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

Image result for baby powder

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 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

Image result for sitting with God

DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/03/17 – They Still Know His Name

DayBreaks for 4/3/17: They Still Know His Name

When things seem to get out of control, I often try to take control and “fix” things. I suppose it is a natural enough human trait, but that in and of itself should be enough of a warning to me that it’s neither smart nor good. After all, if the Bible knows what it is talking about, our natural human traits are nothing to be bragging about. My efforts to fix things more often than not land me in deep water.

One of the songs I have come to deeply love is It is Well, by Kristine DeMarco. The first part of the song goes like this:

Grander earth has quaked before

Moved by the sound of his voice

Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken

For my regard.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

Far be it from me to not believe

Even when my eyes can’t see.

And this mountain that’s in front of me

Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His Name…”

These are wise words – words I need to hear – often. I’m sure you need to hear them, too. Long ago, the winds and waves immediately responded to his voice because they knew his name. He had created the elements that made the wind and the water and those things had not forgotten His power. And when confronted by a legion of demons (who begged mercy from the singular Galilean carpenter) they obeyed his voice.

The demons and storms in my life, will, too, if I let go and trust in Him.

Your child may lie in a hospital bed this very moment. Your beloved parent or spouse may be in hospice care and the hours seem to fly too rapidly and the breaths to come too slowly. Your job may have vaporized. Your hopes for the future may have been dashed. And it may seem impossible that the storms in your life will ever stop lashing you. Don’t forget one thing: the waves and winds still know his name, and whatever is troubling you must yield to His power. There is no storm he cannot calm.

Mark 4:38-39 (ESV) – But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm
.

 

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, our Delivered, we cry to you in the midst of our battle, we rage against the storm that assails us and in the middle of that struggle we forget the power of your Name to still the raging. Let us trust in you to still the storm and give us great calm, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float – and Faith

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float and Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

I recently spent some time talking and praying with a fellow pastor whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer.  They still haven’t settled on what the course of her treatment will be, and everyone is remaining hopeful that God will work a healing in her life, one way or the other.

As I sat talking with my friend, we got around to pondering the imponderables of life.  Although we are both people of faith, as is his wife, the questions still come about what purpose God has in this and why such things happen.  Sure, we both know the theological arguments for it, but when something hits that close to home, you do rethink things.

He shared with me an illustration that he’d read just recently about Romans 8:28 – you know, the verse we’re so fond of quoting about how “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord…”.  Here’s the illustration: if you were to take any of the individual parts of a huge ocean liner and throw them into the water, they would sink like the proverbial stone.  They just can’t float by themselves.  But when all the parts are organized and put into the right place and attached together in one finished product, the entire ship floats perfectly.  It is much more successful at floating than just the sum of its parts or than any one of its parts.  Why?  The key is in the verse from Romans 8:28: All things work TOGETHER…for good…”  Do you see?  Individually, any one part may not work at all, we would look at it and say “That can’t float!”  But somehow, when it works together with the rest of the parts, they ALL float magnificently.

And so it is with the things that happen to us in life.  I can’t explain how it works.  I can’t tell my friend why God has brought this trial into their life – but I can say that somehow, God takes all the individual pieces of our lives that would sink like a rock, puts them together in an intricate weaving of life, and he sees to it that in the end, it all WORKS TOGETHER for the best.

As you look at individual happenings in your life (like the striking of cancer, heart disease, losing a job, etc.) they look like nothing less than an unmitigated disaster of cosmic proportions.  But God sees all those things put together, working together, to make us something special that DOES work.  So, when you look at something that happens in your life that appears disastrous, remember that God is still working to fit it into the overall design that He has in mind for you, and that His design will do more than float…it will fly! 

PRAYER:  Lord, Your ways are so far beyond our understanding that we can only bow before you, knees knocking, and do our best to trust and believe that somehow, in a way that none of us can begin to fathom, You’re putting our life together perfectly.  May we rest in this certainty as we face the challenges and disappointments of life today and always.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/07/16 – The Proving Ground of Faith

DayBreaks for 6/07/16 – The Proving Ground of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

The light begins to enter through the parted curtains and the haze begins to lift from one’s mind with the realization that another day has begun.  The night has been long, the darkness deep.  The endless sounds of hospital corridors are not conducive to sleep.

