DayBreaks for 12/06/19 – Which One is Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 12/06/19: Which One is Crazy?

There are plenty of people in this world who think that Christians are a bunch of crazies who should be put into a looney bin.  I can understand that point of view, actually.  There is plenty in the Good Book that seems crazy when you stop to think about it.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t true – in fact, it is actually an indicator of the truth of the story.  No one would have made up these kind of crazy things: people past childbearing holding their toddlers on their knees, a big boat that saved the human race, young boys felling giants with one projectile, people receiving sight, a virgin birth, the dead being raised.  It’s pretty wild stuff, and I for one can totally understand how unbelievers think we may be nice people by and large, but that we’re not playing with a full deck.

Surprisingly, some Christians think other Christians are crazy, too.  This is usually a label that one believer gives to another when the recipient of the label takes the Word at face value and tries with all their power to live out what they believe to be true.  One might call it fanaticism, another craziness.  Either way, it’s sad that we should ever think someone is crazy for trying to live out the Word as they feel led to do by the Spirit.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan describes the dilemma when talking about how his family, led by their convictions, moved into a house half the size of their previous home so that they would have more money to give to the Lord’s work and more time as well.  The cynics said he was crazy.  Francis’ response to them was: “…in the context of eternity…am I the crazy one for selling my house?  Or are you for not giving more, serving more, being with your Creator more?  If one person ‘wastes’ away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one?  If one person invests her or his resources in the poor – which according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself – and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on this earth, who is the crazy one?

When people gladly sacrifice their time or comfort or home, it is obvious that they trust in the promises of God.  Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense?  Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is?  The way it should be?

“Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.  A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.  As Martin Luther put it, ‘There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day.”  (Lk. 14:25-35; Mt. 7:13-23, 8:18-22; Rev. 3:1-6)

How crazy are you?

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to do crazy things in the eyes of the world, but which are truly reflections of trust in Your promises.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/05/19 -This Is God’s Love

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DayBreaks for 12/05/19: This is God’s Love

Yesterday I wrote about loving Jesus.  It’s something that I’m working on…and I hope I will never stop working on it.  We don’t have to love Him from afar, you know.  He is within us by the Spirit, closer than our own next breath.  I know my love for Him will never be perfect in this world for there will always be siren songs to lure my heart to other shores that would shipwreck my life if I listen to them.  I am so thankful that He is so patient and is helping me to learn to love Him more as time passes.

So much for human love.  It was Frederick Beuchner, writing in The Magnificent Defeat, who probed the nature of human and Divine love.  “The love for equals is a human thing – of friend for friend, brother for brother.  It is to love what is loving and lovely.  The world smiles.  The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing – the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely.  This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.  The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing – to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man.  The world is always bewildered by its saints.  And then there is the love for the enemy – love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain.  The tortured’s love for the torturer.  This is God’s love.  It conquers the world.

We might be tempted to think that we are the tortured – and that God is the Cosmic Torturer.  Isn’t that the logical conclusion of those who blame God for all the pain and suffering not only in the world but in their own lives?  It’s God’s fault that the earth shook beneath Sumatra and a hundred thousand died.  It’s God’s fault that Katrina killed 1300 in Louisiana and the gulf coast.  It’s God’s fault that a husband or wife or child got cancer.  God is a torturer of poor and helpless beings He created – and who knows why?  That’s the way many see God.

The truth is that God didn’t do any of those things.  The truth is that God is indeed the Tortured – not the torturer, and mankind is the torturer – not the tortured.  We tortured Christ on the cross.  We torture the loving heart of God with our actions that betray Him.  We are clearly the torturers – and yet, God’s love is that of the tortured for those who are torturing Him, even today.

Will God’s love conquer the world in the long run?  Yes.  We have His word on it.  Saint Paul said that there would be three things that remain when it is all said and done: faith, hope and love – with love being the greatest of the three.  The world won’t survive – at least not in the form it presently exists – but the love of God goes on forever and from which we can never be separated (Rom. 8:39).

PRAYER: Merciful and loving Father, thank You for loving us even as we have driven nails into Your hands and feet, spears into Your side, and daggers of pain into Your loving heart.  Have mercy on us and thank You for Your unending love.  May we come to love the world with the same love You have given to us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/04/19 – If Jesus Were Not There

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DayBreaks for 12/04/19: If Jesus Were Not There

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE Lord YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38 (NASB)

If you have been a Christian for even a short time, chances are you know this verse well.  It is, I suppose, the single greatest thing that we are to try to do with our life: learn to love God desperately.

