DayBreaks for 8/19/15 – A Higher Priority

DayBreaks for 8/19/15: A Higher Priority

At the Olympic games in Paris in 1924 the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens.

As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill’s wife would give birth to her first child about the time that Bill would be competing in the Paris Games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from Paris to the United States, only slow-moving ocean-going ships. And so Bill found himself in a dilemma. Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife’s side when their first child was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain behind. Bill’s wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, he had been working towards this for all these years. It was the culmination of a life-long dream.

Clearly the decision was not easy for Bill to make. Finally, after much soul searching, Bill decided to withdraw from the competition and remain behind with his wife so that he could be with her when their first child arrived. Bill considered being at her side a higher priority than going to Paris to fulfill a life-long dream.

To make a long story short, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal at the Paris Olympics. And Bill’s wife was late in giving birth to her first child. She was so late that Bill could have competed in the event and returned home in time to be with her when she gave birth.

People said, “What a shame.” But Bill said he had no regrets. After all, his commitment to his wife was more important then, and it still was now.

The story of Bill Havens is a story of how one man paid a high price to fulfill a commitment to someone he loved.

But the story doesn’t end there. The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named Frank. Twenty-eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were being held. The cablegram read, and I quote it exactly: “Dad, I won. I’m bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born.”

Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning but never did.

There is a sequel to our acts of commitment as well, our commitments to one another, and our commitment to God. We reap the abundant harvest of righteousness. We reap a harvest of joy and peace that endures forever.

What is your highest priority? What will you NOT surrender or give up because it is of too great of value to you? Is it Jesus and His Word?

PRAYER: Commitment is a hard lesson to learn, Lord. My will power is not strong enough and I need Your help! Help me hold fast to that which I know in my heart should be my highest priority! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/18/15 – Gethsemane

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DayBreaks for 8/18/15: Gethsemane

Gethsemane was the most moving place I have ever been.  I wept. Yet, perhaps I wasn’t weeping only for my Lord’s suffering and anguish there. I was weeping because I put him there, as did you. I also believe I was weeping because my sin was never so apparent to me as when I knelt by that stone and touched it with my hand.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote a poem simply entitled “Gethsemane”. I want to share it with you.

Down shadowy lanes, across strange streams

Bridged over by our broken dreams;

Behind the misty caps of years,

Beyond the great salt fount of tears,

The garden lies.

 

Strive as you may, You cannot miss it in your way.

All paths that have been, or shall be,

Pass somewhere through Gethsemane.

 

All those who journey, soon or late,

Must pass within the gardens gate;

Must kneel alone in darkness there,

And battle with some fierce despair.

 

God pity those who cannot say,

Not mine but thine, who only pray,

Let this cup pass, and cannot see

The purpose in Gethsemane.

I think there is another reason I wept I Gethsemane. You see, Gethsemane is not only on the eastern side of Jerusalem, across the valley.  Gethsemane is everywhere and we will all spend dark hours there someday if we haven’t already.

It would be dishonest to say that God makes everything all right in this world. The death of 3000 innocent souls who were simply going to work on September 11, 2001, tells me the world is crowded with Gethsemanes. The death of 1000 soldiers in Iraq tells me that peace has an enormous price. The burial of 350 children in a Russian town or Iraq tells me that evil still wins in this world. Don’t get me wrong. I as much as any man have hope in the resurrection. I am simply cannot deny the picture painted by the Psalmist when he asks, Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone forever? Doth his promise fail forever more? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, this is my infirmity.”

First question: Who do we turn to in our Gethsemane? Answer: God, even in our despair. Second question: What do we do? Answer: Pray to cope. Pray against temptation. Pray for one another. And pray for the Kingdom to come. Third question: Where do we go from here? Ah, now there’s the kicker.

How I wish there were an easy answer, but the answer isn’t easy because life isn’t. When Jesus left Gethsemane he went to Golgotha. At times we all seem to be running from the garden of despair to the hill of suffering. Look at the stories of the bible. At some time or another there has been a Gethsemane for all God’s people. For Abraham it was when he was asked to sacrifice his only son. For Joseph it was those unjust years in jail. Paul had any number of Gethsemanes in his experience; he once listed the number of times he had been stoned, whipped, robbed and shipwrecked.

