DayBreaks for 9/10/18 – Ready to be Interrupted

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DayBreaks for 9/10/18: Ready to be Interrupted

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008 – Michael Card’s “From the Studio”, 8/23/08:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. – COLOSSIANS 4:5

“My friend and pastor Denny Denson was in the middle of a sermon one Sunday morning when a young man he had been witnessing to for months slipped into the back of the church. The young man was a victim of crack cocaine and had more than once tried to get off the drug, promising to someday attend our church. When Denny saw him walk in that morning, he was hopeful and excited that he had come.

“After a few minutes the young man got up and walked back outside. Denny understood at once what he needed to do. He stopped in the middle of his sermon and asked the congregation to go to prayer. With that, he followed the man outside and caught up with him a block from the church. After perhaps fifteen minutes the two of them came back inside with good news. The young man had finally accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The remainder of the service was spent in worship. Denny never finished his sermon!”

Isn’t it interesting how we get set on a course of argument or action and are loathe to deviate from it in ever the slightest ways?  As I read Mike’s account of his friend, Denny, I tried to picture myself on a Sunday morning as I deliver a message, and I asked myself, “What would I have done in the circumstance described?”  I’ll be honest…I’m not sure what I would have done.  Part of me is ruled by “order” and “the plan” and I might have foolishly kept on preaching when I should have stopped.  Preachers are very prone to thinking that whatever they are talking about is the most important thing at the moment – that people have come to listen to what’s being said.  And I’m sure that there’s a certain amount of truth in that mindset – a preacher should have a message from God for the people – they shouldn’t be speaking at all.  But, “church” isn’t about the sermon – church is about Jesus and humans who need Him. 

Denny Denson recognized that fact and had the wisdom and courage to stop in the middle of his prepared remarks.  It didn’t matter that the prepared sermon wasn’t finished – Denny acted out a far more important sermon by stopping and going to the young man.  It’s what Jesus would have done, I believe.

How willing are you to be interrupted from your carefully laid plans in order to be responsive to human need and the leading of the Spirit?  Will you stop what you’re doing today and truly love someone like Jesus if the opportunity arises?  Jesus was being interrupted all the time – and we never hear him complain about it even once.  May we become more like him!

PRAYER: Jesus, don’t let us become slaves to the plan we’ve formulated for our day, but rather let us be open to Your plan for us this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/19/15 – Preaching Where You Walk

DayBreaks for 01/19/15 – Preaching Where You Walk

One day St. Francis of Assisi, invited a young monk to join him on a trip into town to preach. The young monk was so honored to get such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted. All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people.

At the end of the day, the two headed back home, however, not even once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, “I thought we were going into town to preach?” St. Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!”

It’s no secret that we, both as individuals and the church, have forgotten what it means to preach the gospel, what it means to bring to others the good news, what it means to evangelize. Evangelism has become a dirty word in many churches, and if it isn’t outright dismissed altogether, then it is relegated as a task for only those who have been ordained, or for those who are professional speakers, who make a living giving their testimonials and asking for altar calls, or for those who are missionaries overseas. The idea of witnessing quite frankly terrifies most Christians.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder: which is easier – telling someone else about what Jesus has done for us, or living like Him? Of course, if we aren’t living like Him, then no matter what we might “tell” others, it won’t matter a bit if we aren’t seen to be living like the One we proclaim.

Today, my friends, you can preach where you walk and where you work. Will you do it? That’s the question of the day!

PRAYER: Let us be bearers of Your name and message today both in how we live and what we say! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 04/06/12 – My Easter Regret

DayBreaks for 04/06/12 – My Easter Regret

Let's let our voice be heard!

 5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. Matthew 28:5-6

This Easter will be much different for me than the last nine.  This Easter Sunday, I will find myself not in the pulpit proclaiming the risen Lord, but part of the congregation.  I can still celebrate with great joy the reason behind the day – and I will!  But I will miss preaching an Easter sermon.

Easter has always been my favorite time of the year to preach.  In some ways, it may be the most difficult time for unbelievers to come to grips with the Easter story.  Rising from the dead?  Yeah, right.

But to the eyes of faith, we see the stone as it begins to move, the crunch of the smaller rocks as they are crushed beneath its weight.  We see the angels as they descend, spellbound by the dawning glory of God’s plan, bowing (with wonder and in honor) of the Son as his little finger starts to twitch, his eyelids begin to flutter…and He rises.

William Sangster was one of the great preachers of the 20th century. Toward the end of his life, he became quite ill. His vocal chords were paralyzed and he was unable to speak. On the Easter Sunday morning just before he died, he painfully printed a short note to his daughter. In it he wrote these poignant words: “How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, ‘He is risen!’ but it is far worse to have a voice and not want to shout.”

I have realized that just because I’m not in the pulpit, I still have a voice, I still want to shout!

My prayer for you this Easter is wake up on Easter and not just be able to speak, but to shout it every day for the rest of your life: He is risen!  Let every day be your Easter morning and let the story be on your lips every day…as long as Christ lives, which is forever!

PRAYER: Give us courage, give us the wonder and awe to joyously proclaim that our Lord is risen!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 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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DayBreaks 02/07/11: Preaching to the Dead

DayBreaks 02/07/11 – Preaching to the Dead

For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. – John 5:21, ESV

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. – John 6:63, ESV

 

To raise the dead...

I recently read a story about a professor of preaching who made it a practice to take his students each semester to visit a cemetery.  After they’d all entered the grounds, they would stand at one end of the cemetery where they had a good view of all the tombstones.  The professor then would ask his students to speak with all sincerity over the graves and to call people to rise up and live.  With obvious embarrassment and sometimes nervous laughter, they would try it, but of course, each failed to raise even one body from the dead.  The professor would then look at his students and remind them of a core truth of the gospel: that humans are spiritually dead, just as the corpses in the cemetery were physically dead, and only words from God can bring them to spiritual life!

 

I notice in myself a disturbing tendency when I am speaking to someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus.  I often find myself using my own words, my own thoughts, my own opinions to try to tell them what He is like and what it is that it means to become His follower.  I understand that to some degree that is a necessity of human communication.  It is part of presenting what we believe and why – what some refer to as our “personal testimony.”  So it isn’t all bad.

But it is bad if that’s where we leave it.  Whatever words I have that come from my thinking are powerless to “raise the dead” so to speak.  I must never forget that it is the Word Who gives life, and His words have life in them so that all who receive them and trust in them can have life.

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. – John 6:68

PRAYER: Teach us how to throttle our own mouths and be content to let Your Word pass our lips, Your grace be on our tongues and Your love in our hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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