DayBreaks for 9/18/18 – Saints Among the Killing Fields

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DayBreaks for 9/18/18: Saints Among the Killing Fields

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

There’s a man in Croatia named Bosada.  One day, his Serbian neighbor came to him and handed him the keys to his home and said, “Would you look after my house for me and my pigs and my cattle and sheep?” Bosada said, “Sure. You’re my neighbor.  You’re my friend.  Our families have lived together here for 500 years.”  What the neighbor didn’t tell Bosada was something that every Serb knew, but the Croats didn’t: every Serb in that Croatian village was doing the same thing that very day.  They had been forewarned by the Serbian army to get out; the army was coming to blast the Croats and their homes to kingdom come the next day.

The next day, the tanks did indeed roll in and they blasted all the houses, leaving just ruins.  Only two houses out of 39 were left standing: half of Bosada’s home and a house across the street (which was then used as a prison to torture people).  Then a peace accord was signed—an uneasy peace, if it could even be called that.  When the United Nations peacekeepers came, this little village with Serb houses sitting up on the hillside began to be repopulated by Croatians headed by Bosada.

Bosada, who was a Christian and pastor of the local church, said, “We must show the way.  We must go back and rebuild the church.” And he did, taking his daughter with him.  Even though the UN peacekeepers were there, Serbian soldiers came out of the forest and took both Bosada and his 17-year-old daughter up among the trees.  They took his daughter away and raped and tortured her.  They took a bayonet and thrust it through Bosada seven times, but he didn’t die.  “Well, old man,” they finally said, “we’re fed up beating you.  I think what we’ll do is let your own people kill you.”  So they brought the daughter back and said, “Now off you go home through the minefield.  If you make it, your own militia people will kill you at the other end because it’s after curfew.”

Bosada took his daughter’s hand and set off through the minefield.  While he was being tortured, he’d said to his torturers, “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls. This is the wrong thing you’re doing. I will go to heaven, but where will you go? I know that my Redeemer lives. Why don’t you turn to my Redeemer?”

Bosada and his daughter did make it through the mine field and survived, but what is inspiring is the message he gave to his torturers.  Did any respond, did it have any kind of impact on the future actions of his tormentors?  I do not know.  I only know I wish I had the courage of my brother in the Lord, Bosada.

We may never walk through literal minefields.  We will hopefully never be tortured because of our faith.  Yet, we still walk through minefields strewn with deadly devices planted by our enemy and the prevailing spirit of this fallen world.  May we walk it with the grace of a saint in deadly places.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the faith of those like Bosada, whom we will most likely never meet on this earth.  Thank You for preserving both he and his daughter.  Thank You for preserving us.  Give us the courage and grace to act like our brother in the face of great evil and danger.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/11/18 – But I Do

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DayBreaks for 9/11/18: But I Do

If we believe in Jesus, we know the boundaries are erased inside and out, for there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer but when he got to the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

We might be tempted to think that what the missionary did was insignificant and a waste of money. I bet God didn’t feel that way about it.

PRAYER: Open our eyes to opportunities around us today to demonstrate that we are changed people who love others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/11/18 – Everything Counts All the Time

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DayBreaks for 1/11/18: Everything Counts All the Time

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Life is chock-full of seemingly innocent little moments of decision.  You’ll make so many decisions today and do so many things that really aren’t very important.  For example: you’ll decide which shirt or dress to wear today – and all things being equal, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.  You’ll decide what to eat (although if you have health problems, that can be important!)  You’ll decide which bank teller to go to, which check-out line at the grocery store.  While we may agonize over which pair of sunglasses make us look the most cool, it’s really nothing more than a trivial decision.  Much of life revolves around trivial things.

But, there are things in life that aren’t trivial at all.  Consider this from the California Southern Baptist (3/2/2000):

“Recently, Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America, spoke at an Evangelism Conference about reaching people in the age of relativism.  He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus.  They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.”  Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self-righteous, narrow and repressive.”

“There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said.  “We are the evidence!  Everything counts—all the time.”

“With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not anymore.  I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for.  Not something they can relate to.  They are looking for a transcendent God.  They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.”

I think Zander had it spot on: “There is a difference between knowing the good news and BEING (emphasis mine, GCD) the good news.”  I realize that in a very real sense, we cannot be the good news.  Jesus came from heaven to give us the good news and be the good news for us!  But, how we act, what we say, even how we think – in a way we can be the good news or the bad news.  Why does the world think of Jesus in such high terms but Christians in such negative ways?  Could it be because we are not being the good news?  Because as the world looks at us, they don’t see Jesus in us at all, but our old sinful, carping and complaining natures? 

Every encounter we have with another human being is loaded with implications for eternity.  Yes – every single one.  What you say, how you act, what we do and even how we think about them matters.  GenX is still seeking a transcendent God, but for them, the proof of His existence is transformed followers of God, people in whom the love of Jesus is perfected by their treatment of others.  It is, after all, what Jesus said would be the one sign of true belief and discipleship.

