DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary

DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary

“It’s just a temporary condition.  You’ll feel better in a few days.”  Those are comforting words when they come from our doctor or dentist, are they not?  Temporary, meaning that it will not last long.  It’s a passing thing. 

“It’s just a temporary setback.  We’ll get back on track soon.”  Those words are often spoken in the business world or even in a military setting when something bad has happened and we want to put on a good face and try to be encouraging to others who may really be upset and disturbed by the goings-on.  In that case, it’s meant to be a comforting word.

But there are things that we don’t want to be temporary: enjoying beauty, enjoying the love of a spouse, children and grandchildren.  We don’t want the mountain-top experiences of life to be temporary things – like fleeting shadows that are here for a moment or two and then gone.  There’s nothing comforting about hearing that someone’s love for you is temporary.  We want it to be permanent – lasting, a forever-thing. 

Isn’t it strange how we spend so much of our life’s energy chasing after temporary things?  Can you imagine how our lives would be if we spent our time, money, energy and spirits on pursing permanent things?  In his books, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg described an incident where a speaker stood in front of a large group of people.  He had a roll of stickers in his hand.  Behind him on the platform were all kinds of objects – tables filled with things from our lives – computers, dollhouses, desks, a Matchbox car, pots and pans, etc.  The speaker began to roam around the stage, placing red stickers on everything.  He explained to the crowd what he was doing: although they couldn’t see it from their vantage point, each sticker had the same word on it: TEMPORARY.  He said, “Everything that I’m putting a sticker on is temporary.  It will not last.  It will fade away.  We invest our emotions in them be3cause when we acquire it, it gives us a little thrill.  And we think the thrill will last.  But it does not.  It fades.  And eventually, so will what we acquire. 

“If you are living for what you see up here, then you are living for what is temporary.  Temporary satisfaction, temporary fulfillment, temporary meaning.  It will come to an end – but you never will.  It will leave you with a terrible emptiness.”

Wouldn’t it be easier to make better decisions in life if the things we pursue in this world all had that red sticker on them to remind us that they are temporary?  I have to think we might make different choices – at least some of the time. 

Later, the speaker did one more thing.  First, he said, “There is only one thing in this room that is not temporary.  There is only one item that you will be allowed to take with you from this life into the next.”  With that, he invited a little girl to join him on the stage, and he put a blue sticker on the collar of her dress.  “When you get to the end of your life and take in your last breath, what do you want your life to have been about.  What will make it rich in the eyes of God?”  The answer was obvious: people. 

Are you wise?  Are you building your life around temporary things or permanent, eternal things?  The next time you’re tempted to invest in something (large or small), try to picture the sticker – is it imprinted with “Temporary” or “Eternal”?

PRAYER:  Give us wisdom to see things as temporary, yet to see the people we encounter every day as eternal.  Please remind us of how we should invest our lives, and what we should invest them in.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/19/17 – The Marriage Simulator

DayBreaks for 10/19/17: The Marriage Simulator

Do you know how pilots and astronauts train? They have simulators that seek to create various scenarios that could come up during a flight/mission so that they know how to counter any bad things that might happen.

You may have played with a flight simulator game on your computer or even been fortunate enough to sit in a real flight simulator and “play”. For those of us who aren’t pilots and who will never be astronauts, it may be great fun, but for real pilots and astronauts, there are those who say that the simulators are perhaps the most stressful part of their job. Why? Because they are committed to their careers as pilots and astronauts. They know that if they crash and burn in a simulation that it could happen in real life. For me, if I crash in a simulation game, I simply shrug it off and start the game over. To me, it’s just mindless entertainment without consequences. Not so for real pilots. I can see why it would be stressful for them!

I read a great blog post today about those who think that co-habitation before marriage can prevent a divorce. On the surface, it seems to make some sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it like being in a “marriage simulator”? After all, you’re living with the person just as if you were married!

