DayBreaks for 02/29/12 – Ghost Soldiers

DayBreaks for 02/29/12 – Ghost Soldiers

Ghost Soldiers

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 1/16/2002:

I have recently completed one of the most compelling and remarkable books that I’ve ever read.  The title of the book is Ghost Soldiers and it was written by Hampton Sides.  This amazing book tells the true story of an incredible rescue mission that was launched in the Philippines during WW2.  You may have heard about the Bataan death march that took place during World War Two.  This was a brutal forced march of American, Philippine and other prisoners of war by the Imperial Japanese army.  Hundreds died during this forced march, and those who survived were brutalized, beaten, diseased, starved, tortured and forced to live under the most incredibly demeaning circumstances in prisoner of war camps.  This amazing story (I would highly recommend it, but it isn’t for the squeamish) was one I’d never heard before, but one which deserves to be told over and over again – and never forgotten.

This story highlights the most noble side of human nature – and the most degrading.  It is hard to believe that humans could rise to such heights of self-sacrifice, honor and integrity – in many cases giving up their lives for fellow-prisoners or for people they’d never met before.  I am in total awe of the prisoners and rescuers.  At the same time, it also reveals the depths to which human nature can sink when deprived of any knowledge of God.

Sadly, I think that far too often the church reflects both sides of humanity, too.  Some of the most noble and honorable acts in human history have taken place in the church because of the love of one Christian to another.   Sadly, some of the most inhumane acts have been perpetrated in the church and by the church – supposedly in the name of God.

Matthew 7:3-5 – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I know that we are also told to speak the truth in love, and also that we are to restore those taken in by sin: (Gal 6:1-2) “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  While Paul may be warning us about falling into the same sin as the one who is being restored, I don’t think that’s what he had in mind.  I think he was warning us about becoming too puffed up, too proud of our own righteousness (which we have none of – our only righteousness is HIS righteousness!) and as a result fall because of our prideful, haughty attitudes.

Sometimes when a brother or sister has been around a long time and has a long track record of sinning, repenting, being restored, then repeating the pattern over again, we become jaded and skeptical of repentance.  We start to judge the heart of the person as if we can really see it, we determine if the person really feels sorry for their sin or not, and if they have really repented or not.  That’s dangerous ground.  Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone who sinned against him.  Jesus’ response didn’t delve into reading the person’s heart, weighing the risk if the person hadn’t really repented, etc.  No, he put it this way in Matthew 18:21-35: “21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.  29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’  30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.  32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Perhaps the most difficult thing here is the last 3 words: “…from your heart…”.  What does Jesus mean?  With ALL our heart.  Without reservations.  Without hesitation.  The same way God forgives us.  Can you imagine, even for a second, that God sits and debates about whether or not to grant you the forgiveness you ask for?  (And He already KNOWS if you’ll fall into that sin again!!!)

Perhaps some day we’ll learn to extend even a portion of the grace to others that God has extended to us.

PRAYER: May we extend grace to others as much as we desperately want Your grace to be extended to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!  If you want to subscribe to the I Am 2 Partners, Inc., newsletter, click here.

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DayBreaks for 02/28/12 – Hand Grenades, Sky Divers and Sin

DayBreaks for 02/28/12 – Hand Grenades, Sky Divers and Sin

We are better off to leave some things alone...

An elite squad of six Chinese soldiers, performing a training ritual for a public audience in Hong Kong in January, stood in a circle and passed a satchel of live grenades from man to man, counting down to the expected moment of explosion. At the last possible second, the man caught holding the satchel discards it, and all dive into a hole for protection. At the exhibition, according to Chinese Central
Television, it worked out fine. [Daily Telegraph (London), 1-23-2012]

Why is it that people play Russian roulette, play with live grenades, tease and play with live cobras and do other such wild and dangerous things?  There seems to be something about us humans that likes to live on the edge.  We want to push the limits.  We throw ourselves out of perfectly good airplanes for a rush…daring death, but certainly hoping for life.

But it doesn’t always work that way, does it?  There will be the time when the chute doesn’t open, when the world-class free climber loses his/her grip on the vertical rock wall and plunges to their death.

I suppose a lot of it has to do with the exhilaration of knowing what could happen if things go wrong, but knowing that the odds are with us to survive.  And we bank on those odds.

When it comes to sin, we like to live on the edge, too.  We “play with fire” hoping to not get burned.  And we may get away with it for years – decades, even.  But if Scripture is clear about one thing, it is this: that our sins will “find us out” and we they will eventually be revealed.  “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” – Matthew 10:26

We read stories like this about the Chinese soldiers playing with a live hand grenade and think, “That’s crazy!” but we tend to not believe that sin is far deadlier than any live hand grenade.  If we did, we wouldn’t play games with it like we do.

PRAYER: Forgive us for thinking that you don’t notice our sin, that it is innocent and doesn’t harm either us or others.  Help us see and understand the deadliness of playing around with deadly things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “I Am 2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you! To sign up for the I Am 2 Partners, Inc. newsletter, go here: http://eepurl.com/iKrIv

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DayBreaks for 2/27/12 – Builders of Golden Calves

DayBreaks for 02/27/12 – Builders of Golden Calves

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 1/17/2002:

Exodus 32:1-4 – “1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”  2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.