As young parents gather at the side of the bed of their precious little ones, tears fill their eyes as they speak lovingly and tenderly to their unconscious children.  They stroke their hair, touch their skin – every touch made more precious by the seriousness of the situation.  I think to myself, “They must be wondering if this will be the last time they touch their child alive.”  I quickly try to dismiss such thoughts, but they persist at the edge of my awareness.  This is the proving ground of faith, when the shadows don’t even dissipate with the gathering daylight and when the questions are unanswerable.  Some of the little ones are here because of diseases, some because of accidents, some because of birth defects.  It matters little what brought them to this place – what matters is that they are here at all, and for all intents and purposes, God seems to be somewhere else on vacation, seemingly deaf to the imprecations of the distressed parents.

The fragrance of flower petals and the soft, silent sounds of canned music designed to soothe grieving souls fills the air of a funeral home as tears flow and the arrangements must be made.  The inevitable questions must be asked – and answered – including the terrible business side of loss.  This is the proving ground of faith, when “dearest things in life are swept from sight forever.”  This is where the rubber of life meets the hard, cold and unyielding road.

God is not on vacation at times like these.  It may seem so, but I cling with stubborn faith to the fact that He is not, perhaps not so much because of faith, but because of the lack of any other alternative that can offer any hope at all.  As God is not bound by neither time nor space, I can’t help but wonder – even as I write this – if He isn’t standing beside the foot of the cross as His Son is upon the rack, remembering…remembering and identifying with the exquisite torment with which this world is filled.  Who could blame Him if He were distracted?

And yet, it would be wrong to consider that only these places are the proving grounds of faith.  The sounds of the traffic outside the car window, the whir of an office copy machine, the chatter of the business meeting, the bustling crowds that fill the shopping malls and school corridors – we must never forget that these, too, are the proving grounds of faith.  How is it that not only the hospital bedside but the happy banter of school kids moving through their day are both the proving grounds of faith?  Perhaps only in this way: in neither situation is God seen with the eye nor touched with the hand.  And regardless of that, we are called upon to walk in the calm assurance that He IS there, beside us, His own shoulders shaking as He sobs over and for us all.  In all these places and at all times, our walk is a walk of faith, not a walk of sight.  At least, not yet.

Maranatha, Lord Jesus.

Psalms 139:11-12 (NLT) – I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night — but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (NLT) – For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER:  Father, for the heartbroken and those haunted by pending loss, I pray today that You make Yourself visible through the hands and words of those nearby.  May we find some comfort in knowing that You do care, that You, too, wept.  And when we cannot see You nor sense Your Presence, may we persevere in faith on life’s proving grounds.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/17/15 – Wait for ALL the Evidence

DayBreaks for 7/17/15: Wait for All the Evidence

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2005:

High profile trials catch our attention.  O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Robert Blake…the list could go on for a long, long time.  What I find fascinating is that we all form our opinions of the guilt or innocence of these people based on what we’ve heard or what someone told us, without having access to the evidence that’s shown in a court room.  As a general rule, I think we often make up our minds on their probable guilt or innocence before the trial even begins!  While we could debate whether the legal system is very effective and accurate, those folks had their problems, and I’m sure that they wanted all the evidence to be weighed before the jury finally decided their fate.

We all have hardships, too.  It’s part of life that we just can’t ignore or wish away.  It just doesn’t work like that.  And sometimes, quite often, in fact, people blame God for the hard times.  Even Christians sometimes put the blame at His feet.  It’s hard to keep things in perspective when we’re hurting.  Consider Phillip Yancey’s comments from Rumors of Another World: “No one gets an exemption from hardship on planet Earth. How we receive it hinges on whether we believe in an alternate reality that transcends the one we know so well. The Bible never minimizes hardship or unfairness—witness books like Job, Psalms, and Lamentations. It simply asks us to withhold final judgment until all the evidence is in.