Where do we go? Where our faith ancestors went…to our Gethsemane, and there we will meet our God.

PRAYER: God, I don’t want to go to Gethsemane. It’s too painful and too dark and it frightens me. I don’t want to walk from Gethsemane to Calvary. But since Gethsemane is part of every life, I pray we will meet You there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/17/15 – The Except for Me Syndrome

DayBreaks for 8/17/15: The Except for Me Syndrome

There are optimists and there are pessimists and there are realists.  It seems that to some extent we have a predisposition one way or the other, and that’s OK.  I like to think of myself as a realist, but optimists would say I’m a pessimist, and pessimists would say I’m too optimistic.  I can live with that when we’re talking about the sorts of things that happen in this world. I’ll joke around about winning the Publisher’s Clearing House contest, but realistically, I’m not holding my breath. When I’m driving around and see billboards talking about what the lottery prizes are for the week, I may joke about getting a ticket, but I don’t – not because I’m a pessimist, but a realist. I know that I’m not going to win that $117 million dollars even if I did buy a ticket (which I won’t)! I suspect there are lots of people like me, who believe that great things will never happen.

The problem is when we carry that over into our relationship with God.  We can fall into what I am calling the “Except for Me Syndrome.” Think about these passages and see if you’ve ever had thoughts like these:

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. – Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)  I hear myself sometimes say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that, except for me…you can’t possibly love me that way after all I’ve done.”

…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)  Are you thinking, “Yes, Lord, I’m sure that’s true for everyone except for me…I am far too sinful.”

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. – John 6:37 (NLT) “I’d love to believe that, Lord, and I do…except for me. I’ve done too much to ever be accepted.”

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… – 1 John 3:1a (ESV) “Everyone in the pew with me on Sunday is your child, except for me.  You couldn’t possibly be referring to someone like me as your child!”

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. – Revelation 21:7 (KJV) “This is true of Christians, except for me, because I not much of an overcomer.”

For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.  Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NLT) “How I wish I could believe this, Lord, that you aren’t angry with me ad that you’ll save me so I could live forever with you. I’m sure that you’ll save Billy Graham and Mother Theresa and good folks like that, most Christians, in fact, except for me.

My friends, if those words, except for me, are in your head when you think of the promises of God and the extent of his love and grace towards you, stop. Move those words out of your mind and your heart. God’s promises are either true or they are not. He is no respecter of persons. He never changes. He has never broken a promise or told a lie. He cannot do either. If He is able to save anyone and remove their sins as far as the east is from the west, He can do it for me, and for you. Not only can He, He has already done so for those who are in Christ!

PRAYER: God, as much as we’d love to dare to hope in your promises, we struggle sometimes to do so because we don’t really know you well enough! Help us lay hold of your promises and live in great celebration as children of the Great King! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/14/15 – Building Good Out of Evil

DayBreaks for 8/14/15: Building Good Out of Evil 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Genesis 50:20 –  As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people.

If you were going to be the architect and builders of the structures that will replace the fallen World Trade Towers, what kind of materials would you put in the foundation?  I don’t mean whether you’d put cement and steel, but what kind of quality would you look for to put into the foundation?  What goes into the foundation is absolutely vital.  The foundation holds up the entire weight of the building and the stability of the structure rests on it.  If you were smart, you’d get the best stuff that money could buy to pour into the foundation.

The same would seemingly be true for our lives.  The weight of our life and the stability depend on the foundation we have in life.  What you put into the foundation will determine how you weather storms, attacks and the process of wear and tear through aging.  But there’s one problem: the raw material we have to work with (our humanness) isn’t very promising foundation material.  In fact, we need to throw our humanness out so it can be replaced by Godliness and holiness and righteousness. 

But still, in a sense, we must work with what we have.  Paul Tournier wrote: “The most wonderful thing in this world is not the good that we accomplish, but the fact that good can come out of the evil that we do.  I have been struck, for example, by the numbers of people who have been brought back to God under the influence of a person to whom they had some imperfect attachment…Our vocation is, I believe, to build good out of evil.  For if we try to build good out of good, we are in danger of running out of raw material.”

