DayBreaks for 4/24/15 – Never Fly Solo

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DayBreaks for 4/24/15: Never Fly Solo

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

John 15:15 (NLT) – I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

I grew up watching TV shows like “Gunsmoke”, “Palladin”, “Cheyenne”, “The Lawman” and other rough-and-tumble shows.  They were mostly all cowboy shows, and every single one of the heroes, with perhaps the exception of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, was a loner.  That was especially true of Richard Boone in the show, Palladin.  The theme song even trumpeted one of his virtues as being tough enough that he needed no one and he rode all alone.  No one seemed to know where he came from, where he was going, or anything else about him, except that he was a bounty hunter who tracked down the bad guys.  And Richard Boone made him seem tough!

Those kinds of shows, and commercials about the Marlboro man, who was also a loner, made me want to be like them.  I wanted to be the rock, the island – just like Simon and Garfunkle sang about.  It was, I’m not ashamed to say, kind of an ideal for the American male, and when I was young, I bought into it hook, line and sinker.  I prided myself on not needing anyone.  Jeremiah Johnson was a hero to me…and I actually thought several times about heading off to the high country with nothing but a backpack and high powered rifle to live off the land…alone.

How foolish I was!  How naive!  Men (or women for that matter) aren’t meant to be like a cold iceberg that drifts through life, separated from the rest of humanity.  Isn’t that part of what was wrong with the Pharisee and priest who passed the injured man before the Samaritan stopped to help?  They didn’t need anyone…they didn’t want to be bothered by anyone. 

It is interesting that it was right before Jesus was to die that he made the statement in John 15:15 to his followers.  They were no longer to be servants.  They were to be friends.  Why did he not tell them that long before?  Surely he knew that they would be his friends even before he chose them.  I think it was because he was in need.  In need of friends.  As Harvey Cox, in When Jesus Came to Harvard put it: “He was fully human, and human beings need other human beings, not just as disciples but also as friends, which is what Jesus told his own followers at the Last Supper that he wanted them to be.  The point is clear.  Living a moral life is not a solo flight.”

Have you been trying to be He-man or Super-woman in your spiritual walk?  Trying to do it by yourself?  You can’t.  You need friends.  Jesus did.  And he wants to call you “friend”, too.  I need you.  And you need me.  We all need one another if we will be able to live a moral life.  We need the Spirit, but we also need people to encourage us, to hold us accountable, to lift us up when we fall down.  Are you being that kind of friend?

PRAYER: Jesus, we need You…and we need one another.  Keep us from the temptation to try to fly solo! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/23/15 – Deeper Still

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DayBreaks for 4/23/15: Deeper Still

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

Corrie ten Boom knew something about tragedy and suffering. She lived with a courageous faith. Upon emerging from a Nazi concentration camp she said, “There is no pit so deep that God isn’t deeper still.” She picked an apt analogy because pain and tragedy is a pit. For some, it appears bottomless. Many experience a falling, disorientation, a terror, as they grab for walls that are out of reach. They see only blackness, and hear only echoes of the life they used to know. And for many, they claim that God is not present. But Corrie ten Boom reminds us that even in the pits of tragedy, God is still there. He is present. Yes, pain is real. But God, indeed, is real, too. That’s where faith comes in.

On the wall of a concentration camp, a prisoner had carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it does not shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.

As I write this DayBreaks, I’m in Florida at my sister’s home.  While the sun shines outside and the birds sing, it’s a bit darker inside.  Her husband died a week ago this past Sunday after a titanic struggle with pancreatic cancer.  She is a couple of years older than I, and she faces a future of raising 2 boys (currently 9 and 5) as a widowed mom.  It is a pit of tragedy?  Yes, it is – in human terms.  Her husband was a minister of the gospel and college professor.  But the human tragedy is still real and the pit is deep and the pain is deep.  And it will be for a long, long time.

But we also know that God is real.  He is the most Real reality that there is.  And though at times the sun doesn’t shine, and at times love seems to vanish, and though at times we may all cry out to God seeking answers to the universal question of “Why?”, even when He can’t be heard, He hears.  He cares.  He cries.  And He will heal.

Our faith in God must become deeper – and stronger – than our tragedy and despair.  If we allow our pain, tragedy or despair to be greater than God, we have made it our idol.  If we let it dominate our lives, fill our thoughts and minds – it has supplanted the place that only God is intended to fill.  By dwelling on those things instead of God, we are worshipping trouble rather than the One who will ultimately fix all things. 

May our faith in God’s goodness admit no boundaries, accept no limits, and grow until there is no room in our hearts for anything else.

Job 11:7-8 (NLT) – Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the Almighty?  Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—but who are you? It is deeper than the underworld—what can you know in comparison to him?

