DayBreaks for 2/16/17 – Rats in the Cellar and Slaps on the Cheek

DayBreaks for 2/16/17: Rats in the Cellar and Slaps on the Cheek

Matthew 5:39 (ESV) – But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

This text from Matthew leads one to ponder the words of C.S. Lewis, Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.

Think about the reaction that Christ calls us to have if someone strikes us on the cheek. What kind of a person would that make us? To turn the other cheek and refuse to react with similar anger or malice shows the world we are Christian. After all, if someone walked up to you in the next 5 minutes without warning or provocation and slapped you hard across the cheek, what would your reaction be?

So if what we do when we are taken off guard is the best evidence of what sort of person we are, let us pray our reactions show that we are good Christians!

PRAYER: Lord, it is not natural for us to turn the other cheek when we’ve been smitten physically, verbally or emotionally. It is at moments like that when we most need your Spirit to dominate our response. Spirit, take up residence in us so that we might be like Jesus! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/15/17 – How Far Would He Go?

DayBreaks for 2/15/17: How Far Will He Go?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

John 13:2-5 (NIV) – The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

It was the night of Passover – the holiest night of all for the Jews.  In a small room, Jesus met with his disciples, knowing that later that night he would be betrayed by Judas and his horrific ordeal would begin.  If I were in those circumstances, I’d be doing anything but sitting down to share a meal with friends.  I’d be trying to run, to hide, to find some way out – but not Jesus.  There was work to be done, and he was committed to seeing it through, but first, there were important things to pass along to his disciples.

And so it is that Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.  No one else rose to do the job that belonged to the lowest slave/servant.  So Jesus, as always, does what no one else wanted to do.

Peter, bless his heart, is humiliated when he realizes what Jesus is doing.  He realizes that this is grossly out of place, improper and that someone else (perhaps himself?) should be the one doing the washing.  Why?  Because Peter knew that Jesus was the Holy One.  Peter’s problem is that he felt that Jesus didn’t know how to act – that Jesus was doing something inappropriate and needed to be stopped.  To wash someone’s feet, you have to kneel before them, and kneeling is a symbol of the act of worship.  Throughout all the long ages of the Jewish people, it was the worshipper who kneels before the Worshipped One, but here, now, in the upper room…Peter knows it has been reversed – and in his opinion, it was wrong. 

Peter’s problem, you see, is that he thought Jesus was “acting.”  He wasn’t.  He was totally and completely sincere.  Luke 12:37 describes perhaps the most shocking scene in Scripture when it describes the feast of the Lamb in heaven: It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

How would you have felt if you had been one of the disciples and had Jesus wash your feet?  I cannot imagine that I would have reacted any differently than Peter did – I would have wanted to stop Jesus from washing my feet.  But if I understand the passage in Luke, the day will come when Jesus will have us sit at the table and HE WILL SERVE US.  I want to cry with Peter: “Never, Lord!” 

How far Jesus was willing to go to redeem us?!?! He was willing to go as far as necessary!

PRAYER: I am humbled, Lord, that You should serve any of us – yet that is exactly what you did while here.  It is incomprehensible to think that You should wash our feet, yet you have done so – washing us not with water, but with the blood of Christ.  May we learn to serve one another in the sincere imitation of Jesus.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/14/17 – And It Is Awesome

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Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. By Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/14/17: And It Is Awesome

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

Where is your favorite place in the world?  What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?  I’ve not traveled that much outside of the United States, but my favorite place is Glacier National Park at the very northwest corner of Montana at the Canadian border.  If you have never been there, you’ve really missed out.  There is a road that winds through the center of the park, starting at the park entrance on the south, and traversing up through the park, over the pass, and down through the southeastern border of the park.  The road is fairly flat for the first few miles, winding along the side of Lake McDonald.  As you drive along, you are struck by the vistas of mountains behind the far end of the lake, and eventually pass along a mountain stream that is gorgeous.  But after a while, you start heading upward through lots of turns and curves, and with every passing moment, a different vista appears to take your breath away.  Just when you think it can’t get any more awe-inspiring…it does.  Finally, at the top of the pass is a visitors center where you can park and even hike up over a ridge to the left of center to Hidden Lake.  And that’s even more beautiful than what you’ve seen so far.  There is a 16-mile stretch of the road that has been called the most beautiful roadway in the world.  Whether that’s true or not, I couldn’t say, but it is the most spectacular and impressive scenery my eyes have beheld.   

We have beautiful sunsets behind the hills to our west.  I love to see the colors of the clouds as the sun dips into the unseen Pacific Ocean – about 20 miles due west of our home.  I love the colors of the vineyards below us in the fall as the leaves turn flaming reds, yellows and oranges.  And perhaps there’s nothing as beautiful to me as the faces of my grandchildren, hand crafted by God.

I know, I know.  As beautiful as the mountains, the ocean, the leaves, the sky are…they are all marred and flawed because they are a part of a fallen world, defaced by our rebellion against our Creator.  What would these things look like if they were still perfect, in an unfallen state?  I can’t imagine.

