DayBreaks for 8/4/17 – Taking Credit

 

DayBreaks for 8/04/17: Taking Credit

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

John Ortberg tells this story: “Not too long ago, there was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who pulled into a service station to get gas.  He went inside to pay, and when he came out he noticed his wife engaged in a deep discussion with the service station attendant.  It turned out that she knew him.  In fact, back in high school before she met her eventual husband, she used to date this man.

“The CEO got in the car, and the two drove in silence.  He was feeling pretty good about himself when he finally spoke: ‘I bet I know what you were thinking.  I bet you were thinking you’re glad you married me, a Fortune 500 CEO, and not him, a service station attendant.

“No, I was thinking if I’d married him, he’d be a Fortune 500 CEO and you’d be a service station attendant.”

We all want to take credit, don’t we?  It doesn’t matter if it is on the job, at school or in the home.  We want the credit for what goes well.  We want to take credit when someone tells us how well behaved our children are, or how much they’ve achieved.  We want to take credit for our brilliance and skill that has made us successful at our jobs or in our classes.  We like the praise of men and women.

We really have a problem with pride.  Pride, if not satisfied by the praises and recognition of others, will draw things to their attention hoping that we receive praise.  This is different than merely wanting to do a good job – it’s wanting to be recognized and acknowledged.  It’s about someone saying to us, “Wow, you’re good.  You did a terrific job!” 

Our pride demands feeding.  In the case of the CEO and his wife, which one of them gave the man the ability to earn the money and rise to the position he’d achieved?  Certainly neither of them did.  They only took the raw materials that God had poured into this man and worked with it.  God gave the ability. 

Grace is about not getting credit.  It is about recognizing that not only didn’t we do something good, but we did something poorly (obey!) and God still did something good for us.  If we understand grace, we’ll realize we can’t claim the credit for anything good.  All we can do is fall before the cross and praise Him for His love and grace that “saved a wretch like me.”

PRAYER:  Our hearts are full of pride and desire for recognition, Lord.  Purify our hearts of this pride.  Give us this grace this day: to recognize that we have been called your children not by our might or power, but only by Your grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/02/17 – Defeating the Philistines

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DayBreaks for 8/02/17: Defeating the Philistines

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

It doesn’t take much for me these days, to get incensed.  I just recently spent time talking with several people about the state of the world today.  We talked at some length about the madness that seems to have seized the headlines, if not the word itself, that believes that it is perfectly legitimate to blow up another human being (and the more the merrier), or to cut the heads off human beings in front of cameras for no reason than to strike terror into the minds of people around the world.  Sadly, all you need do is turn on the television or connect to the Internet and you’ll get what amounts to an hour-by-hour reporting of these kinds of atrocities. 

Why do such things happen?  I muse on the topic.  I can blame certain religions, that to my knowledge, seem to have no concept of grace.  I can blame the culture in which these people grew up and were educated.  I could blame the press, I could blame their parents.  But I think the real answer is that in such people, we are seeing the unregenerate nature of mankind at its most exposed.  We are seeing human nature without any of the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit.  It’s not a flattering portrait of our species.

What do we do to defeat such Philistines?  Mark Buchanan, in Hidden in Plain Sight reminds us: “…the Spirit of God is a living Person, an equal part of the Triune God, who desires to fill us and guide us and teach us and comfort us and counsel us, and to help us bear much fruit.  But he’s humble and gentle, the Spirit, and needs inviting.  And though the Spirit loves to anoint us for ministry in order to make us God-like in strength, even more he desires to fill us for daily living in order to make us Christlike in humility.  More than endowing us with the might to slay the Philistines out there, the Spirit wants to strengthen us with grace to slay the Philistine in here.

Each and every one of us want to believe the best about ourselves, don’t we?  That we are good, at least basically good, that we don’t torture cats and dogs and that we’d never abuse women or children.  We want to believe that while others act like Philistines, that we would never act that way. 

I think we should probably re-evaluate ourselves if we think that way.  I doubt that the people who held the feet of Jesus, or who swung the hammer to drive the nails home, would have ever felt that they would be so vile as to kill the Son of God.  Paul certainly couldn’t see that he was putting God’s beloved children to death until the bright light struck him on the Damascus road and revealed the truth about his own nature and deeds. 

