DayBreaks for 3/22/18 – There Was No One There

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18: There Was No One There

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Have you ever felt absolutely and totally alone?  I am not the kind of person who minds being alone – in fact, I rather enjoy it…most of the time.  But when I worked in high tech, I traveled a lot and there were many times when I’d go to a strange city (or even a strange country) and loneliness would settle over my soul like a shroud.  There are many places where loneliness raises its head and comes to sit next to you.  Once it arrives, it tends to stay.

Some of the loneliest places I’ve been read like a list of places most folks would like to visit: Ireland, Sao Paulo, London, and in America, Mississippi and Alabama.  I don’t know why I felt so alone here in the US, but when you’re in a foreign country (even one like Ireland or England that speaks my native tongue) you can feel desperately alone.  Without my family, my wife, my dogs or friends, loneliness haunts like a spectre.  The more foreign, the greater the haunting.

The story of Gethsemane is one of the most painful stories for me to read in the entire collection of Scripture, and having been there, is even more painful to me.  It appears to be the time of Jesus’ greatest loneliness, with perhaps the exception of the cry of dereliction from the cross itself.  Anticipation of agony is oft times worse than the pain we anticipate.  I wonder if it was that way for Jesus.

In his novel, More Like Not Running Away, Paul Shepherd wrote: “I’d always known, in one place in my throat, how Jesus must have cried in the garden—crying not to die, because there was no fear of death, and not to leave his friends, because he walked alone, and not to suffer, because the blood and bruises and thorns were part of his perfection—but crying because he could not find his Father’s face, because when he would suffer all that he could bear, the pain of every person, living and dead, in that dark moment, there was really nobody there.”

Jesus truly had no peers to swap celestial stories with.  He had no one on the planet who understood what he faced just in a matter of hours.  There was no one else who truly understood the weight of the world’s sin as it came and settled on him like a hot blanket on that Palestinian night.  If ever anyone was in a foreign land, it was Jesus.  If ever anyone found “there was really no one there,” surely it was He.  “We esteemed him smitten by God…” 

For all who have ever felt loneliness, for all who have ever felt that there was “no one there,” take heart in knowing that Jesus has been to that desolate place before you.  And no matter how alone he felt at the moment he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, he soon proclaimed with great confidence: “Into Your hands I commit my spirit!”  In the midst of his massively heavy aloneness, He still had confidence in the Father He knew and loved, and was supremely confident that the Father saw and loved Him and would not ultimately let His Holy One be abandoned. 

Dare we hope for the same assurance?  Absolutely, for His Father is our Father and is unchanging.

PRAYER: Fill our loneliness with the confidence of Jesus that we may, in childlike trust and faith, abandon ourselves into Your hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 3/21/18 – Without a Doubt

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18: Without a Doubt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

How strange are the mysteries of God!  To paraphrase: “If you want to find your life, you must lose it.”  Or, “He that is the greatest shall be the least among you.”  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Certainly, perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of the universe was when God declared, My ways are not your ways, nor my thought like your thoughts.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. 

It seems strange that in dying, death was defeated.  Christ took death in both of his arms and pulled it into his mortal body, and in doing so, defeated it.  Through the resurrection, death and its power were forever broken and we need not fear the moment of our physical death for one second longer.  This is the peace that Christ has bought us: that we have been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.  All that previously stood between us has been removed, torn down, ripped asunder like the veil in the temple. 

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion.  Where is death?  Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.  O life, O death of death!  Be of good heart; it will die in us also.  What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt.” – Augustine, Sermon 233

It is one thing to stand at the gravesite and hope for resurrection.  It is another, as Augustine put it, to “believe and concerning which we have no doubt.”  It is through a life of close fellowship with God that such confidence comes.  The resurrection was the first fruit of Christ’s victory – a victory that he is eager to share with each of his children!

PRAYER: Lord, it is difficult for us to believe and accept that death holds no power as we see people dying all around us.  May we, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, clearly understand that it is our victory, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/20/18 – Between a Rock and Heaven

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DayBreaks for 3/20/18: Between a Rock and Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Some people have trouble making decisions about even the most trivial of things.  I’ve had the dilemma myself.  Just today when I went to the Burger King (not something I do often!), I was torn between getting the Angus steak burger or Tenderoast chicken.  I would have preferred the steak burger, but went for the chicken so I wouldn’t feel as guilty.  Silly, isn’t it? 

There are decisions that are not trivial at all.  Who to marry?  What career to pursue?  What home to buy is a pretty big one, too.  We make other important decisions sometimes by default and without a lot of conscious thought: who will be my friends?  I can’t remember ever really asking myself that – it seems that my friends are my friends because we’ve spent time together and it just turned out that way rather than as the result of a conscious decision. 

As we near Holy Week, let’s not forget these words from Henri Nouwen (“A Spirituality of Waiting,” The Weavings Reader): “Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the Good News to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say yes or no. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: He had to wait upon how people were going to respond.”

