DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

No matter where you go in Disneyland or Disney World. They are everywhere. No, I’m not talking about families or smiling faces or Mickey Mouse ears. I’m talking about garbage cans. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll find one approximately every thirty feet or so.  Do you know why?

If you think it’s just because there is so much trash in Disney’s confines, you’d be right…but that’s not why. Walt Disney himself is responsible for the fact that they are about 30 feet apart. You see, Walt reasoned that is took someone about 30 steps to eat a hot dog from start to finish, so about every 30 feet there is a trash receptacle waiting to receive the associated trash. In order to keep the place clean it was important to have enough garbage cans so people could get rid of their garbage frequently.

We, as humans, need to frequently unload our “garbage”, our sin. James puts it clearly: if we say we are without sin we are not – we are liars, which makes us sinners. Guilty…every last one of us. And we need to get rid of our garbage.

Fortunately, God has made it easy for us to do so…though at great cost to Himself. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us…(1 John 1:9). 

Do you know one of the things I’m so very grateful for about that verse? It doesn’t say “If we confess our sins and never ever commit them again He is faithful and just to forgive…”  If that were the grounds for our forgiveness, I would still be in my sin…and so would you. Oh, I understand the concept and importance of repentance, but I also understand the nature of my weakness. If my forgiveness were conditioned on my perfect repentance, it would be works and performance based. I’ve tried to live that kind of life and it is very discouraging.

Disney put his trash bins 30 feet apart. God has placed the confessional booth within reach of every single human being who wants to come to Him…and you don’t even have to walk 30 steps to get there!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for making forgiveness and salvation so easily accessible to us, even though it was far from cheap for You to do so. May we take advantage of the opportunity afforded us to come to You in confession and find Your faithfulness and justness on display! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/22/16 – Beware the Dragon

DayBreaks for 7/22/16 – Beware the Dragon

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

Where does one begin to fight against the evil in the world?  In the political arena?  In the media?  In the schools? Perhaps it’s because there is so much evil in the world that we may have a hard time figuring out where to get started.  But perhaps the real question isn’t where do we begin to resist the power of evil, but that we DO begin and HOW we begin.

I must say that it shames me when something evil has happened and some famous Christian strikes back with mindless words of rancor and bitterness.  Of course, such things get plastered all over the press.  And the net result?  The name of Christ is once again dragged through the mud.  

It was Nietzsche who said, almost prophetically: “Beware when you fight a dragon that you don’t become a dragon.” There is no shortage of targets for us to choose to tackle, but we probably should spend more time thinking about how to tackle them in a Godly fashion before we launch into some kind of diatribe that Christ wouldn’t recognize or approve of.  

As I get older, I’m becoming more and more convinced that how we go about fighting against evil is probably even more important than the fact that we do engage it.  If we don’t employ the right strength (His, not ours) and right tactics (again His, not ours), we will fail and he will be shamed.  Let’s not become the very kind of dragons that we’re fighting against.  Let us rather be instruments of love, compassionate but correcting, rather than blunt instruments that bruise and break and bludgeon.  Those were the tools of those who took the life of Christ and they are not to be the tools of our trade.

PRAYER:  Sometimes, Lord, we get so very angry at the injustice and wrong-doing that we see all around us.  We get carried away with anger, not with love.  Please, use your Spirit to put a check in our hearts to respond and take on evil only in the same manner that our Lord and Master did while he walked this earth.  Keep us from being well-intentioned “dragons.”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/21/16 – Get Your Toes in the Water!

DayBreaks for 7/21/16 – Get Your Toes in the Water

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

Exodus 14 recounts an amazing moment in the history of God’s people.  Get the picture clearly in your mind: Moses, an itinerant shepherd for the past 40 years, has gone to Egypt and told the most powerful man in the world, Pharaoh (by the way – many think that the pharaoh of the exodus whom God humbled was none other than Ramses II, the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of all time), to let his fellow Hebrews go.  After a test of wills between God and pharaoh, Ramses gives in and the people leave.  The children of Israel head east, being led by God in that direction. In the distance Moses starts to see a shimmering that looks like water, but initially he probably wasn’t sure whether it was water or a mirage.  But, with each step it starts to look more and more like water.  Soon – he’s sure.  And it isn’t a little puddle, either.  We’re talking serious waves here!

