DayBreaks for 11/25/20 – In the Midst of Darkness

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You can even be thankful during the most difficult of circumstances in life. It’s true! We see an especially inspiring example of a brave and thankful heart in the story behind one of the church’s most popular hymns, “Now Thank We All Our God.” This particularly hymn was written during the Thirty Years War in Germany, in the early 1600s. Its author was Martin Rinkart, a Lutheran pastor in the town of Eilenburg in Saxony.

Now, Eilenburg was a walled city, so it became a haven for refugees seeking safety from the fighting. But soon, the city became too crowded and food was in short supply. Then, a famine hit and a terrible plague and Eilenburg became a giant morgue.

In one year alone, Pastor Rinkart conducted funerals for 4,500 people, including his own wife. The war dragged on; the suffering continued. Yet through it all, he never lost courage or faith and even during the darkest days of Eilenburg’s agony, he was able to write this hymn:

Now thank we all our God,

with hearts and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done,

In whom the world rejoices

…[So] keep us in His grace,

and guide us when perplexed,

and free us from all ills,

in this world and the next.

Even when he was waist deep in destruction, Pastor Rinkart was able to lift his sights to a higher plane. He kept his mind on God’s love when the world was filled with hate. He kept his mind on God’s promises of heaven when the earth was a living hell. Can we not do the same – we whose lives are almost trouble-free, compared with the man who wrote that hymn?

Whom can you say “thank you” to? What can you thank God for even in this COVID year?

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for your love. Thank you for those we love. Thank you for all your blessings and help us see them more clearly each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/24/20 – The Fear Stampede

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On the evening of March 3, 1943 at 8:17 p.m., the bomb-raid sirens went off in London.  Eyes turned skyward and strained to see if there were bombers in sight.  Gunfire could be heard and antiaircraft forces fired off fusillades of rockets.  People started screaming, some fell on the ground and covered their heads.  Even though no one saw a single plane, people ran pell-mell to the Bethnal Green Underground Station where over 500 had already gathered.  Fifteen hundred more souls would join with them in the next 10 minutes.

The problem started when a large group of those rushing to shelter arrived at the stairwell entrance simultaneously.  A woman who was carrying a baby lost her footing on one of the steps that led down into the shelter.  Her fall interrupted the oncoming flow of panicked citizens, and their bodies tumbled on top of her.  In mere seconds, hundreds of terrified folk were thrown together in a growing pile.  It got even worse when late-arrivers to the shelter thought that they were intentionally being blocked from entering the shelter by selfish people who had already reached safety.  They began pushing.  The chaos continued for less than 15 minutes, but it took until midnight, nearly 4 hours, to untangle all the bodies.  In total, 173 men, women and children died – and not a single bomb had fallen.

How many have died in the history of the world because of fear-induced panic?  Frank Furedi documented how the media uses fear to “sell”.  He did it by documenting the use of the term “at risk” in the British media over a period of 6 years.  In 1994, the term appeared 2037 times.  By the next year, it doubled.  The following year (1996) it grew by half again.  During the year 2000, just 6 years after the start of his study, the term was used in the British press more than 18,000 times.  Bear in mind that this was before 9/11 or COVID-19!  Had the world, in just 6 years, become than much more of a terrifying place?  Had it gotten 9 times worse in six years?  I seriously doubt it.

But our enemy wants us to be afraid.  Fear paralyzes, it robs us of creativity and energy that can be used in constructive ways, it takes our focus off things that are really important.  And Satan knows all that…and he wants us to be afraid, very afraid.

When Jesus came to his terrified followers on the lake, he said, Do not be afraid.  It is I!  The importance of that statement is that when we recognize who He is and how He comes to us and that His promise to never leave us or forsake us, we don’t need to be afraid of anything any longer – not storms at sea, terrorists, rising water levels, pandemics, economies in the tank – nothing.  We will be terrified until we learn that He is with us every bit as much as He was with the disciples on the surface of the raging sea. 

Fear leads to stampedes.  If you are afraid, let it drive you to the Lord where your fears can be done away with.

PRAYER: Everything seems to be geared to build fear in us, Lord.  Thank you that your promises still stand and that we can find peace in Your Presence with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/23/20 – Monopoly Money and Fools

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In Fearless, Max Lucado creates a make-believe scenario that perhaps hits close to home.  Imagine that you are sitting across the table from the world champion Monopoly player.  This player always seems to have all the good luck, never winds up in jail or losing a turn…and every time he gets Boardwalk and Park Place and people land on his property, enhanced by hotels, every time they come around the board.  He’s come to you to help him invest his Monopoly winnings – and he’s got bundles of those funny colored little bills.  You are a financial planner, so you listen to him, intrigued, as he tells you what he wants from you. 

