DayBreaks for 9/12/18 – The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18: The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk–you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice–you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation-that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.

Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. One might wonder if it is worth the struggle, but that won’t be a question we even contemplate once we step out of this world into the next.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us be patient with you and with ourselves in the transformation. Keep us from despair and discouragement on the journey home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/19/18 – Fit to Stand in White Robes

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DayBreaks for 3/19/18: Fit to Stand in White Robes

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Power.  How we are fascinated, yet sometimes revolted by it.  We are a species fascinated by power.  We woke up this morning in a world infatuated with it, and yet also a world where many are terrified of it.  Power will be exercised today in your home, in your school, on the playground, in courts, businesses, hospitals, in the halls of political power.  Some will use their power this day to abuse and mistreat other human beings – lording their power over them in the cruelest ways possible.  Others will use their power to feed hungry bodies, comfort broken souls and hearts, to dig wells to quench thirst.

To the human eye, it appears that evil is winning.  Good seems to be on the scaffold, while evil sits enthroned in the hearts of men and spiritual beings throughout the universe.  Our very own experiences reveal the persistence of the power of evil.  One must question (especially at times when we are suffering from the slings and arrows of evil) what will rule the day.

In the first century, if a boxing announcer had been present during the trial of Jesus, he might have said something like this: “In this corner, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, the undefeated, invincible, indomitable Roman Empire!  And in the other corner, a Galilean carpenter in his first professional fight, Jesus of Nazareth.”  It appeared to all present to be no contest.  No one was betting on Jesus.  Rome and their mighty army looked to be a sure winner.  Even Satan, hidden from view, appeared to heavenly forces to be on the edge of yet another victory over righteousness and holiness.  But things aren’t always what they appear to be…

There is wonderful power in the Cross of Christ. It has power to wake the dullest conscience and melt the hardest heart, to cleanse the unclean, to reconcile him who is afar off and restore him to fellowship with God, to redeem the prisoner from his bondage and lift the pauper from the dunghill, to break down the barriers which divide [people] from one another, to transform our wayward characters into the image of Christ and finally make us fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.” John Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait 

There is a power far beyond anything this world has understood or seen.  That power was unleashed at the cross.  It is a power that can change blackened hearts, not just dark actions.  It is a power that can dump guilt and shame into the depths of the sea, never to surface again.  It is the power that can make people like us – sinners all on a great magnitude of scale – “fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.”  Believest thou this?

PRAYER: We fall before your cross in wonder that such love exists.  May we never deny the power of the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/13/17 – The Amazing Extent of Dirt

DayBreaks for 6/13/17: The Amazing Extent of Dirt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t know about where you live, but unless you live in one of those “bubbles” or a clean-room environment in a medical or scientific lab, well, there’s just dirt everywhere.  I remember when the first floppy drives came out…they were very large (much larger than the 3-1/4” ones later on) and didn’t hold much data.  The company I was working for was quick to add them to our products for backup purposes (this was before CD’s, etc.), and we struggled with them because even a tiny speck of dust could cause the disk drive heads to crash and ruin data.  The introduction of Winchester disk technology was a real boon to the computer industry, because they used sealed disks that dirt couldn’t get into.

How I wish that my mind was of Winchester technology!  It seems that the “dirt” (not the material kind, but the sinful kind) gets into my mind way too easily.  And, just like the dirt in your kitchen, it’s hard to get out. 

In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard contemplates this problem and how the dirt of the world that gets into our mind can hinder our hearing of God.  What, for example, is your first reaction when you hear a siren passing by?  When you have car trouble, how long does it take before you take the matter to God?  Does our mind spontaneously return to God and His things when it’s not intensely occupied with things of work or school?  After all, the needle of a compass returns to true north…and if God is our “true north”, our minds should turn to Him, too.  Our answers to those kind of questions could be an indicator to us of how our mind is so firmly entrenched in false ways.

He notes that we’re still so very much like the world of Isaiah’s days (55:9-10): We wait for light, and lo! There is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.  We grope like the blind along a wall, groping like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among the vigorous as though we were dead.

Why is this the case?  Willard suggests: “This is all because our minds – perhaps our very brains – need to have the false thoughts and habits washed out of them.  They so badly need to be washed that we rarely understand what life would be like if they were cleansed, and many of us do not even sense the need for cleansing.”

Remember when your mom talked about washing your mouth out with soap?  Maybe it’s time that we pray fervently that our Father will wash our minds out with the Spirit!

