DayBreaks for 9/19/18 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me (#???)

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DayBreaks for 9/19/18: Lessons My Dog Taught Me            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

Lesson: It’s important to try to communicate our love as often as possible.

Oftentimes throughout the day (and night!) Casper (my white boxer) comes to wherever I am at and either stands or sits, looking at me with those large, soulful eyes that are characteristic of the breed.  He is totally irresistible when he does that!!!!!  I can’t help myself…I simply MUST respond to him.  I take his head in my hands, stroke his neck, pat the top of his head, rub his back, scratch his chest…and start talking.

What do I say?  Well, since I can’t speak dog, and he can’t speak English, I just speak to him in my own language…I tell him over and over again what a good dog he is, that he’s a good boy, and more often than not, I find myself telling him, “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  I say that over and over and over.  Do you know why?  Because I want to be sure that he KNOWS he is loved and that I’m crazy about him.  Does he understand me?  His soulful eyes leave me wondering if he grasps any of what I’m saying.  I honestly don’t know.  I hope he understands, but regardless, he sure seems to like it!

As I thought about this, I thought about God’s dilemma in trying to tell us how much He loves us.  The analogy isn’t a perfect one, for surely God can communicate in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German or any other language He chooses…but since He doesn’t audibly speak to most of us, He usually communicates His love to us in other ways. 

God’s native language is the language of heaven, while ours is one of the languages of earth.  So God, for thousands of years, attempted to communicate His love to mankind through blessing, through beauty, through a thousand-and-one tender and loving gestures…but we didn’t get it. 

At least, not many got it…until Jesus came and then God could literally take our head in his hands, look us in the eye, and say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should have everlasting life.”  Even in Jesus, God’s gestures were the greatest proof of His love – the cross being pre-eminent among them. 

And, I wonder: how many times a day is God trying to tell me in one way or another “I love you so much!  Do you know how much I love you?”  And I wonder, in the same fashion that I wonder if my dog understands my love for him, if I even begin to grasp the ways and times and depth of God’s love and how He tries to communicate it to me.

This much I do know: I will keep telling Casper how much I love him every day.  God keeps telling me, too, if I only have ears to hear it.  And I need to tell those around me how much I love them – and make sure they understand that God loves them, too!

PRAYER: I thank You, God, for my dog and for love.  I thank You that You never tired of trying to show and tell us how very much we are loved.  Give us ears to hear it and hearts to believe it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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.

DayBreaks for 9/17/18 – Resignation and Acceptance

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DayBreaks for 9/17/18: Resignation and Acceptance

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

I recently read an article by Jill Briscoe that dealt with struggling and troubles in this world.  We often think we have troubles – they seem real enough to us and I don’t mean to disparage any hardship that anyone is going through.  But, by and large, we Americans know very little of trouble compared to the rest of the world.  Sure, we worry about how to make our house payments, but there are countless millions (billions?) in this world who don’t have a house at all.  Our health issues are troubles – no mistake about that.  But at least, we have “modern medicine” available to us while many people must either suffer through their illness alone in order to get well – or they die. 

How do (or should) we deal with difficulties?  Should we just resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll have trouble (just like Jesus said we would)?  Should we accept it, and if so, how?

Resignation and acceptance are two different things.  Some religions are resigned to fate: Hinduism, Buddhism for example.  The Christian, alternatively I believe, is to accept suffering and use it for a greater purpose.  “Resignation is surrender to fate; acceptance is surrender to God,” said Elisabeth Elliot. “Resignation lies down quietly in an empty universe. Acceptance rises up to meet the God who fills that universe with purpose and destiny.…Resignation says, ‘It’s all over for me.’ Acceptance asks, ‘Now that I’m here, Lord, what’s next?’ Resignation says, ‘What a waste.’ Acceptance says, ‘In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord?'”

Who is Elisabeth Elliot?  You probably know: she’s a woman whose husband lay flat on his face, dead in a river with an arrow in his back—martyred for Jesus. What did Elisabeth do? She said, “In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord? I know that my Redeemer lives. He died to make me fit for heaven; he lives to make me fit for earth. Now, what are you going to redeem, buy back, out of this situation?”

Elisabeth Elliot took the hand of her 6-year-old daughter, and Marge Saint, the wife of another martyred missionary, and they walked to that tribe that had killed their husbands.  When they arrived at the jungle village, they weren’t killed; they were accepted. They proceeded to translate the Bible into the language of the tribe, and the whole tribe came to Christ.

At age 17, Marge Saint’s little girl, Kathy, told the story of that day and more. She said, “I remember at 15, I stood in the river where my father had died, and I was baptized by the man who killed him. That man is now the pastor of that tribe.” 

