DayBreaks for 04/30/15 – Choosing Hiddenness

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DayBreaks for 4/30/15: Choosing Hiddenness

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

John 3:18-21 – There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.  19 Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  20 They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished.  21 But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.

In his book, God Is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg relayed a story told by Dallas Willard about a little two-and-one-half year old girl named Larissa who discovered how to make mud pies in her back yard (in typical childhood fashion, she called it “warm chocolate.”)  Her grandmother was with her, but had been reading and didn’t notice that the little girl was literally covered in mud.  After cleaning up the mess, grandma instructed the little girl to made no more warm chocolate.  She even turned her chair around so that she could keep an eye on the little one.  It didn’t matter to the little girl, who simply said: “Don’t look at me, Nana.  Okay?”  Ortberg continued: “Nana (being a little codependent) of course agreed.  Larissa continued to manufacture warm chocolate.  Three times she said, as she continued her work, ‘Don’t look at me, Nana.  Okay?”  Willard writes, “Thus the tender soul of a little child shows us how necessary it is to us that we be unobserved in our wrong.”  Any time we chose to do wrong or to withhold doing right, we choose hiddenness as well.  It may be that out of all the prayers that are ever spoken, the most common one – the quietest one, the one that we least acknowledge making – is simply this: Don’t look at me, God.”

John says that this tendency to wish, even ask, that God not look at us is a sure indication that we are involved in sin.  Isn’t it silly how we try to convince ourselves that we can hide what we do from His eyes?  Yet we all do it, have done it, and will almost certainly do it again. 

It is quite a different story when we do what is right.  When we do something good, we’re all hoping that God is watching and that He hasn’t missed a moment of the good things we’ve been doing.  We want Him to see us then.  Just as we tried to hide from our folks when we were misbehaving as small children, we continue to repeat the pattern. 

It’s a tragic thing when we ask God to not look at us.  But there is one thing that is even worse.  It was experienced by Samson, one of the judges of Israel.  He had great opportunity and blessing by God, but his impulses got the better of him over and over again, and he broke the vows he’d made to God.  Near the end of Samson’s life is a terrifying statement: “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”  Here’s what’s so frightening: the Lord had been with Samson on many occasions, but Samson had gotten so far away from God by pretending that God couldn’t see him, that the time came when Samson didn’t recognize that God had indeed left him.

What is your modus operandi?  So you spend more time hiding from the light of God, or running to the light so that your works, words and attitudes can be seen?

PRAYER: Give us confidence in Your character so we will never fear running to the Light! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/28/15 – The Meaning of “Friend”

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DayBreaks for 4/28/15: The Meaning of “Friend”

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

A man who has friends must himself be friendly.  Prov. 18:24 (NKJV)

Friend.  It’s a term that sometimes we use a bit loosely.  We may, in casual conversation after meeting someone, even go so far as to call them a friend, or to say “Well, my friend, have a good afternoon.”  When we use the term that loosely, though, it can lose some of its specialness, just as if we misuse and cheapen the meaning of the world love.  The word “friend” is one that perhaps we should cherish more than we do. 

I have friends.  And I love my friends.  As I hope does everyone, I have a best friend.  I can’t begin to tell you how precious that friendship is to me.  The word “friend” doesn’t seem to be enough to describe it.  But since I’m not a great linguist, it’ll have to do by adding the adjective “best” in front of it. 

Friends should be very special to us.  Before the white Europeans arrived on the shores of North America, the American Indians had no written language.  Their language, though, was not primitive in the least.  Many of the Indians had as many words in their language as their English and French explorers had in theirs.  Some of their words were much more picturesque and carried great images along with them.  For example, the English word “friend” to the Indians was “one-who-carries-my-sorrows-on-his-back.”

I like this Indian “definition” because it not only tells me what a friend is, but what a friend does.  The friend is a person, but they are more than an acquaintance.  They carry my sorrows on their back, and hopefully, as I wend my way through this life, I can carry theirs on my back, too.

How are your friendships?  Are you wanting people to be a friend to you, but you’re not willing to carry their sorrows in return?  I’m reminded of Jesus calling his disciples “friends”.  At his trial and beatings, they didn’t carry his sorrows on their back – they were to preoccupied with their own.  But later they did carry his sorrows – by taking up his cross daily and following him.  I want more than anything to be Jesus’ friend.  And I need him, more than anything, to be mine.  When I carry the concerns of Christ for this desperate world, I am carrying his sorrows on my back, even as he bore mine.

PRAYER: May we all come to know You better as we could have no better Friend! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/27/15 – Things That Go Bump in the Night

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DayBreaks for 4/27/15: Things That Go Bump in the Night

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

I used to not believe in monsters.  Well, let me clarify.  I don’t believe in the kind of monsters that have three eyes, breathe fire and that hide under your bed to grab your ankle and pull you down so that they can eat you.  But I do believe in monsters.

We live in a world that is truly characterized by darkness.  All one has to do is to read the paper, look at the pictures, and you’ll see monsters staring at you from the pages or the TV screen.  Recently, the state of Florida and the nation grieved in the deaths of two young girls who were abducted by malicious, vicious, brutal criminals.  You don’t have to look long or hard at the faces of Couey or Onstott and you’ll see a monster staring back at you.  Such things as happened to those young girls should never happen to anyone.  But they do, don’t they?

And not all monsters have faces.  With the death of my sister’s husband, who wrestled with a monster called cancer and lost, two young boys were deprived of the daddy that loved them.  And the boys had done nothing wrong, they’d not asked for this, nor did they deserve it.  And the monster of death has been loosed in their home with mortal consequences.  Now, when they hear the things that go bump in the night, who could blame them for not believing in monsters?  Death, disease, cruelty, human depravity, injustice of any kind – these and more monsters run amok, not just during the hours of darkness, but they can reach out and capture us at any time.  Yes, I believe in monsters.

Yet the book of Revelation pictures the great Slayer of dragons, who makes war on the beasts, and who defeats them.  God wishes to remind us that the monsters will all be captured, caged and destroyed some day.  But not yet.  Oh, no, not yet.  “How long, O Lord?” my cry joins with that of the martyrs pictured in Revelation.  The only answer is, “Not yet.  But someday.”

Even things that go bump in the night will answer to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  For there is nothing that will not be put under his footrest.  And he will crush the head of the serpent in the great and glorious morning to come, when monsters are no more.

PRAYER: Be our Protector and Defender, Lord!  We long for You to strike down everything that is opposed to Your rule! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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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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