You would probably interject at some time about how all the money that he’s put on the table isn’t real – it’s phony money from a game and that it has no real value.  Then, you’d think, if not say, “Excuse me, but you’re nuts.  Outside of the game you play, it has no value.  I’m sorry, but you’ve made a serious mistake.  You’re a fool if you think this has any value!”

That would be a strong thing to say, but that’s exactly what God said to the man who chose to tear down his barns and build bigger ones.  You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?  This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. – Lk. 12:16-21

There is no indication in the parable that the farmer was a dishonest man, or that he’d gotten rich by dishonest means.  He appears to be a hard working, conscientious person who was blessed with abundance.  His problem wasn’t his ethics, but the fact that he left God out of the reckoning of his future plans.  He’d put his trust and hope for the future in money – and as far as God is concerned, it was all Monopoly money – worthless at the moment of death.  God doesn’t take deposits of money from us here on earth in order to build us a bigger mansion in heaven. 

We are such a materialistic society!  And as Americans, we think we are suffering in this current economic downturn.  I can’t help but wonder at times if 1 Timothy 6:17-19 were written for our benefit: Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, not to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Oh, whew!  Thank goodness that was directed toward those who are “rich in this present age” and not us, right?!?!?!  Wrong.  Over three billion people in the world today (about half the world’s population) live on less than $2.50 a day.  If you and I make more than that, this verse is speaking directly to us, in this present age. 

What’s happening to the church in America?  Why is it struggling so much right now?  Hosea 13:6 gives us God’s words through Hosea: When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.  (NIV)

Whatever you have, remember it came from God.  Whatever you have, remember you will leave it all behind on the night when God demands your soul to return to Him.  Whatever you have, make sure that it is of eternal value and not just Monopoly money!

PRAYER: Set us free from the spirit of materialism that would lead us to trust in our money rather than in the Living God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/20/20 – A Wedding and a Funeral

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There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you.  Jesus’ words are comforting to us who await His return.  We read this verse and try to picture heaven and what the place that he’s preparing for us will be like.  That’s not a bad thing to ponder!  Let’s not forget what else Jesus said: that he would come again and take us to be with him. 

Unfortunately, due to differences in our culture and the culture in which Jesus lived, we miss much of the import of this simple verse.  At the beginning of John 14, Jesus has just been betrayed, and he’s predicted Peter’s denial.  There must have been deafening silence in the room, even as the disciples’ hearts pounded in their ears.  Jesus was going to die.  They would deny him.  They might die, too.  If you recall, before coming to Jerusalem, Jesus had said he’d be killed there, and of all people, it was Thomas who said, in essence, “Let’s go die with him!”  The scent of death hung heavy in the air in the upper room.

The imagery that Jesus employs about going to prepare a place for you comes from a wedding!  In that day, after the groom obtained permission from both families for the wedding to proceed, he would tell his bride almost verbatim what Jesus said here: I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself so you will always be with me where I am.

Do you see?  Jesus pulls wedding imagery into the room scented with fear, betrayal and death.  Weddings are cause for rejoicing.  The return of the groom for the bride led to a week-long celebration feast with dancing and wine!  It is almost as if Jesus is saying that when he comes for us (whether it be at the resurrection or at the moment of our death) that he will take our arm in his and lead us down the aisle with great celebration! 

By saying what he did, funerals are elevated to the same joyful level as a wedding. 

PRAYER: Hallelujah, for the sting of death is removed and replaced with wedding joy!  What power is this that can turn even our darkest moments into songs of celebration!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/19/20 – Insufficient Certainty

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Daniel Gilbert (a psychology professor at Harvard) drew from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and stated that the Index showed “that Americans are smiling less and worrying more than they were a year ago, that happiness is down and sadness is up, that we are getting less sleep and smoking more cigarettes, that depression is on the rise.”

He stated that the real problem is not financial—not having enough money, but something else: uncertainty. People don’t know what’s going to happen. Will I have a job next week? What’s ahead in the future for me? Professor Gilbert pointed to a Dutch experiment where some subjects were told they would be intensely shocked 20 times. The researchers told a second group that they would receive three strong shocks and 17 mild ones, but they wouldn’t know when the intense shocks would come. The results? Subjects in the second group sweated more and experienced faster heart rates. Uncertainty caused their discomfort: they didn’t know when the shocks would come next.

Another study showed that colostomy patients who knew that their colostomies would be permanent were happier six months after their procedures than those who were told there might be a chance of reversing their colostomies. Once again, uncertainty caused the unhappiness.

Daniel Gilbert summarized, “An uncertain future leaves us stranded in an unhappy present with nothing to do but wait… . Our national gloom is real enough, but it isn’t a matter of insufficient funds. It’s a matter of insufficient certainty.”

I think many people today (especially in 2020 – I’m speaking of Christians as well as everyone else) would say that they are anxious about the economy, COVID-19 and politics. These were key issues in the recently held election. People are nervous and worried  – and there is good cause.  Good cause, that is, if we don’t take God into account. 