Can you remember when you were first falling in love with someone?  I do.  I can never forget the sickness in my stomach and heart at parting from my beloved wife-to-be.  I literally ached inside my chest when I saw her turn her back to go into her home at night, or when she left me to get in her car to drive back to her college.  It was hard to breathe, hard to want to do anything except see her again.  We’d write letters nearly every day, we’d call and talk on the phone nearly every day.  (I never asked my folks about how much the phone bill was, even though our calls were long distance – and to their great credit, they never mentioned it to me, either!)  Love hurts.  But what a wonderful hurting it is!

Jesus statement takes on a new dimension when I think about it compared to the love of my life and how we were when we were falling in love.  In Christian circles we are expected to say, “I love Jesus!” – and we should love him, no doubt.  But while it is one thing to say it, it is another thing entirely to really love Him.  The author, John Piper, in God is the Gospel, confronts us and challenges us to think about whether or not we are truly in love with God.  If you are squeamish, you may not want to read what he had to say: “The critical question for our generation – and for every generation- is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

Worth pondering, don’t you think?  I’m not sure how I would answer that question at times.  All of the things that Piper said are things we all love and long for.  It’s harder to love someone you’ve never seen.  It’s hard to love someone who lived 2000 years ago.  Admire them?  Yes.  Want to emulate them?  Certainly.  But love them? 

I want to be able to say that heaven will be nothing, that all those things we could have as Piper described them, would not be nearly enough if Christ was not there.  The point is: Christ is what makes heaven worthwhile.  It won’t be all those other things.  Sure, they’ll be great, but they won’t even qualify as icing on the cake. 

May we learn to love Jesus more than all other things that we might love combined.

PRAYER: Jesus, we aren’t omniscient like you.  You see us – but we’ve never set eyes upon you.  It is hard to love someone from afar.  Help us to draw close to you, to love you more than anything and everything else for you will be our greatest joy in heaven.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/03/19 – The Three Advents

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DayBreaks for 12/03/19: The Three Advents

This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and churches around the globe observed the meaning of Advent.

Most people tell you that Advent simply means “coming”. More properly, it means “coming to”. In other words, there’s a purpose to it and it isn’t us who do the coming, but Jesus who “comes to” us.

Sunday, we celebrated the first advent: his coming as a babe in the Incarnation. There is a second advent that remains in the future when Christ will come again.

But there is also a sense of a third advent, which is the way Christ comes to us daily, or at least desires to.

What do I mean? Here’s a few ways that Christ can come to us daily:

  • Through his Spirit to comfort us;
  • Through his Spirit to convict us;
  • Through his Spirit to guide and counsel us;
  • Through his Word;
  • Through the wonder of his creation;
  • Through the beauty of musical worship;
  • Through an opportunity to bless someone;
  • Through people around us – including in a disguise as someone who needs help along life’s pathway.

I’m sure there are other ways, too. People longed for the first Advent – all you have to do is read some of the Old Testament to see how the Jews longed for the Messiah to arrive.

People long for the second Advent when pain and tears and death will be no more.

But how many of us long for and prepare daily for the third Advent? It is one thing to say we do, but what evidence is there that we’re really wanting him to come to us? Are you in the word daily? How might you have encountered him today in the form of a homeless person (remember, Jesus was a homeless man)? During this time of celebrating the first Advent and our longing for the second Advent, let’s not lose sight of our need for Jesus’ arrival each and every day in our hearts.

PRAYER: Prepare us to greet you not just when you return again, but tomorrow and each day afterward. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/02/19 – Liberating Restrictions

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DayBreaks for 12/02/19: Liberating Restrictions

How do you feel deep down inside, about rules?  Do you like them?  If so, under what conditions?  You may like rules that you have for your kids that keep them orderly and under control so that the decibel level in your home isn’t higher than that of an F-18 taking off, but resent rules when they are applied to you at work or in the home or through a neighborhood association or a church.  We do love our freedoms!  And that isn’t bad.

There is a common misperception about Christianity – that it is a religion that is like a straight jacket – bound around us so tightly that we cannot move or scarcely breathe.  Not a very pretty or attractive picture, is it?  Yet it is real and it is yet another reason that many refuse to yield to the Spirit’s call to come to the cross and find the freedom that is real freedom that comes only through Christ.

How would you answer those who say that Christianity is nothing but a set of rules intended to subjugate and keep people from having “fun” and a good life?  I liked the illustration Timothy Keller gives in The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism: “Disciplines and constraints, then, liberate us only when they fit with the reality of our nature and capacities.  A fish, because it absorbs oxygen from the water rather than air, is only free if it is restricted and limited to water.  If we put it out on the grass, its freedom to move and even live is not enhanced but destroyed.  The fish dies if we do not honor the reality of its nature.  In many areas of life, freedom is not so much the absence of restrictions as finding the right ones, the liberating restrictions.”

Well put.  The fish was designed to be free to move, swim and live in the water.  It’s the only place it can truly be free – in any other environment it will quickly die.  As humans, made in the image of God, we were designed to live in a certain way, too.  And we are only truly free when we find the Way we were meant to live and then remain in that way. 

