DayBreaks for 9/21/15 – Deafness

DayBreaks for 9/21/15: Deafness

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:

From 2020 Vision: “The story is told of Carl Sandburg, the great American poet, who as a college student took his roommate home to visit for the holidays.  As Carl introduced his roommate to his hard-of-hearing aunt, he announced, “Auntie, I want you to meet my roommate, Al Specknoodle.”  The aunt cupped her ear and shook her head.  Carl tried again: “I want you to meet my roommate, Al Specknoodle.”  The aunt frowned and shook her head again.  Carl sputtered and shouted, “Al Specknoodle!  My roommate!”  Finally the aunt burst into tears: “It’s no use, Carl,” she said.  “No matter how many times you say it, it still sounds like Al Specknoodle!”

As humans, we have a very difficult time hearing well.  It seems we can hear all the things we really want to hear, or at least we think we hear what we want to hear, even if it wasn’t really said at all!  We read between the lines and imply meanings where none was meant.  But when someone tells us things that we don’t want to hear – even when they do so very plainly – we have a great capability to “tune them out” and act like we didn’t hear. 

 For millennia, God has been telling His people what He wants – He wants us to love Him and others and to obey Him.  He wants us to hear that there is good news afoot in the universe, the kingdom of God has come near and there is room in the kingdom for anyone who wants to be part of it.  Yet many seem not to hear.  Why?  Could it be that it’s because as humans, we don’t mind the “love” part, but the “obey” bit sticks in our craw, as does anything that would “cost” us?  And so, we tune Him out. 

He’s also been telling us for millennia that we are to be a blessing to all the nations of the world.  We get really excited about Christianity (understandably so), when we think about what it means for us individually – forgiveness, release from shame and guilt, entry into heaven.  But we aren’t as excited about the flip side – in fact, the key point of Christianity isn’t about ourselves and what we want, but about others – being the blessing to the world at large that God calls us to be. 

Jer. 4:1-2 – O Israel, come back to me,” says the LORD. “If you will throw away your detestable idols and go astray no more, 2 and if you will swear by my name alone, and begin to live good, honest lives and uphold justice, then you will be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people will come and praise my name.

PRAYER: Open our ears to hear Your Word clearly and plainly, and give us hearts that are inclined toward obedience! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/18/15 – Something More Than Mere Kindness

DayBreaks for 9/18/15: Something More than Mere Kindness

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about happiness and God and His purposes, about suffering and evil and how that all fits together with God. And one of the common thoughts that I’ve run into is that God didn’t create an evil world…He did create beings with the potential for evil and He had to if He were to have a creation in which real love could exist. You can’t coerce love or it isn’t love – it’s intimidation, or something other than love by definition. No, love must be freely chosen and freely given and received. And for that to happen, the choice for sentient beings had to be made available.

And yet we sometimes have a very distorted idea of God. We sometimes wish, in the middle of our sinning, that we wish God would approve of what we’re doing, that He’d give it His big heavenly stamp of approval. C.S. Lewis put it this way in The Problem of Pain: “What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, ‘a good time was had by all.’” We somehow think that such would be what a God of love would be like – kind and benevolent.

Lewis goes on and draws a difference between love and kindness. Love, he says, is “something more stern and splendid than mere kindness…Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering…If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt.”

It is possible to be kind but full of contempt. It is not possible to be loving and full of contempt. Love, God’s love, insists on making us better than we are (although He loves us just as we are) because it is what is best for us. Kindness isn’t worried about making someone better – only about doing some kind deed to minimize discomfort.

As you think about how you relate to others, are your relationships more concerned with kindness or with love?

PRAYER: I am thankful for Your kindness, Lord, but even more thankful for Your love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/17/15 – Image Bearers

DayBreaks for 9/17/15: Image Bearers

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Genesis 1:26-27 (NLT) – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I must confess that when I looked in the mirror this morning, what I saw didn’t look a whole lot like how I picture God. When I got to church on Sunday, I looked at the people there (who are great, and I love them all!), but quite frankly, they didn’t look a whole lot like how I picture God, either. And when we watched the news clips from New Orleans after the recent hurricane and we saw people stealing things that weren’t related to their survival, or shooting at rescue helicopters, well, that didn’t look like God, either.

Yet, Scripture is very clear about it: we are made in the image of God. That doesn’t mean that God looks like us, nor that we resemble him just by nature of our existence. It means that we’ve got something of the image of His character on and in us. What all does it mean? That’s hard to say, but certainly it must mean that we’ve got the ability to do good, to love, to be compassionate, to serve, to sacrifice. We are thinking beings who are destined to live eternally. The Scripture says that God created man (male and female) in His image. That doesn’t mean that God is male and/or female – but rather, I think that we should understand it to mean that God is a person, not an it

John Ortberg wrote, in God Is Closer Than You Think: “Of all creation, only people are said to be bearers of the image of God. So people have the capacity to be carriers of His Presence like nothing else. We take long trips to see marvels like the Grand Canyon. Engaged couples plan far ahead so that they can honeymoon at Niagara Falls. But if our eyes could see clearly, if our hearts were working right, we would fall to the ground in amazement at the sight of a single human being. They are the miracles. They are the God-carriers.”