Anyone can take what is already good and build something good around it.  It takes a miracle of God to build something good out of evil.  Pray for His miracles in your life that you will become a home fit for the King!

PRAYER: We are very flawed material, Father, but how amazing that You can build good out of evil creatures! Help us to also see what good potential lies in everyone around us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/13/15 – Wonder of Wonders

DayBreaks for 8/13/15: Wonder of Wonders 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Having just returned from vacation this past Sunday evening, I’ve been getting back into the “swing” of things.  One thing that I did while on vacation was to try to make it a point to have an on-going, continual chat with God.  No, I don’t mean praying in the traditional sense or formal sense, I mean just plain old talking to Him inside my head.  I’ve got to tell you, it was great.  (Some of you may be thinking, “Okay…Galen has finally lost it and gone off the deep end.”  Let me assure you that I never felt saner in my entire life!)  It was one of the best ongoing experiences of God’s Presence and Indwelling that I’ve had.  (It almost seems heretical to think about the fact that the Spirit really does indwell someone with all my faults, but it’s biblical!)  The responses that I received back from God through my conversations with Him were stunning.  How do I know it was His voice, and not mine that I was listening to?  Well, for one, the responses I heard (in my head – there was no externally audible voice) were in keeping with God’s character as described in the Bible, in agreement with the teaching of the Word, and many of the “answers” He gave me were not even on my radar screen – I’d not even thought about such things, and they often were things I wouldn’t have made up to tell myself in a million-jillion years.  It was a wonderful few days of encountering Him!

But, now I’m back.  Here’s the disappointing thing: life is once again busy with things to be done, people to talk with, classes and sermons to be prepared – and I find my time with Him getting squeezed.  I’m not surprised by it, I just long to have that kind of intimacy with Him back again.  I know also, that it isn’t His fault, but mine.  The good news is that He’s there all the time, and I don’t have to go sit in a quiet little closet to be able to talk with Him about things.  I just have to do it.

One day while we were on vacation, we planned to drive up to the area of Lake Tahoe that is called Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point.  If you’ve seen it, you know why it’s called Inspiration Point.  God was inspired when He made that place.  I knew when I woke up that I’d seem some beautiful scenery that day, thinking about mountains and the sky and the lake (all pretty big things) and so I asked God what He wanted to show me that day, what it was that He wanted me to see.  I was surprised by the answer: “I want you to see Me today in small things.”  Now that would have never occurred to me, and I was stunned.  So, as my wife and I set out to explore, I looked for signs of God in the small things.  Things like baby pine cones nestled in a protective pocket of pine needles on a branch.  Small flowers.  A single grasshopper that was sitting on the ground but who seemed to have no fear of us at all (I couldn’t help but wonder if God was wanting me to see just that one grasshopper that day so He made it sit still!).  At one point, we stopped by a stream to eat lunch and a wild blue jay joined us.  I started wondering about the odds of that particular blue jay being there at that very moment so that we’d see him, and I thought that it was perhaps the work of God again.  And then, contemplating the odds of that bird being at that exact spot at the exact time we were there, I felt overwhelmed by this chance meeting. 

But soon my mind was led to another thought, even more amazing than being there with that particular bird: in all the universe, God brought me to meet His Son in such a way that I could respond to His love and salvation.  The encounter of the Son of God with a mere human in all the vastness of creation is certainly against the odds, but that’s how God chooses to do His work.  He calls us – we can’t find Him without Him leaving us “bread crumb trails” and an invitation.  Whatever the odds, I’m so very thankful for a God who walked one day through the universe and found me – one of the smallest of all things – and decided to make His home with me.  Blessed be His name!

Ps. 39:5 – You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Each man’s life is but a breath.

PRAYER: Thank You for meeting with us in the big and the small, in the ordinary and the extraordinary. Increase our longing for communion with You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/12/15 – When His Glory Departs

DayBreaks for 8/12/15: When His Glory Departs 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

In Ezekiel chapters 8 through 10, a tragic story and scene unfolds around the temple.  The temple had been built by Solomon and on the day that the temple was dedicated, God’s glory came to rest in the temple.  As far as God and the Jews were concerned, it was His literal dwelling place on earth, from where He ruled over His creation and especially His people.  The tragedy comes in these chapters as His people have rejected Him in the hardness of their hearts and have worshiped idols made with hands.  And so, in Ezekiel’s vision, the visible glory of God departs from the temple.  Can you imagine what that must have been like for Ezekiel to witness – to see and know that the great God who had led them from the time of Abraham was withdrawing His Presence?  But it was more than just His Presence, it was His favor, His protection and His provision for them.  They were abandoned.