Throughout the centuries, people have tried many, many things in order to find freedom from demons that haunt them and emotions that eat away at the soul.  The “way” of life in the gospels is the way we find true life.  They are not restrictions that limit and repress, they are liberating restrictions that frees us to rise up on wings like eagles!

PRAYER: Help us to not long for what we are not meant to have or for ways we are not meant to live!  Thank You, Lord, for the restrictions that free us and keep us from the restrictions that would bind and kill.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/29/19 – It Is for Us

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DayBreaks for 11/29/19: It Is for Us

A real woman named Joy teaches underprivileged children in an inner city church.  Her class is a lively group of 9-yr-olds who love life and aren’t in the least afraid of God.  But there is an exception – a timid, withdrawn girl named Barbara. 

Her difficult home life had left her afraid and insecure.  For the weeks that Joy was teaching the class, Barbara never said a word.  Not once.  The other kids sang, talked, giggled and laughed.  Not Barbara.  She was silent.  Always there, always listening, always speechless.

Then one day Joy taught a lesson about heaven.  Joy talked about seeing God and about eyes that would never fill with tears and lives that would never come to an end.  Barbara sat fascinated, never taking her eyes off Joy.  She listened hungrily, taking it all in.  Then she raised her hand, and in her tiny voice said, “Mrs. Joy?”  Joy almost fell over.  Barbara had never said anything.  “Yes, Barbara?”  Then little Barbara let it out: “Is heaven for girls like me?” 

Oh, I would have loved to see Jesus’ face when this little girl’s tiny question reached his ears!!!  This was like a desperate prayer that a good God somewhere in heaven would remember a forgotten soul somewhere on earth.  It was a hope that God’s grace would seep into the cracks of Barbara’s life and bathe her in the grace the church and her family had failed to give her.  It was a voice wondering if this God could take a life that no one else could use or seemed to want, and to use it as nobody else could.  It was a plea for God to do what He does best: to take the ordinary and dull and unspectacular and make it sparkle and shine and be supernaturally extraordinary and special.  It’s hoping that what God did when he parted the Red Sea would happen again, that God who used a stone to drop the giant Goliath, or that he who could turn the water into the finest wine could take little Barbara and see her safely to heaven.  Would the God who fed 5000 with a boy’s box lunch do something for her?  Would he take three spikes and a wooden beam and make them the hope of all humanity – including Barbara?  Would God take this rejected little girl and make her feel precious?  (Adapted from Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters)

The answer to those questions are all answered: “Yes!”  God would and did do something for this little girl who so desperately wanted God’s heaven.  “Yes!” God did take 3 nails and a wooden cross and instead of a monument to bloody and excruciating death make them into a symbol of life cleansed and set free.  “Yes!” God can take this little girl, and thousands like her – male and female alike – and whisper into their ear who very precious they are.

One more: “Yes!” No matter what your home life has been like, no matter how difficult your life experience may be – God answers, “Yes!  Heaven is a place for people JUST LIKE YOU!”

Won’t you accept the gift He offers you?  It’s free for the taking.

PRAYER: Thank You for making heaven a place for people like us – sinners all, redeemed ONLY by the blood of the Lamb!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/28/19 – The Blessings of Darkness, #3

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DayBreaks for 11/28/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #3

The two Psalms in scripture that have not a single ray of light or hope are Psalm 39 and 88. And while you may think it is strange to be talking about this topic on Thanksgiving, let me assure you that it is very, very appropriate.

In Psalm 39, the writer concludes that God has turned his face away from the sufferer. This is about the worst thing that an ancient Jew could have imagined. The implication is that God no longer sees because he no longer cares.

In Psalm 88, the writer concludes that darkness is his only friend, the only companion that is still with him – not even God is nearby. God couldn’t find him if he tried because the darkness is all there is.

It is interesting that these two Psalms are in Scripture, but they are prophetic. It would be Jesus who would cry out that God had turned his face away and forsaken him on the cross. And it was that same Jesus who would be swallowed up by the darkness that covered the earth during his crucifixion, but more so the darkness of our sin he took upon us and the darkness of the sealed tomb.

Jesus knows the darkness, too. He didn’t only know the blazing glory of heaven, but the darkest darkness of the entire world as he bore the sins of the entire world.

But the story doesn’t end in darkness, does it! The One who suffered that darkness revealed to us the faithfulness of God, the one we might accuse of our misfortune and the world of blackness that swallows us up. He rose in glory like the sun and he is the reminder to us that no matter how dark our darkness may be on this Thanksgiving – or at any other time in our lives – that God sees things through to the Light and will bring us even out of the darkness of the tomb into His eternal Light!

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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