DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/11/18 – But I Do

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DayBreaks for 9/11/18: But I Do

If we believe in Jesus, we know the boundaries are erased inside and out, for there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer but when he got to the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

We might be tempted to think that what the missionary did was insignificant and a waste of money. I bet God didn’t feel that way about it.

PRAYER: Open our eyes to opportunities around us today to demonstrate that we are changed people who love others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/04/18 – Good for Generations

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DayBreaks for 5/04/18: Good for Generations

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

There’s a bank here in California that is advertising free checking for the next 1000 years.  As they put it, “After that – you’re on your own!”.  If a generation is 25 years (which is the number I believe they typically use), then there would be 40 generations in 1000 years.  Not bad.  Free checking for 40 generations.  That could save $72,000 (assuming $6 per month for 1000 years).  Would you like to be able to give something to your kids and their kids and their kids after them that would last for much more than 40 generations?  It is possible (and no, you don’t have to have to spend a penny for it)!

Deuteronomy 5:9-10 says: You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.  In fact, a statement similar to this is made numerous times in the Old Testament. 

So, what is it that you can give your children that will outlast the next millennium?  Check out Jeremiah 32:38-39: They will be my people, and I will be their God.  I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me FOR THEIR OWN GOOD and the GOOD OF THEIR CHILDREN after them. (emphasis mine, GCD)

Right there it is: give your children the fear of God.  Why?  Well, if you believe God (and I do!), He says that it is for our own good and the good of our children after us to fear Him!  It isn’t popular to talk about fearing God.  We like to quote to the verse: “Perfect love casts out fear.”  We know we can come before Him boldly and with confidence.  But we are commanded to fear God: 1 Pet 2:17 and Rev. 14:7.  It is only natural that as humans we hold someone in awe who can do things far greater than we can do.  He is the Judge of the whole earth – the living and the dead, He is the Holy One, the Ancient of Days, and it is only because of His love that we are not all consumed (Lam. 3.22), He holds our lives and destinies in His hand.  And God Himself told Israel that they should fear Him for their own sake and the sake of their children.  I don’t think you can separate the faithfulness of God and His blessings to our children from the job we have as parents to fear Him and teach our children to fear Him.

I know that I’ll never leave my children an inheritance like Bill Gates could leave his kids.  But you know, I really wouldn’t want to.  Why should I?  I can give them something much better, something that will last for 1000 generations – through teaching them to fear God, to love Him and to keep His commandments.  Bill Gates’ kids should be so lucky as to have an inheritance like that!

What are you leaving your kids?  How long will it last?

PRAYER: Father, let us leave something behind to our children that is of eternal value, no matter how long this earth may stand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/11/18 – Everything Counts All the Time

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DayBreaks for 1/11/18: Everything Counts All the Time

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Life is chock-full of seemingly innocent little moments of decision.  You’ll make so many decisions today and do so many things that really aren’t very important.  For example: you’ll decide which shirt or dress to wear today – and all things being equal, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.  You’ll decide what to eat (although if you have health problems, that can be important!)  You’ll decide which bank teller to go to, which check-out line at the grocery store.  While we may agonize over which pair of sunglasses make us look the most cool, it’s really nothing more than a trivial decision.  Much of life revolves around trivial things.

But, there are things in life that aren’t trivial at all.  Consider this from the California Southern Baptist (3/2/2000):

“Recently, Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America, spoke at an Evangelism Conference about reaching people in the age of relativism.  He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus.  They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.”  Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self-righteous, narrow and repressive.”

“There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said.  “We are the evidence!  Everything counts—all the time.”

“With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not anymore.  I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for.  Not something they can relate to.  They are looking for a transcendent God.  They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.”

I think Zander had it spot on: “There is a difference between knowing the good news and BEING (emphasis mine, GCD) the good news.”  I realize that in a very real sense, we cannot be the good news.  Jesus came from heaven to give us the good news and be the good news for us!  But, how we act, what we say, even how we think – in a way we can be the good news or the bad news.  Why does the world think of Jesus in such high terms but Christians in such negative ways?  Could it be because we are not being the good news?  Because as the world looks at us, they don’t see Jesus in us at all, but our old sinful, carping and complaining natures? 

