DayBreaks for 6/23/17 – As Jesus Was Walking

DayBreaks for 6/23/17: As Jesus Was Walking

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

John 9:1 – As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.

And so begins the story of the healing of the blind beggar in the gospel of John.  It’s a rather innocuous beginning, but it is also profound.  Jesus was out walking.  We don’t know where he was going, but he wasn’t in the temple.  It doesn’t appear that he was on his way to some ministry our counseling appointment.  We simply don’t know where he was going.  But one thing is clear: he wasn’t punched in on the ministry time clock. 

Time clocks rule our lives in many ways.  We have certain times when we are supposed to be at work and when we are to leave work, when we’re supposed to be in class at school.  Even our vacations are often dominated by glances at the clock and the sobering awareness of the passing of time – of vacation freedom coming to an end.  We are ruled by time. 

If there is one thing that can be said about Jesus, it is this: he wasn’t very mindful of the clock.  Even though he wasn’t “punched in”, as he traveled to wherever it was that he was going, he saw a man who had been blind, beside the path, begging.  The key word is “saw.”  Jesus stopped and engaged the man in his hour of need.  No one else seemed to pay any attention to this man: he’d probably been a daily sight at the same location for years.  And after that much time passes and if you see that same person every day for year after year, you tend to lose sight of him eventually, he becomes invisible.  And that’s what this man was to apparently everyone that day except for Jesus.  Jesus, on his own time, saw him. 

This man was used to being ignored, to being treated as if he were invisible.  What did it mean to him that day that Jesus saw him and healed him?  It meant that, perhaps for the very first time in his life, he knew that God saw him.  In fact, God had seen every quivering of the man’s chin as he began to cry in his frustration and degradation.  God has seen every person that the man had not seen who had chosen to cross to the far side of the roadway to avoid having to come face to face with this needy may.  But God didn’t pass him by, God came to him that day and saw him, and he saw God. 

And it all happened “as Jesus was walking.”  Today, we’ll take lots of steps – you may even have a watch or phone that will count them for you – we’ll go lots of places and we will almost certainly see lots of people.  But will we “see” them as did?  And even if we see them as we go along our way, will we take time to give them encouragement, a blessing of some kind – spiritual, emotional or physical?  There is to be no time that God’s love and mercy through His children is not in full employ.  As you go on your way today, make it your goal to see people with Jesus’ eyes and to let Him minister to them through your hands and feet.

PRAYER: Lord, we’ve got lots of things on our minds today, many things to do and many places to go.  Open our eyes to see people today as Jesus sees them…we ask You to see them through our physical vision and then to move our physical hands and feet to act as Jesus would in each instance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/22/17 – Sins Borne of Myopia

DayBreaks for 6/22/17: Sins Borne of Myopia

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my oldest son’s blog:

Safe in Egypt we shall sigh
For lost insecurity;
Only when her terrors come
Does our flesh feel quite at home.

“The quote is from Auden. Perhaps you can relate. That we experience this dual attraction towards the security of peace and the ecstasy of danger eloquently illustrates our unsettled condition. In his 1998 essay, A Taste for Danger, Theodore Dalrymple maps out the phenomenon nicely. He opens with reflections on a gallery display of Vietnam-era photojournalism:

“These photographers hated the war, but they loved it too: for it gave meaning to their lives or at the very least provided a temporary relief from those nagging questions about the meaning of life that even the most complacent of us sometimes ask…

“Dalrymple goes on to describe his own experience working in conflict zones and the difficult withdrawals that follow an addiction to personal peril:

“The problem with having lived too long or too frequently in dangerous situations is that one ceases to care very much about the actual content of the existence one is so anxious to preserve. Danger absolves one of the need to deal with a thousand quotidian problems or to make a thousand little choices, each one unimportant. Danger simplifies existence and therefore…comes as a relief from many anxieties.

“This business of daily life can be rather dull, can’t it? Peace is uninteresting. It’s a crime we should ever find it so, but sometimes we do. Worse, when we lack for outward threats we tend to manufacture them: spiritual or intellectual crises, superfluous interpersonal conflicts, flirtations with sin. And when these manufactured dangers fail to satisfy we borrow threats and conflicts from others through gossip, consumption of sensationalized media and mass entertainments.
“Boredom, lust for distraction and attraction to danger are, more often than not, sins born of myopia. Corrective lenses are available. But these are very old temptations, so deeply rooted in the soil of our social and personal lives that it’s difficult to imagine where we might be without them.  Perhaps a certain garden in the east.”