It’s easy to get down on the Philistines “out there” or “over there.”  It’s easy to think that they need to change.  And they do.  We should pray that they will be touched with the love of Christ and empowered to live by the Spirit.  But we need to fight the Philistines that live in the darkened recesses of our lives lest we become like those we would decry in the name of all that his holy and just. 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize

PRAYER:  Jesus, teach us to search our hearts and realize the depth of our deceitfulness and unrighteousness.  Help us to understand that without the power of Your Spirit, there would be nothing to set us apart from the most depraved person on the face of this earth.  Thank You for the privilege that we have of knowing You and help us understand how precious that gift is!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/28/17 – Consider the Possibility

DayBreaks for 7/28/17: Consider the Possibility

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

I can’t help but find the amount of confidence we place in science both humorous and tremendously sad.  Learned men and women with advanced degrees boldly stand up before the watching world and proclaim that man descended from monkeys who came from other creatures who came from primordial slime that came from somewhere, somehow, sometime in a long distant and darkly-shrouded past.  Others proclaim with certainty that the union of human DNA that takes place in the act of conception produces something that is not human but merely a blob of tissue, like Play-Doh or Jello.  Still others proclaim that the earth was populated by aliens who came and visited this planet at some other time in the unknowable past and that these aliens taught the Egyptians how to build pyramids, set up the monoliths at Stonehenge or carved out the drawings on the Nuzca plains. 

Forgive me for a moment while I step aside and laugh.  Thank you.  Now I think I can proceed. 

One of the things that amazes me the most is our certainty in our own judgment and knowledge.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools is how Scripture puts it (Romans 1:22).  As Christians, we must guard ourselves against this disease of certainty, too.  We need to humbly admit that we walk by faith (a metaphysical, theological thing) and not by sight (a scientific, provable hypothesis).  Not one of us, try as we may, can ultimately prove the existence of God or the virgin birth of the Christ.  That doesn’t stop us from believing in those things, but we can’t prove them with 100% absolute, undeniable certainty.  We can show such things to be semi-reasonable at best (things like God’s existence or the resurrection are easier in some ways to defend than some others like the virgin birth). 

When it comes to our understanding of the Scriptures, we often walk the pathway of pride by thinking that we’ve got it all totally figured out.  Our theological position and doctrines rise in our hearts to the position of absolute perfection and comprehension.  How dangerous – and how deadly for both us and others – that such certainty can be!  If there is to be one thing that we are certain about, let it be this: we are fallen creatures who should be very reluctant to proclaim certainty about anything except our fallenness!

Does that mean we should give up on searching the Word since we can’t ever be absolutely certain about how the Trinity actually exists and works?  Should we surrender to the idea that every religion is equally valid and leads with the same level of success to eternity, nirvana or whatever goal a given religion proclaims?  Absolutely not!  We must study the Word to show ourselves approved, we must take the clear and plain statements of the Word to heart (I am THE way, THE truth, THE life…) and not bend on them.  Yet not all things are that clear-cut or cut-and-dried.  And even though they may be that clear cut in the Word itself, we must admit that we are imperfect in our knowledge and understanding.  How prideful to proclaim that one of us should or could be the repository of all truth!  Only One can make that claim and not be prideful about it.  It’s not prideful when it’s a fact.

In the gospel of John after the healing of the blind man, the Pharisees three times make the proclamation “We know…this or that.”  As John Ortberg put it: “What makes their blindfness incurable is their claim of certainty.   John keeps contrasting their closed-mindedness with the man’s confessed ignorance (“I don’t know” he says three times).  If only they would be open to the possibility that they don’t know.”

It was the apostle Paul that should give us the clue.  He was brilliant, very learned.  He knew the history of Israel (it’s always easier to know past history than the present or future) and the Law, inside and out.  If anyone, as he himself said, had reason for confidence in the flesh it was he.  And yet, notice carefully what he says in 2 Tim. 1:12 (NIV) – That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.  Did Paul have confidence about what he knew?  No.  He didn’t.  Read it again.  He had confidence in WHO he believed, not in all the minutiae of details about the word or the Christian life.  His confidence wasn’t in what he knew but in Who he knew – the one that could guard the treasure that Paul had entrusted to him. 

Have you been guilty of this prideful sin?  Have you, through your unyielding recognition of the possibility of your own misunderstanding, driven others away from Jesus instead of leading them to Him, the One sole repository of all truth?  Is your confidence in what you know, or Who you know? 

It is not our job to reveal truth – it is our job to lead people to Jesus, and to let Him reveal the one truth that we can always know to be true: that He is the Son of God, full of grace and truth.

