DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – Living Within a Yard of Hell

DayBreaks for 9/26/17: Living Within a Yard of Hell

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I feel that I’ve been very fortunate in my life in many, many ways.  One of them is that I’ve lived in quite a few different places.  I was born in Iowa and raised as a farm boy for about the first 9 years, then moved to Florida, then southern California, then northern California.  After graduating from high school, I went back to Florida for college, then back to California, then to North Carolina, then back to northern California.  We lived in several cities in northern California before moving to Maine in 2003, and now we find ourselves back in northern California once again…but in a different place. 

I have enjoyed living in all those places – different scenery, different customs, different accents, different weather, different friends and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed living in every place I have ever lived.  I believe that of all the places we’ve lived, that Maine takes the cake for beauty – but other places have better weather.  For example, I’ve never slipped on the ice in the shopping center in Cloverdale, CA, which is more than I can say for living in Maine!  The leaves in Maine are like nowhere else on earth when they turn color, but Cloverdale is ringed with vineyards that turn colors, too, after the grapes are harvested. 

If you could live anywhere that you wanted to live, where would it be?  I found an interesting quote that I’d like to share with you.  It’s from C. T. Studd, and here’s what they had to say: “Some wish to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of Hell.”

Wow.  That draws me up short and really makes me think about how selfish I can be (and am!)  It also forces me to take stock of what matters the most to me.  Sure, who wouldn’t love to live close to the church and be constantly surrounded by other believers who are committed to loving one another and loving God?  But, such a scenario can have its drawbacks: it’s possible to love each other and God so much, but not love the world of unbelievers around us and therefore not make an effort to reach them because of their differences from us. 

What really makes me ashamed is to ask the question: “Where would Jesus have lived?”  Think about it.  If ever anyone was living in the sound of church bells (or choirs), Jesus had that luxury in heaven for all eternity.  He could have just stayed sitting on the throne of heaven and reveling in the music and praises of the angels.  But, instead, he chose to live within a yard of Hell by coming here and living with us. 

Does this mean that you have to feel guilty and move to a slum or inner city or jungle in order to fulfill your Christianity?  No, not at all.  Hopefully, you are where you are because God has called you to that place.  Besides, everywhere in this world is within a yard of Hell – just look around and you’ll see people queuing up to pass through its gates.  And, we may be the last chance any of them get at hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER:  Lord, we thank you for where you have placed us.  Help us to never grow complacent or become too introverted as your family, the church, that we forget the mission we are called to!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

OK, I’m not ashamed to admit it: my wife and I went to see Wonder Woman over the weekend. It was a rollicking good time, and I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my wife did – and she loved it a lot! I love stories where there is a strong woman character – always have, I guess.

Anyway, after the movie, we were reflecting on the movie and we were both thinking along the same lines. There were many parallels (some really strong, others a bit more of a stretch) to the gospel story. Perhaps – unwittingly – that’s why so many people have loved the movie. It makes me wish they understood the true reason the story resonated with their imaginations and heart!

A few years back, John Eldredge wrote a short book, Epic, and had a video series to accompany it that I believe explains what I’m talking about. Here’s the excerpt from Amazon.com’s description of Epic: Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived to forty minutes late. Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart. We need to know the rest of the story.

For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, heroism . . . and betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you’ve ever loved―there’s a reason they stirred your heart. They’ve been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.

In Wonder Woman, as in Titanic, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and nearly every other movie that is grand and epic in scale, the story is the same, only told with different characters, somewhat different circumstances and settings. It goes like this: there was something grand and glorious, but something horrible happens and a hero has to rise to make things right and to rescue what has been lost – usually at great cost to her/himself. But in the end, things wind up restored.

In Wonder Woman, Diana is supposed to be half-human and half-god (I didn’t realize that before seeing the movie) who lives in a peaceful, beautiful place that is separated from the world of trouble, but one day, that is shattered. Diana feels compelled to do something about it – so she journeys to the broken world to fix things in spite of the fact that she’ll never be able to return to her original home again. While there, she fights to overcome evil – and to some extent she does, but she also learns that there is something fundamentally broken inside of human beings that she cannot fix.

Do you begin to see the parallels? Jesus was in heaven – he didn’t have to come, but he chose to – driven by compassion. He wasn’t half-human and half-God, he was 100% human and 100% God. He entered into the broken world because he felt compelled to do so out of love and compassion. He fights against the lord of this world, against the chaos and suffering and it cost him dearly. But, the victory is won and in the end, it turns out OK.

There are differences, too, and one in particular that I think is well worth noting. While I was intrigued by the final battle in Wonder Woman where Diana fights against Ares (the Greek god of war in mythology), she had to struggle to obtain victory. Not so with Jesus – at least not in the final battle. In the final battle, the fate of mankind won’t hang in the balance when Christ returns. It won’t be a struggle with the outcome uncertain. It won’t take several minutes for the enemy to be defeated. When God decrees the end – the victory will be instantaneous, unilateral, unequivocal and total – in the time it takes God to say “It is finished!” Satan will collapse like the pretender that he has been for millennia, his vaunted strength revealed to be nothing more than a trifle by the power of the One Who speaks.