When you have that casual conversation by the water cooler today – realize it isn’t as casual as it appears.  When you greet the clerk at the grocery store, be the good news personified.  When you come in the door at home at the end of your long and trying day, remember that God expects you to be the good news at home, too.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 KJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the best news the world has ever known.  Help us to not only know him, but to live like him so the good news may be alive and strong within us.  Help us to realize that as Your children and ambassadors in this world, that everything we do makes a difference all the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 12/12/17 – How Christians Can Make God Disappear

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DayBreaks for 12/12/17: How Christians Can Make God Disappear

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

It was the Psalmist that perhaps most eloquently voiced the purpose of creation when he said, in Psalms 19:1-4 (NIV) The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…

Have you ever wondered why God made physical things?  After all, He Himself is a spiritual being, as are we.  Could God not have created spiritual beings without physical bodies and without a physical realm to move around in?  Of course He could!  But He didn’t.  The reason why is unknown to us, other than the fact that God seems to delight in creating, and in the work of His hands – just like a master craftsman delights in a fine piece of jewelry or a chair or vase. 

I think, however, that the main purpose behind His creation – all of it, not just the physical realm – is found in the passage above: it exists to declare the glory of God.  Someone has said that creation is like God’s fingerprints.  From fingerprints alone we can’t tell too much about a person – we can’t know their character, interests, etc. – but we can tell that they were there.  It’s evidence of their existence.  Creation is evidence of His existence and it glorifies His name!

If only spiritual beings (humans, anyway) were as good at it as the physical universe.  We don’t do a great job of declaring the glory of God.  Joel Belz, in the December 8 issue of World Magazine, wrote: For the truest and most effective proponents of godlessness are almost never those who are most blatant about their mission.  They are instead those who purport to pick up any topic at all for further discussion—and then leave God out of that conversation.  Do that with a dozen such discussions, or maybe 20 or 100, and you don’t have to do much more.  You’ve implicitly made your case.  God doesn’t exist—or if He does, He doesn’t matter. 

What struck me about Belz’ statement wasn’t how the godless go about declaring that God doesn’t exist, but how subtly we as believers can, by the lack of our words and actions, also make God disappear.  When we leave God out of the public conversations we have (and the private ones as well), God has disappeared in that instance.  And, as Belz notes, if we do that often enough in dozens or hundreds of conversations, God is as good as invisible – He disappears from life and living. 

How many conversations do you have in the course of a day?  In how many of those conversations is even the name of God voiced (other than when someone uses His name in vain)?  Are you one of those Christians who makes God disappear, or do you, like the physical heavens, declare the glory of God?

PRAYER:  Father, Your Word says that someday we will shine like stars in the universe.  The universe proclaims Your glory – may we add our voices in our daily conversations!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/23/17 – Whose Face Would It Be?

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DayBreaks for 10/23/17: Whose Face Would it Be?

What do you think the future of Christianity is in the United States?  Or in the world, for that matter?  There have been some recognizable faces that the world has come to know as “Christians”.  Among those who come readily to mind are Mother Theresa and, of course, Billy Graham.  There are others, too, but many of the “old guard” of the faith have been, or are close, to departing this world for their eternal reward. 

The question has been asked of me: if you had to think of someone who is a Christian that you could point to that is respected by everyone, who is a living witness to the Christian faith, who would it be?  For me, the answer was fairly quick: Billy Graham would be my first choice.  He seems to have managed throughout all these years, to keep himself “unspotted from the world.” 

But, Billy Graham is old and certainly the time for his own departure is near.  Then who, like Elisha taking up the mantle of Elijah, will be the “face” of Christianity in the world?  It’s not an easy question to answer, but I was struck by this brief comment from the Opinion Journal (Wall Street Journal Online), 10/8/07, by James Taranto, about some statements made by an avowed atheist who was chastising Christians for their unwillingness to engage in public “dialogue”.  The first paragraph is taken from Ms. Lalli’s statement, and the second paragraph is Mr. Taranto’s musings on what she said:

Ms. Lalli: I have a question for the Christians out there: If you could pick one living person to be the face of the entire Christian faith, who would that person be?  Even if you could pick three, or even five people, it would still be a challenge.  I imagine it would be hard to figure out whether you wanted to pick those Christians who think most like you, or if you would pick people who could better represent the many colors of Christianity, the subtle differences and big-picture similarities.

Taranto: We lived in Brooklyn for a time in the early 1990s.  Back then, at least, there were Christians there, and it seems unlikely that all of them have left.  Lalli should see if she can find one so that she can ask her question directly.  We’re pretty sure the answer will be Christ.  OpinionJournal, 10/8/07, James Taranto

Can there be a better ambassador for Christianity than Christ?  Certainly, the answer to that is and unequivocal, “No!”  He is by far the best example of Christianity that there ever will be.

