DayBreaks for 6/26/18 – The Measure of Success

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DayBreaks for 6/26/18: The Measure of Success

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

How can you tell if someone has been a successful person or not?  There are those who are considered successful if they attain some position or career or relationship that they have pursued.  There are those who don’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of prestige, money or honor, but who have been considered successful: Mother Theresa’s life could hardly be pointed out as a failure, not even in the world’s eyes. 

As we are about eight years into the 21st century, I wonder what success would look like for companies that I’ve worked for, for employees who have been near and dear to my hearts, from family (children, grandchildren), for the country that I live it.  I would think that we could ask a wide range of people to describe what would look like success in this century and get an even wider range of responses. 

But perhaps the most crucial question is this: what would be a measure of success for the church of Jesus in the 21st century?  Would it be necessary to convert a quarter of the world’s unbelievers to be successful?  50%?  95%?  100%?  Would the church still not be considered successful, even if that happened, because there would still be poverty and hunger in the world?  Would success demand not only conversions, but full bellies in all the world?  No more killing?  Peace?

I am not wise enough to really answer those questions.  I know that there are those who see only a dim, bleak future for the church as we are still in the infancy of the millennia.  I can understand that point of view.  Things do look rather bleak and dark.  But that’s when God has always done His best work – when it’s bleak and dark.  At the beginning of the creation of the world, it was darkness that covered the face of the deep, and God did pretty good work in making the Himalaya’s and Pacific, didn’t He?  It was dark in the tomb of Lazarus and later on, in Jesus’ own tomb, and God did more than just “pretty good work” in those instances.  God can work just fine in the dark – and in fact, when it’s dark, the light is all the more visible.

We tend to forget what it was like for the brand new church in the early century or two after the church’s birth at Pentecost.  The first 4 centuries of the church were a time when our first brothers and sisters faced odds of success more incredibly difficult than ours.  And yet, as J. P. Moreland so wonderfully put it in The Kingdom Triangle, “…yet they were so victorious that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!” 

Yes, that’s a certain measure of success.  We see dark times, but we forget that in the past 50 years, there has been an incredible explosion of Christianity all over the world.  It’s happening everywhere in the world except for one place: Western culture.

Don’t give up.  Success is guaranteed by God’s own promise.  I will build my kingdom, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.  Just remember this: the kingdom of God begins in the hearts of men and women just like you.  The enemy has laid siege works against your heart to discourage and depress you.  Don’t let him prevail when God’s success is just ahead.

PRAYER: Holy One, let us see some of Your victories in our own lives and the lives of those around us that we may be filled with the encouragement of what You are doing in this world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/22/18 – Do You Mortify?

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DayBreaks for 6/22/18: Do You Mortify?

Romans 8:12-13 (ESV) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The Continental Divide runs up from South America all the way up into Canada. On the eastern side, all the water runs toward the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico, on the western side toward the Pacific. You can literally stand in the road and have one foot on the eastern side and one on the western side. It’s easy when there to move from one extreme to the other. But it’s far harder to move from unholiness to holiness.

Through the middle of our lives is a divide – far wider and far more significant that the Continental Divide.
Earlier in Romans 8:5-8, Paul describes that our minds must be changed, transformed. But that’s not enough. Verses 9-11 say our entire being must be transformed – not just our minds, but our bodies/fleshly nature, too.

The real application here comes in verses 12-13 where we are, by the Spirit (not by our own power!), to put to death the deeds of the body. The whole thing is predicated on verse 12 where Paul says we are not debtors to the flesh. The word debtors here would be better translated as “obligated.” We are not obligated any longer to live in the ways of the flesh. We have the Spirit of God in us.

John Owen, writing long ago, said that we must “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” What is called for is a continual rampage against sin in our lives. We are told to kill it, to mortify, to put it to death.

The billion dollar question though, is are you, am I, mortifying the flesh? Consider this analogy: if an intruder broke into your home and began firing bullets at your family trying to kill them, what would you do? We wouldn’t just invite them to sit down for a cup of coffee so we could discuss things. We would FIGHT – even to the point of killing that intruder in order to preserve the life and peace of our family.

How are we fighting sin? Are we fighting it with the same (or more!) passion as we would that intruder? Or, are we unwilling to kill sin because we want to be able to play with sin once every so often? Have we become so afraid of legalism that we’ve forgotten about the demand for holiness? Yes, God is gracious – far more gracious than we can imagine – but God is very clear: we are to kill sin in our lives by the Spirit. That means letting the Spirit do the killing, but that can only happen as we yield to Him and His control.

We can’t afford to be ho-hum about sin. The devil isn’t ho-hum in his attack on us. Our death is his intention! How could we be ho-hum about our sin when we see the price Jesus paid on Calvary to rescue us from it?

Let’s fight like our lives depend on it – and let Jesus’ holiness that has been credited to us take care of the times we fail.

PRAYER: Jesus, we aren’t very good at killing sin. We cannot do it on our own. Let us cry to you every single day and put our will and fleshly desire to death. Let your Spirit have that work in us that we so desperately need! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/02/17 – Longing to be Just A Little Bit Better

DayBreaks for 6/02/17: Longing to be Just a Little Bit Better

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Have you ever had your dreams shattered?  Have you wondered where God was when life became too much to bear?  Have you ever thought that if you had more in life you would get more out of life?