Yet, when you consider it, God is the only unfallen, perfect, non-flawed thing in the entire Universe.  We get teeny, tiny glimpses of His glory in all the things we see in this world that captivate and capture us with their beauty and awesomeness.  Of course, the place where we see the true glory of God is in the cross and resurrection of Christ.  Jesus himself said that the time of his glory had come on the night before his crucifixion.  As Christians, all of us should be able to echo the words of Bernard of Clairvaux: “I have seen a fraction of God’s glory, and it is awesome.”

PRAYER:  Almighty God, how our hearts long to see You more clearly!  Lift the scales from our eyes that prevent us from seeing Your glory all around us – not just in the mountains, trees and skies, but in the people You have created in Your image.  And may we be better reflections of Your glory to this physical realm.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/13/17 – Neither Do I Condemn You

DayBreaks for 2/13/17: Neither Do I Condemn You

Most readers of DayBreaks are familiar with the story from John 7:53 – 8:11 about the encounter of Jesus with the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. But, in case you’re not, the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus. They wanted Jesus to stone her. Jesus’ reply no doubt took them back a bit: Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. Because of Jesus’ comment, the religious leaders backed off and went away. When you read the story, it is clear that the religious zealots rejected this women and were quick to condemn her. So, what would Jesus do? How will he handle this ticklish situation? Since Jesus knew that her accusers had no right to condemn her (because of their own sins), Jesus turned his attention to the woman after her accusers had left and said five words that must have put her at great ease: Neither do I condemn you.

As a former pastor, I can’t start to tell you how many people I’ve talked with over the years who felt condemned by God. They believed He had turned his back on them because of something they’d done or not done, and the words, “neither do I condemn you” are as foreign to them as someone speaking Martian. Why? Because their view of Christianity is that if you “perform” right, God is for you, and if you don’t, you’re on his “bad” list and you’d better now walk outside for fear of being hit with a lightning bolt.

Think about the story for a minute. Did the woman deserve forgiveness? No. Did she deserve justice? Yes. Did she come groveling to Jesus begging mercy? No! But she found it anyway because that’s what Jesus longs to give to us all. 

Of course, the question will always be raised: “Does this mean we can we can do whatever we want? No, because Jesus followed up his statement to her with “Go and sin no more.” But that doesn’t in any way diminish he extravagant statement of grace and mercy.

Perhaps you are in need of hearing both of those statements from Jesus: “Neither do I condemn you – go, and sin no more.”

Then, when you do sin, as you inevitably will, hold on this promise: 1 John 1:9-10 (ESV): If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Perhaps today you need to hear the voice of Jesus saying, Neither do I condemn you. Why? Romans 8:1 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Do you belong to Jesus? If you do, there is no condemnation and he does not condemn you. Rest in that knowledge!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for this story in Scripture and the hope that it offers to each one of us who need to know that you do not condemn us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

When we think about “the end”, there are probably lots of things that cross your mind.  I think of the blast of the trumpet, I think about what it will be like to actually look up to the heavens and see Jesus for the very first time, surrounded by who-knows-how-many angels, riding on a great white war horse.  I think about what it will be like to see the spirits of the dead popping up from the ground all around.  I think of how I’ll feel – will I know fear, or will my relationship with him be such that there is no fear?  What kind of looks will be on the faces of those who will only for all eternity know him as their judge and not as their Savior?  What kinds of shrieks and cries will fill the air?  Imagine the looks of wonder, shock, joy and dismay that will be seen on people’s faces.

I think about the end of suffering, of pain, disease, death.  I think about not ever having to pay income taxes again, or to never again have to make a house payment (not even on my “mansion” in heaven!)  And I wonder what the One who sits on the throne looks like, I can’t wait to see the four living creatures are like and to hear the sweet music of heaven!

But there’s another thing that will accompany the end that I don’t often think about.  Julian of Norwich put it this way: When the end comes and we are taken for judgment above, we will then clearly understand in God the mysteries that puzzle us now.  Not one of us will think to say, ‘Lord, if it had been some other way, all would be well.’

How many times have I thought God should have done something differently, or in a different way than He has?  Certainly, if He’d only asked me first, I could have told Him a better way than He decided on by Himself!!!!  There are mysteries that deeply trouble me: why we find it so hard to forgive (given the way we have been forgiven by Him!), why we are so quick to judge, why there are tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases, divorces?  Why is there such a thing as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?  Why did He let someone be born only to die within minutes, hours or days?  What purpose do all those things serve, or do they serve any purpose at all?  (I have to believe that they do, or He would not permit them to happen.)  And so, I trust that Julian was right: that the day will come when we will not question God, but will KNOW.  Where we will not accuse Him of choosing the wrong way, for we will see with our own eyes and understand in our own hearts and minds that God did, indeed, choose the best way for everything, and that in the end, “all will be well.”