We are uncertain about the economic future.  But why are we worried about it?  Isn’t it because we think we may not have enough – that we may have to do with far less than we’d like, that we may, heaven forbid!, have to suffer a bit?  And aren’t we afraid of all those things precisely because we are uncertain about God’s provision for us? 

It was David who said Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. – Psalm 37:25 What would happen if we really believed that?  If we really believed what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount when he said that the Father knows all our needs – and just as He provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, that He will provide even better things for us?  I can’t help but think that if I, and we, really believed those things, that we’d be far more generous than we are with our money.  Churches around the country and world wouldn’t be struggling to get by, the hungry would be fed and the homeless would have shelter.  

Are you anxious?  While we think the anxiety is about money or politics or pandemics – isn’t the fundamental problem that we aren’t trusting enough in God?

PRAYER: Forgive us for not trusting You with the minor things like food and shelter when You’ve already proven Your love to us by giving up Your Son.  May we trust in You for ALL good things and be anxious in nothing because we are at home in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/18/20 – Mommy, I’m Hungry

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Fred Craddock used to tell of the time he attended a conference on hunger. Influential, knowledgeable speakers had been brought in from all over to talk on the subject. Near the end of the conference, Fred says, a young, willowy woman got up to speak. Her long straight hair fell down her back, almost to her waist. She carried a legal pad to the podium and began reading.

At first, Craddock says, he couldn’t follow what she was saying. Eventually, it dawned on him, as it did all the other listeners. She was reading the same sentence over and over, each time in a different language. Finally, at the very end, she spoke the sentence in English. All the time she was saying, “Mommy, I’m hungry. Mommy, I’m hungry.”

She was the most powerful speaker of the entire conference, Craddock says. At least, she had the most impact upon him. As he and his group drove back to Atlanta, alongside the highway he read a billboard he had seen numerous times. Before, he had hardly even noticed it. This time he did. It said, “All You Can Eat Buffet, $4.99.” This time, Craddock says, that message seemed to him to be obscene.

Here we are, slightly over a week from Thanksgiving. It has been a hard, hard year for nearly everyone. There are many who lost jobs due to COVID shutdowns or lost loved ones. The rancor in our nation continues to stress us. As believers, we have a chance to do something special this year. If you are at all able to do so, make it a point to help feed someone who is hungry this year. The child that cries out “Mommy, I’m hungry!” might have been yours.

Matthew 25:40 (CSBBible) – And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Would you feed Jesus this Thanksgiving?

PRAYER: Lord, while many may be struggling this Thanksgiving, let us be generous and care for the least among us even as you did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/17/20 – Like the Others

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From the DayBreaks archive, November 2010:

Many readers of this column will remember general Charles de Gaulle as a famous French World War II soldier, statesman, and author.  It is likely that you don’t know that Charles and his wife, Evonne, were the parents of a severely mentally handicapped child. This daughter was a treasure and a great concern to them both. No matter how bad things were in France, Charles always made time for he and his Evonne to have time with their daughter. Almost every night after they had put her to bed, Evonne would ask, “Charles, why couldn’t she have been like the others?”

As was expected – due to the severity of her handicaps – the little girl died in her youth. There was a private graveside service. After the priest had pronounced the benediction, everyone began to leave, everyone except Evonne. Charles went back to her and said, “Come, Evonne. Did you not hear the blessing of the priest? Now she is like all the others.”

One of the most precious promises in the Bible to me is one that Jesus speaks himself in Revelation: “And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5) Isn’t that what we long for?  We long for a new life (a better one), not just a re-do of this present life.  We long for death to be reversed and turned into eternal life.  We long for evil to be cast out of the creation forever – and a new order of things to hold sway.  And as with all our deepest longings – Jesus has the answer: “I am making all things new.”  The very next verse is also key:

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. – Revelation 21:6 Jesus’ first statement “I AM MAKING all things new” indicated that it wasn’t finished yet.  But even before the breath has left his mouth, the Lord says, “It is done!”  How can this be?  Because Jesus lives outside of time and space so there is no future for him to deal with – only the eternal present.  But even more I think it is because there isn’t the slightest shadow of a doubt in the mind of God Almighty that His plan will fall by the wayside or be waylaid by some other scheme of an enemy of or God Himself.  The “I am making all things new” has become the great “It is done!” in heaven…and so it will be some day on earth as well.

PRAYER: May we hold on to Your precious promise that you are making all things – including our hearts and spirits – new, and that even broken things from this world arrive in heaven in perfection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/16/20 – When Friends Go Home

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Yesterday (Sunday) we received word that a friend of ours that we’d traveled to Israel with has gone home to the Lord. She was a wonderful woman, full of faith and joy. She leaves behind a husband and family faced with the great paradox of grieving her passing but knowing her earthly struggle is over and she’s fully experiencing the joy of seeing Jesus face to face and being held tightly in his arms.