PRAYER: When we are tempted to despair, remind us of Your goodness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/22/15 – The Wrong Question

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DayBreaks for 4/22/15: The Wrong Question

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

This past week I was in Florida for the funeral of my sister’s husband who passed away with pancreatic cancer.  He had fought the disease to a standstill for much longer than they thought possible, but it finally overtook him on Sunday, April 10.  On Sunday, April 17, as I was attending worship in a church in the Tampa, Florida area, the preacher was bringing a message to confront the audience with questions of the utmost importance – questions that relate to our assurance of salvation.  It is a truly critical topic – and death helps to bring it into a crystalline focus.  Many of those in attendance were college kids – many had been students of my brother-in-law.  And of course, as we all know, when you’re college age, it’s hard to get your focus around a subject the size of death and eternity.

At one point the preacher asked the question: “Do you know if you’re saved?”  He went on to talk about how typically we might answer with phrases like these: “I think so,” or “I hope I am.”  Many might also say, “I really don’t know.  I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure.”  My experience says that more often than not, the answer someone gives is closely related to recent activities in their life.  Of course, John says that we can KNOW that we are saved.  How?  1 John 5 talks about this at length, but to put it in a nutshell, John says that it is the one who believes in the Son of God.  Believing means more than just intellectual acceptance, for other passages tell us that the demons believe – and tremble.  So it means more than just saying, “Jesus is Lord.”  That’s a start, but just a start.  It is then accepting him as the Lord of your life, letting Him lead you through the Spirit, doing the best you can to carry on the work of the Lord in a pained world.

But what really bothered me was not that question, but the next one that the preacher asked.  He said, “Do you have confidence that your faith is strong enough to save you?”  Again, many might say, “I don’t know, I hope so, it’s getting stronger,” or something to that effect.  I think that he asked the wrong question entirely.  I think that it ultimately has very, very little (if anything) to do with the strength of my faith.  If he’d asked me that question directly, I’d have answered, “No.  My faith isn’t strong enough to save me.  I have no confidence in my faith.  But I am confident that Jesus is going to save me in spite of my weak faith.” 

No where in the Bible does it say that your faith has to measure up to a certain “standard” of strength or confidence.  God doesn’t require us to put on a demonstration that we can say to a mountain, “Be moved to over there” before we are saved.  It is the fact of faith, not the strength of faith, that is the qualifying agent.  At the pearly gates, there will be no circus device that we must strike with the sledgehammer of our faith in an attempt to ring the bell to prove our faith is muscle-y enough to unlock the doorway to heaven.  God will look us over for the presence of faith in His Son.  And that is the key to the Father’s home.  If you have that, you have the key in your hand and in your heart.  And by that, you may know that you have eternal life. 

PRAYER: Let us rest in Your promise to save those who come to You in faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/21/15 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #34

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DayBreaks for 4/21/15: Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #34

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

If you’ve been around DayBreaks for any length of time, you’ll know about my love affair with dogs.  Mostly, I wrote about our boxer, Ramses, who died on December 30, 2003.  Ramses was what is called “brindle” in coloring.  Some boxers are a light brown with white markings, but others, the brindle ones, are dark brown with what appear to be black stripes and white markings on their underside.  Ramses was very dark colored, and his beautiful coat was shiny and smooth.  I thought he looked great.  Well, that is, unless it was in the middle of the night.  You see, in the middle of the night, because he was so dark in color, I couldn’t see him if he was laying on the floor, and I stepped on him or almost hit the deck after tripping on him more than once.  He was deadly in the dark because he couldn’t be seen!

Our new boxer puppy, Casper, is quite different.  He’s an all white boxer – fairly rare.  I’ve never had a white dog before, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about having a white dog.  It was especially hard for me to picture a white boxer.  But he’s really cute.  One of the things that surprised me about him, and I found it a pleasant surprise at that, was that when he gets up in the middle of the night and wants to go out, I can see him!  I don’t usually put my glasses on when I get up to let him out, but because he is white, as he ambles in four-footed puppy way, articulating his way up and down the hallway, I can see him, even in the darkness of a moonless night. 

As I was walking him down the hallway the other night, it struck me how important it is for us to be visible in the darkest of places and at the darkest of times, too.  How does it happen?  It’s important to remember that we don’t have light in ourselves.  Casper doesn’t emit light.  The colors we perceive are only the result of wavelengths of light bouncing off of surfaces.  The varying wavelengths cause the different colors of light we perceive.  So when I see Casper perambulating down the hallway on the floor in front of me, I’m seeing whatever light happens to be bouncing off of his fur.  Let’s be clear: we have no light in and of ourselves, either.  John made it pretty clear when he said: “This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.”  (1 John 1:5)  John didn’t say that we are the light, but that God is light.  We must reflect His glory if there is to be light visible from us in the darkness.

Is it important that His children are visible in the darkness?  I go back to my problem with Ramses: because he wasn’t visible, I tripped and stumbled many times.  When God’s children aren’t visible, we cause others to trip and stumble, too. 

I sure doesn’t take much light for Casper to be visible.  Or should I say, the darker it is, the more visible he seems to be.  That’s the way it should be with all who wear the name of Christ.  May His light shine through and because of us, so that others can see the pathway to the One who is the Light!