It’s easy to become disillusioned and disenchanted with other humans. We’re easy targets, because we’re all so horribly flawed. And if we get disillusioned enough, we give up on one another, relegating others to the garbage dump of the universe. Of course, when we do that, we forget that we belong in the garbage dump of the universe, too. It’s only because of His image in us, His Presence that lives in the Christian, that our destiny is heaven and not hell.

Who is it that you will see today that you “can’t stand”? Is there someone that you’ve “given up on”? Give them another chance – though His image in them may have been defaced severely, they were still made in His image – and by His grace, it can be recovered.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us bear more of your image with each passing hour. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/16/15 – Who Counts

DayBreaks for 9/16/15: Who Counts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2005:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer or deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt

The world is full of critics and nay-sayers. For every person who tries to do good, there are critics. I read this past week about one of the Christian publishers who has made arrangements to donate up to 100,000 bibles to survivors of hurricane Katrina. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, when word of it got out, some of the responses were extremely vehement. They were accused of gross stupidity, of insensitivity, of being out of touch with the reality of the situation. They earned some swear words by those who criticized them. It seems that they felt that all that was needed in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama was food, water, clothing and shelter. And let’s be clear: those things were desperately needed. But is there any greater need than the needs of our souls? Especially after such a disaster. 

I don’t know if those who were so critical of this Christian publishing company had done anything to help provide the food and water and clothing that they had determined were more important than the Living Water or the Bread of Life. They may have been very involved, but their perspective seems to be a very closed one. 

It seems that just about everything that Christians try to do these days is challenged and criticized and we’re quickly labeled and vilified. That’s OK. People have been doing that to God for ages. They did it to the prophets. They did it to Jesus. Hallelujah if they do it to us because it means we’re being true to the Lord. So, go ahead and do what GOD wants you to do and let the chips fall where they may. Whether you are successful or not isn’t all that important – it is a question of faithfulness that we are faced with – not success. The success part belongs to God. Our part is obedience. May we never be those with “cold and timid souls.” Make your life and this day of it, count for God!

Deut. 4:39-40 (NLT) – Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

PRAYER: Lord, let us be counted among those who are in the arena of the conflict, representing the Truth without concern for the consequences. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/15/15 – A Memo From Reality

DayBreaks for 9/15/15: A Memo from Reality

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

You always know it is bad news when the phone rings at 5:00 in the morning. Phones aren’t supposed to ring at that time of day. In fact, I think that if someone invented a phone that had a time sensor in it that could be programmed not to ring between certain hours, that the phone would never ring at 2, 3, 4 or 5 in the morning.  But when it does, you reach for it with a sense of dread.

So it was at our home in Cloverdale on Tuesday morning, 9/6. My wife reached for the phone and I could tell that it was her brother, Rick. Laurel and Rick’s dad has had Alzheimer’s disease for over 5 years now. The call was to let us know that he had passed away at about 4 in the morning on 9/6. It wasn’t expected – even though he’d been admitted to the hospital on 9/4, they believed that he’d be discharged and sent home on 9/6. Well, he went home, all right, but not to any home in this world. As a Christian, he’s now entered his mansion, met the Lord, and joined the heavenly choir of praise.

Still, this phone call was a memo from reality. Memos are to remind us of things we might otherwise forget. And how quickly we “forget” the things that we don’t want to contemplate, like death. Our daily existence is uncertain – the nurse had been in to see my father-in-law and take his vitals at 3:30 a.m., and he was fine. She returned at 4 to give him some medication, and he was gone. For all the plans that had been made to bring him home from the hospital that morning, those plans were frustrated by God’s intervention. We can make all the plans we want, but God is sovereign and can change them overnight.

As we gathered with some of my wife’s relatives lately to remember and celebrate the life of her dad, my wife commented to me that some day, our children would gather in such a setting for one (or both) of us – to remember, and hopefully celebrate, our life. It struck me as a very sobering truth. I will die, I will leave my children and grandchildren behind.

It isn’t wise to deny what we know to be true. The truth ultimately wins out.  And Jesus is truth. 