This passage is one of the saddest passages in Scripture.  It hadn’t been all that long since God delivered His people from the clutches of pharaoh through a series of miraculous interventions.  You’d think that for a while, they would have been faithful.  But therein is the lesson for us: as humans, we are fickle creatures, prone to wander into sin as fast as our feet and hearts can take us.  We are not really all that different from the Israelites after all.

But what is interesting to me is that it was Aaron, the man who was to be first high priest, that made the golden calf.  The people wondered about the fate of Moses.  He’d been gone longer than anyone had anticipated.  I’m sure he hadn’t taken much food or extra luggage when he went up the side of the mountain, and the Israelites knew it, too.  Perhaps he’d frozen.  Perhaps he’d starved.  Perhaps he’d died of thirst, or been torn to pieces by a wild animal.  If any of those things had happened, the people would probably have concluded that the “God” they’d been following wasn’t all that powerful after all (in spite of all they’d witnessed in Egypt).  Or, perhaps, just perhaps, Moses had been guilty of sin and God had decided to strike him dead.  So, it was time for a new god.  This one would be golden – from a human perspective, a vast improvement on one that couldn’t even be seen.

In his book, Into the Depths of God, Calvin Miller had this to say about those who build golden calves: “Golden calves are the glitzy work of those Aarons who have not traversed the upper slopes of Sinai.  Those who have, meet that God who is the only food that can appease their hunger.”

Moses would never have built the calf after he’d encountered God in the burning bush, nor after he’d come down from Sinai.  He’d “seen” the real thing – who would need a cheap, golden imitation?  Miller also noted about the gods in our own lives: “Making Christ in our image avoids the painful work of being conformed to his.

Once we have encountered God in the truest and purest way, we will have no hunger for cheap imitations, and nothing else will even come close to the experience of the real thing. 

PRAYER: Father, keep us from building golden calves and following false gods to avoid the pain of being conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 02/24/12 – The Wound Closed Up

DayBreaks for 02/24/12 – The Wound Closed Up

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 2/26/2002:

(Washington Post/AP, 11/30/01) “Heart surgeon James McClurken of Abington Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia reported in November that his 70-year-old bypass patient was exhibiting an old would that surely indicated that an object had entered and exited his heart.  It turns out that the man had indeed taken a slug, in the Korean War, but thought at the time that it must have missed the heart, but now the surgeon says it passed through so quickly that the wound closed up tight with no ill effects.

What an amazing story!  Talk about being lucky!  God clearly had something for this man to do with his life to have spared him in such a miraculous way when he was shot through the heart years ago.  It is something special when you realize that God has spared your life.  It gives you a new sense of trying to understand what it is that He wants from you.  I don’t know if this man was a Christian or not, but God clearly was acting in his life.

As I read this story, I couldn’t help but have a couple of thoughts:

FIRST: Prov. 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Song of Solomon 8:6a – “Place me like a seal over your heart… .

Our heart is such a vital organ.  And when Scripture speaks of our heart, it refers not just to our emotions but our thoughts and to what is our true character and personality.  We need to guard it, to take whatever measures are necessary to protect and seal it.

SECOND: 2 Corinthians 2:7-11 – “7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven-if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Our hearts are often wounded by the things that people say and do.  Surely we have wounded the very heart of God over and over!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when our hearts have been “shot” through once again by someone, that the “bullet” so quickly passed though us that our heart (our relationship with the attacker) would heal itself so quickly that it was as if the injury never happened?  Would that we would never hold grudges!!!  If we could ever learn to forgive the way the Father forgave the prodigal, the way Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him, the way Jesus forgave the thief on the cross – indeed, the way He has forgiven us – the world would be transformed by the power of God’s forgiveness!

PRAYER: Jesus, heal our hearts and teach us to forgive fully and bear no scars for the wounding we have received in this world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 02/23/12 – The Bread of Lucifer

DayBreaks for 02/23/12 – The Bread of Lucifer

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 2/14/2002:

Matthew 4:1-4 – “1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

There are several things about this passage that are interesting.  First, “Jesus was led by the Spirit” into the desert for the expressed purpose of being tempted by the devil.  I don’t like that idea.  The concept that the Spirit might lead someone to a particular place or situation for the purpose of being tempted is scary?  I mean, if the Spirit would lead Jesus into the desert to be tempted, why won’t the Spirit do the same to/for me?  We view it in a negative way, of course, and for Jesus, it was part of his becoming able to identify with us in our temptation.  Still…it is an interesting, if not frightening, thought – one that I will have to consider and pray about.

