DayBreaks for 05/24/12 – Meeting Jesus At the Door

DayBreaks for 05/24/12 – Meeting Jesus At the Door

Matthew 7:14 (NIV) – But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

As a pastor, one of the things that one traditionally does is to stand at the doorway and greet members of the congregation as they enter and leave.  It is something that I always loved to do because I loved the people and delighted in seeing them and being with them again each Sunday.  Most of the time the conversation was light and pleasant – but there were moments when it was deep and touched on areas of pain in their lives.  What a privilege to be entrusted with the details of the lives of others!

Of course, part of the welcoming conversation was to encourage people, especially guests, to come back again.  I would welcome them, and after services as they left, I’d ask if they had any questions about what we believed and practiced.  Nothing challenging – that much is for sure.

Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor wrote, “If Jesus were in charge of an average congregation I figure there would be about four people left there on Sunday mornings, and chances are those four would be fooling themselves. Jesus would greet newcomers by saying, “Are you absolutely sure you want to follow this way of life? It will take everything you have. It has to come before everything else that matters to you. Plenty of people have launched out on it without counting the cost, and as you can see they are not here anymore. The other thing is, if you succeed, if you really follow me, it will probably get you killed. Why don’t you go home and think it over? I would hate for you to get in over your head.'” – Barbara Brown Taylor, Bread of Angels, p. 47

Many Christians and many churches have “dummed down” the demands of Christ.  Christ never did.  Christ never will.  He will challenge us with his words to live in different ways than the world around us, and to suffer, carrying our cross daily.  I don’t know what that will mean for me (let alone for you), but of one thing I am certain: Christ will issue us a challenge that will blow us away.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for the times I’ve not put your bold challenges in front of others and for the times I’ve failed to live up to them myself!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 is now engaged in a project to provide temporary shelter, food, water and adult care to 37 orphans in Migori, Kenya.  We are trying to raise up an army of compassionate people who will each contribute whatever they can – even $5-10 each, to help us provide care for these children until our partner in the project, BrightPoint for Children, can secure sponsorships for these 37 kids.  If you want to contribute, follow this link and scroll down to find the “Donate” button: Help the 37 Migori Orphans

Thank you!  Your donations are tax deductible for 2012.  If you prefer to send a check rather than give through PayPal, write it and mail it to: I Am 2 Partners, Inc., c/o 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092.

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DayBreaks for 10/17/11 – Trivial Messages

DayBreaks for 10/17/11 – Trivial Messages

But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? – Luke 4:28

Jesus spoke these words to a large crowd that was following him.  He was talking about what it mean to be his follower when he warned them not to become a disciple until they’d really thought it through and considered the price it would require of them to follow him.

In a recent speech to a graduating class, Timothy Tenant, the president of Asbury Theological Seminary, has some very profound and thought-provoking things to say.  We need to think about what he said not just as the universe of believers, but as individuals as well.  I thought it was good enough that I wanted to share it with you and let it challenge your thinking and heart as it did mine:

“Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  It is evangelicals who have cried out the most against the commercialization of Christmas, but then became co-opted by turning the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” into one of the most commercialized phrases of all time, blazoned across t-shirts, coffee mugs and yes, church signs. They can be purchased at any local Christian book store, 10% off if you pick up a precious memory angel along with it.

“Free coffee, everlasting life – yes, membership has its privileges!” or “Walmart is not the only saving place.“  Do you hear what lies behind all of these messages?

“Evangelicals have become experts in finding a thousand new ways to ask the same question, “What is the least one has to do to become a Christian.”  That’s our defining question.  We’ve become masters at theological and soteriological minimalism.  We are the ones who have boiled the entire glorious gospel down to a single phrase, a simple emotive transaction, or some silly slogan.  It is time for a new generation of Christians, committed to apostolic faith, to declare this minimalistic, reductionistic Christianity a failed project!  It is wrong to try to get as many people as possible, to acknowledge as superficially as allowable, a gospel which is theologically unsustainable.  We need to be reminded of the words of Søren Kierkegaard, in his Attack Upon Christendom, where he declared, “Christianity is the profoundest wound that can be inflicted upon us, calculated on the most dreadful scale to collide with everything.” We, on the other hand, have made entrance into the Christian faith painless and almost seamless.  In the process, we have managed to produce as many nominal Christians as Christendom ever did.”

What kind of gospel are our churches presenting to the world?  A gospel full of warm fuzzies, but which demands nothing yet holds out promises of eternal bliss, or are we presenting the gospel that Jesus did: one that costs everything, but which is worth the price?

PRAYER: Father, forgive us for making the challenge of faith cheap and for not teaching ourselves and others that it is worth any cost in order to be the disciple of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 03/29/11 – The Cost

DayBreaks for 03/29/11 – The Cost

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? – Luke 14:26-28

 

Count the cost first....

You’ve probably read or heard that passage before.  Jesus is talking, as make clear by the first phrase, about the cost of discipleship.  His point?  It’s not cheap.  It is costly.  It involves things like crosses, and crosses were instruments of death and torment.  He counsels us: …don’t begin until you count the cost. We are duly warned, if we are wise!  Deitrich Bonhoeffer, in his very appropriately named book, The Cost of Discipleship, said “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  A clear reading of Jesus’ statements in the gospels is all that is needed to help us understand that Jesus believed the cost of being his disciple would be sky-high.

 

But, there’s a flip side to this that we need to keep in focus as well.  In his work, Radical, David Platt observed, “But I wonder if the cost of discipleship is even greater.  The price is certainly high for people who don’t know Christ…in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith.”  He goes on to note that the cost of non-discipleship is also high for those who are poor and starving.  The church in America owns over $230 billion in property and buildings.  Over $10 billion is spent each year on new construction.  How many mouths could be fed for that amount of money – and which would a disciple choose?  Which do you think Jesus would choose – feeding the starving, or building a new educational wing or sanctuary?  (Never in the NT did Jesus even suggest building a building as a place to worship God – on the contrary, as Platt notes we are to build people who are the new temple for His glory.)

The cost is great to Christians, too, if we fail to live as disciples.  The wealth of this world may make an enticing incentive to ignore our Lord’s example in caring for the poor, but the parable of the pearl of great price or the buried treasure reveal to us what we LOSE if we aren’t willing to pay the price of discipleship.

To not be a follower of Jesus is a far higher price to pay than dying for Him could ever be.

PRAYER: Lord, we are fearful of the price of following too closely in Jesus’ footsteps for we fear what might happen to us if we do.  Keep us mindful of the cost that will be paid, not only by us, but by those who don’t know Christ and who are poor in this world if we are unwilling to pay the price of discipleship!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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