About the same time, Moses starts to hear the sounds of warriors, chariots and hooves behind him, and the angry shouts of the Egyptian soldiers out to take revenge on the Israelites for the deaths of their firstborn sons.  The Israelites start to cry out to Moses, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  They were catching a vision, too – a vision of their bones bleached dry in the desert sands by the Red Sea.

Moses tries to calm their fears in verses 13-14 by telling the people to “stand firm” and that they “need only to be still”.  Verse 15, however, is where I want to focus: Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  I can almost hear Moses: “Well, OK, Lord, but in case you haven’t noticed, we have a bit of a problem here.  You see, we can’t move forward.  There’s a huge body of water here.”  God’s answer: “Get your feet wet!”

What’s the point?  Moses told the people to be still and wait.  He apparently cried out to God in prayer and was going to sit around, wait and watch what God was going to do.  That wasn’t what God wanted.  God doesn’t work that way. His response to Moses was: “What are you sitting around and waiting for?  Move on!”  In his book, For Those Who Can’t Believe, Harold Schulweis made the observation: “Faith…(in God) is necessary but not sufficient for authentic prayer.  Covenantal prayer calls forth the faith to go forward.” 

Are you stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place?  Are you at a standstill in your walk with Him?  Have you been praying and then sitting back to see what God was going to do, instead of praying and moving forward? God will act – but not until you move forward in faith that He will act.  The seas were parted, but the children of Israel still had to move forward in faith through the towering piles of water. 

God has heard your prayers – now He is watching to see if you’re going to move!

PRAYER:  Father, we want to be spectators too often in the church and in matters of faith.  We want to watch You do spectacular things, but only when our neck isn’t on the line or we don’t have anything at risk.  We want to see You move first.  Help us to know that once we’ve committed our way to You in prayer, since You’ve promised to hear and answer, to discern Your voice and then move forward into the waters of deep faith.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

DayBreaks for 7/20/16 – Where Was God in Auschwitz?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I’ve read a lot in the past few years about the Jewish holocaust.  What a horrible and terrible chapter in the life of humanity!  One of the loudest questions of all time is asked about the Holocaust, and was echoed by Harold Schulweis in For Those Who Cannot Believe:  “The Holocaust mocks my faith.  For at the core of that faith is the conviction that God breathed into the nostrils of human beings an inviolable human soul, that God created the human being in His image and in His likeness.  The taunting dissonance between that faith and the facts of the Holocaust disturbs my belief.  The picture of a child hanged in the presence of parents in the concentration camp brings to mind a rabbinic commentary on the hanging of a criminal based on a verse in the book of Deuteronomy 21.23: A criminal sentenced to death and hanged must not remain overnight upon the tree because it is “a reproach to God.” Why a reproach to God?  The rabbinic answer is offered in the form of a parable: Once a noble king had a twin brother who violated the law and was hanged on a tree in the public square.  People passing by the corpse of the king’s twin took him to be the king and shouted, “Behold, the king is dead!”  The king was humiliated.  

The parable is breathtaking.  God and man, at some level, are as it were twins.  To deface the image of man is to blaspheme the Creator of that image.  God is not raised by lowering the human image…Who before the memory of cremated children can declare the twinship of God and man? …But where was the Adonai (the Lord) in Auschwitz?  Where was the power and mystique of Adonai within the hell of the Holocaust?”

“Where was Adonai in the Holocaust?  Adonai was in Niuvelande, a Dutch village in which 700 residents rescued 500 Jews, including 100 Jewish children.  Adonai was in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, whose citizens hid and protected 5000 Jews under the inspired leadership of Pastor Andre Trocme.  Adonai was in the rat-infested sewers of Lvov, where Polish sewer workers hid 17 Jews for 14 months.”  His list goes on, and he finally says: “Holocaust scholars now estimate that there were between 50,000 and 500,000 Christian rescuers.  Whatever the number, there were too few.  Sadly there are always too few moral heroes in history.”

“How ironic that our children … know the names of Klaus Barbie, Goebbels, Goering, Eichmann, Himmler and Hitler but not the names of those who risked their lives to hide and protect the Frank family….When the rescuers are asked “Why did you risk all this?” they typically respond “What else could I do?  What would you do?”