Nouwen is right: up until Jesus showed up on Holy Week, the people really had little to choose from.  There were plenty of rabbis, of course, but only One who made the kinds of demands that Jesus was about to make on them.  Up until he arrived on the scene, people had no choice to speak of: they could choose between sin or a life spent trying to perfectly live the law.  Neither were very attractive nor would either yield good results.  One was destined to lead to shame, degradation and dissolution, while the other would lead to frustration, guilt, discouragement and failure.  But when Jesus offered something different during and after Holy Week, people for the first time had a choice.

Jesus also said that he came to bring a sword.  A choice is much like a sword – it will cut things and make them separate.  There can be no middle ground, there is no living in the space that the sword cut through.  You must be on one side or the other.  It’s not popular these days to be exclusionists, but that’s what Jesus was.  “You are either for me or against me” and “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.”  As much as we might wish it were otherwise, that’s the plain and simple truth.  We don’t do anyone favors when we soft pedal the choice that Jesus puts before us – in fact, if we do soft pedal it, we are doing people a great disservice.

We must say either yes or no to Jesus.  The world is waiting to see what we’ll choose. And we need to put that choice in front of the world, too.

PRAYER: Lord, give us hearts and minds of wisdom that when we hear Jesus’ invitation to choose, we will make the right choice that leads to life eternal.  Give us the courage of the truth to speak the truth about the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/19/18 – Fit to Stand in White Robes

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DayBreaks for 3/19/18: Fit to Stand in White Robes

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Power.  How we are fascinated, yet sometimes revolted by it.  We are a species fascinated by power.  We woke up this morning in a world infatuated with it, and yet also a world where many are terrified of it.  Power will be exercised today in your home, in your school, on the playground, in courts, businesses, hospitals, in the halls of political power.  Some will use their power this day to abuse and mistreat other human beings – lording their power over them in the cruelest ways possible.  Others will use their power to feed hungry bodies, comfort broken souls and hearts, to dig wells to quench thirst.

To the human eye, it appears that evil is winning.  Good seems to be on the scaffold, while evil sits enthroned in the hearts of men and spiritual beings throughout the universe.  Our very own experiences reveal the persistence of the power of evil.  One must question (especially at times when we are suffering from the slings and arrows of evil) what will rule the day.

In the first century, if a boxing announcer had been present during the trial of Jesus, he might have said something like this: “In this corner, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, the undefeated, invincible, indomitable Roman Empire!  And in the other corner, a Galilean carpenter in his first professional fight, Jesus of Nazareth.”  It appeared to all present to be no contest.  No one was betting on Jesus.  Rome and their mighty army looked to be a sure winner.  Even Satan, hidden from view, appeared to heavenly forces to be on the edge of yet another victory over righteousness and holiness.  But things aren’t always what they appear to be…

There is wonderful power in the Cross of Christ. It has power to wake the dullest conscience and melt the hardest heart, to cleanse the unclean, to reconcile him who is afar off and restore him to fellowship with God, to redeem the prisoner from his bondage and lift the pauper from the dunghill, to break down the barriers which divide [people] from one another, to transform our wayward characters into the image of Christ and finally make us fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.” John Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait 

There is a power far beyond anything this world has understood or seen.  That power was unleashed at the cross.  It is a power that can change blackened hearts, not just dark actions.  It is a power that can dump guilt and shame into the depths of the sea, never to surface again.  It is the power that can make people like us – sinners all on a great magnitude of scale – “fit to stand in white robes before the throne of God.”  Believest thou this?

PRAYER: We fall before your cross in wonder that such love exists.  May we never deny the power of the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/16/18 – My Father’s World


DayBreaks for 3/16/18: My Father’s World

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

“This is my Father’s world, and too my listen ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.  This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought, of rocks and trees of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought.” 

I’ve always loved that song.  I remember on the morning after my father died and I was waiting for the train that was bringing our oldest son home from Seattle, that as I wandered around the train station and the marshland nearby (there was a walking trail through it), I sang this song inside my head.  It felt strange to sing it, for my father was no longer in this world and I felt that loss very keenly. 

As I sang it to myself, over and over, I knew and understood that as much as I would miss my dad and his being in “my world”, that I was not Fatherless.  This was still my Father’s world, and even as He’d given that gift to my dad, He’d also given that same world to me – to all of us. 

This song should be a daily part of our worship, I think.  I don’t know about you, but I find it all too easy to get down on the world – to just see the ugliness of it, the greed and rape and killing and abuse.  Let us not forget, however, that it is God’s world – made with the words of His mouth.  It is not the world that is bad, it is men and women.  If nothing else, singing this song should fill us anew with the wonder of God’s creative power, and we need to remember that this is His world – it is not a wasted effort by God that He hates and which He will someday throw out in the trash.  No, I rather think God loves His creation and if I read this verse correctly, He’s at work redeeming it, not planning to trash it: Colossians 1:19-20 (NASB) – For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Did you catch that?  He’s working to reconcile ALL THINGS to Himself – whether things on earth or things in heaven.  And this: Romans 8:22-23 (NIV) – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  The creation groans…it awaits its own redemption, just as we await the fullness of our deliverance.