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, as you know, It is hard to live by faith when we are alive in a world of such brokenness and unanswered questions.  Teach us to trust You, that there is a rhyme and reason to all things, and that in every decision You make, that You have chosen not only wisely, but perfectly.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/09/17 – Theology For an Age of Terror

DayBreaks for 2/09/17: Theology for an Age of Terror

“A day that will live in infamy…”  Those words were spoken by President Roosevelt on December 7, 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The same words were used to describe what happened on September 11, 2001 in New York.  Sometimes, we think that ours is the only generation that has struggled with such things.  Not so.  What may make it seem that way is that we have far better communication than ever before, and we hear about more atrocities and infamous acts.  But if you want to talk about such horrors, a more apt analogy might be August 24, 410, when the city of Rome was besieged and sacked by an army of 40,000 “barbarians” led by (as Christianity Today, September 2006 put it) “the Osama bin Laden of late antiquity, a wily warrior named Alaric.”  The severity of the attack and its aftermath, I’m told, can still be seen in the ruins of the Roman Forum, where the green stains of copper coins that melted into the stone from the conflagrations set by Alaric and his soldiers are still visible.  Prior to that time, Rome was called Invicta Roma Aeterna: eternal, unconquerable Rome.  For more than 800 years the city had not fallen to an attack, and Rome, like America on 9/11/01, was the only superpower in the world.  But in 410, all their military power could not stop the walls from being breached, its women abused and the sacred sites burned. 

One of the ancient church fathers, Jerome (who lived in Bethlehem – far from Rome when it fell) heard about it and it is said that he put aside his Commentary on Ezekiel and sat stupefied in total silence for 3 entire days.  Later, when he wrote to a friend, he said, “Rome was besieged.  The city to which the whole world fell has fallen.  If Rome can perish, what can be safe?”  Augustine, in North Africa, started writing The City of God in response to those who said Rome fell as punishment for what they had done to Christians. 

Living as we, and all other generations from the dawn of time have, in a world that is full of danger, war, destruction and violence, what can we learn that will help us get through such fears and live productive lives?  After all, one of the Christian tenets is that this “is our Father’s world” (even if not all nature seems to sing at times!), and we would be prone to think that God is in control, that a loving God has nothing to do with such things, and that because we are believers, nothing such as what Alaric did to Rome, or the terrorists did to New York, would ever happen to us.  But…but…there were Christians who died on 9/11.  Christian children became fatherless and motherless on that day. 

One of the lessons Augustine would teach us is this: We must not equate any political entity (America, the Republican or Democratic party, the UN, etc.) with the kingdom of God.  Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church – not against any nation.  Here’s a couple of other things we can learn from Augustine:

Just as Rome awaited it’s plunder by Alaric, we need to remember that life is short.  As C.S. Lewis put it during the WW2 blitz on London: “The world is fragile.  All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling.  Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward.  It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty, which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.” 

And Augustine perhaps reminds  us of what we most need to hear: he saw the world with all its politics, culture and institutions as a tottering old man whose days were growing very short: “You are surprised that the world is losing its grip?  That the world is grown old?  Don’t hold onto the old man, the world; don’t refuse to regain your youth in Christ, who says to you: ‘The world is passing away; the world is losing its grip; the world is short of breath.  Don’t fear, your youth shall be renewed as an eagle.”

1 Cor. 7:29-31 (NIV) – What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

PRAYER: Father, from a troubled world we cry out to You!  Hear our pleas, see our fears, teach us Your truth and give us Your peace that we should not be troubled, but trusting.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/07/17 – Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

DayBreaks for 2/07/17: Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

From the blog of Doug Dalrymple (my son!), dated 12/4/06 about his son (my grandson!):

You expect your children to see angels. Fresh and innocent as they are, how could they not see angels, right? You expect them, once sufficiently articulate, to spout forth little bon mots of ageless toddler wisdom that somehow suddenly make clear the ways of God and illumine the labyrinth of the human heart. But, no, children do not leap from their mother’s wombs straight into the full flush of sainthood. In my experience, children are just as likely to misapprehend the faith of their parents as to utter unsolicited spiritual profundities.
I have been equally charmed and horrified by what comes out of the mouth of my three year old son when he decides to talk theology. For instance, while considering a picture of the Crucifixion (with Mary and John standing to either side of Christ), my 3-yeard old son once explained to me that it was St. John himself, and no one else, who had taken up the hammer to nail Jesus’ hands and feet to the wood. A ghastly thought! I gently corrected him and changed the subject lest he say something even worse.
But every now and then something charming does pop out of his curious little mind. Not long ago we were out for a hike with his mother and sister, visiting a little farm tucked away into the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains. We approached a spot where he’d seen a dead lizard the week before. “Papa!” he said, “look – there’s a lizard over here – and it’s dead!” He ran ahead in his excitement, pointing the way. I followed and helped him to scan the ground for the unfortunate reptile. It was gone. “He’s not here anymore – where did he go?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe another animal ate him up,” I suggested. “No…” the boy answered, “but maybe God raised him from the dead!”
“Well…” I hesitated. “I don’t know…but, maybe He did.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We are all to quick to deny God’s miracles.  If we don’t see it, we think it didn’t or couldn’t have happened.  For all we know, God, when no one else was looking, raised that little lizard from the dead.  After all, that’s how He raised His own Son – in the dark of the tomb while no human eyes were watching.  Oh, for the faith of a little child once again!

PRAYER:  Thank you Father for giving to the little ones the eyes to see your wonders and to believe in your miracles.  Give us those kind of eyes, and faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.