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.

DayBreaks for 6/18/15: Jack, the Beanstalk and Christianity

The Spread of the Gospel Map

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DayBreaks for 6/18/15: Jack, the Beanstalk, and Christianity

If the growing seed parable seems to be about the mystery of kingdom growth, the mustard seed image is about the apparent weakness of the kingdom. The day will come when the results of the kingdom’s silent, steady growth will be impressive. Meanwhile don’t be surprised if the seeds you plant look ineffective. Don’t be surprised if the witness you have to offer gets laughed at on account of looking so puny. It’s the old “Jack and the Beanstalk” fable: Jack’s mother scorns the tiny beans he brings home from the market. They can never live off those! So in anger she hurls them out the window. Those beans were a non-starter, a mistake, a dead-end nutritionally and in every other sense. Except that, of course, they ended up sprouting into a beanstalk that went, in a way, clear up to heaven.

It seems every night now if you turn on the nightly news you get a strong dose of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Hamas and other politico-religioun-oriented terrorist organizations exploding bombs, beheading those who refuse to convert to their faith, kidnapping, raping, plundering…and it seems that the entire world is moving their direction.

I recently received a link to an animation that I think you may find reassuring.  Do you remember what Jesus said: how he would build his church and the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against it?  The story of the mustard seed sure makes the kingdom seem small and weak, doesn’t it?

Don’t despair.  Be encouraged!  Jesus knew what he was talking about because he knows how this will all end!

Check out this video that shows the spread of Christianity since the time of Christ.  It also shows Islam and other world empires as they appear and disappear from the map…

PRAYER: Let us take heart, Lord, and be encouraged by your words of certainty about your kingdom and the end of all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 6/16/15: Four Worms and Jesus

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DayBreaks for 6/16/15: Four Worms and Jesus

From my friend, Barney Cargile (with a few modifications):

A preacher found the perfect visual aid for a Sunday sermon.  He placed four worms in four separate jars.  The first worm was put in a container of alcohol; the second in a jar of cigarette smoke; the third in chocolate syrup; the fourth in good clean soil.  As the sermon concluded, the preacher reported these results: 

The worm placed in alcohol: Dead

The worm in cigarette smoke: Dead

The worm in chocolate syrup: Dead

The worm put in soil: Alive

The minister then asked, “What did you learn?”  A young boy sitting in the back quickly spoke up and said, “As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won’t have worms!”  That ended the service. 

Although there’s value in the preacher’s point, don’t you applaud the young lad’s comment?  I have no idea how this preacher was coming across, but I can easily picture it as taking on a self-righteous, religious tone.  (Any of us who have ever stood in a pulpit, I’m sure, have been guilty of that!)  I’m sure that we have all been around someone who may have been communicating truth, but the way they presented it makes you want to cover your ears, cover up your “Christian” badge and run the other way! (Even if you agree with what they’re saying).  

Corinthians 5:20 says, “We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.”  

So here’s the question: How well do you “represent” Jesus?  Rather than shoving religious rules down someone’s throat, are you “entering into God’s work of making things right”?  The second half of the text says, “Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”  “Become friends with God”; now that’s good news most folks would like to hear…And don’t try to “worm your way” out of that message.

PRAYER: Jesus, let our tongues be eloquent and gracious when we share the truth and remind us that it is Good News!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 4/17/15 – Cuddle Bunny Gospel?

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DayBreaks for 4/17/15: Cuddle Bunny Gospel?

Psalm 34:11 – Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD.

Twenty-first century America is truly a consumer society.  And what is the goal of life if you believe you are descended from monkeys and that the grave will be your final destiny?  To feel good while you can.  To grab the gusto.  To live life without limits.  To live with no fear.  To try everything at least once, and if it feels good, to do it again.  After all, you wouldn’t want to lie on your death bed wishing that you’d tried just that one more thing, would you?  Just missing out on one single thing could spell the difference between feeling like your life was complete and fulfilled or not.  What a terrible way to live!

The real danger comes when the church starts to take its cues from the world around us, instead of the other way around.  When the church accommodates to a feel-good goal and it centers its existence on programs and activities to the expense of the truth, the church is, as Chuck Colson put it, “…in danger of trivializing the holy.”

Russell Kirk said: “He who admits no fear of God is really a post-Christian man; for at the heart of Judaism and Christianity lies a holy dread.” 