I hope to remember to sing this song to myself much more often in the future.  It matters how I see the world.  If I see it as something horrendous that must be avoided at all costs, from which I must distance myself, I’ll not have God’s own heart for the creation and people that He declared good and that “He so loved”.  Just as some people refuse to watch the news because it’s just too ugly and painful (as a result they become out of touch with life lived on this sphere), we’re tempted as believers who are so repulsed by the evil we see and sense all around us to just shut it off.  We can’t – we mustn’t – if we are to be followers of the Rabbi.

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on our souls.  Fill us with the wonder of your world, with love for its people, with hope for its future, with praise for your greatness and confidence in your work to redeem all things to yourself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/15/18 – Out of My League

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DayBreaks for 3/15/18: Out of My League

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I don’t know how it happened.  But I’m glad it did.  It happened a long time ago – 38 years in August, to be precise.  Somehow, don’t ask me how, but the girl I loved agreed to marry me and we were married on an August day in 1970.  Why she agreed to it I don’t think I’ll ever know.  As the saying goes, “She’s out of my league.”  My wife is smarter than I am, more spiritually attuned to things, a deeper thinker than I am, a much better communicator of many things, she’s filled with a mother’s love and compassion – and she’s far better looking than I am.  Now, can you tell me why she married me?!?!?!  I can’t.

At the recent National Pastor’s Conference, John Ortberg was one of the main speakers (I could listen to him speak all day and night!)  Apparently, he feels that same about his wife as I do.  It seems that we both married over our heads and out of our league.  (If truth be told, I think that’s the case with most of us men…women seem to be far better as a general rule!)  It’s hard to believe that I have had such great “luck” as to have my wife as my partner and friend for nearly 38 years now. 

Can’t the same thing be said about Jesus?  If my wife is out of my league, how about Jesus?  He’s so far out of my league that you can’t even see him from here!  And yet, and yet…if the Bible says anything at all, it says this: “Jesus loves me.” 

My wife is lovely and the most beautiful woman in the world to me, but if I were married to a supermodel, do you know how I’d feel?  I’d be scared out of my mind.  Look at the lives of supermodels or the super-actresses and actors – the “beautiful people”, if you will (as far as the world is concerned).  It seems that if they’re not in rehab, they’re hopping from one lover to the next, from one set of marriage vows to another.  If I were married to a supermodel, I’d always be fearful that she’d find someone more in her league than I am, and that perhaps any love she had for me would grow cold and would be withdrawn. 

Can the same happen with Jesus?  No.  Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) –  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Is Jesus out of my league?  Absolutely.  (He’s out of yours, too, by the way.)  Is his love for me real?  Look at the nail prints in his hands and feet.  Will his love for me ever be withdrawn or given to someone else with me being left in the cold?  Never! 

PRAYER: The depth of your love is amazing, Jesus!  Thank you for the words of encouraging reminder that Romans records for us – letting us know that you will never turn your back on us, that you will always love us.  May we always see your love engraved on your hands and feet when we are tempted to doubt and become fearful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/14/18 – The Trinity of False Identity

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DayBreaks for 3/14/18: The Trinity of False Identity

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

It is distressing to me to see how many Christians struggle with who and what they are in Christ.  It seems that for some, it’s nearly impossible to accept that we are beloved children (yes, even in our present condition), that we could be described as God’s poetry (because we certainly don’t feel like poetry), that we will someday shine like the stars in the universe (because our souls are so full of darkness inside), and that our sin has been taken away and paid for by the blood of Christ (which we seem to fear may have lost its power to deal with sin over the centuries – especially my sin). 

I was at a recent conference where Mark Yaconelli spoke about the trinity of false identity.  In one sentence, here it is: “I am what I do and how well I do it.”

What do you think of that?  Does it seem to ring true for you?

We live in a performance-oriented world.  The race almost always seems to go to the swiftest, the victory to the strongest, the adulation to the most beautiful or power-laden.  It begins in our earliest days when we receive praise for doing good things – and doing them well (except for our childhood drawings which were really all atrocious at best – but mom always swooned over them anyway).  It happens in school.  It happens at our work.  Performance.  Peak performance, to be precise, is what is recognized and rewarded.

But is it that way in God’s eyes?  No, I don’t think so.  That would lead to the conclusion of performance-based salvation, performance-based love.  God loves us precisely in spite of our performance.  If you think God loves you more if you are more obedient than anyone around you – you’re wrong.  Does He appreciate your obedience?  Absolutely!  Does He want our obedience!  Of course.  But does He love you more for it?  No.  Why?  He can’t. 

We need to get over our performance-based obsession and to see and define ourselves as God sees and defines our worth.  “I am God’s child, I am working for Him, and I will give Him my best and be at peace.”

Isaiah 43:4 (NIV) – Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. 

PRAYER: Free us from our self-imposed falsehoods and protect us from the deceptions and frustrations that the enemy would imprint on our minds!  Give us the faith to believe Your words and the joy that comes with being beloved by You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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