Wonder Woman was fascinating entertainment. Jesus is the real thing.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long for you to glorify yourself at your return and to see you absolutely, totally and forever crush the enemy in an instant. Thank you for things that remind us of the epic story of which we are a part! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/07/16 – The Gospel According to You

DayBreaks for 11/07/06: The Gospel According to You

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

There’s a sweet old story translated for man,

But writ in the long, long ago –

The gospel, according to Mark, Luke and John

Of Christ and his mission below.

 

Men read and admire the Gospel of Christ

With its love so unfailing and true.

But what do they say and what do they think,

Of the Gospel according to you?

 

‘Tis a wonderful story, that Gospel of love,

As it shines in the Christ life divine,

And O, that its truth might be told again,

In the story of your life and mine.

 

Unselfishness mirrors in every scene,

Love blossoms on every sod,

And back from its vision the heart comes to tell,

The wonderful goodness of God.

 

You are writing each day a letter to men,

Take care that the writing is true,

‘Tis the only Gospel that some men will read –

That gospel according to you.  (Author Unknown)

 As I sit in my study and contemplate this poem, I’m forced to consider a very disturbing question.  It brought me face to face with the passage that Paul wrote in Galatians 1:9 – I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person.  What does the “gospel according to you” say?  How well does it resemble the “gospel according to Christ” – the one he lived – day in and day out?  We may have our moments of brilliance when we shine like stars in the universe for the glory of God, but we also have our moments (far too many!) when we’re mired in the pig-pen beside the Prodigal.  

So the question of the day is simply this: if someone were only to observe my life, what conclusions would they reach about Christ?

PRAYER:  Lord, let us be alert to the gospel that our lives are writing and may we be faithful carriers of the story and nature of Christ!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/15/16 – The Olympic Refugee Team

DayBreaks for 8/15/16 – The Olympic Refugee Team

Steve Brown, a Christian speaker and writer, has a saying: All life illustrates Bible doctrine.

It is hard to deal in absolutes, but Steve puts it right out there: ALL life illustrates Bible doctrine. The more you think about it, the truer it sounds. And as it does, there’s a wonderful truth: God is in control of all things, and all things will glorify Him at the end of the day.

Some examples of this truth are easier to accept than others: you get a speeding ticket, and it points to sin and consequence. Someone gives you a gift and it points to the grace of God. Sure, it’s sometimes hard to see some of the events of life and how they may point to the gospel and/or our sin, but if you will pause, as events happen, and ask the question: Is there an illustration here of Bible doctrine, Bible truth? Over time, you will see the mystery of the Kingdom as it is revealed in your life’s events – the things you see, hear, do, read and watch.

You may have been watching some of the Olympics over the last week. You realize, don’t you, that they are about much more than fast times and the winning of medals. They can point to the One who wears the crown and to the communion of saints as well as idols, effort and overcoming adversity.

If you did watch the Olympics recently, you may have heard about Team Refugee. They are a group of ten men and women who fled their countries due to war and persecution. They were without a home and with no country to represent. So, the Olympic Committee invited them to come and walk under the Olympic banner.  They may not be the best athletes, but the committee said that they deserve to belong to the Olympic movement.

How, you ask, does that point us toward eternal things?

Well, maybe you know people who are not in the kingdom. If so, in reality, they are like Team Refugee – they are without a real home or a real country.  They are refuges. Our leaders says they can walk under His banner if they are willing to come as they are, put on the uniform of His movement – the righteousness of Christ.

If you think about it that way, you may be moved afresh to reach out to those around you, knowing that once, you too, were invited to walk under His banner.

So, how about a bit of homework? Watch some of the Olympics this week. Practice seeing how life (including the Olympics) illustrated Bible doctrine? I think if you do (and if I do, too), we will see them with more excitement and joy because they will strike a deep, rich chord of hope and perserverance.

We you willing to do it? Great! Now get to it!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for taking such a rag-tag team of refugees and dressing us in Your righteousness and inviting us to be part of Your team! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/8/16 – The Gospel in Twelve Words

DayBreaks for 8/08/16 – The Gospel in Twelve Words

How would you tell someone about the good news? Some have developed tracts, some have written entire books to explain the gospel. But I like how our preacher put it these past few weeks. It’s so simple, so to the point, that I love it!

Here it is: We lost it all. Jesus paid it all. We get it all.

We lost it all: what did we lose? In Adam we lost our innocence, the ability to literally walk by God’s side and speak directly to him, we lost life and we lost eternity. It all happened so quickly that it takes your breath away.

Jesus paid it all: our sin incurred a penalty that would have to be paid. And we were destined to pay it forever separated from God’s presence. But instead of us having to pay for our own sins, Jesus left the glories of heaven for earth, suffered and died and paid the penalty for our sin.