Every encounter we have with another human being is loaded with implications for eternity.  Yes – every single one.  What you say, how you act, what we do and even how we think about them matters.  GenX is still seeking a transcendent God, but for them, the proof of His existence is transformed followers of God, people in whom the love of Jesus is perfected by their treatment of others.  It is, after all, what Jesus said would be the one sign of true belief and discipleship.

When you have that casual conversation by the water cooler today – realize it isn’t as casual as it appears.  When you greet the clerk at the grocery store, be the good news personified.  When you come in the door at home at the end of your long and trying day, remember that God expects you to be the good news at home, too.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 KJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the best news the world has ever known.  Help us to not only know him, but to live like him so the good news may be alive and strong within us.  Help us to realize that as Your children and ambassadors in this world, that everything we do makes a difference all the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/23/17 – Whose Face Would It Be?

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DayBreaks for 10/23/17: Whose Face Would it Be?

What do you think the future of Christianity is in the United States?  Or in the world, for that matter?  There have been some recognizable faces that the world has come to know as “Christians”.  Among those who come readily to mind are Mother Theresa and, of course, Billy Graham.  There are others, too, but many of the “old guard” of the faith have been, or are close, to departing this world for their eternal reward. 

The question has been asked of me: if you had to think of someone who is a Christian that you could point to that is respected by everyone, who is a living witness to the Christian faith, who would it be?  For me, the answer was fairly quick: Billy Graham would be my first choice.  He seems to have managed throughout all these years, to keep himself “unspotted from the world.” 

But, Billy Graham is old and certainly the time for his own departure is near.  Then who, like Elisha taking up the mantle of Elijah, will be the “face” of Christianity in the world?  It’s not an easy question to answer, but I was struck by this brief comment from the Opinion Journal (Wall Street Journal Online), 10/8/07, by James Taranto, about some statements made by an avowed atheist who was chastising Christians for their unwillingness to engage in public “dialogue”.  The first paragraph is taken from Ms. Lalli’s statement, and the second paragraph is Mr. Taranto’s musings on what she said:

Ms. Lalli: I have a question for the Christians out there: If you could pick one living person to be the face of the entire Christian faith, who would that person be?  Even if you could pick three, or even five people, it would still be a challenge.  I imagine it would be hard to figure out whether you wanted to pick those Christians who think most like you, or if you would pick people who could better represent the many colors of Christianity, the subtle differences and big-picture similarities.

Taranto: We lived in Brooklyn for a time in the early 1990s.  Back then, at least, there were Christians there, and it seems unlikely that all of them have left.  Lalli should see if she can find one so that she can ask her question directly.  We’re pretty sure the answer will be Christ.  OpinionJournal, 10/8/07, James Taranto

Can there be a better ambassador for Christianity than Christ?  Certainly, the answer to that is and unequivocal, “No!”  He is by far the best example of Christianity that there ever will be.

Still, I’m forced to ponder the question: if not Billy Graham, who?  And why should we automatically assume that all believers couldn’t be effective ambassadors – that you who read this, and I who write it, can’t be equally as strong of “advertisements” for what a real Christian is like?  After all, isn’t that what we’re ALL called to be and to do?

PRAYER:  Lord, we know that within us dwells no good thing – except for Jesus.  Help us to be better illustrations of the truth of Christianity, of the life of Christ, than we have been in the past.  May we all resolve to live as if the world depended on our resemblance to Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/25/17 – The Wheat, the Tares – and the Line Through the Heart

DayBreaks for 7/25/17: The Wheat, the Tares, and the Line Through the Heart

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) – Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares seems strange. In that parable, the lesson is not to try separate the wheat and tares. In due time, they will be separate by the Judge of all. So, why wouldn’t Jesus want us to go out there are start sorting it all out? I think there are obvious reasons: what we think is a “tare” may in fact be wheat in its early stages. How many of us would have seen Saul of Tarsus (a believer in God, even before his conversion, no doubt) as wheat instead of a tare?

