DayBreaks for 2/27/15 – Two Kinds of Dogs

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DayBreaks for 2/27/15: Two Kinds of Dogs in Worship    

If you are a Christian, chances are good that about 48 hours from now, you’ll be headed to worship somewhere.  At least, for God’s sake (and His glory!), I hope so.  Worship is challenging.  True worship is very challenging.  We forget what it is about and why we do it.  But I thought that this illustration was a good one and might be helpful:

There are two kinds of dogs in this world. There are the dogs who eat everything and anything (like our yellow Lab!) – toss them a scrap of anything, meat, cauliflower, mushrooms, shoe leather – and they will literally snap it out of the air and scarf it down without hesitation – in the twinkling of an eye!

Then there are the dogs that approach every tidbit offered to them with suspicion. They stop, they sniff, they consider, and then they finally — they either accept the goodie offered to them or simply turn and walk away.  The spoiled doggie message being sent here is that the gift you offer is accepted with the attitude that “I am doing you a favor by eating this.”

The “scarf hounds” joyously gulp down whatever comes their way from our hands because they trust that we are always offering them something good, something that they want and they need.

The “spoiled dogs” also show up for treat time, but they convey an attitude that suggests that we need them to be there and, indeed, are fortunate that they did us the favor of showing up to entertain us. These pampered pooches take their invitation as a given, and their finicky feeding manners emphasize that they are “gracing us” with their presence and their acceptance of what we offer to them.

When you go to worship on Sunday, will you be going as a “scarf hound” or as a “spoiled dog”? Will you be there because your soul trusts in God’s providence and presence, and hungers for the divine gift of being able to draw near to God? Or are you here because you are doing God a “favor” by showing up? Do you somehow imagine that God needs your presence and the witness of your worship in order to validate God’s divinity?

PRAYER: May we all be hungry for our encounters with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/15/14 – The Blessing of an Empty Belly

DayBreaks for 7/15/14 – The Blessing of an Empty Belly

Deuteronomy 8:3 – Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

When is the last time that you went to bed with an empty stomach?  It is hard to conceive of the fact that much of the world goes to bed hungry every night, or at least much more often than we do in America.  Yes, I know that there is hunger and need in this country, too, but nothing like the rest of the world knows.

Deuteronomy wasn’t speaking of literal bread, of course.  But it’s sometimes hard to really understand what it means to live on (by) the word of God.  How can we come to know this is true deep down inside of our hearts and souls?

Mark Buchanan, in Your God Is Too Safe, struggled with this idea, and here’s what he had to say: “One thing is almost certain: it’s a truth that’s hard, maybe impossible, to learn between fistfuls and mouthfuls of food.

“The serpent came to Adam in a garden – Adam surrounded by an abundance of delicious food freely given to him, Adam with his belly full – and tempted him and Eve with food: ‘Here’s something you haven’t tried.  Want some?’  And they licked their lips, reached out with grasping hands, took, ate.  But the devil came to Jesus in a desert, Jesus surrounded by stones and scorpions and snakes, Jesus with his empty belly, and tempted Him with food: ‘Wouldn’t you like just a slice of bread?’  And Jesus flicked him away like a fly.

“So now the quiz: who understands – really understands – that we don’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God?  Who not only understands, but withstands because of it, overcomes on the basis of it?  The man with his belly full?  Or the man with his belly empty?”

Adam had all kinds of food, but was starved for the word of God.  Jesus was hungry, yet in the midst of his hunger, he was full.  The word of God is powerful, sharper, we’re told, than any two-edged sword.  It is also described as honey from a honeycomb.

The Ethiopian emperor Menelik II took the command to eat the word literally.  Whenever he was sick, he’d eat actual pages from the Bible, believing it would cure him.  He died in 1913 after eating the entire book of 2 Kings.  At the surface, his actions are laughable, but here’s the point: I’ve seen plenty of folks, including myself, who are sick in the soul caused by a refusal to eat the Word of God. It seems that our modern appetites crave everything except for the Truth.

What are you living on?  Adam failed the test, but Jesus passed it because He was full of the Word.  He’s shown us the “recipe” for success.  Now we need to cook with it!

PRAYER: Lord, set off alarm bells in our heads to alert us to the war that not only rages around us, but within us, and help us see the severity and deadly nature of this conflict!  Then, search our hearts and reveal our own idols to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 06/25/13 – An Uncomfortable Truth – No, Not THAT One!

DayBreaks for 06/25/13 – An Uncomfortable Truth – No, Not THAT One!

poor childrenIsaiah 1:11-17 (NLT) – “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.   When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?  Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.  I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!  When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.  Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways.  Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

In his book, The Hole in Our Gospel, Richard Stearns quotes a modern day prophet, perhaps a human being who in our day and age has done more to care for the oppressed, the widows and orphans than anyone else, but the truth is hard to hear:

“Fifteen thousand Africans are dying each day of preventable, treatable diseases – AIDS, malaria, TB – for lack of drugs that we take for granted.

“This statistic alone makes a fool of the idea many of us hold on to very tightly: the idea of equality.  What is happening to Africa mocks our pieties, doubts our concern and questions our commitment to the whole concept.  Because if we’re honest, there’s no way we could conclude that such mass death day after day would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else.  Certainly not North America or Europe, or Japan.  An entire continent bursting into flames?  Deep down, if we really accept that their lives – African lives – are equal to our, we would all be doing more to put the fire out.  It’s an uncomfortable truth.

“We can be the generation that no longer accepts that an accident of latitude determines whether a child lives or dies – but will we be that generation?  Will we in the West realize our potential or will we sleep in the comfort of our affluence with apathy and indifference murmuring softly in our ears?  Fifteen thousand people dying needlessly every day from AIDS, TB, and malaria.  Mothers, fathers, teacher, farmers, nurses, mechanics, children.  This is Africa’s crisis.  That it’s not on the night news, that we do not treat this as an emergency – that’s our crisis.

“Future generation flipping through these pages will know whether we answered the key question.  The evidence will be the world around them.  History will be our judge, but what’s written is up to us.  We can’t say our generation didn’t know how to do it.  We can’t say our generation couldn’t afford it.  And we can’t say our generation didn’t have reason to do it.  It’s up to us.”

You know what haunts me?  The idea that someday I may stand before God and hear Him ask me, “What did you do for those in Africa?” 

Oh, the name of the modern day prophet?  Bono – lead singer for the band, U2. 

PRAYER:  Lord, help us to CARE, to LOVE, to GIVE in ways that help and don’t hurt those we are trying to help!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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