DayBreaks for 8/13/19 – The Great Substitutions

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DayBreaks for 08/13/19: The Great Substitutions

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

When I was in junior high, high school, and college, I loved to play sports.  I wasn’t always first string, but whether I was or not, everyone has to take a bit of break now and then and sit to rest.  So, the coach would either send me in as a substitute, or he’d pull the substitute he’d sent in for me so I could go back into the game.  I always hated it when I was pulled out to rest.  I wanted to keep playing!  But the concept of substituting one player for another is based on very solid realities.  In the major leagues, some players are better at defense than others, and toward the end of a close game if their team is leading and the score is close, they might be sent in as a substitute for a player who is not quite as good with a glove.  In basketball, some players can’t shoot free throws and when it comes to crunch time, the coach may pull them out and put in players who can shoot free throws, or three-pointers if the team is behind and has to catch up. 

Of course, the Christian faith is all about substitution: Christ paying the price for the sinner, His death rather than our own.  The righteous dying for the unrighteous.  Pretty fundamental to the entire enterprise of God’s plan.

There is, however, more substitution going on that we are wont to admit.  Consider this perspective from John Stott in his excellent book, The Cross of Christ: “The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation.  For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.  Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.  Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.”

Sin surely is us humans putting ourselves in God’s place, rising up in rebellion, overthrowing the reign and rule of God (or trying to) in order to decree what is right and acceptable based on our desires and wishes.  We don’t often think about that form of substitution, but it is putting our wills in the forefront rather than His will.  It is what Adam did in the garden and we’ve been constantly at it ever since. 

We want to accept the substitution that God made for us.  We just don’t want to have to admit the substitution we have made to displace Him from the throne.

PRAYER:  We are deeply grateful, Lord Jesus, that you put yourself in our place.  We are less eager to admit the reason it was necessary was because of our attempt to substitute ourselves and our will for Your will and rule.  Have mercy on us sinners!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/30/15 – Life Substitutes

DayBreaks for 7/30/15: Life Substitutes

There’s a story found in the Chronicles of Narnia. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth volume of that series, Mary, Edmund, their cousin Eustice, and some of the colorful creatures of Narnia, come upon a crystal clear pool of water with what appears to be a golden statue of a man at the bottom. Only, they discover that it is a magical pool that turns everything into gold that touches the water. It appears that the statue at the bottom of the pool is a man who either didn’t know about the pool’s magic powers, or he was so consumed with accumulating gold that he ignored its dangers. Even though the characters of the story are awed at the magic of the pool, they recognize that such a place is far more dangerous than it is beneficial, and so they swear themselves to secrecy and wipe their memories clean of that place.

You see, when you waste your energies seeking to fulfill the hunger for things that perish, what you’ll find all too often is that you’ll still be dissatisfied, and your dissatisfaction will usually put you deeper into the hole you’re digging for yourself. Whatever piece of the pie that you’re hungering for – whether it’s a bigger slice of acceptance or riches or gratification of your urges – you’re going to find yourself hungry for more and more and more, until you’re so out of control that you can’t back-peddle fast enough. In our consumer-driven world, in which many people literally work themselves to death accumulating a never-fully-satisfying abundance of things, Jesus’ words challenge our society’s misguided substitutes for “life.”

What are you giving in exchange for your life?

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36 (NIV)

PRAYER: God, I know I only have so many hours allotted to me.  Please help me spend them in pursuit of real Life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/17/12 – Incredible Courage, Greater Love

DayBreaks for 10/17/12 – Incredible Courage, Greater Love

Maximilian Kolbe

Maximilian Kolbe was a truly amazing man.  Let me share his story with you:

During the WW2, Kolbe (a Catholic priest) provided shelter to refugees from Poland, including 2000 Jews that he hid from Nazi persecution.  Eventually, he was discovered and on February 17, 1941, he was arrested by the Gestapo and placed in prison.  On May 28 of 1941, he was sent to Auschwitz as prisoner 16670.

As 1941 came to an end, three prisoners vanished from the camp, prompting the deputy camp commander to select 10 men who would be starved to death in an underground bunker to dissuade further escape attempts.  One of the men, Franciszek Gajowniczek cried out, “My wife!  My children!”, Kolbe volunteered to take the man’s place.

In the underground bunker, Kolbe celebrated Mass each day and sang hymns with the prisoners.  He led the condemned men in song and prayer and encouraged them by talking to them about heaven.  Whenever the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied and killed Kolbe with a lethal injection of carbolic acid.  Some who witnessed the injection say he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection.

Kolbe wrote: “No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?”

Blogger George David Byers said this as he contemplate the example of Kolbe: “A surviving witness—an inmate who had been called to act as translator—later reported that the Nazi guards marveled in wonder at Kolbe. Their ideology had taught them to strive to be godless “supermen,” defining themselves by the brute power with which they could subjugate others. In the naked, starving priest, the Nazis were stunned to discover a true man, one who could face death with a smile because he was dying not for hate, but for love.”

Would I have stepped forward to give my life for a stranger as Kolbe did?  Isn’t that the kind of love we are to have for others?  Kolbe followed the example of Jesus: laying down his life, not just for a friend, but for a total stranger.

PRAYER: Jesus, teach me to love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 01/06/12 – Getting It Right

DayBreaks for 01/06/12 – Getting It Right

                          Michael Clarke Duncan as “John Coffee” in The Green Mile

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” – Matthew 8:14-17

We don’t know anything about Peter’s wife or his mother-in-law other than that she had been sick and when Jesus touched her, she was healed.  The immediate response to the healing?  To get up and server her Healer.  I sometimes think that if I was the one who had been healed, I might have gotten up and gone out to play golf or basketball or do something other than serve.  I fear that I’m far to selfish.

The wording in the last part of verse 17 is interesting: “he took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”  What does that mean?   Why didn’t it just say that he healed our illnesses and cured our diseases?  Surely that would have been enough, wouldn’t it?  But that’s not what it says.  It says that he took them into himself – almost as if absorbing them in their fullness.

In the movie, The Green Mile, Michael Clarke Duncan plays a black man named John Coffee on death row who has the power to take disease out of a human body and to “suck” it into himself.  It is a powerful scene where he heals the character played by Tom Hanks, and also cures the cancer of the wife of one of the guards.

Jesus did heal, he did cure…but he took those things upon and into himself.  Surely, this was part of the incarnation – part of his becoming like us in “every way.”

PRAYER: Why, Lord, should you have taken our brokenness into yourself, if not, to know our human condition in all its fullness and ugliness?  For emptying yourself of your glory, and for filling yourself with our disease and brokenness, be glory both now and forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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