Still, I’m forced to ponder the question: if not Billy Graham, who?  And why should we automatically assume that all believers couldn’t be effective ambassadors – that you who read this, and I who write it, can’t be equally as strong of “advertisements” for what a real Christian is like?  After all, isn’t that what we’re ALL called to be and to do?

PRAYER:  Lord, we know that within us dwells no good thing – except for Jesus.  Help us to be better illustrations of the truth of Christianity, of the life of Christ, than we have been in the past.  May we all resolve to live as if the world depended on our resemblance to Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/21/17 – My Witness

DayBreaks for 7/21/17: My Witness

How many times in your life have you wished someone has witnessed something that happened and could back up your story? It may have been when you were a kid and it may have been something relatively insignificant, such as whether or not it was you or your sister who put their finger into the chocolate on the freshly frosted cake and messed it up. It may have been when you were in grade school when someone shoved you or called you a name and you retaliated by shoving them back – and the playground monitor saw you shove them, but missed the fact that they’d shoved you first. It may have been at the scene of a car wreck, or a crime – and you long for a witness who can verify your innocence.

You are not alone. Since day one of human history after the fall, we’ve been longing for a witness who could clear up the issues for us. Job is an outstanding example of that. Verbally and emotionally attacked by his “friends” and charged with some horrible sin that he must have committed to be suffering so, he cries out for a truth-teller, someone who saw what was true: Job 16:19 (NLT) – Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high.

It is interesting that Job uses both the term witness and advocate in that utterance. There is a difference, you know. A witness just reports what they saw…an advocate goes to bat for you even if it’s against the odds or testimony of everyone else.

The concept of an advocate doesn’t disappear with Job. The Spirit is described as our advocate as well as counselor in John 14:26: – But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a difficult time identifying with the Holy Spirit. He is the mysterious part of the Godhead, the one we know the least about. He’s so ethereal (yet real!) and the last part of his name “Spirt” just adds to the confusion and mystery.

That’s why I really like this next verse: 1 John 2:1 (NLT) – My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. Who is our advocate in heaven? The Savior Jesus Christ! And of course, Hebrews explains how he is the perfect advocate for us.

Sometimes I think too much about the Spirit and even Jesus observing/witnessing all the things I do that I shouldn’t, and all the things I don’t do that I should. And I can get very depressed about that. But, I don’t think nearly enough about the Spirit and Jesus advocating for my plight before God Himself. If they are advocating for me, do you think for a second that the Father will disagree with them? No! They’ve held a mindset of perfect unity forever and nothing that I do is going to change that. Even if it came to a vote in the heavenly court (which it won’t!), it would be 2 versus 1 for acquittal as Jesus and the Spirit advocate for me. But perhaps the best news is that the judge himself is my advocate, Jesus: 2 Timothy 4:1 (NLT) – I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom…

Did you need that bit of good news today? I did!!!

PRAYER: Jesus, Spirit, thank you for being not just my witness but my advocate, and letting me know that you will pronounce me as righteous and innocent because of the blood You shed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/18/17 – Seven Endless Miles

DayBreaks for 7/18/17: Seven Endless Miles

Luke 24:13-15 (NLT) – That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.

Michael Card (singer, songwriter, author and theologian) wrote and sings a song called Seven Endless Miles. (You can listen to it here.) It describes the walk of the dismayed, disappointed disciples on the road between Jerusalem and Emmaus – and the surprise guest who eventually joined them on the road.

As they began their walk, just the two of them were there. Seven miles lay ahead of them and it would probably take at least 2-3 hours to walk that distance. There was much to discuss for much that was very troubling had happened. You can talk about a lot in 2-3 hours if your heart is in it. I’m not sure how much their heart was into the conversation other than to reiterate their disappointment and sadness.

How soon did Jesus join them? We don’t know. I would assume it was fairly close to Jerusalem since that’s where he’d been. And for something approaching seven miles they didn’t recognize him (Luke says that God concealed his identity from them).

Why did God conceal who Jesus was? Was it some sort of “discovery” process for Jesus to find out what people were thinking or saying? Was it to delve into the depths of human faith – or lack thereof? I don’t know. I look forward to asking Jesus some day.

But here’s what I find fascinating: for seven miles, nearly 2-3 hours, they didn’t recognize him regardless of the reason. And I wonder: how often has he walked beside me and I neither recognized him nor sensed his presence?

We might be tempted to think that such things have not happened in our life as it did for the Emmaus travelers. But I think that we’d be wrong. Sure, as far as I know Jesus hasn’t physically walked beside me – though it is possible (how’s that for a thought!) Then I realized that He has walked beside me in more corporeal form than you and I might imagine.

Have you ever walked alongside another believer? I’m sure you have. And if you have, you have walked alongside Jesus – because after all, He lives inside each one of His children. And that means He lives inside of YOU and ME. That is what really made me ponder: as I walk along with others, do they even begin to sense the Presence of Jesus when they walk astride me? If not, doesn’t that say that something is seriously wrong with my walk?

PRAYER: Jesus, I don’t want to live in such a way that your Presence is hidden from those who walk beside me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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