For today, let’s just ask ourselves the questions that Schulweis’ book asked: “That question places a mirror to my soul.  Would I open the door?  Would I hide this pursued pregnant woman?  Would I take care of her needs?  When rations during the war were so meager would I risk getting extra food without raising suspicion?   Would I take an infant into my home whose cries might reveal our hiding place?  What would I do with their refuse or with their bodies after their death?  Stefa Krakowska, a Polish peasant, hid 14 persons in her home, ranging from age 3 to age 60, in a home in which a simple pail served as the toilet.  When an older Jewish woman fell sick and knew herself to be dying, she turned to Stefa.  “My God, my dead body may bring disaster to you. What will you do with my body?” She feared for the others’ safety.  She died.  At night, secretly and in stages they buried her dismembered body in Stefa’s garden.” 

“Sadly, there are always too few moral heroes in history.”  What a haunting observation.  But there is good news, too. To be a moral hero you don’t have to be a king, wealthy, powerful or attractive.  What you do have to do is be faithful…and that’s something that any man or woman can choose to do.  You, and I, can be moral heroes for the cause of Christ.

I’m often afraid to speak out because God’s point of view isn’t popular.  As a group, Christians today lack the moral courage to speak, live and act on our convictions and on what we know to be truth.  Let’s be the moral heroes that this world so desperately needs and that God wants us to be.  Let it never be said that in our day there were no moral heroes.  Let us be those heroes to our friends, family, co-workers and even our enemies.

PRAYER:  Give us moral courage to follow You through life and death.  Let us, as we stand around the campfire when You are on trial in this world, not deny You, but let us speak Your name boldly, proudly, humbly.  Let us be the heroes You need us to be in our own day and age.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/19/16 – One Old Man and a Boat

DayBreaks for 7/19/16 – One Old Man and a Boat

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I remember the story of Noah from my childhood.  I was fascinated, as nearly all children are, by animals.  I still love animals (okay, except definitely not rattlesnakes!)  To imagine being shut up on an ark full of animals for such a long period of time and to listen to the rainfall hammering on the roof was pretty heady stuff for a young boy’s mind. 

I love the stories of the Old Testament.  I get so wrapped up in them that sometimes I overlook the great meaning behind them – that they are more than just mere recitations of history.  For example, the story of Noah is about a lot more than just one man and a boat.

What should we learn from the story of Noah?  Well, there are probably lots of things:

  1. God will not tolerate wickedness indefinitely;
  2. God will judge the wicked;
  3. God will provide a way of escape for those who love and obey Him.

But I think that there are a couple more lessons in the story of Noah that we should think about as well.

Mankind has a strong bent toward self-destruction.  The men and women of Noah’s day were so wicked and twisted in their thinking and behavior that they refused to hear God’s Word.  They were headed toward destruction and even though they had a messenger from God telling them exactly what was going to happen, they didn’t care and they didn’t change.  They kept on marching to whatever appeared to be right in their own eyes. 

We’re really no different today.  We pursue what we want – even though God has already told us what the consequences will be.  And we have the free choice, as did the people of Noah’s day, to destroy ourselves.   I don’t hold to the theory that mankind is going to destroy the world with nuclear weapons because I believe the Word teaches that the world will pass as a result of the direct action of Jesus Christ when he returns.  But the fact remains that we are full of sin and that sin is deadly and destructive.  God will not tolerate it forever.

Secondly, unless we take the time to think about it – we miss the incredible truth of what one person who is obedient to God can do.  One man, Noah, who found grace in God’s eyes and was declared by Scripture to be the most innocent man of his time, and through his obedience was responsible for the continuance of the human race.  What if Noah had refused?  What if he’d laughed at God and told him that He was crazy?  But he didn’t.  He obeyed – and as a result of his obedience, we are here today. 

Look around you.  Can you see the flood waters of evil on the horizon?  We have within us the seeds of our own destruction through rebellion to God.  Perhaps God is calling you to be the Noah in your family, in your neighborhood, in your school or place of business.  How will you answer Him?  Through you and your faith God may draw your entire family into His eternal Presence and save you from the destruction that will fall upon the ungodly.  God will do His part – will we do ours?