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) – Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the washing that leads us to cleansing.  We ask you today to wash our minds, for we give you permission to make them over in whatever way you see fit.  Take the dirt out that so easily contaminates us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/09/17 – Because You Have Met Me

DayBreaks for 3/09/17: Because You Have Met Me

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

Exodus 4:4-5 (NIV) – Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.  “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has appeared to you.

The nerve of some Biblical people amazes me.  Moses, while we’re told that he was the meekest man, was very bold at times with God.  His first known encounter with God in the wilderness at the burning bush shows how stubborn we as humans can be.  All of a sudden, out of the blue, Moses is drawn to the bush and told that God wants to send him on a mission to lead Israel out of 400 years of captivity and slavery in Egypt.  God speaks of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph – and the promises He made to them and how He intends now, in the time of Moses, to fulfill those great promises.  And what does Moses do?  He hems, haws, and otherwise tries to avoid the mission.  He gives God lots of excuses (not reasons) why he’s not the right person.  Moses would learn that it didn’t pay to argue with God.  But he hasn’t learned it yet.  And so he worries that Israel will not believe that God wants to relieve them of their slavery, and he asks God for signs to give to the people that will convince them.

And so, finally God makes the statement to Moses that’s found in Exodus 4:5, after having Moses’ staff turn into a serpent: This is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.

I’d missed this for nearly 55 years now.  It wasn’t the serpent that would convince people that Moses had been sent by God.  It was really nothing more than God telling Moses that the people will know that He sent Moses because Moses has met God.  (God has appeared to him.) 

Each day as I wander through the streets of town, go into buildings or stores, pull up to the gas pump, buy a Dr. Pepper – I wonder if people can tell that I have met God?  What kind of evidence is there that I’ve met Him – and He has met with me?  And it’s not just that I’ve met Him – He lives within me in a way I don’t know if He did with Moses!  The evidence of having met the Maker is radical and life-changing.  From this encounter onward, for as long as he lived, Moses was a changed man.  He still had moments of weakness and doubt, but the people would follow him because he knew the Lord’s name…another way of saying, he knew God. 

Having met God doesn’t make us perfect, but if it hasn’t changed us – RADICALLY changed us – perhaps we’ve never met him like Moses did in the wilderness.  We don’t have to have a burning bush in our life to meet Him.  Yet, He is all around us, and in us.  We need to learn to do what Moses finally did: stop arguing and fighting with Him and let Him have His way in us, to use us for His glorious purposes (which will, by the way, work to our benefit!) and to let others know we have met God and been sent by Him.

PRAYER: Sometimes, Father, much to our great embarrassment, we hide the fact that we have met You.  We are too fearful, weak-kneed and stubborn to bear witness for you.  May we truly meet You even now, may we be radically changed by that encounter, so that wherever we go, people will know you exist and that by our changed lives, they will know we have met the Living God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/11/16 – What Our Conformance Means

DayBreaks for 2/11/16: What Our Conformance Means

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Romans 12:2 (NIV) – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will

Fashionable.  “With it.”  Contemporary.  Modern.  We’ve got all kinds of names for being like the rest of the world, don’t we?  And you know what?  They all sound good, don’t they?  I mean, would you rather be called unfashionable, “Out of it,” outdated?  We would generally think that those things are not very positive or flattering.

And we so want to think of ourselves as being “with it”, or if I can use some old fashioned language, “Cool!”  We would be hurt and perhaps even feel insulted of someone said we weren’t fashionable.  That’s really too bad. 

Our society is status-driven, and conformance to what society thinks is good is often in order to gain status or prestige.  Sometimes it is to try to curry favor in such a way that we will gain some advantages in business or school or in a dating relationship.  I can’t think of a single thing in our culture that elevates the things of God over the things of man.  Why?  Because the kingdom of God is at war, at very serious odds, with the kingdom of our culture.  You see, our culture is sick.  It’s twisted, perverted and I believe it stinks in the nostrils of Almighty God. 

And yet…we still go on trying to conform to this world.  But what does that mean?  If we are trying to conform to a sick culture, we are inviting sickness into our very souls, we are choosing sickness instead of the health that God wants to give us. 

What will you choose today?  His healing and health, or will you continue to choose sickness and embrace it to your bosom?

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Father, please change our hearts.  Give us the wisdom to see that there is a way that leads to life, and a way that leads to sickness and death.  By the power of Your Spirit, please give us the wisdom to choose life, even as Joshua challenged Israel to choose life so long ago.  Help us to care much more about how You think about us, not how the world things about us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.