Galen’s Thoughts: it has been said that 20th and 21st century Americans are the most bored people in earth’s history.  The word, boredom, wasn’t even in use much (if at all) until the last century.  Isn’t it interesting that boredom came upon the scene with humanism, modernism, relativism and the great scientific explosion?  Up until those things happened, people would contemplate and posit God as the central aspect and concern of existence.  Sadly, when God “disappeared” from social consciousness and discourse, we became self-centered as a species, and we became myopic (strange how that word starts with “my”, isn’t it?).  Can we turn our focus back to God, away from self?  Not fully in this life.  We can’t go back to the garden in the east, but we can journey to the garden in heaven, where the Tree of Life will once more be found and enjoyed.

PRAYER: Lord, may we not become disinterested in the actual content of existence and those who inhabit this realm with us.  May we not be so myopic that we fail to see the greater picture and cause outside of our own lives.  May our meaning, here and in eternity, be found in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/21/17 – Mickey Mouse Immortality

DayBreaks for 6/21/17: Mickey Mouse Immortality

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

“Disneyland, believe it or not.
“That was the destination of my “questionable pilgrimage” last week. It was a long-planned vacation with my wife’s family. I am not a fan of such places. It had been a full seventeen years since I last set foot in Disneyland and I hadn’t exactly been pining away for a reprise.

“Theme parks, amusement parks, resorts, fairs – any place designed to translate us to a supernatural state of enjoyment presents itself as a particular vision of heaven and an organized denial of death. Where craft and design are skillfully employed, there is a pleasure in the spectacle. But after three days under the unreal spell of the so-called Magic Kingdom, one begins to sicken and lose grip on the hard margins of life.

“Forever let us hold our banners high – high – high – high!

Forever.  If Disneyland is a vision of immortality it is flush with the same kind of color and false health the diseased sometimes display even on their deathbeds.  It is pristine, pre-pubescent, antiseptic, apparently safe, the “happiest place on earth,” But whose heaven is it? A child’s heaven?  A sentimentalist’s heaven? A show-goer’s heaven?  A consumer’s heaven?  A marketer’s heaven?  A glutton’s heaven?  In any case it is a godless heaven and so no heaven at all.  There’s a smell of sulphur mixed in with the cotton candy.

“One risks taking this all too seriously, I know. There’s room for a modest amount of pleasure in life, after all. But when was Disneyland ever about moderation?
“And yet even here one can discover little blossoms of sublimity, little daisies that surprise in a field of plastic flowers. At the end of a tiring day to hold my one-year-old daughter wrapped in a blanket in the front seat of a bobbing boat with her head against my chest while the lights and colors and evening’s first stars are reflected in the black lacquered bow – that is beautiful.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Though sometimes I worry that my oldest son is too serious-minded, I am thankful for his gifts and wisdom that draws me up short on many occasions.  We must be careful, as Doug notes, to not create false supernatural states of enjoyment that denies the realities of life.  That kind of life operates under the motto of “Eat, drink and be merry…for tomorrow we die” (except they leave out the last 4 words!)  God has a better plan – real supernatural enjoyment that lasts forever.  Seek it.  Find Him.  And you will have found all that your heart ever truly has longed for. 

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for helping us know the beautiful from that which has false beauty and attraction.  Fill us fully with Your joy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

OK, I’m not ashamed to admit it: my wife and I went to see Wonder Woman over the weekend. It was a rollicking good time, and I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my wife did – and she loved it a lot! I love stories where there is a strong woman character – always have, I guess.

Anyway, after the movie, we were reflecting on the movie and we were both thinking along the same lines. There were many parallels (some really strong, others a bit more of a stretch) to the gospel story. Perhaps – unwittingly – that’s why so many people have loved the movie. It makes me wish they understood the true reason the story resonated with their imaginations and heart!

A few years back, John Eldredge wrote a short book, Epic, and had a video series to accompany it that I believe explains what I’m talking about. Here’s the excerpt from Amazon.com’s description of Epic: Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived to forty minutes late. Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart. We need to know the rest of the story.

For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, heroism . . . and betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you’ve ever loved―there’s a reason they stirred your heart. They’ve been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.

In Wonder Woman, as in Titanic, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and nearly every other movie that is grand and epic in scale, the story is the same, only told with different characters, somewhat different circumstances and settings. It goes like this: there was something grand and glorious, but something horrible happens and a hero has to rise to make things right and to rescue what has been lost – usually at great cost to her/himself. But in the end, things wind up restored.

In Wonder Woman, Diana is supposed to be half-human and half-god (I didn’t realize that before seeing the movie) who lives in a peaceful, beautiful place that is separated from the world of trouble, but one day, that is shattered. Diana feels compelled to do something about it – so she journeys to the broken world to fix things in spite of the fact that she’ll never be able to return to her original home again. While there, she fights to overcome evil – and to some extent she does, but she also learns that there is something fundamentally broken inside of human beings that she cannot fix.