Would the Elliot’s and Saint’s have asked for the troubles that life brought their way?  Absolutely not.  Yet they did accept it – they didn’t give up in resignation and say, “Oh, well.  I guess this wasn’t meant to be.”  In the loss and turmoil, they sought some way that God would turn their tragedy into something purposeful. 

When we are faced with difficulties, don’t just resign yourself to the hardship.  Seek to see and understand how God can use it in a redemptive way and create something beautiful and eternal out of it. 

PRAYER: Father, we don’t understand all that happens to us here, and we don’t like much of what happens.  Keep us from bitterness.  Open our hearts to Your divine redemptive purposes in what takes place and show us Your glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 09/14/18 – A Shaken Soul

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DayBreaks for 9/14/18: A Shaken Soul

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card, From the Studio:

(Peter) went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”  Acts 10: 27-28 NRSV

“Jesus can make anyone clean, even the last person on earth Peter would expect to be clean: a Roman soldier, [possibly] one of the very ones who had crucified Jesus.  What an earthquake in Peter’s soul!  It was direct assault on his most basic beliefs.  But Jesus had come to shatter and redefine everything.  Certainly it is a shattered Simon who makes his way, for the first time in his life, into a Gentile dwelling.  He will find there men and women like himself who want nothing less than to eat the true bread of heaven.  People who, though they live in darkness, have nonetheless seen a great Light!

“The crowd Peter would have crossed the street to avoid, would have denied meal fellowship with, seems now bathed in a new light.  He sees bright eyes and hungry faces. He looks out at men and women, boys and girls who will suffer every bit as much as he will in the years to come for their allegiance to Jesus. He looks out on brothers and sisters.”

Galen’s Thoughts: how would you and I have reacted if we had the chance to preach the gospel to the crucifixion detail that crucified Christ?  How would you and I have reacted if invited to preach to the high priest and scribes who had Him arrested, beaten, spit on and condemned?  Would we have done it, or would we have pulled back in revulsion?

Each one of us knows someone that we just find, well…repulsive.  Someone who has done something so heinous either to ourselves or to someone we loved, that we can’t even stand the thought of being near them.  Would you share the gospel with them?  If not, why not?  Do you believe that’s how Jesus would have acted?

Let us remember that we’re not called to go into all the world and preach the gospel only to those who are fine, upstanding citizens and likeable folk.  For the most part, those people didn’t listen to Jesus (in fact, it was the upstanding citizens of Judea who had him arrested and put to death).  The repulsive – those with leprosy, the lame and mute (who everyone believed were sinners or they wouldn’t have had those ailments – even the dead and the sick of many stripes and colors, were the ones who listened to Jesus and responded to him.  If we want to fulfill the great commission, we must carry the gospel to everyone – everyone – even the Hitler’s, bin Laden’s, Pol Pot’s and mass murdering rapists.  That’s our job.  How they respond is their choice.  God won’t ask us if we convinced them – but will ask only if we “went” in obedience to the command. 

PRAYER: Keep us from prejudice and pride that might lead us to not share the good news with those who are most eager to receive it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/13/18 – The Perfect Prayer

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DayBreaks for 9/13/18: The Perfect Prayer

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card’s From the Studio, 7/27/08

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Luke 18:35-37

“Years ago I wrote lyrics to a song about the Lord’s Prayer.  The title was “The Perfect Prayer”.  It is perfect simply because Jesus himself spoke it.  But there is at least one other perfect prayer in the Gospels and we find it here.  “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

“We must see this story from a first-century perspective.  Everyone would have believed that the man was blind because he had done something to deserve it.  Obviously he had sinned, and sinners do not deserve anything.  When we understand this, we begin to see that the disciples in the front of the crowd were perfectly justified in trying to shut the man up.”

We have all sat in churches and listened to long-winded prayers.  I sometimes believe that people believe they will be heard for their many words.  And there are times when many words may be appropriate and called for.  But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if they are praying from the heart so that God hears, or if they are praying so that others will hear their “skill” at praying and be amazed and think “How righteous So-and-so must be to be able to pray like that!” 

If you’ve ever prayed out loud, you know what the temptation is like to try to impress with the prayer.  Even those who refuse to pray out loud often refuse because they think (or say) that they can’t pray “well enough.”  What does that mean?  They don’t pray well enough for whom? 

Praying well enough was never an issue with Jesus.  Praying was.  It is true, the man was a sinner, and it is true that sinners deserve nothing – at least nothing good.  What we have earned by our sinning is death (Rom. 6:23) and nothing more. 

But the amazing thing about Jesus, about the good-news gospel, is that Jesus hears prayers of desperation from hearts that are genuine.  They don’t have to be fancy, they don’t have to be long.  Whenever we pray, we might be wise to limit our prayer to those seven little words, none longer than 5 letters long: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And remember: Jesus seems to delight in lavishing his attention on the undeserving – not those with fancy phrases.

PRAYER: Have mercy on us sinners, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.

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.