DayBreaks for 9/04/15 – Yes, But I Do

DayBreaks for 9/04/15: Yes, But I Do

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

If we believe in Jesus, we should know that the various boundaries we used to include and exclude, to categorize and sort, are erased both on the inside and the outside. We should, I say, because we don’t always act like we believe it.

Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer. When the missionary reached the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally on the run for their lives, looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why, we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money he’d received to pay for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

What good is our faith if it doesn’t make a difference in how we love and demonstrate our love for God and for others?

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/03/15 – How a Fish Stick Changed the World

DayBreaks for 9/03/15: How a Fish Stick Changed the World

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. – Luke 24:35-43 (NLT)

Several days had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. There was no denying what had happened – and no one doubted he had died. The facts were obvious to all who were there. There was no expectation of a joyful reunion on earth. Such things just don’t happen – they didn’t then, and they don’t today.

And so let us be gracious to Jesus’ early followers. When Jesus does appear, there is fear galore, but not the tiniest inkling of faith. They recognized his form, his appearance, but they, like we, would probably make the assumption that a ghost looks like the person they once was (if we can speak of ghosts in such a way.)

What does Jesus do? He invites them to touch his body and thereby be convinced of his corporeal substance. This is flesh and bone, not as phantasm. You’d think that would be enough to convince them. The flesh, I’m sure, wasn’t cold and rigid, but warm and flexible. Yet it wasn’t enough to convince them. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to convince me, either.

So, Jesus asks for something to eat. They hand a him a piece of fish – a fish stick, if you will. And Jesus eats it. As Dave Buckley said in his blog post: “Enter the fish finger! This is the moment. The moment that a fish finger changed everything…As Jesus swallowed that fish finger, suddenly the idea of of him being alive again was easier to swallow too.”

That’s all it took – one fish stick. Their disbelief turned into a faith that would lead them all, save one, to martyrdom. That fish stick changed the world – and it has changed eternity because it turned doubters into absolute believers.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a fish stick again in the same way because once the disciples saw a fish stick disappear, they never saw Jesus again in the same way.

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/02/15 – What Do You Lack?

DayBreaks for 9/02/15: What Do You Lack?

A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. – Mark 7:2 (NLT)

In ancient Greece it was customary for peddlers who walked the streets with their wares to cry out, “What do you lack?” The idea, of course, was to let people know they were in the vicinity, and also rouse the curiosity of the people who would come out of their homes to see what it was that this peddler was selling. It might, after all, be something they lacked and needed, or simply something they desired.

It is a good question, don’t you think? “What do you lack?” We may have sight and hearing, but what do we lack? Take a bit of time to conduct an honest inventory of yourself. Have you found contentment? Are you close enough to God to receive his guidance and strength? Have you secured peace of heart and peace of mind, invaluable assets in life?

Deciding what we lack is the first step in securing it. Christ can fulfill our needs — needs that are to some extent physical, but, more so, the deepest needs of heart, mind, and soul.

The man in Mark 7 lacked the physical ability to hear. Let me suggest that many of us spiritual ability (or at least the spiritual discipline) to hear. We suffer a kind of a spiritual deafness. The affliction of not listening to people, or, to put it another way, the affliction of physically listening to people, yet failing to comprehend, to understand, and come to grips with what they are saying, is a plague upon the Church. For, you see, it is possible to listen to a person, yet fail to really hear them.

Perhaps you are spiritually blind to the truth of the Word and how it speaks into the culture around you. Perhaps you don’t think it is relevant to a time 20 centuries removed from the time of Christ. Maybe you read the words on the pages but think they are antiquated and that the truth that is behind the translation is no longer valid for our modern, “enlightened” culture.

I hope today you’ll really spend some time to think about what it is that you lack…and what you need to get from Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, we all lack many things and it can be rather daunting to contemplate what it is that we truly lack and need. I pray that today You will reveal to us that which we are most in need of and then create a hunger in us that will not die until You satisfy it within us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/01/15 – Of Slaves and Freedom

DayBreaks for 9/01/15: Of Slaves and Freedom

“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – John 8:33-36 (NLT)

I was born a free citizen in a country that has historically loved and honored freedom. I am very grateful for it. I have never known someone who was a slave to another human being. Powerful movies (Twelve Years a Slave, The Color Purple, and Alex Haley’s Roots to name a few) give us amazing images related to the horrors of slavery – and yet I suspect it is even worse than those images could begin to portray.