Do you begin to see the parallels? Jesus was in heaven – he didn’t have to come, but he chose to – driven by compassion. He wasn’t half-human and half-God, he was 100% human and 100% God. He entered into the broken world because he felt compelled to do so out of love and compassion. He fights against the lord of this world, against the chaos and suffering and it cost him dearly. But, the victory is won and in the end, it turns out OK.

There are differences, too, and one in particular that I think is well worth noting. While I was intrigued by the final battle in Wonder Woman where Diana fights against Ares (the Greek god of war in mythology), she had to struggle to obtain victory. Not so with Jesus – at least not in the final battle. In the final battle, the fate of mankind won’t hang in the balance when Christ returns. It won’t be a struggle with the outcome uncertain. It won’t take several minutes for the enemy to be defeated. When God decrees the end – the victory will be instantaneous, unilateral, unequivocal and total – in the time it takes God to say “It is finished!” Satan will collapse like the pretender that he has been for millennia, his vaunted strength revealed to be nothing more than a trifle by the power of the One Who speaks.

Wonder Woman was fascinating entertainment. Jesus is the real thing.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long for you to glorify yourself at your return and to see you absolutely, totally and forever crush the enemy in an instant. Thank you for things that remind us of the epic story of which we are a part! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/19/17: My Fathers, Who Art in Heaven

Dad

DayBreaks for 6/19/17: My Fathers, Who Art in Heaven

As I write this, it is Father’s Day. I don’t know why, but for some reason today I find myself missing my father more than I have for a long, long time. I can’t seem to get him out of my mind, even though he’s been gone now almost 20 years. I am glad, though, that he is still in my mind and heart. I was blessed to have the father I did, and as I’ve said before, my father was the finest man I’ve ever known.

As I contemplated my dad today and the friendship and love we shared, I was struck during worship about a line in a song that we sang about how Jesus loves me in spite of all my sin. It made me think about my dad, who loved me in spite of the sins he knew about. He didn’t know about them all, but he loved me in spite of the flaws he did see in me. And then I thought about my Heavenly Father and how much greater His love is for me because He sees ALL my sin and still loves me without condition or restraint. How can such love be?

In trying to figure out the answer to that last question, I have to look no further than my own experience as a father to three amazing kids (now adults with their own families) and five incredibly precious grandchildren. As I think about how I love them, I realize that even if I knew all their flaws (and I do know some of them!), I would still love them. I realize that even if I knew all their sins – even the darkest ones that they hide from human eyes – I would not love them any less. And that is how God loves me.

I never once doubted my father’s love. I knew by his actions, even if not always by his words, that he loved me to the moon and back. But my Heavenly Father’s love is so far beyond that. The distance to the moon and back his vast, but if we know anything about the Father’s love for us, it is infinite. I don’t know how far it is to the farthest star in the entire universe. All I know is that it is a long, long way – beyond my ability to comprehend or even imagine. And here’s the part that really gets me: Jesus traversed that vast distance to bring this prodigal home because His love reached that far – and even farther.

My fathers in heaven love me. The God of the universe loves you and has been pursuing our hearts throughout the vastness of space and time in order to be with us once again.

The day will come when I shall be with my fathers in heaven. What a delight it will be to see both of them – and to never be parted again.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for being my Father. Thank You for giving me the father you did. Let me never forget the vastness of Your love and the distance You traveled to bring your son home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/16/17 – Places You Never Knew Existed

 

DayBreaks for 6/16/17: Places You Never Knew Existed

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

On June 4, I was blessed (for the second year in a row!) to participate in a fund raiser for a nearby mission that provides shelter, training, food and spiritual guidance to many who have lost their way in life.  They do a great work, and each year they do a fundraiser that is called Extreme Golf.  On that day, those of us who have signed up to raise pledge money, go out and run around a golf course like crazy people, with the goal of playing 100 holes of golf in 8 hours or less.  What a thrill!

But now (this was written on 6/6), I have been reminded of lessons I learned last year during this event:

FIRST: Sometimes people hurt in places you never knew existed.  My body has aches and pains right now that I didn’t have on early Monday morning before the event.  It’ll continue that way for a few days, I can tell.  People all over hurt – and the greatest hurts aren’t in the physical body, but in the heart and mind of humanity.  Perhaps the greatest hurt of all is hopelessness – when people have been so beaten down that they have given up any idea of it ever getting better.  That’s when many are willing to finally accept Christ because they have learned that nothing else works.  But unless we’re on the lookout for signs of pain in people (wincing and groaning have been my signs the last few days!) we will likely pass by them not even realizing they’ve been beaten.  But heaven have mercy on us if we know they’ve been beaten and pass by anyway.

