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 4/13/16 – Costly Gratitude

DayBreaks for 4/13/16 – Costly Gratitude

Luke 7:36-38, 44-47 (NLTse) – One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them…Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

How much does it cost to be grateful? We’re inclined to think that gratitude is more a feeling than an action. I’m not so sure, though, that we’re really all that grateful if there isn’t also some action attached to it. It’s easy to say how grateful we are, but it’s an entirely different thing to show how grateful we are.

Pastor Victor Shepherd tells the story of a missionary surgeon he met who was rather gruff and to the point. On one occasion the surgeon was speaking to a small group of university students about his work in the Gaza Strip. He was telling us that we North American “fat cats” knew nothing about gratitude. Nothing! On one occasion he had stopped a peasant hovel to see a woman on whom he had performed surgery. She and her husband were dirt poor. Their livestock supply consisted of one Angora rabbit and two chickens. For income the woman combed the hair out of the rabbit, spun the hair into yarn and sold it. For food she and her husband ate the eggs from the chickens. The woman insisted that the missionary surgeon stay for lunch. He accepted the invitation and said he would be back for lunch after he had gone down the road to see another postoperative patient. An hour and a half later he was back. He peeked into the cooking pot to see what he was going to eat. He saw one rabbit and two chickens. The woman had given up her entire livestock supply–her income, her food, everything. He concluded his story by saying us that we North Americans (and perhaps Christians as a whole) knew nothing of gratitude. He wept unashamedly at the price of their gratitude.

There is another incident concerning gratitude that will never be forgotten. It’s about a woman who poured costly perfume over our Lord as she wiped his feet with her hair. Make no mistake–the perfume was expensive, three hundred denarii, a year’s income for a laborer in Palestine.

Enough to keep a family alive for twelve months.

What has Jesus done for you? What has he done for me? How am I showing my gratitude?

PRAYER: Jesus, in my heart I am grateful to you for so many things. Help me to show my gratitude with my hands and life as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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 8/16/11 – Cheap Grace, Costly Grace

DayBreaks for 08/16/11 – Cheap Grace, Costly Grace

If it's cheap, it's not grace....

I have been thinking a lot about grace lately.  I’m preaching a series on it.  One can scarcely deal with the subject of grace without touching on the concept of cheap versus costly grace.  Grace is free to us – a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10), but it was not free to God.  It was exceedingly costly.  The grace we experience should never be thought of as a forgiveness “credit card” that lets us just do as we please and run up a bill.  Someone has to pay the bill – Jesus paid it on the cross – but every abuse of grace breaks his heart.  Today, I just want to share with you some of what Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote about grace in The Cost of Discipleship, without further comment:

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing….

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin….

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

He then turned his pen and thinking to the opposite of cheap grace: costly grace!  Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “you were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus.

PRAYER: Let us never abuse Your great grace, Lord Jesus!  Correct our sinful and foolish thinking about sinning in expectation and anticipation of Your forgiveness.  When we are tempted to cheapen Your grace, open our eyes so we see Jesus’ agony that enabled Your grace to be given to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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