PRAYER:  May our pious pretensions and certainty be dissolved through the vinegar of humility, and may we drink deeply of the well of Truth and be filled.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/05/17 – What To Do With Believers

DayBreaks for 6/05/17: What to Do With Believers

First, let me say that 20 years ago yesterday (6/04/97) marked the first ever DayBreaks. I thought about re-sharing the first DayBreaks I ever sent out, but decided against it. Instead, I just want to say this: I never expected DayBreaks would last so long. There have been times I’ve debated whether or not it was time to stop, but I never sensed a clear direction from the Lord to do that, so for now, we’ll continue on. But even more than that, I’ve come to love many of you who have written over the years, shared parts of your life (good and bad) with me as you wrote and told me your stories. I am humbled and honored at your trust. In addition, some of my best friends have come through DayBreaks – and I shall cherish our friendship and relationship as long as I live. Thank you to all who have shared this journey with me!

From the DayBreaks archive, June 5 ,2007:

An article I recently read by Mark Buchanan made an interesting observation about Jonah chapter 1 and Acts, chapters 27 and 28.  Both of those passages tell the story of a God-worshipper who is on board a ship, surrounded by unbelievers.  In both cases, a violent storm blows up on the sea and the “mighty ship was tossed” (to borrow a line from Gilligan’s Island!)  So severe was the storm in both cases, that the crew reached a conclusion that they would rather have not reached: all the cargo on the ship would need to be thrown overboard.  It wasn’t a case of their profits going up in smoke, but of their profits going down to Davey Jones’ locker.  But, at least in the case of Jonah, he was considered “cargo”.  Somehow, the pagans felt this disaster in the making was due to someone who had offended the gods, and Jonah was singled out. 

Remember: Jonah is on board because he’s fleeing from God.  When confronted by the pagan sailors, he’s boastful about himself and disdainful toward them.  As it turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to get rid of the God-worshiper – they have to throw him overboard.  And they do just that.

Not so in Acts.  There, the apostle Paul is on board the ship precisely because he has been following God.  He’s a prisoner of Rome, on his way via ship to be tried in front of Caesar, but even more important, he’s a man on a mission sent from heaven, who has been being obedient to that calling.  When the pagan sailors panic, Paul is wise, humble, and helpful – quite the opposite of his predecessor, Jonah.  Paul lets those terrified shipmates know that he cares deeply for them.  It turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to put the God-worshiper, the one who showed concern for them, in charge.

The point that Buchanan draws is this: the more that we genuinely care for the people in this storm-wracked world—the less we boast and denounce, the more we bless and serve—the more they will let us – and the Jesus we serve – into their lives and lives and souls will be redeemed and saved!

PRAYER: May we be the kind of God worshippers that You are pleased with.  May we answer Your call, may we be meek and humble, may we care and not denounce unnecessarily!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/15/17 – How Far Would He Go?

DayBreaks for 2/15/17: How Far Will He Go?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

John 13:2-5 (NIV) – The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

It was the night of Passover – the holiest night of all for the Jews.  In a small room, Jesus met with his disciples, knowing that later that night he would be betrayed by Judas and his horrific ordeal would begin.  If I were in those circumstances, I’d be doing anything but sitting down to share a meal with friends.  I’d be trying to run, to hide, to find some way out – but not Jesus.  There was work to be done, and he was committed to seeing it through, but first, there were important things to pass along to his disciples.

And so it is that Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.  No one else rose to do the job that belonged to the lowest slave/servant.  So Jesus, as always, does what no one else wanted to do.

Peter, bless his heart, is humiliated when he realizes what Jesus is doing.  He realizes that this is grossly out of place, improper and that someone else (perhaps himself?) should be the one doing the washing.  Why?  Because Peter knew that Jesus was the Holy One.  Peter’s problem is that he felt that Jesus didn’t know how to act – that Jesus was doing something inappropriate and needed to be stopped.  To wash someone’s feet, you have to kneel before them, and kneeling is a symbol of the act of worship.  Throughout all the long ages of the Jewish people, it was the worshipper who kneels before the Worshipped One, but here, now, in the upper room…Peter knows it has been reversed – and in his opinion, it was wrong. 

Peter’s problem, you see, is that he thought Jesus was “acting.”  He wasn’t.  He was totally and completely sincere.  Luke 12:37 describes perhaps the most shocking scene in Scripture when it describes the feast of the Lamb in heaven: It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

How would you have felt if you had been one of the disciples and had Jesus wash your feet?  I cannot imagine that I would have reacted any differently than Peter did – I would have wanted to stop Jesus from washing my feet.  But if I understand the passage in Luke, the day will come when Jesus will have us sit at the table and HE WILL SERVE US.  I want to cry with Peter: “Never, Lord!” 