One preacher asked the people at his church to imagine what would happen if they adopted a policy of weed-pulling, drawing a circle around their little town and making a vow that no evil would cross that line, that no weeds would grow within that border. He told them, “You know, you and I could spend the rest of our lives protecting that boundary, standing shoulder to shoulder with pitchforks and clubs, making sure that we kept drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling safely on the other side. I think it would take all of our energy and most of our time. But what if we did it? What if we succeeded? What would we have? We would have a town characterized by the absence of evil, which is not the same as a town characterized by the presence of good. And maybe this is what Jesus was talking about all along, that it’s better to have a wheat field with weeds in it than a field with nothing in it at all.”
When that church in North Carolina later began a ministry to the children of a nearby trailer park, they had to decide what kind of ministry it would be. They could have chosen to root out all the sources of evil in that place-to chase down the drug dealers and the deadbeat dads, to confiscate handguns and arrest child abusers. Instead, they chose to put up a basketball goal, to tell stories from the Bible, to put their arms around little children, and sing songs about Jesus. And two years after they started that ministry, two years of going out there Saturday after Saturday to do those things, the pastor got a note in his box at church with five words on it: “Adrian wants to be baptized.” Adrian. The terror of the trailer park. That little girl who had made their work most difficult during the previous two years. Who would have guessed?
Instead of pulling weeds in the field where she lived, they just tried hard to BE  wheat themselves, and somehow Adrian saw that and fell in love with it and wanted it for herself. After she was baptized, there was a little more wheat in the field. And because she was there, soon, there was even more.

I know far too many Christians who continually want to cull the field, making decisions on the basis of assumed or real belief, behaviors, attitudes, speech, political stances, etc. One pastor’s wife looked back into her genealogy and traced it back over 500 years. In the process, they that she had a relative who was burned at the stake in Switzerland. Why? Because he had a different understanding of baptism than those who tied him to the stake, that’s why. They weeded him out. Then they burned him up.
As for me, I don’t always know whether I am weed or wheat. I believe it was Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That includes my heart and it includes yours, too. For all I know, I may even be the weed in somebody else’s garden. Perhaps in your garden.

If Jesus was content to let the weeds be, why shouldn’t I? He’ll sort it out when the time is right for he is far better qualified to do so than any human.

PRAYER: Forgive me for thinking my answers are all the right ones, that I am in any way qualified to separate the wheat from the tares! Let humility rise within us, Lord, and let us just get about the business of being wheat and not something else that is deceitful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/18/17 – Seven Endless Miles

DayBreaks for 7/18/17: Seven Endless Miles

Luke 24:13-15 (NLT) – That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.

Michael Card (singer, songwriter, author and theologian) wrote and sings a song called Seven Endless Miles. (You can listen to it here.) It describes the walk of the dismayed, disappointed disciples on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus – and the surprise guest who eventually joined them on the road.

As they began their walk, just the two of them were there. Seven miles lay ahead of them and it would probably take at least 2-3 hours to walk that distance. There was much to discuss for much that was very troubling had happened. You can talk about a lot in 2-3 hours if your heart is in it. I’m not sure how much their heart was into the conversation other than to reiterate their disappointment and sadness.

How soon did Jesus join them? We don’t know. I would assume it was fairly close to Jerusalem since that’s where he’d been. And for something approaching seven miles they didn’t recognize him (Luke says that God concealed his identity from them).

Why did God conceal who Jesus was? Was it some sort of “discovery” process for Jesus to find out what people were thinking or saying? Was it to delve into the depths of human faith – or lack thereof? I don’t know. I look forward to asking Jesus some day.

But here’s what I find fascinating: for seven miles, nearly 2-3 hours, they didn’t recognize him regardless of the reason. And I wonder: how often has he walked beside me and I neither recognized him nor sensed his presence?

We might be tempted to think that such things have not happened in our life as it did for the Emmaus travelers. But I think that we’d be wrong. Sure, as far as I know Jesus hasn’t physically walked beside me – though it is possible (how’s that for a thought!) Then I realized that He has walked beside me in more corporeal form than you and I might imagine.

Have you ever walked alongside another believer? I’m sure you have. And if you have, you have walked alongside Jesus – because after all, He lives inside each one of His children. And that means He lives inside of YOU and ME. That is what really made me ponder: as I walk along with others, do they even begin to sense the Presence of Jesus when they walk astride me? If not, doesn’t that say that something is seriously wrong with my walk?

PRAYER: Jesus, I don’t want to live in such a way that your Presence is hidden from those who walk beside me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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