Human trafficking and slavery is a huge topic around the world – and rightly so. It is an abomination and every decent human being longs for its eradication.

However – according to Jesus, we are all slaves. Everyone who sins is a slave to it – and that encompasses us all. There is nothing we can do about it. This is a depressing statement and would be enough to crush our spirits if not for what Jesus says next: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. There is a mystical transaction that takes place in the heavenly places where our slavery to the power of sin (both our constant desire to give in to temptation) and the domination of sin over us through death, is broken. It is broken by the Son, not by our obedience. Our job then is to hold to his teaching (as best we can), knowing that the power of sin has already been dealt with so we do not have to carry that questioning around with us.

Ready to cast off your bonds of slavery? Jesus came for that very purpose – to remove our chains and set us free!

PRAYER: Thank you for breaking the chains we have forged with our sin and for setting us free! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/31/15 – The Hidden Deception of Sin

DayBreaks for 8/31/15: The Hidden Deception of Sin

Daniel 5 is a fascinating chapter. Belshazzar, the titular king of Babylon and grandson to the great Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, was one of those who never learned from history. His grandfather’s pride led to his being punished with the disease of boanthropy – believing and acting like a cow – until he repented and came to his senses and was restored to his grandeur.

Belshazzar surely would have heard the story. Had he learned? No. He was filled with pride. Daniel 5 says as much, but it is evident in what was happening in the capital even as the enemy was at the gate.

Nabonidus, Belshazzar’s father and the actual king, was gone waging war against the Medes and Persians, and Belshazzar was left in the citadel of Babylon to rule in his absence. The Medes and Persians were outside the walls, threatening the city. So what does Belshazzar do? He hosts a wild party.

What was Belshazzar thinking? We can only surmise, but he had invited all the nobles to a great feast that night. It seems as if Belshazzar was mocking the enemy, or trying to convince his nobles (and perhaps himself!) that they had nothing to fear for he was, after all, the king of Babylon!

If there is a sin that has plagued creation since the time of the beginning, it would seem to be pride: pride in thinking we know better than the Creator what is good and best for us, pride that causes us to think we created our own successes and are alone responsible for our achievements. It is pride that makes us seek more and more possessions, more and more power, more and more fame and glory for ourselves. And Belshazzar had it in spades, this sin called pride.

Pride blinded Belshazzar to what befell his grandfather. Sin blinded him to the realities of the situation with which he was confronted. And that is what sin does best: it makes us unaware of the danger involved. Especially when sin is coupled with God’s long-suffering nature.

Because we have all sinned and seem to have “gotten away with it” (which is really just God’s incredible patience to have not stricken us dead on the spot, for “the soul that sins shall surely die”), we are blinded to the danger of our sin. It is like playing with a king cobra and not being bit. It leads us to a false sense of well-being and we conclude that “all must be well” when in reality, as Belshazzar found out, it was not well at all. That very night, in Daniel 5, Belshazzar was overthrown and killed.

We have recently seen how this happens with the entire Ashley Madison hack. Those who thought they were “safe” in their secret sins one night, awoke the next morning to find they had been deceived into thinking they were safe and their infidelities were secret and hidden.

Sin’s deception is hideous. It makes us unaware of the danger. And that is perhaps the greatest danger of all.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. – Galatians 6:7 (ESV)

PRAYER: Keep us from deception and from convincing ourselves that all is well when we sin! Reveal to us the danger in the things we do – yet seem to get away with. Make us wise to Truth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/27/15 – The Power of Together

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DayBreaks for 8/27/15: The Power of Together

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/29/2005:

It hasn’t been that long – you may remember it. A few years back a tremendous human drama played out above and below ground in the Quecreek mine in Pennsylvania.  A group of miners were drilling in a coal mine shaft. Unbeknownst to them, their map was wrong. They believed that they were hundreds of feet away from an old mine shaft that had long ago been flooded.  As their drill bit broke through into the flooded shaft, millions of gallons of water began pouring into the mine where they were working. The water filled the lower section of the shaft and cut off their escape route to the surface. They were trapped in a cold, totally dark mine shaft. 

I probably would have totally freaked out – I am claustrophobic, and one of my worst nightmares is to be trapped somewhere. But these men decided early on that they would live or die as a group. They wouldn’t split up, taking their chances as individuals. Whatever their fate held, they would face it together.  And so days passed while rescue teams drilled a new hole through which the men might be rescued. As they huddled together in the cold, dark wetness of the shaft, when one member became too cold, they would all huddle around that man and hold them until they warmed up, and then they’d take turns warming others. 