PRAYER: Let us shine for You, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/20/15 – He Somehow Got Up

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DayBreaks for 4/20/15: He Somehow Got Up

I know Easter is over, but today I was struck anew with the hope that is born from the resurrection.  The entire passion story presented a great conundrum to the ancients because they thought is unthinkable that the Messiah, that anyone who was God or was even favored by God, could be crucified. In our modern day, sadly, most of us acknowledge that the world and societies can cruelly dispatch even the finest of God’s people through a variety of cruel, barbaric means. We know such a claim will neither create a scandal nor being thought silly-we’ve seen it on TV too often. At the same time, the resurrection was a total surprise to the disciples.  One they understood it, however, it was a source of great joy to them.  It is the great stumblingblock to many and there are vast multitudes who view it as a fool’s belief. After all, how does any intelligent person living in the world of modern 21st century science believe in a walking dead man?

Frederick Buechner believes exactly that.  He says, “But I can tell you this: that what I believe happened and what in faith and with great joy I proclaim to you here is that he somehow got up, with life in him again, and the glory upon him. And I speak very plainly here, very un-fancifully, even though I do not understand well my own language. I was not there to see it any more than I was awake to see the sun rise this morning, but I affirm it as surely as I do that by God’s grace the sun did rise this morning because that is why the world is flooded with light.”

Think about it: even if Jesus had promised us a resurrection of our bodies, but had not raised himself, who would believe him?  Who would have reason for hope?

Fortunately, Jesus was a man not of just words, but of action.  He backed up his words through what he did, and never was that more important than when he exited the tomb as a living, breathing human being.  I don’t know how precisely, but “somehow he got up”…and that makes all the difference between hope and despair.

PRAYER: Thank you, God, for Your great power that raised Jesus from the dead in great power and glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/17/15 – Cuddle Bunny Gospel?

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DayBreaks for 4/17/15: Cuddle Bunny Gospel?

Psalm 34:11 – Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD.

Twenty-first century America is truly a consumer society.  And what is the goal of life if you believe you are descended from monkeys and that the grave will be your final destiny?  To feel good while you can.  To grab the gusto.  To live life without limits.  To live with no fear.  To try everything at least once, and if it feels good, to do it again.  After all, you wouldn’t want to lie on your death bed wishing that you’d tried just that one more thing, would you?  Just missing out on one single thing could spell the difference between feeling like your life was complete and fulfilled or not.  What a terrible way to live!

The real danger comes when the church starts to take its cues from the world around us, instead of the other way around.  When the church accommodates to a feel-good goal and it centers its existence on programs and activities to the expense of the truth, the church is, as Chuck Colson put it, “…in danger of trivializing the holy.”

Russell Kirk said: “He who admits no fear of God is really a post-Christian man; for at the heart of Judaism and Christianity lies a holy dread.” 

How are you doing in your own family about teaching your children to fear the Lord, as David said he would do?  How is your church doing?  Or do you only present the feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy cuddle-bunny gospel?  God is not to be trifled with.  He never was and never will be that kind of God.  When we only teach and preach a gospel that makes us feel good, that takes away any fear of God’s discipline on us as His children, we are in serious trouble.  Hebrews 12:6 (NLT) says: For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.  If God loves you, He WILL discipline you when you step out of His pathway.  He doesn’t do it to be capricious, but because He loves you.  And while it may not be pleasant, we can always know He has our best at heart.

PRAYER: It is good to have a Father like You who loves us enough to discipline us when we need it.  Thank You for Your gentleness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/16/15 – Why, Lord?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/15: Why, Lord?

I hate Satan.  I hate what he entices people to do in this world with is lies and deceit.  I cannot wait until he is crushed forever beneath the heel of the glorified Lord.  It cannot happen soon enough.

Last week I learned that a good friend and co-worker in Africa was deeply affected by the recent massacre that took place at the college in Kenya.  This person had worked with those students on many occasions.  So, when I heard that 22 of those this person had worked with were shot and killed in that terrorist event, I was stunned.   Then, more recently, I heard from another co-worker and friend that their niece was in the attack and was “missing”…and they feared the worst.  This morning I received an email that said their worst fears had been confirmed: her remains had been identified by fingerprint.  You see, the terrorists had shot her (and others) in such a way that their faces were destroyed.   I cannot imagine the grief and pain.  I cannot imagine the anger and the desire for revenge.  And while I know that God hates what happened, I also know that Jesus said:

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers…Mt. 5:11 (NLT)

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! [45] In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  Mt. 5:44 (NLT)

How are we to do that, Lord?  How is that humanly possible?  Perhaps it isn’t.  Perhaps it is only the indwelling Spirit that can enable humans to live up to Jesus’ statements.

I know that I should pray for the conversion of those who have done this.  But, right now, I can’t.  All I want to think of right now is that God also said: Vengeance is Mine, I shall repay…  And I find comfort in that, even as I know that I deserve nothing more from God than do these brutal murderers…apart from His grace.

Will you pray for my friends?  And for Christ’s return?  Thank you.

PRAYER: Father, be with my friends and give them the comfort that only comes from You, and protect them, I pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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