Except it’s not just like you’re married. Not at all. Why? Because those who cohabit don’t have the commitment to a marriage – just like I don’t have a commitment to a flight simulator. Instead of trying to figure out what they must do or change in order to be able to stay, those who simply live together before marriage are much more likely to think, “What can I do to get out?” when things get tough, as they inevitably will.

The average cohabitation is 18 months. Sadly, during that time, many have children as if they were married. Those kids are more likely to have their parents break up before they are 5 years of age than those who are in a committed marriage relationship.

Marriage isn’t a simulation or game, and cohabitation isn’t likely to last without that commitment. And one more thing: couples who never go to church are twice as likely to divorce as those who attend regularly. You see, it’s about commitment, folks: commitment to your spouse and to your faith. And that is the glue that holds people together.

(Here’s the link to the blog which also has a list of 16 key questions that co-habitors versus marrieds are likely to answer differently.)

PRAYER: Lord, in our foolishness we have come to believe things that sound exciting and fun instead of true. Help us discern truth about our marriages and our relationships! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/18/17 – Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

DayBreaks for 10/18/17: Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

It was a burning question when I was in my teens and early twenties.  It is a burning question today.  It seems that Christians, rightly so, are interesting in understanding how to know God’s will and to hear His voice giving direction.  I imagine that it has been a question that has been asked by God’s people from immediately after the Garden of Eden onward, and it will continue to be asked until we literally hear His voice at the end of time.

It’s a question that gets asked in a lot of different ways: “How do I know what God wants me to do?”  “Why doesn’t God seem to speak to me?”  “Why hasn’t God given me any direction about this matter?”  Sometimes it comes more from Christians as a request to me (as a pastor) to tell someone what they should do!

I must admit that I don’t always know what to say.  I know God is more than capable of giving direction – and I believe He does it all the time.  I think the problem lies not with Him and His ability to communicate, but in our ability and willingness to hear.

If you’re trying to discern God’s will about something in particular right now, I’m going to venture out into a generality here that may or may not apply to your situation.  But I think that there is truth in what I’m going to say.

But, before I say it, let me make an observation.  Many times when I have people come to me asking for advice about what to do, I try my best to help them.  But here’s something that I’ve noticed many times: these people are often involved in some kind of questionable, or even sinful, activity – yet they are seeking the blessing of God’s guidance.  I try to share something from Scripture with them about what they may be doing.  More often than not, they don’t want to hear that, they just want an answer for what to do with the dilemma they are facing or the guilt they are feeling.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard wrote: “Anyone who rejects the general counsels of Scripture is in fact planning not to be guided by God and cannot then rely on being able to be delivered from their difficulties by obtaining God’s input on particular occasions.”

Are you struggling to find God’s guidance?  Perhaps it is because you are rejecting the general counsel of Scripture.  I think Willard is right: when we reject Scripture, we’ve already declared our intention to God to not follow His guidance.  And that’s a very dangerous ground to walk on!

PRAYER:  Incline our hearts and ears to hear and obey Your word, Lord, even when it carries a message that we’d rather not hear!  Help us resolve to be open to Your guidance and correction so that we can hear Your voice in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/17/17 – A Worldwide Competition

DayBreaks for 10/17/17: A Worldwide Competition

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

We’re fond of talking about winning a world championship when it comes to our sports here in the United States.  We tend to assume that anything we do in the sports world is better than anything anyone else can do anywhere else in the world.  Consider: it’s almost time for the October Classic – otherwise known as the World Series.  But think about that?  How can it be the “World Series” when only teams from the United States and a few Canadian teams are involved?  What about all the baseball played in the Caribbean, in Japan, or other places around the world?  “Sure,” I can hear you say, “but they’re not as good as American teams.”  I don’t know – that may be true.  But remember – we felt that way about our National Basketball League players who were defeated in a few past Olympics.  So much for the assumption that we just naturally the best, the world champions.