How far Jesus was willing to go to redeem us?!?! He was willing to go as far as necessary!

PRAYER: I am humbled, Lord, that You should serve any of us – yet that is exactly what you did while here.  It is incomprehensible to think that You should wash our feet, yet you have done so – washing us not with water, but with the blood of Christ.  May we learn to serve one another in the sincere imitation of Jesus.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/23/16 – We Were All There

DayBreaks for 12/23/16: We Were All There

In my most recent DayBreaks, I mused about what I would have noticed had I been in Bethlehem the night the Christ Child was born. For a different perspective, read on:

In her wonderful children’s picture book We Were There: A Nativity Story, Eve Bunting (illustrator: Wendell Minor) turns Christmas upside down for us in ways that are revealing.

The simple story shows us first a slithering snake, then a warty toad, a scary scorpion, a shiny cockroach, a swooping bat, a hairy spider, and a furry rat all on a journey. Each creature introduces itself and then concludes with the words “I will be there.”

As the book ends we are shown more common nativity creatures: fuzzy lambs, doe-eyed donkeys, gentle cows. But as those traditional figures in the stable stand around the manger in which the Babe has been laid by his mother Mary, we see in the corner, unnoticed, that small gathering of the snake, toad, scorpion, cockroach, bat, spider, and rat.

Bunting has found a lyric way to remind us that the coming of the Christ is not all about the traditional and cozy trappings in which we have for too long wrapped the Christmas story but that this is a story for all creatures and that Jesus came to embrace and renew the good, the bad, the ugly; the expected and the unexpected.

A simple children’s story like this reminds us of the paradoxes and unexpected twists of the season, that Jesus came not just for those whom might have been considered righteous and good, but for derelicts like me and recluses reeking of alcohol. He came that night not just for those who would readily receive him – he also came for those who would reject him – the spiders, the snakes, the bats and cockroaches of humanity because his love for us would not permit him to do otherwise.

What a wondrous time of year this is – so full of reminders and lessons for us all. Let us take a lesson that Christmas isn’t just for the neat and tidy – but if Christmas is for anyone, it is for all of us. May we share that love with those we may find repulsive and ugly – for we are that way, too. The greatest act of grace ever witnessed was viewable in a manger to human eyes.

May you be filled with the wonder of CHRISTmas!

PRAYER: For your love for human snakes and cock roaches – for us all – that brought you from eternal glory to a cold manger in Bethlehem, we give you our praise and bow in wonder and amazement! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/16/16 – Losing the Plot

DayBreaks for 12/16/16: Losing the Plot

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

I have seen a few movies in my life where, when I left the theater, I didn’t have a clue what the movie was about.  I’ve read some books that I felt that way about, too.  Needless to say, they weren’t my favorites!

Sometimes, I lose track of a much more important plot line: that’s the plot line of my life.  And therein is the problem in a nutshell: we think life is all about us – MY life.  I guess it’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it is right.  In I Am Not but I Know I Am, Louie Giglio put this into a great perspective:

“And how would we know when we have slipped back into the story of us?  We know when we see these telling signs:

“When I live like I’m privileged, I have lost the plot.  In other words, when I start acting like I deserve a certain outcome or a higher standard of life, I have failed to strike the fatal blow to self and am living like I actually have rights in this world apart from God.

“When I am demanding, I have lost the plot, insisting that God and others meet my needs on the timetable that I see fit.

“When I act pompous, I have lost the plot, thinking that I am somebody while only proving that I haven’t had a good look at God today.

“When I crumble under the pressure, I have lost the plot, declaring that the outcome of life rests squarely on my shoulders, not His.

“When I start protecting, I have lost the plot, marking turf as though it were actually mine and forgetting that everything I have comes first from above.

“When I crave the spotlight for myself, I have lost the plot, losing sight of the story line and the one true Star.  And when I do it, I waste one of life’s fleeting changes to make my life truly count by amplifying Him.

“When I fail to celebrate the successes of others who are living for His fame, I have lost the plot, thinking that possibly we are on different teams when we actually share supporting roles in the same story.

“When I dwell on feelings of being unloved, unnoticed, or insignificant, I have lost the plot, abandoning the miracle of knowing God on a first name basis.”

Let’s not forget who the story of all Life is about. 

PRAYER:  Father, thank You for inviting us to play a role in the greatest story ever told.  May we do our part well in order to bring honor to Him who purchased us with His blood.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.