scripture that describe God’s glory and greatness!  I think we all like to read about those aspects of our God.  They are all at once awe-inspiring, comforting, intimidating, exhilarating and terrifying.  There is something within most of us that loves adventure – and life with God is certainly that!

But when we talk about the glory of God, what do you think about?  Do you recall the story of Moses after he came down from the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf?  He was upset and angry…and seemingly he got depressed.  So, what did he do?  He talked to God and he made what seems to be a very strange request given the circumstances.  He said, “Show me Your glory, I pray.”  It’s not too surprising that Moses would ask, in the middle of his depression and discouragement, to see God’s glory.  It makes perfect sense, actually. 

But what, I wonder, did Moses expect to see?  He’d already seen the burning bush and the miracles in Egypt.  Did he expect to see a display of lightning and thunder such as the world had never seen?  Did he expect to feel the earth shake under his feet, to see the mountains smoking, to see shooting stars even in the middle of the desert daylight?  Did he expect to hear mighty noises?  I don’t know.  But I don’t think that Moses got what He expected.

Amazingly, God agrees to Moses’ request, however, notice carefully what God said: “I will cause My goodness to pass before you.”  Do you see it?  God agreed to show Moses His glory…and He proceeds to show him His goodness.  What is God’s glory?  It is His unlimited goodness.  The most glorious thing about God is that He is so good!  This sheds new meaning on John’s words in the first chapter of his gospel.  Describing how Christ came to earth in the incarnation, John wrote: “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of God.”  What did humans see when they saw Jesus?  They saw his goodness – his love, compassion, healing, mercy, grace – all GOOD things, all God things.  They didn’t see Christ in his heavenly glory – no man could and live – but they saw his goodness, and that is God’s glory!

No, I don’t think Moses got what he expected to see when he asked to see God’s glory.  But I don’t think we was disappointed.  He got so much more than he’d expected – and he learned something valuable about God in the process.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your ceaseless goodness.  May we reflect your glory, your goodness, this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/07/17 – A Fake Disappoints

DayBreaks for 9/07/17: A Fake Disappoints

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

A woman in Georgia is facing charges after calling police about getting her money back for a fake crack rock she allegedly bought from a drug dealer. Juanita Marie Jones called police in Rochelle on a recent Thursday night to complain she was unhappy with some crack cocaine she purchased that night, the Cordelle Dispatch reported.  The 53-year-old woman allegedly told police she purchased what she thought was a $20 piece of crack cocaine, but after breaking the rock into three pieces and smoking one, she thought the cocaine was “fake.” She told Officer Joel Quinn and Deputy John Shedd of the Wilcox County Sheriff’s Office she wanted them to get her money back. The officers were invited into Jones’ kitchen where showed them the alleged “fake” crack, at which time they arrested her for possession of cocaine. She is now awaiting a bond hearing.

This story is sad and tragic on many fronts.  It’s hard to even know where to begin!

It’s sad how we pursue all sorts of things in life that can’t give us what we truly want.  It’s sad how we spend money on things that are real or fake, only to be dissatisfied.  It’s a tragic thing that fakery can cost us so much.

1 Peter 1:6-9 (NIV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

How many of us would buy a piece of property sight-unseen?  “If you believe that, I’ve got a piece of property I’d like to sell you,” goes one saying that highlights the foolishness of doing things sight-unseen, without having checked out the validity of what we’re investing in.  And yet, as Peter so eloquently put it (especially for a fisherman!), we haven’t seen Jesus (Peter had!), but we’ve invested quite a bit into him through faith.  We’ve committed our present life and our future days and all of eternity to someone we’ve not beheld.  To some, it is foolishness.  But Peter had seen Jesus, he had touched him, smelled him, hear him, and Peter seeks to reassure us that any investment we make in Jesus will not leave us disappointed.  Jesus is real.  He is merely unseen.  But our faith in him will be proved genuine when we see him at last.

Don’t be suckered into buying fakes when the real thing can be had for free. 