On the surface, the temptation doesn’t seem to be that difficult.  What was Satan really after?  All he asked Jesus to do was to turn the stones into bread.  What’s the harm in that?  Well, as usual with Satan, there is more than meets the eye, and there are hidden motivations and trickery afoot any time he appears on the scene.  I think that Calvin Miller in The Unchained Soul, had an interesting insight that may be right: “Christ rejected the bread of Lucifer.  It was not the bread that he rejected so much as self-gratification.  If he makes bread out of one stone, he may create wine from the next and so on, till his self-denial is literally swallowed up in gluttony.  Christ freed himself from this material bondage to be the role model for our own self-denial.  Materialism does not always consist in what we have, but in what we hunger for.  It is not our concern about bread but our temptation to hoard it that sins so against our Lord’s wilderness example.

What if Christ gave in to self-gratification?  He was God, after all.  He could have indulged every whim that crossed his omniscient mind and no one could have stopped him.  But Jesus didn’t give in to that temptation, giving us an example to follow.  Isn’t there a lot of truth in the sentence about materialism not being what we have, but in what we hunger for?  This means that we could be materialistic, even though we may not have the things we desire, but simply because we desire them ourselves and they consume our minds, desires and passions.  We are materialists if we long for things more than we long for Jesus.

PRAYER: Let the longings of our hearts be in alignment with the great command!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 02/22/12 – To See, in Some Measure, Like God

DayBreaks for 02/22/12 – To See In Some Measure Like God

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 2/22/2002:

Luke 16:27-28 – “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Jeremiah 12:3a – “Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you!  Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter!

While contemplating his grief process and the death of his late wife (whom he refers to as “H.”) C. S. Lewis wrote: “It is often thought that the dead see us.  And we assume, whether reasonable or not, that if they see us at all they see us more clearly than before.  Does H. now see exactly how much froth or tinsel there was in what she called, and I call, my love?  So be it.  Look your hardest, dear.  I wouldn’t hide if I could.  We didn’t idealize each other.  We tried to keep no secrets.  You knew most of the rotten places in me already.  If you now see anything worse, I can take it.  So can you.  Rebuke, explain, mock, forgive.  For this is one of the miracles of love; it gives – to both, but perhaps especially to the woman – a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”

“To see in some measure, like God.  His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him.  We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.”  – C. S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

One of the most shocking things about God is that He sees everything.  And He sees everything because He cares about His creation – in particular in the eternal destiny of mankind.  But the most amazing thing was captured by Lewis in those last six words: “…and therefore loves although He sees.”  Can you believe it?  Do you think that your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend would unconditionally love you even if they knew everything about you?  EVERYTHING?  If they knew every thought you’ve ever had about them, about their weaknesses and failings, about their parents, about their personal habits?  I’m not sure that any of us have the ability to truly love unconditionally, but God does.  And it is that unconditional love that allows Him to love us even though He sees and knows every single detail of our thoughts, actions, deeds, words and intentions.

How badly we need to be like God in this matter – to see the needs and hurts and pains and successes (and yes, even the faults that everyone has) – and yet to love those people although we see!  We need to learn to see, in some measure (however incompletely it may be), like God.  Let us pray for better vision and the love that accompanies His vision!

PRAYER: Father, help us to love, although we see, that we may be imitators of Your love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

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DayBreaks for 02/21/12 – Nonsense Questions

DayBreaks for 02/21/12 – Nonsense Questions

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 2/22/2002:

When we lose a loved one, when things all around us begin to collapse and crumble and we can no longer see the horizon of the pit into which we’ve fallen, we are prone to ask God questions.  We aren’t alone.  Check out Job – he had PLENTY of questions for God – and got not a single answer for all his questioning.  While God did finally speak to Job, He didn’t answer the questions.  Were Job’s questions an affront to God?  I don’t think so.  God’s first actions are to undertake a firm and strong defense of “my servant, Job”.  I think it is more likely that Job, like we, asked God so many questions that were unanswerable.  Does it seem impossible that we could pose a question to God that He couldn’t answer?  Consider:

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think.  All nonsense questions are unanswerable.  How many hours are there in a mile?  Is yellow square or round?  Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”

“And now that I come to think of it, there’s no practical problem before me at all.  I know the two great commandments, and I’d better get on with them.  Indeed, H’s (Lewis’ wife) death has ended the practical problem.  While she was alive I could, in practice, have put her before God; that is, could have done what she wanted instead of what He wanted; if there’d been a conflict.  What’s left is not a problem about anything I could do.  It’s all about weights of feelings and motives and that sort of thing.  It’s a problem I’m setting myself.  I don’t believe God set it me at all.”  – C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I think Lewis is right.  If our questions make sense to us, that may be a good sign that they probably are unsensible to God.  We simply don’t know enough to be able to frame our questions.  We don’t know enough of the details of any situation, the options, the impact of the things we ask about.  But God understands why we ask – and He even asks us to ask, even if we don’t understand that our questions are unanswerable as asked.

In the last paragraph, I think Lewis has captured the real meaning and danger of loving someone more than God.  The risk is that we are more prone to do what they want us to do than what God wants us to do.  And that is the nature of temptation, isn’t it?

PRAYER: Lord, I wonder how many times I have put others, and myself, ahead of You?  It is hard, Lord, to put someone first whom we have never seen.  Keep us from the worship of things and people in this world that might distract us from our true calling.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, you also click on the Subscribe button at and select the Unsubscribe drop-down.