“Why would anyone choose to follow a God who promises more hardship, not less? I will let the apostle Paul answer that question. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

“Paul had two pictures of himself. One image he could view in a mirror, and the insomnia, beatings, imprisonments, and deprivations must have left their mark in the gaunt and weary face that stared back at him from the crude Roman glass. The other image he could not see. Nevertheless he could sense his inward self being renewed and made more fit, tempered by hardship. Belief in another world cast hardship in such a different light that he could compile a list of his many personal calamities and call them ‘light and momentary troubles.’”

It isn’t easy to focus on things you can’t see, to bet your life – no, your eternity – on the fact that what we wait for is worth it, regardless of what we must deal with here on earth.  You may be struggling to hang on to the idea that God is good and that He wants only good for you.  You may be ready to sentence God to being fickle, unfair and perhaps even cruel.  Wait.  The evidence isn’t all in yet.  Someday, God will present the evidence that will show that He is totally good and loving.  Wait for that day.  Then you can see for yourself that He is good, always!

PRAYER: Lord, help us wait until we see your goodness with our own “eyes”, and we can also then see ourselves as you view us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 1/22/14 – Disappointment #1

DayBreaks for 1/22/14 – Disappointment #1

Job 5:7 (MSG)  It’s human! Mortals are born and bred for trouble, as certainly as sparks fly upward.

I won’t ask you when the last time was that you were disappointed. I’m sure that you were disappointed already today if you’ve been up for more than a few minutes. You may be disappointed in the weather, or with how you slept. You may be disappointed with your kids or spouse for not rising earlier. You may be disappointed in yourself over something you did or didn’t do. If you’ve been in to the office already, or to school, chances are you’ve been disappointed.  It happens a lot.  Listen to this introduction by John Ortberg from the book, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment by John Koessler:

“Every child enters the world crying. Disappointment is non-optional equipment  A wise observer said many centuries ago that human beings are born to suffer just as sparks fly upward.

“Sometimes, disappointment comes to thwart foolish wishes and immature dreams that richly deserve oblivion. I’m deeply grateful my earliest prayers were not answered. One of my first desires was to grow up to be Popeye the Sailor Man: and I am glad for a hundred reasons that did not happen – only one of which is that Olive Oyl turned out to be much less attractive to me when I became a man than she was when I was seven.

“But sometimes disappointment comes to good hopes and wonderful desires. Somebody has a deeper hunger for a strong, rich, life-affirming marriage. Somebody hopes to have an education and pursue wonderful knowledge, but they grow up in poverty and never have the opportunity. Somebody hopes to be reconciled with an impossible parent. Somebody hopes that their child won’t die.

“Then comes disappointment.”

You know it is true. You’ve drank from the dregs of disappointment’s bitter tonic. Yet, disappointment is a good medicine in the right dosage and if taken properly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer believed no one was safe as a part of a community unless they had first been dis-illusioned, for if they haven’t died to their illusions about a community of perfect people and been awakened by that disappointment to love the real people God has put around them they will never be able to love others who will disappoint them frequently.

Francois Fenelon wrote this long ago: “God must tear from us what we love wrongly, unreasonably, or excessively, that which hinders his love.  In so doing, he causes us to cry out like a child from whom one takes the knife with which it would maim or kill itself.”

Ortberg concludes: “…this strange and costly truth – God is sometimes present to us in disappointment in ways that He is present in no other times, for in disappointment we know that God is all we really ever have…for the Bible is not first of all the story of human disappointment. It is, in a strange way, the story of the disappointment of God.”

We’ll explore this topic more in coming weeks. Let disappointment, like discipline, be a guide in your life. The sparks will continue to fly upward and we will suffer and face disappointment. We must learn to see it as a part of how God is shaping us to enter His kingdom stripped of all but Him.

PRAYER: Father, let us learn our lessons about disappointment, realizing that we have disappointed You more than we will ever be disappointed ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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