SECOND: Pain is good.  It is a reminder that we are alive and not dead.  Dead people feel no pain.  We shouldn’t give up on people who are in great pain.  They’re still alive and pain can lead to changes. 

THIRD: Pain is also a reminder that we are to become like Him in His suffering.  I don’t think that is specifically referring to physical pain, but that may be a part of it.  Paul, in Philippians 3:10 put it this way: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…  In our hurts, suffered for the cause of God, we become like Christ.  And God certainly knows how much I need more of that!!!!

There is pain all around you.  There is pain on the golf course, in your school, in your work, in your family – and yes, in your church.  The world is awash in pain.  All we have to do is open our eyes and see it.  Will you take the risk of joining Christ in his sufferings for the world?  You don’t have to travel to India or the Congo or Peru, all you have to do is open your heart and eyes, and you’ll see it.  The question is: what will we do about it?

I’m eager for this event to come around again next year.  May I be as eager to bear pain for Him all year long.

PRAYER: Father, let us become like Christ – willing to bear any burden, to carry any suffering – for the privilege of becoming like Him in His death, so that we may also attain unto His resurrection.  Help us to be sensitive to the pain of others and do all we can to point them to the One who can, and will, heal all hurts some glorious day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/15/16 – The Ways of Endurance

DayBreaks for 6/15/17: The Ways of Endurance

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my wife’s mission blog to India:

 “Oh my. I decided to work on “India Trip” stuff today (Memorial Day) and I started out making a calendar page for the dates I’ll be gone. As I looked at the finished product with only July 4th and July 20th filled in (“leave home”, “arrive home”) and all the blank (so far) places on the dates in between, I looked up to the picture part of the July page of the calendar from which I had copied my sheet. On it there was a picture of a large rock with the ocean around it. The top of the rock was filled to overflowing with plant life; trees, shrubs, undergrowth; all the way to the edges of the rock and down its sides. Between the rock and the ocean, however, you can see that the water has worn away the rock so that it is deeply indented all around. It looks like a huge, wide, roundish head full of green bushy hair sitting on a very skinny neck. Underneath the picture is the caption “ENDURANCE” in large letters. Underneath that is the quote, “Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened”.  

Hmmm.  I don’t like the fact that “endurance” is the subject for July when I’m on the trip; it’s too apropos and more than a little daunting.  I also don’t like the picture analogy.  I would think that a symbol of endurance should show something that looks very shaky, sitting on something that was very solid underneath while ocean waves pounded away.  That’s what endurance is supposed to do, isn’t it, give your soul more solidity? Thinking about it though, it is probably a better picture analogy than I would like.  God is the only rock which is solid.  I am the one who looks more stable than I really am.  Life eats away, revealing to me the truth of my fragility and dependence.  Experiences of endurance such as this trip will show it to me in a much more obvious way than my normal routine does.  Am I scared? Yep!!
“There is a large contingent of mostly younger people who are going to be working on landscape architecture and the large food garden on our team. One young woman showed us her plans and they were truly awesome and inspiring. She is planning and putting into place the landscape with the children playing and monsoon season in mind as her Senior Project in college at Davis. Quite a combination to plan for, isn’t it? The kids and the others there are going to love it! There will be elevated places for hide and seek and other natural play-encouraging landscape plans. Another person from UC Davis is in charge of setting up a huge food garden at the compound in India.  He’s lived in the Congo before and I’m sure that helps. He told us about a fruit he loves which smells horrible and tastes heavenly.  For anyone who would still like to help Little Flock and this trip in some way, this young man was discouraged to find out that he still has a lot of money to raise for his trip. Apparently some money he thought was coming isn’t coming, or something like that.  If anyone would like to help him out with a donation for his trip cost, his name is “Tim”, he’s on Team One and he’s the one in charge of the food garden project. I know he would be very, very grateful.”

Galen’s thoughts: endurance is a trait we admire, but not many of us long for it, for endurance can only be developed by having to “endure.”  Sometimes, it’s enduring suffering or hardship, sometimes it’s waiting…as in the case of “Tim” – waiting for God to provide all that we need.  And Laurel’s right – we deceive ourselves into thinking we are stable, strong, unmovable, and all the time life is chewing away at us until we learn that we’re actually very fragile and delicate and easily destroyed.  There is only on thing that never wears down or wears out or lacks for anything: Almighty God.  It is a lesson we need to learn, and learn well.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all who answer the call to “Go!”  Thank You for the lessons in endurance.  Help us to learn them well – and as quickly as possible!  Please bless this team that goes to show and share Your love with orphans and widows and provide for every need both before they go and while they are gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>