PRAYER:  Jesus, we need Your Spirit to be turned loose in this world, and that includes in our own hearts.  We want to be faithful women and men who will be the ark-builders that act on faith in obedience to Your command.  When we feel that we’re just not up to building that ark, please remind us that it isn’t our ark, but Yours, and You want it built and You will provide all that we need in terms of courage, wisdom, knowledge and strength to obey You.  Let us remember that Your best work is always done in broken vessels like us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/18/16 – RX for a World Torn Apart

DayBreaks for 7/18/16 – RX For a World Torn Apart

From our Sunday worship bulletin (and some of my own input, too):

Whatever comes out of these dates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive. – Maximus

This quote is from the movie, “Gladiator,” and the context is gladiators coming together to fight a common enemy. I love the quote because it’s a great illustration for the church. If the church works together, if it stays together, then whatever common enemy we face, we can survive. Now, Jesus said He would build His church, and therefore the church at large is not going to disappear. We’re here to stay. Still, the church, in this age, can certainly be threatened. There are enemies which would seek to eliminate it. So, the church is in a definite battle. There is spiritual warfare going on.

Who is the enemy? The apostle John instructs the church to …not love the world or things in the world. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16) In this context, we get a glimpse that the enemy is, in some ways, our own sinful desire. The apostle Peter also says, Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) The enemy is the devil, and it’s the world around us, made up of sinful people, including us. My contention is often the enemy (regardless of who or what it is) threatens to pull us apart, isolate us from one another, and bring us to disunity.

This is a huge issue, not just for the church but for our nation. But what’s so scary about it for the church is that it’s often subtle. We can easily testify Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and our lives can be isolated from one another. We are not working together or staying together. We may have gotten to the point, in which we understand we even need to be together.

So, what do I mean “to be together”? Well, we’re in relationship with others in the church, those who know us, including some of our struggles. Yes, that’s scary, and there are a lot of challenges with that. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek it out. Why? Because we need one another. To walk this journey of faith, which is hard enough, I’m convinced we can’t do it on our own. We need the church. We need to be in relationship with God’s people, and that’snot just your name on a roll.

The enemy is at the gates. If we’re to stay together, as a church, as a nation, if we’re to work together, we must first be together. United we stand and survive, divided we fall.

PRAYER: Jesus, in an age characterized by anonymity, isolation and texting instead of face-to-face conversations, it’s easy for us to withdraw, to not be together with others. Let us learn from your example that you didn’t text us from heaven, but you came to BE with us. Create that desire in us to be with others, to risk the relationships, so we can work together in peace and harmony. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/15/16 – Let Me Be That Kind of Bum

(Note: the above picture is not Oscar Childs!)

DayBreaks for 7/15/16 – Let Me Be That Kind of Bum

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2006:

Tony Campolo was at a conference I attended and he told a story about a bum in Sydney, Australia.  It seems that for a period of about 9 years, there was a particular bum who always hung around the train station in Sydney.  It seems that as people would be waiting for their train, he would approach them, cautiously but respectfully, and ask them a question: “If you died tonight, do you know where you’d spend eternity?”  Then he’d disappear. 

Apparently, Campolo traveled to Sydney from time to time, and twice while he was there, he encountered two different men, 2 years apart, who shared a story with him about a bum that they’d encountered at the train station who had made them think about life and death, and who had reached them for Christ with a simple question.

Some years later, on another visit to Sydney, Mr. Campolo was on a radio show, being interviewed, and someone told him the story of a man named Oscar Childs.  Oscar Childs was a bum who hung around the train station, asking people if they knew where they would spend eternity.  In a matter of minutes, the phone lines of the radio show were flooded with calls as hundreds of people phoned in to tell stories of how Mr. Childs had helped lead them to Christ as they’d waited in the train station.  It seems that Mr. Childs had just died.  He was a bum, just a bum, and he died as a bum…but what a legacy he left behind him (or actually carried with him) for eternity!  In this world Mr. Childs had little to nothing, but he wasn’t primarily concerned about this world.  He was concerned about the next and about taking as many people with him to heaven as possible.  Talk about meaning and purpose in life – talk about doing something that will live on after we’re long gone!  Mr. Childs died a happy man and he will live in eternity with many friends he made in a train station in Sydney.

PRAYER:  In our hurry, Jesus, we get carried away with the rush to get somewhere, to achieve something.  And in most cases, what we’re trying to achieve isn’t very important at all.  And we sacrifice the things that are truly important for a handful of dust.  Give us hearts that are eager to share You and your love with those who so desperately need to know You.  Thank You for examples of people like Mr. Childs, a brother we have never met, but whom we someday will.  Give us courage like lions for you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.