Then, of course, there are folks like my wife.  I love her dearly, and over the years we’ve been married, we’ve developed some similar tendencies, but we’re also very different people.  In some things, I LOVE competition.  In anything, she HATES it.  When you’re dealing with an area that I know something about and have some skills developed, I don’t mind competing – at least as long as the competition is friendly.  But, take me out of my comfort zone, or put me in an arena where I don’t know the competitors or spectators, and I may tend to withdraw out of fear of failure.  Fear of failure probably keeps more people from competitive activities than anything else.  We don’t want to look stupid or to embarrass ourselves.

In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard describes a conference he attended, when someone asked him what was the human issue that Jesus came to address (as opposed to theological issue, I suppose).  He answered: “Jesus came to respond to the universal human need to know how to live well.  He came to show us how through reliance on him we can best live in the universe as it really is.  That is why he said, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn. 10:10).  His supremacy lies in the greatness of the life he gives to us.  Putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition with all known alternatives is the only way we can give our faith a chance to prove his power over the whole of life.”

I must confess, I’d never thought about “putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition” before.  But stop and think about it for a minute.  Why are we afraid of putting Jesus front and center into the marketplace of thought and ideas and belief systems that are targeted at helping people live better lives?  Could it be because we are projecting our fears of failure on Him?  That we’re afraid that when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, that He somehow won’t pass the test?  That the life He tries to teach us to live isn’t perhaps the best life that there could possibly be? 

I fear that we let our fears keep us from putting Christ into a competition with anything that the world has to offer.  We are to “contend earnestly for the faith” – contending is a term from warfare and from competition.  Are we afraid that Christ will somehow fail to win in a competition against lies, deceit and falsehood?  It won’t happen.

How can you put Jesus front and center on the stage of the world in which you live?

PRAYER: Father, help us to have full and complete faith and trust in You.  Help us to not project fears about our failures onto Your ability to contend for the hearts and minds of those who don’t know You.  Give us spirits of boldness and courage to carry Your name with us wherever we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/16/17 – Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

DayBreaks for 10/16/17: Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

One of the things I like best about the New Testament is that it is so practical. It must have been the fact that Jesus had human beings called disciples always with him that forced him to speak in such everyday terms about everyday problems. Sometimes Christians disagree in the congregation of believers. Sometimes they quarrel. Sometimes they hold grudges against each other. The Scripture for today says that we must never tolerate any situation in which there is a breach of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community.

In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus admits that disciples are going to have conflicts; but they are to resolve them.

It is very true today that the behavior of us church members on this very issue makes Christianity to the outside world either repulsive or attractive.

It isn’t a matter that Christians are perfect and will not have conflicts. There will always be quarrels, differences of opinion on how and who, disappointments with preachers and councils, hurt feelings, bent pride, loss of face, and lots of mistakes. It’s the idea that Christians can resolve these conflicts as no other fellowship can, that Jesus puts before us today.

Comus, a Duke of Florence, had a saying that indicated the limitations of his religion: “You shall read that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.” Isn’t that interesting? I think that sometimes it is harder to forgive our friends than it is our enemies because we expect better treatment from our friends to start with. Enemies we expect to take advantage and betray us, but not our friends. So it is doubly hard to forgive them – including our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We hear a lot from the pulpit talking about how Christians are admonished by Jesus Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their enemies. When in actuality, right there in the pew side by side are Christians who hold grudges, hang on to petty hurts, refuse to forgive and love each other within the fellowship. And when they do this, church and Christianity and the whole practice of religion for them is not the joyful experience it ought to be. They miss a large dimension of belonging to God’s family.

Have you forgiven your friends, your brothers and sisters? I don’t believe that the excuse, “You never said we had to forgive our friends!” will hold water, do you?