Eventually, the rescuers managed to reach the men and they were all rescued from several hundred feet underground. The rescue was shown on television.  It took place at night, as I recall, when the first miners were brought up to the surface, soaked, dirty, but very, very happy to be alive. I was very moved by the images of the men coming up out of that dark pit.

As Christians there are powerful lessons in what happened to these men. 

FIRST: it’s important to have the right map. If they’d not had an incorrect map, they wouldn’t have ever drilled the hole that let the water in. We can easily look for direction in the wrong places. Guidance must come from a reliable source.  If you want truth, you must turn to the Truth.

SECOND: there was power in the men staying together. It’s easy to think that we can go it alone and survive. And in fact, rather than binding together as people who are going through an ordeal (make no doubt about it, we are living in a very serious and deadly situation), we often turn on one another and are more interested in scoring points rather than survival and helping one another live. 

THIRD: waiting must be extremely hard to do when you are in a flooded tunnel with a diminishing air supply in total darkness. Yet these men realized that their best chance for survival was to stick together and wait for rescue to come. They could have untied themselves and tried in vain to swim through the pitch-black tunnels in search of the exit – and they would have drowned, almost certainly. As Christians, we need to tie and bind ourselves together with the love of the Lord, helping one another survive until the Rescuer from above appears.  Scripture is full of admonitions to persevere, to wait upon the Lord and His time and will. 

Romans 8:23-25 – Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

PRAYER: God, help us love one another truly from the heart and be united in love and by the family ties that bind us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/26/15 – The Power of Pretend

DayBreaks for 8/26/15: The Power of Pretend

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/25/2005:

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:3)

It won’t be long now until The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe finds its way to the big screen. I don’t know if you’ve seen previews of it, but it looks great. It is, of course, based on the book of the same name which is part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. How fitting (and delightful) that it should come to the big screen. Of course, I’ve not see it so I can’t vouch for the content, but what I’ve seen by way of previews looks very exciting, indeed. Already there are Christian books springing up in anticipation of capitalizing on the movie and the books that Lewis wrote. I even bought one.

In Aslan’s Call – Finding Our Way to Narnia, by Mark Eddy Smith, the author was speaking about the power of pretend, and how that sometimes, when in moments of weak faith, pretend seems to be able to convey truth that sometimes we miss in the middle of real life. Of course, the author points out, Narnia and Aslan are pretend, while earth, heaven and Jesus are very real, indeed. Nonetheless, he wrote concerning the verse above: “The specific childhood virtue to which he alluded is humility, but it cannot have escaped his attention that the thing for which children are best known is their ability to pretend, to make believe that they are mothers or fathers, Davids or Goliaths, camels or coyotes. When someone tells them there’s a man who can walk on water, their eyes go wide and they gasp in astonishment, just as if they had seen it themselves. The next time they’re at the beach, they give it a try; and their disappointment when they sink is profound…The stories in the Bible tell us we can change the world, indeed that we must, and maybe we long to believe them, but it’s hard because of the sinking we did when we were children.”

I remember trying to walk on water as a child, and failing. Was I disappointed? Yes, I was. In many things since my childhood, I’ve tried to take a step in faith. Sometimes it was successful (although it isn’t really about me and my success as much as it is my willingness to say, “Yes, Lord!” when he asks me to take a step), many times I failed. When I failed, it was usually because whatever I was trying to do didn’t make sense to me, or rather, I concluded that it would never work and didn’t take that step of faith because I was afraid that I’d sink, just like I did when I tried walking on water as a little kid. “It didn’t work then, it won’t work now,” might as well have been my mantra. And sadly, there are still times in my life now when I don’t try to walk on the water anymore. And that is a tragedy, because life lived with Jesus calls for walking on water, for the power to imagine what could be, for the excitement and amazement of the adventure that beckons us onward. If Jesus walks on water, and I am to follow him, doesn’t it stand to reason that I must walk on water at least part of the time, too? Of course, I’ll only be able to walk on the water if I’m walking with him and through his uplifting power and Presence. 

Imagine. Imagine what God could do through you. If you need to pretend in your head first, fine…go right ahead. But don’t let it stop there. After the Spirit puts the vision in your heart and confirms it, live it!!!!

PRAYER: Lord, we long for a great adventure, but are afraid to take the first step because we’ve failed so often. Help us to take the first step when Your Spirit shows us the direction! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.