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb wrote: “Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum. It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

When it comes to spiritual matters, we are destitute before God.  People who possess true joy are quick to admit and accept that they are dependent on God, not on their own wisdom, knowledge, looks, talent or strength.  Those with true joy yearn for a better relationship with Him in both the good and hard times – and they have found that joy to be rooted in the relationship itself, not in fulfilling worldly dreams. 

When we think it all depends on us, we’re miserable because if we fail, we’re responsible for our failure.  If we don’t get what we want, we think it must have been because we just didn’t try hard enough, and so we commit ourselves to trying even harder the next time.  It’s a treadmill of disappointment, resolve, determination, effort and more disappointment.  We just simply aren’t big enough to manage life alone.

Maybe you’re one of those people who is self-sufficient, self-confident to a fault.  You look back at the track record of your life and achievements (good or bad) and are pretty comfortable with and in your own skin.  It’s one thing to love being alive, but another thing entirely to like living here in this broken world.  Don’t you still have dreams of a better place?  Instead of just wanting to be a little bit better (and better off, as Crabb noted), wouldn’t you rather be born again to a new and living hope that will never perish?  You know that this world will someday end – and chances are that your life will end long before this world does.  What are you investing for eternity?

Matt. 5:3 KJV – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PRAYER: Time and life are so short and out of our control, Lord.  Thank you that you are in control at all times and in all ways.  May your kingdom come quickly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/21/17 – On Failing

DayBreaks for 3/21/17: On Failing

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

Someone recently sent me this and I thought it was worth sharing!!!  – Galen

ON FAILING, By Dr. Michael A. Halleen

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. – (John 21:3)

Jesus’ disciples knew how to fish. They did it well and expected to be successful. But that night “they caught *nothing*.” They failed. We fishermen know the feeling, but I know the rest of you know it, too. Behind all of us lie some disappointments, and we can be sure there will be still more days ahead when our achievements fall short of our dreams and aspirations. But FAILING does not make one a FAILURE. That happens only when we give up.

Winston Churchill failed sixth grade, but he was no failure as a leader of his nation. Thomas Edison failed all his classes in school and was sent home to work on his widowed mother’s farm, but he was no failure as an inventor and creator of progress. David Livingstone fled from the pulpit of his first church in Scotland, a failure because he could not remember the text he was to preach on. From there he went to Africa and brought the Christian faith within reach of millions. Failing, in itself, is not the issue. It is what we do next that matters.

Some suggestions on what to do when failure comes:

~ Look for the presence of God. You have not been forsaken. God is at work in disappointment and failure as well as in success.

~ Learn all you can from it. Erma Bombeck was invited to a dinner for “highly successful people.” Appalled at the idea, she nevertheless decided to go because she wanted to hear what successful people talked about. Later she wrote, “Every one of those people, every single one of those highly successful people, could only talk about their failures – and how they learned from them.”

~ Get on with what’s next. The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind…I press on.” The mark of the neurotic person is a perfect memory of every failing, while healthy people learn from it, let it go and move ahead.

~ Challenge your idea of what is important. God has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful. God is not in the business of helping us to succeed, but of refining the soul, developing character, energizing the spirit. Success is only incidental to those ends.

The disciples got into the boat, worked all night and caught…NOTHING. Then came the voice of a Stranger on the shore, telling them to keep going, keep putting the net into the water. The story was not finished yet. They found that, while they failed, God did a marvelous work – in the sea, yes, but even more in their troubled hearts.

Isaiah 51:6 (NIV) Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

PRAYER: Thank you, Father, that though we fail often, You never fail to fulfill your purposes, and You will not fail to fulfill Your promises to us, either.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/07/15 – The Tale of Two Paintings

DayBreaks for 10/07/05: The Tale of Two Paintings

A preacher once shared this story: “Over forty years ago, I heard a man describe two paintings he said he had at his home. I have never forgotten them even though I never saw them. One was of the figure in Jesus’ story of the rich man whose crops produced so abundantly that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones, and he said to his soul, “Soul, eat, drink, and have a great time, for tomorrow you die.” The caption under this painting said: “The Failure that Looked Like Success.” The other painting, the companion painting, was of Jesus dying on the cross, the crown of thorns on his head, his chin drooping against his chest, the crude nails in his hands, and all his friends off somewhere in hiding. The caption under this picture said: “The Success that Looked Like Failure.”

There isn’t a single one of us who wouldn’t like to be successful and fulfilled as persons. That is something that our culture, for better or worse, instills within us. But when we listen to Jesus, we realize that success and fulfillment don’t really come the way we often expect them to. They aren’t the direct result of anything we can do to attain them. Instead, they’re a gift from God and they simply happen when we are doing the right things with our lives. In God’s eyes it is a whole lot better to be a success that looks like failure than a failure that looks like success.

What is your definition of success for your life? Does it have anything to do with God and His will for you, or is it all about things you want to accumulate or achieve without giving thought to His plan for you? What do you believe God thinks of your success goals?

Mark 8:36 (KJV) – For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  

PRAYER: God, Our culture sends us such powerful messages and creates in us a hunger for success that may really look like failure in your eyes. Teach us to long for the success that looks like failure so we may be imitators of Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>