We all deny some aspects of reality, fleeing from it as if it were a leper. What truth are you hiding from today? Is it some sin that you are ignoring in your life while still practicing it? Maybe you’re fooling yourself by thinking that while others sins will find them out, yours will stay hidden. It won’t – it will be revealed, just like my sins will be revealed. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself that you’re still young and you have a lot of time and that you don’t have to surrender your lifestyle to the Lord until you’re much older. How many have gone to hell for that very way of thinking? 

I hope and pray that when God gives you a memo from reality (perhaps even this DayBreaks will serve that purpose in your life), that you’ll read it carefully and apply it to your life by facing the truth it contains.

Job 17:1 – My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for reminders that You send us from heaven to remind us of reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/11/15 – A Secret Name

DayBreaks for 9/11/15: A Secret Name

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Rev. 2:17 (NLT) – Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

It seems too good to be true, but God wishes to have a relationship with each one of us. All our lives, we meet people and we’re drawn to some right away, hoping to become friends, to have a good relationship. Sometimes they may feel the same way, but sometimes they may not be interested in having a friendship with us. And it’s disappointing when that happens. As a result, we can withdraw from future encounters for fear of being marginalized again.

In Revelation 2 we see a wonderful picture. The victorious will dine on the manna that is hidden in heaven. You know what the manna was in the OT – the food that came down from heaven for the Israelites. Now, it says, that the manna is hidden away in heaven. That manna is the Living Bread, the bread that was broken and which gives us life. As wonderful as that is, we will be given a new name by Christ, a name that no one, except God and us, will know. 

What’s the point of having a name that no one knows? No one could call you by it! But I think at least part of what God is trying to tell us is that he wants to have a relationship with us that is unique – different from His relationship with anyone else. C. S. Lewis wrote about this when he suggested: “What shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some on aspect of the Divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently…If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.”

Have you ever wished to be the best in the world at something? How about being the best in heaven, for all eternity, at praising and reflecting some aspect of God’s Divine nature and glory? I don’t know if C.S. Lewis is right about that idea or not, but certainly God has an individual relationship with each of us that is unique and there’s no reason to think that it will stop being unique when we get to heaven.

PRAYER: Lord, I am eager to know my new name and to have a relationship with you that is unbounded by time and untinged by my sin! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/10/15 – Waiting for Our Room

DayBreaks for 9/10/15: Waiting for Our Room

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

“At the walk-in clinic I approached the reception area.  With nobody ahead of me, the medical technician at the front desk listened immediately as I explained I was there to have my purple ankle looked at.  (It had been injured 5 days earlier in a racing incident at the speedway.) After taking my name and my personal information, the lady looked at me and said, ‘As soon as I have a room, I will call you by name.’ 

“As I limped to sit alone in the waiting area, those words echoed in my mind with a reverberation of eternal dimension.  ‘As soon as I have a room, I will call you by name.’  It’s what all of us who are waiting for Jesus to come back have been told.  He said to his disciples, ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’ (John 14:2&3)  This is the hope of all who have put their trust in Jesus alone.  In the pain of this life and the sorrow of this world we are waiting for Jesus to come back for us.  When our place is ready, He will come for us and (in the twinkling of an eye) finish making us ready for His place.

“But make no mistake!  We are not waiting alone.  Later in John 14, right after telling His disciples that He was leaving, Jesus promised that they (and we) would not be left alone.  In our Saviour’s place, the Holy Spirit would be given to wait along with us.  While we wait (a waiting that is not sitting around doing nothing) God’s Spirit lives in us and teaches us about sin, righteousness, and gives us all what Jesus wants us to have from Him.  Even while we are still broken, God has an incredible and blessed life for us to live.

“In a world that many see void of God, God calls us to live a life full of Him – while we are waiting for our room.”  – Pastor Tim Davis, Copyright 2005

GALEN’S THOUGHTS: I’ve traveled quite a lot with some of my past employment.  I know well the feeling of being bone-weary and bleary-eyed.  Sometimes, when I was really fortunate, I may have arrived a bit early for check-in.  When I would ask if the room was ready yet, there was a part of me that held my breath, hoping against hope, that I could get to the room, kick off my shoes, buy a Dr. Pepper and start downloading my work email.  Sometimes the room was ready – but there were times when it wasn’t, and I had to wait. 

Oh, waiting.  It can be incredibly hard.  Waiting is a pox!  Yet, waiting is also something that produces character in us.  It’s like they said about suffering and tragedy: they don’t really produce character in you, but they reveal the character that is in you.  Waiting does that, too.  It shows what we’re made of.  And the fact that we may long for heaven for the “room” to be finished so we can be invited in may seem grievous, it is also a sign of what kind of character we have and a measure of our faith.  Do you long for your “room” to be finished so you can move in? 

The time is coming when the room will be ready for you.  Will you be ready for it?

PRAYER: Prepare us, Jesus! Help us bide our time here in preparation for eternity! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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