PRAYER: Father, give us discerning hearts to know the real from the fake, the genuine article from a cheap imitation.  Assure our hearts that when we see him, all we’ve believed about Your goodness and Your Son will be proved genuine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/06/17 – Traveling the Circle

DayBreaks for 9/06/17: Traveling the Circle

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From “The Scrivener”, a blog by Doug Dalrymple:

“I’m reminded of a passage in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Sydney Carton, habitually unhappy, is pondering a great act, a beautiful act, which if carried out will certainly cost him everything.  Setting aside his customary bitter tone, Sydney suddenly asks the elderly Jarvis Lorry, ‘Does your childhood seem far off?  Do the days when you sat at your mother’s knee seem days of very long ago?’  Venerable and wizened, and having spent his days in simple, loving dedication to others, the octogenarian Lorry replies:

‘Twenty years back, yes; at this time in my life, no.  For, as I draw closer and closer to the end, I travel in the circle, nearer and nearer to the beginning.  It seems to be one of the kind smoothings and preparings of the way.  My heart is touched now by many remembrances that had long fallen asleep, of my pretty young mother (and I so old!), and by many associations of the days when what we call the World was not so real with me, and my faults were not confirmed in me.’

“I recently asked my father a similar question: Whether or not, as he’s grown older, his memories of childhood seem to fade or grow more vivid? He replied, ‘a little of both.’  By Jarvis Lorry’s measure this suggests my father has yet to complete his circuit and that my children and I will enjoy the blessing of his company here below for years to come.  I do pray, however, that aging becomes for me (and for each of us) less a process of alienation from the child I once was, and more a process of recovery.  God willing that I should grow old and gray, I hope some day to gaze into the mirror and through the fog of outward appearances to apprehend the faint outlines of that seven-year-old boy, fully inhabiting the old man’s frame, secretly supplying him with joy and wonder and curiosity in the world, in his Maker, and especially in those given to him to love.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

I’ve mused on this kind of topic before, but my son has a wonderful way with words that express things far better than I can.  I like the idea of traveling in the circle – and that as we get nearer and nearer to the end, we are actually getting nearer and nearer to the beginning.  And is it not so?  We came from God, and we shall return to Him.  While that is a comfort to those who have come to know Him and His Son, it is also a very sobering reminder.  We tend to think that as we age we are further and further removed from our origin.  But such is not the case.  It is precisely at the midway point in our lives (whatever that may be for a given individual) that we are the farthest from the origin.  As we get older, the period of our alienation here upon earth grows shorter and short and the time of our arrival on eternity’s doorstep grows ever shorter and nearer.  And in eternity dwells the One who is our Origin, our Creator, our God and our Father. 

When my younger son (Tim, not Doug) was a competitive gymnast, at the end of a day he’d be somewhat exhausted – sometimes very exhausted.  My advice to him was always the same (and I’m sure he got tired of hearing it): “Finish well.”  What kind of horrible tragedy will it be for us to get so close to the finish line, to completing the circle and returning to our Maker, if we lose our heart for Him and His Word toward the end?  If we suddenly stop and turn away from the truth He taught us throughout the first part of our journey around the circle?  I’ve been through my mid-life crisis, and I’m here to tell you that it was no fun.  I came close to chucking it all out the window a number of years ago.  But I think one thing, more than any other, made me hold on: my life would have been a waste and my testimony a sham if I turned away. 

I want to finish well.  I want to complete the circle in such a way that when I put my foot on God’s doorstep, He’ll open the door and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord!”  I pray you will finish well, too.

PRAYER: Oh, Lord.  Help us not to grow weary or to lose sight of the end.  May we be ever more mindful each and every passing moment that we are drawing close to the completion of this life’s journey and that when we pass from this world, we will stand before You.  May we hear Your voice filled with pleasure when we awake from our sleep!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/5/17- Hungry for the Light

DayBreaks for 9/05/17: Hunger for the Light

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

It was just Tuesday, 8/28, that I once more found myself surrounded by redwoods.  It was a week of much needed and appreciated vacation for my better 99.937% and I, and on that day we drove into the redwoods and got out of the car, wandering off from the road to stand surrounded by giants.  It is a humbling thing to stand among monstrous, ancient giants, you know. 