This DayBreaks will be a bit different as I’m not going to say much. Instead, I’m going to share a song that I listened to for the first time withing a handful of minutes of learning of her passing from this life. It’s from the group Pentatonix and is titled Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone. Even if you are not a Pentatonix fan, I hope you’ll take time to click on that link (YouTube) and give it a listen.

Why am I sharing this? Because as I listened to it, especially when they broken into the phrase “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free, my God my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace”. I started to cry thinking about our friend and how those words had been literally fulfilled for her. There was a joy that filled my heart for her. Her struggle with cancer is behind her. Her earthly frailties and temptations and struggles are over. Before her is only peace, joy, wonder and eternal delight.

Some day that will be true for all His children who have trusted in Jesus. It will be true for me. And that’s not bad at all.

I hope you are blessed with the song today.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the amazing grace that saved wretches like us, for breaking the chains of mortality and sin and for setting us free forevermore! Glory to You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/13/20 – Ensnared

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From the DayBreaks archive, November 2010:

Mrs. Billie Cannon, a Knoxville, Tennessee homemaker, was preparing to paint her back porch. In order to protect the floor, she very carefully placed around the edges a strip of Scotch tape-the kind with adhesive on both sides. It was her plan to place a drop cloth over the floor and secure it with the tape. Having succeeded in placing the tape around the entire surface, she went back inside the house to get a drop cloth.

Returning to the porch sometime later, she found that all of her carefully placed tape was gone. She was completely mystified. Where could it have gone? Who would possibly have taken the time to pull up that tape and why? As she was surveying the situation and mulling over her puzzling predicament, she noticed something moving in her back yard. Looking closer she discovered that it was a snake. It was a rather large creature of its species, but it was no threat to her. It was hopelessly immobilized by being totally enmeshed in a large ball of Scotch tape. Evidently while Mrs. Cannon was in the house the snake had crawled up on the back porch and had eased itself onto that tape with the adhesive on both sides. Sensing that the tape was sticking to its skin, the snake obviously put up a terrible struggle. In doing so it pulled every bit of tape from the floor. The harder it fought, however, the more hopelessly it became entangled in its prison until it was totally captive.

That miserable snake is not unlike many people I have met in my life.  Somewhere along the way they have made a serious mistake and, rather than calmly analyzing their situation and correcting their course, they react impulsively with the result being that their lives are soon as miserable and ensnared as the snake in Tennessee.  The more they struggle, the more entangled they have become until eventually they are totally immobilized psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

We are invited to trust in the finished work of Christ.  All our thrashing about cannot free us from sin, cannot free us from our sinful fleshly nature.  That is accomplished only through the work of the Spirit and the blood that flows from Calvary.

PRAYER: How we need rest, Lord!  In our bewilderment we thrash about wildly, running here and there to try to free ourselves rather than trusting in your power to save!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/12/20 – Then versus Now

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An interesting study was done in 2011 by a team of research psychologists at UCLA. They studied the values that were being taught on the most popular television shows with preteens over a span of years. Shows such as Andy Griffith and I Love Lucy from the 60’s, Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley from the 70’s and American Idol and Hannah Montana from the more recent decades as well as others were included.

It shouldn’t surprise you that “fame” was the most frequent value of contemporary shows. Between 1967 and 1997, the top value was “community feeling, or being part of a group.” But recently that value of being part of a group dropped all the way down to eleventh place. The second most frequent value from 1967 was “being kind and helpful to others”. That one plunged all the way from second place to thirteenth place.

What does that tell us? It says that the predominant message of pre-teen shows today is that a good life is about success at finding a way to be famous – and has very, very little to do with community or being kind and helpful.

This study is very insightful. Do you wonder why teens are always posting selfies as well as risqué images and videos of themselves and seeking more and more followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms? It’s because it is a way to be “famous”. And what is the outcome of texting instead of actually speaking or meeting with someone? The lack of real community with deep connection has been devalued and lost and “texting” has become a substitute for real community.

I can’t help but wonder if another factor is also at play: the desire for love. Having a thousand followers doesn’t mean you are loved by a thousand people. Sending vulgar messages or sexting may be a desperate cry for love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were told by their parents that they loved them? And if they understood the love that Jesus has for each one of them and how special they are?

People seek fame because they feel they are unloved and unknown – specks in a vast universe that has no destiny and no purpose other than to exist until it burns out. With God relegated to the back shelf (if not to nothingness), it is no wonder that we see the desperation in our youth.

Find a kid today and help them understand what truly makes life worth living – knowing and believing the love of God.

PRAYER: Lord, for all our youth today, we pray that they might come to know you and understand your love for them! Help us as adults to not shy away from speaking to them about Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>