How are you doing in your own family about teaching your children to fear the Lord, as David said he would do?  How is your church doing?  Or do you only present the feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy cuddle-bunny gospel?  God is not to be trifled with.  He never was and never will be that kind of God.  When we only teach and preach a gospel that makes us feel good, that takes away any fear of God’s discipline on us as His children, we are in serious trouble.  Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says: For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.  If God loves you, He WILL discipline you when you step out of His pathway.  He doesn’t do it to be capricious, but because He loves you.  And while it may not be pleasant, we can always know He has our best at heart.

PRAYER: It is good to have a Father like You who loves us enough to discipline us when we need it.  Thank You for Your gentleness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/08/11 – When You Fall

DayBreaks for 11/08/11 – When You Fall

Falling...and grace

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. – Ephesians 2:8-9

I suppose that if you asked a variety of Christians to tell you how they know they understand the gospel you’d get a variety of answers.  Some might go like this: “I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord,” “I’m serving in X ministry,” “I am going to heaven” and the like.

I like what Matt Chandler had to say in a sermon he preached.  He said: “The litmus test of whether or not you understand the gospel is what you do when you fail. Do you run from God and go try to clean yourself up a bit before you come back into the throne room, or do you approach the throne of grace with confidence? If you don’t approach the throne of grace with confidence, you don’t understand the gospel. You are most offensive to God when you come to him with all of your efforts, when you’re still trying to earn what’s freely given.”

There were those in the church at Galatia who thought they understood the gospel…and they insisted that it meant you had to keep rules that had been given to the Jews long ago.  Paul insists that if you are going to make it about rules, then you’d better be doggone sure that you keep every rule from the time you’re old enough to know right from wrong until the moment after you die.  Failure to do so would mean you aren’t going to make it!

Thank goodness that’s NOT what the gospel is about.  Chandler is right: the gospel in one five letter word is G-R-A-C-E.  And nothing reveals whether or not we really believe and accept that truth better than how we react when we do fail.  As Chandler said, “You are most offensive to God when you come to him with all of your efforts, when you’re still trying to earn what’s freely given.”

What do you do when you fall?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for grace!  Thank you for your wonderful, free gift!  May we trust in your grace and never in our goodness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 05/27/11 – Making a Stink

DayBreaks for 05/27/11 – Making a Stink

A necessary offense...

It seems that there are those who believe that the gospel is all about making people feel better about themselves.  That’s a shame.  If anything, the gospel, when presented in truth, makes us feel worse about ourselves (because it will convict us of our sinfulness!) but better about God (who has taken our sinfulness away through Christ).  In the final analysis, the gospel surely is a positive, joy-affirming journey into the relationship with God, but unless we first understand our sinfulness and ever-present need to change, we will not be able to appreciate what grace is, and what it has done for us.

The fact is that if we are to be true to the gospel and our Lord’s teaching, the gospel has power built in to it by God Himself to cut our hearts to the quick (remember how that happened on Pentecost and on the road to Damascus?).  People don’t like that.  Perhaps it’s because we hear too many critical things about ourselves from others…others whom we believe we are superior to in terms of our reasoning, intelligence and faith-walk.  But we are not superior in any way, shape or form to Jesus…and he expects his gospel to be preached and taught faithfully – in its completeness.

Dorothy Sayers put it well: “I believe it to be a grave mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it.”

Perhaps we should take solace in the fact that our preaching carries some offense.  Jesus wasn’t loved by everyone who heard him speak.  His words weren’t welcomed by all.  If our words find welcome embrace by all who hear them then we aren’t being honest with the Word.  Listen to the words from Paul, who certainly pulled no punches: But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. – 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Who does this passage say it is that finds the truth offensive?  It is NOT those who are being saved, but those who are perishing!  Those who are being saved love the honest word because they know where the Word will lead them.

Perhaps you’ve tried sharing the Word only to have people find it offensive.  Look around you: you’re in good company with Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul…it’s a long list, but let’s not forget that the list also includes this name: Jesus. Rejoice and be glad – for your name is written in heaven!

PRAYER: We so want to be liked that we try too often to please people rather than You, Lord.  Let us not be offensive as your representatives, but let us be content to share the full truth that You are!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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