I’ve written of my love for redwood groves before and I’m fairly certain that you’ll hear about them again at some point in time, but this time I noticed something that I’d not really seen before.  I stood near the base of several behemoths and looked upward towards the top of the trees.  Now, bear in mind that I say “towards the top of the trees” for a reason – you can’t really see the tops.  These trees are the height of a 20-30 story building (and those are still relatively babies as redwoods go.)  As you stand at the base of the tree and look upward, there are no branches for a good 75-100 feet.  And even then, branches are few and far between.  (I feel strange calling them branches, because if they fell, they’d be the size of most trees!)  The branches congregate, in a glorious company of celebration, toward the top of the tree.

I understand why it is so – down on the floor of the woods there is not much sunlight to warm a seed to the point of germination.  And there is certainly not enough light to carry on the photosynthetic process that such a large tree needs.  And so, in His wisdom, God put the branches of such trees on top. 

As I looked upward, two things struck me:

FIRST: in its desperate rush to reach the light, the redwood shoots straight up, not bothering to grow lots of branches or to get distracted from its journey and purpose of getting to the light.  It’s as if it just can’t wait to reach the sunshine.  How true that should be of the Christian’s life!  We should be focused on getting to the Light, for in the Light is the life of men.  We shouldn’t let ourselves get diffused and too spread out – it would only distract us from growing up into the Light.  And there is no time to waste.

SECOND: when you stand at the base of the tree, you see no movement at all.  But when you look up towards the underside of the branches towards the top of the tree, you see the huge monolith swaying to and fro with the subtle nudgings of the wind.  The roots, however, are unshaken.  It doesn’t take much to move the top of a redwood, but to move the bottom, where the roots are?  Forget it.  A good root system is vital – for trees and for humans.  May we be like the tree planted by the water of Psalm 1, firmly rooted and reaching as fast and as hard as we can for the Light!

Psalms 1:1-6 (NLT) – But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.  But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.  They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

PRAYER: Almighty One, may we stretch hungrily for the Light and put roots down deep into the good soil that is the Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/04/17 – As We Forgive Others

DayBreaks for 9/04/17: As We Forgive Others

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From The Scrivener, blog by Doug Dalrymple:

I know that all the Hutus who killed so calmly cannot be sincere when they beg pardon, even of the Lord. But me, I am ready to forgive. It is not a denial of the harm they did, not a betrayal of the Tutsis, not an easy way out. It is so that I will not suffer my whole life asking myself why they tried to cut me. I do not want to live in remorse and fear from being Tutsi. If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body. I really must find tranquility. I have to sweep fear far away from me, even if I do not believe their soothing words.”  The quote is from a Rwandan school teacher named Edith. She is interviewed in Jean Hatzfeld’s book, Une Saison de Machettes, reviewed here by Theodore Dalrymple.
“Edith’s sentiments are telling, I think. When we withhold forgiveness from someone who has wronged us, we often do so because we feel that to forgive that person would be to give him something beautiful, a gift he manifestly does not deserve.  I think this is an accurate instinct; forgiveness truly is a gift.  Forgiveness may, in measure, relieve the perpetrator from the burden of his crime, or the spiritual consequences of it – provided the perpetrator is, in fact, conscious of that burden or those consequences.
“But not all are conscious of their crimes or culpability.  Speaking from my own experience as a sinner, it is easy enough for a man to remain ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the hells he’s unleashed in the lives of others.  In his novel, Silence, Shusaku Endo writes that sin “is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”  But even in such cases, when we withhold forgiveness we only make ourselves victims twice over.  The perpetrator may never appreciate the gift of forgiveness, but the walls we build in our hearts against our neighbor serve also to separate us from God.  We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.  Without forgiveness, there is no peace. As Edith says, “If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body.”

Isn’t it interesting how we want to make everyone pay for the things they’ve done to hurt us?  And how little we want to pay for the hurts we’ve inflicted on others – we usually explain them away with a toss of the hand or head or some remark about how they deserved what they got because of something they’d done.  But I think Doug’s point is valid: “We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.”  Isn’t that what it means when we’re told that if we don’t love our neighbor, we can’t love God?  1 John 4:20 (NLT) – If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?

PRAYER: Jesus, your love alone is fully holy and righteous, and we have so much need to learn to love as you do!  Help us to start by learning to forgive from the heart, not just for the sake of others, but for our own sake as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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