We get it all: because of Jesus completed work (and what a key word that is!!!!), we got back everything (and what a key word that is!!!!) that was lost in the first place – and more. Yes, we were made in God’s image, we were his creation in the beginning, but now we are called his friends, his sons and daughters…and we will reign with him – all because of the middle step: because Jesus paid it all!

So, the next time someone asks you about the gospel, just remember those twelve words; We lost it all; Jesus paid it all; We get it all!

Now, go and celebrate!!!!

PRAYER: Oh, Jesus! The beauty of the good news takes our breath away! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/17/15 – The Dangerous Glad Tidings of Christmas

DayBreaks for 12/17/15: The Dangerous Glad Tidings of Christmas

Luke 2:10 (NLT) – but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

From Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire blog, 2015:

“In Greek, the word “Gospel” is euangelion. Eu means good and angelion means tidings or message. This is where the word “angel” comes from, meaning simply “messenger.”

“Now we automatically associate this word with religion, as in evangelization or evangelical. But at the time of the Gospels, the term euangelion was associated especially with military victory. It was the good news of triumph in battle. More to it, euangelion was associated with the deity and accomplishments of the emperor of Rome. By Jesus’ time, it had become a commonplace that the Roman emperor was considered a god. Thus when an emperor was installed, euangelion was proclaimed. And when the emperor would write a new law or win a military victory or in any other way assert his command, it was announced as euangelion.

“So can you see how dangerous it is to announce the record of Jesus as a “gospel”? This good news has nothing to do with the Roman emperor and his army. It is proposing, in effect, a new emperor. And then for good measure, the writer Mark adds that he is writing the “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Well, those were fighting words, for “son of God” was another title reserved for the Roman emperor.

“Do you wonder now why Christians were persecuted for the first three centuries of the Church’s life? Do you wonder why every single apostle except for John was martyred? Do you wonder now why they threw Christians to wild beasts? It’s because they announced the true euangelion.

“But what, or who, was this new emperor intending to fight? And what would be the nature of his military victory? John the Baptist provides us a clue. He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But one was coming who was greater than John, one for whom John prepared the way, and that greater man would baptize in the power of the Holy Spirit. He would take on all of human sin and swallow it up in the divine mercy.

“That’s the new emperor, and that’s the dangerous good news.”

Galen’s Thoughts: the “good news” that the angel proclaimed is the euangelion. It is to be news of joy for all people. Is the message and meaning of Christmas “good news” to you? Does it stir your heart to joy?

With the coming of Jesus to earth, a new emperor was being proclaimed – and of His reign there will be no end!

PRAYER: We are eager to hear Your good news afresh with new ears and minds open to wonder this Christmas, Lord. The good news of Your coming – and the purpose of Your arrival – are so much better than news of any military victory. Let Your law of love and message of Divine mercy be proclaimed by our songs, our word and our deeds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/24/15 – The Fairy Tale Gospel

DayBreaks for 9/24/15: The Fairy Tale Gospel

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

My grandchildren love to watch animated movies.  Of course, they’re very young, but I think that my granddaughter can almost quote the dialogue from Shrek or Shrek II as she watches the movies.  She also is a HUGE fan right now of Cinderella.  Just as my grandson is all boy, my granddaughter (about to turn 3) is all girl.  She has a Cinderella dress, crown, see-through shoes and a wand – just like Cinderella.  And when she’s dressed up as Cinderella, she walks around like a true princess, holding her head up, cradling the wand in the crook of her arm, and surveying all around her as a princess should. 

Every culture, every where in the world throughout history has come up with fairly tales.  It’s not unique to Hans Christian Anderson or America or England.  Why is this the case?  I think it’s because we like to believe that good wins out over the evil that battles with it, that love will come true, that wooden puppets with long noses can become real little boys and that we can all be rescued from the drudgery and captivity that characterizes our lives.  And so, we love our fairy tales.  They transport us to a make-believe place where impossible things can, and do, happen – with regularity.

But, alas, as we know, those things are fairy tales.  They’re not real.  Never has a wooden puppet become a real boy.  And the woman or man who longs for true love may not find it.  Such things are beyond our ability to control.  And wishes can’t make it happen.  So we shake ourselves back to reality, forget about fairy tales and move on with daily life.

Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time, a God became human.  The Divine Spirit became a real boy and lived and breathed and walked among mankind.  While he could have been bitter and resentful at the way people treated him, his heart was full of love, and his words were full of life.  When he saw the sick, he healed them.  When he saw the blind, he gave them sight.  All those who lived in the land of darkness saw a great light, and when he encountered dead boys and girls – he gave them life.  He rides a white horse, wins the battle and the war, and rescues all peoples from the castles where they have been sleeping the sleep of death. 

It sounds too good to be true.  Must be a fairy tale, right?  No.  It is nothing short of the good news of God that Jesus came to deliver to us.  That there is a God who loves us enough to do all those things – and far more – so we can live with Him forever.  Fairy tales aren’t true.  The gospel is.  Dream your wildest dream and it will never be big enough to encompass all God has done for us!

Psalm 31:21 – Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.

PRAYER: For things that sound to good to be true – but which are! – we thank You, God! Thank You for the Great News! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.