But, the worst part is that when the glory of God left the temple, instead of repenting and turning back to God, the sinfulness of the people of God increased.  Perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us, but it bothers me greatly.  I would have hoped that if I’d witnessed Him departing, that I would have fallen on my face and pleaded with Him to return, promising that I’d mend my broken ways and go back to my first Love.  But, I probably wouldn’t have, after all. 

Here’s the catch: as long as we feel or believe God’s Presence is near and real, we are restrained, at least to some extent, from doing all the evil of which we are capable.  This is how it works: when God is not perceived to be among us any longer, and when I’ve come to think of God in terms that really only apply to mankind rather than the all-powerful and holy Divine Being, when His glory in my mind and heart (since that is now the temple of the Holy Spirit) grows less, my sense of sin and its seriousness is lowered.  And since we don’t feel that sensitivity to our sin if we think God is removed from us, we sin more.  May God have mercy on us for our weakness and presumption of His grace! 

For ancient Israel, “Out of sight, out of mind” was a truism.  We are no different.  When we lose sight of His Presence, or even of the greatness of the Mighty One, we begin to slip into our sinful natures.  Perhaps this is part of the reason that we’re told to “set your minds of Christ Jesus”.  When our minds are on him, we’re less likely to cheapen his sacrifice for us by thinking that sin isn’t such a big deal. 

Ezek. 10:18-19 – Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. 19 While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

PRAYER: May your glory always be before our eyes that we may be aware of your Presence and turn from our sin! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/11/15 – A Long Day’s Journey of the Saturday

DayBreaks for 8/11/15: A Long Day’s Journey of the Saturday 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Psalm 6:2-3 – Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish.  How long, O LORD, how long?

I’m actually just back from vacation this week.  I needed it.  I’d been pretty worn out the past few weeks.  We had lots of house guests this summer who came and stayed, a few weddings and we just finished our Vacation Bible School on July 29, and it all seemed to just be one thing right after the other without stop.  You know the feeling.  Sometimes life just seems slightly over the edge, doesn’t it? 

George Steiner wrote: “We know of the Good Friday which Christianity holds to have been that of the Cross.  But the non-Christian, the atheist, knows of it as well.  This is to say that he knows of the injustice, of the interminable suffering, of the waste, of the brute enigma of ending, which so largely make up not only the historical dimension of the human condition, but the everyday fabric of our personal lives.  We know, ineluctably, of the pain, of the failure of love, of the solitude which are our history and private fate.  We know also about Sunday.  To the Christian, that day signifies an intimation, both assured and precarious, both evident and beyond comprehension, of resurrection, of a justice and a love that have conquered death…The lineaments of that Sunday carry the name of hope (there is no world less deconstructible.)  But ours is the long day’s journey of the Saturday.”

Our dilemma comes because we live in the nether world between Good Friday and Sunday.  In short, we live on Saturday…stuck half way between the injustice of the world and sin and death and weariness and desperation, and the promise of justice, holiness, everlasting life, eternal energy and the fulfillment of all things.  While most of us who have Saturday off from work long for that day to arrive each week, that “day” we really long for hasn’t arrived yet.  By faith, we can see it just around the corner from where we live.  With age, we hear its footsteps on the gravel path leading to our door. 

In the movie, Gladiator, Djimon Hounsou plays a gladiator friend of General Maximus (played by Russell Crowe.)  At one point in the movie, they speak of their families and wonder if they will ever see them again.  Hounsou says something to this effect: “I believe I will see them again.  But not yet.  Not yet.”  The longing in his voice is palpable.  That is how I long for Saturday to be over and for “Sunday” to arrive, for when it happens, I will see the Savior face to face.  I expect that day to come, but not yet, not yet.

PRAYER: We wait, as patiently as we can, for your return, and with joy for what that day will bring! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.