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to have the heart that you have shown for all mankind, and be quick and ready to forgive – enemies and friends alike, so we can be like you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/13/17 – Living in Spite House

A Spite House in Boston, MA

DayBreaks for 10/13/17: Living in Spite House

There once was a millionaire who owned a lot in an exclusive residential area of New York City. This particular lot presented a very unusual problem. The lot was five feet wide and about a hundred feet long. He couldn’t do anything with such an odd sized lot, so he decided to sell it one of the neighbors on either side. But when he went to the neighbors, they didn’t want to give him anything for it. They basically said, “Look, you can’t build on it and you can’t sell it to anyone else. So take our offer or leave it.” The millionaire was so angered by their refusal and rebuttal that he decided to get even.

He hired an architect and a contractor, and had a house designed for that weird shaped lot. It was five feet wide and ran the entire length of the property. He moved in and set up house in this narrow house. Each room was barely wide enough for a single piece of furniture. His hatred for the people on either side of this small lot made him decide to ruin the look of the entire area.

The neighbors complained that it was a blight to the neighborhood. But the city fathers couldn’t find any code forbidding it. This millionaire moved into it, and lived there the rest of his life. The only one who was really punished was him. He moved into a long narrow little house that held only hate and discomfort. The house became known throughout the neighborhood as “Spite House.” It still stands to this day as a monument to one man’s hatred.

When I heard this story, I thought, surely this is an exaggeration. So, I did some checking and not only did I learn it was true, but what was even more shocking is the fact that there are at least twelve “Spite Houses” to be found in a simple search online.

There’s one in Carlsbad, New Mexico, built to block the Mayor’s view and annoy him. There are two in San Francisco; One at Deadman’s Point, Maine; one in Huntsville, Alabama; one in Boston, one that is supposed to be haunted and has been turned into a Bed & Breakfast in Fredrick, Maryland; and a triangle shaped “Spite House” in Montlake, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Isn’t that silly?

But here’s the question: are you living in a “spite house”? If so, confess it, move out and never go back again!

PRAYER: Jesus, protect us from the heart of bitterness and spite! Let us be bigger and better people than to erect houses of spite against those around us! Keep us from this ugliness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/12/17 – A Kingdom of Power???

DayBreaks for 10/12/17: A Kingdom of Power?

Mark 9:1 (ESV) – And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

So, after you read the saying of Jesus in today’s verse, what do you think about the kingdom? Jesus said that there would be those present who heard his words first-hand who would not die until after the kingdom came with power.

Look around you. Does it seem to you that the kingdom has come with power? Does it seem to you that people are acting out and living according to kingdom principles and truth?

When you look at the death and destruction from recent hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, the Las Vegas massacre, the fires in northern California that are like hell itself has been released on earth…does it seem to you that the kingdom has come with power? It sure doesn’t seem so, does it?

But, if we come to that conclusion, we would have to say that Jesus was either mistaken and didn’t know what he was talking about, or he’s a liar. I’m not willing to take either of those positions.

So, how can we explain it? A couple of thoughts come to mind:

FIRST: given the inclination of the human heart to sin and depravity, how can the fact that we don’t all kill, steal, rape and otherwise do the most horrible things be explained? I think some of it is because of the influence of the Spirit at work in creation. All I really have to do is consider my own darkest impulses and the fact that I don’t give in to them somehow is a testimony to the power of the Spirit in my life (not that I’m bragging, I’m just saying that it is only because of the power of the Spirit unleashed in my own heart that I don’t do all those bad things) and I have to say there is some power at work. Imagine what you might do if not for the restraining power of faith and the Spirit at work in you.

SECOND: how many believers have there been since the founding of Christianity? The number must be in the billions, in fact, Google says that in 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with 2.2 billion adherents. How does that happen if not by immense power?!! Scripture is pretty clear that left to our own, we can’t even come to faith.

The kingdom has come with power: power to change individual hearts, power to lead 2.2+ billion to faith in our present age, power to restrain evil individually and culturally. Yes, there is still great evil in the world, but what would the world be like without the kingdom? I shudder to even contemplate the thought!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the Spirit and the power that is working in the world and in my own heart. May the power of the kingdom grow and expand in me, in my loved ones, in your church and in this world for your immense glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.