DayBreaks for 9/09/15 – Much More than a Cross

DayBreaks for 9/09/15: Much More than a Cross

Do you want to know something that really bothers me? It bothers me when people act in very blatant, un-Christian ways when they’ve got a cross hanging from around their neck on a chain. I make no judgment call on their salvation, but we are told that “by their fruits you will know them” and their fruit certainly seems to be lacking in many such cases. I fear that the cross has been reduced, for many, to nothing more than a piece of jewelry. I have nothing against people wearing a cross – but it seems to me that it should cause us to be even more careful in our conduct before others, for the cross says something about us – or, at least, it should.

The people of Lithuania take cross bearing a little more seriously than we do. For them the cross symbolizes faith, hope and love. There are crosses are everywhere in the countryside, on roads, in city parks and village squares. Communities and individuals erect crosses to bring them health and to commemorate events like weddings, births and christenings. Crosses are also erected to commemorate historical events. One of those events was the Baltic Way, in which millions of people linked hands stretching across the Baltics from Estonia to Lithuania on August 25, 1989. About 9 monuments commemorate this extraordinary event.

The nation’s pride is the Hill of Crosses, located north of Siauliai. Lithuanians erected crosses there as early as the mid-19th century. The Soviet government couldn’t tolerate that kind of spiritual expression, so they totally destroyed the hill in 1961, then again in 1973 and 1975. But people kept erecting more crosses, until in 1980 their destruction stopped. Today the crosses number in the many thousands. They are different sizes and shapes, some simple, some ornate, but they immortalize Lithuania’s troubles, misfortunes, joys, hope and faith.

For them, the cross is more than a symbol in the church. It is symbol for the world to see. A symbol that will not go away. It is a symbol of sacrifice. A sacrifice that gives each and every one of us hope and faith and courage.

Jesus didn’t invite us to wear a cross, but to bear a cross. We must never forget that.

PRAYER: Jesus, whether we wear a cross or not, let us live our lives in such a way that we never bring shame on the cross where you died for us, or on you and your church! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/08/15 – The Buzzard, the Bat and the Bumblebee

DayBreaks for 9/08/15: The Buzzard, the Bat and the Bumblebee

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. – Psalm 123:1 (NIV)

Did you know that if you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

How about this: the ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

One more: A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

In many ways, you and I are like all three of the above: the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That’s the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem!

PRAYER: Lord, today we will face problems of some sort – whether big or small – help us to not trust in our own wisdom and ability to make wise choices, but to turn to You for direction and answers! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Daybreaks for 9/07/15 – The Secret to Standing Up

Image result for daniel in the lions den images

DayBreaks for 9/07/15: The Secret to Standing Up

Do you remember when you were first trying to learn to walk? I don’t either, but I suspect our parents started us down the path to walking by helping us learn to stand up first. It’s a combination, I guess, of figuring out the crawling thing first, watching people walk, and standing on your own two legs.

There are times when standing up isn’t easy. I’ve been on the deck of a boat out on the ocean where the oncoming swells were up above my head. It wasn’t easy to stand at all (let alone keep my breakfast down!) There are other times when I was coming out of anesthesia and walking, at least in a straight line, was rather a challenge. I would imagine that in both those situations I appeared a bit comical (except maybe for throwing up over the boat railing)!

Spiritually, it isn’t easy to always stand up either. The sermon on Sunday was about Daniel chapter 6, where Daniel, who must have been around 80 years old at the time, was made one of the top three rulers in the Medo-Persian empire, and was about to be made the top guy after the king himself, when some of the other satraps and rulers grew jealous of him and set out to try to destroy him. They tricked the king into issuing a decree that no one could pray to anyone except to the king himself for the next 30 days. You see, they knew Daniel’s habit of prayer and unable to find any other fault in him, the had the king pass that self-honoring law.

Daniel didn’t forsake his prayer habit, even though he could have gone into his closet and prayed in the dark, or just “prayed in his heart” for 30 days. He stood a stand for what his conscience told him he needed to do. And how did he take that stand? By kneeling down three times a day to pray toward Jerusalem.

What would I have done? Do I even pray three times a day? Do you? What if I’d been faced with a life or death choice – stop praying or die? How important is prayer to me? Or rather, how important is my relationship with my God?

If someone offered all Christians $5,000,000 to stop praying for 30 days, my guess is that there would a many, many more Christian multi-millionaires. We could justify (or at least rationalize it) in a variety of ways. “Think of all the good I could do for others with that money…and God would be glorified!”

No. Daniel would have said “No!” How do I know that? Because something far more valuable to him than $5,000,000 was at stake – it was his life.

And he stood by kneeling down.

Sometimes the only way to stand is to get down on our knees and then do what we know will bring God glory, not what will bring us honor or glory.

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage to take a stand for You and Your honor and glory! May our knees grown calloused from prayer, for there is great need and penitence to be made for all the times we’ve refused to stand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/04/15 – Yes, But I Do

DayBreaks for 9/04/15: Yes, But I Do

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

If we believe in Jesus, we should know that the various boundaries we used to include and exclude, to categorize and sort, are erased both on the inside and the outside. We should, I say, because we don’t always act like we believe it.

Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer. When the missionary reached the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally on the run for their lives, looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why, we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money he’d received to pay for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

What good is our faith if it doesn’t make a difference in how we love and demonstrate our love for God and for others?

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/03/15 – How a Fish Stick Changed the World

DayBreaks for 9/03/15: How a Fish Stick Changed the World

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. – Luke 24:35-43 (NLT)

Several days had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. There was no denying what had happened – and no one doubted he had died. The facts were obvious to all who were there. There was no expectation of a joyful reunion on earth. Such things just don’t happen – they didn’t then, and they don’t today.

And so let us be gracious to Jesus’ early followers. When Jesus does appear, there is fear galore, but not the tiniest inkling of faith. They recognized his form, his appearance, but they, like we, would probably make the assumption that a ghost looks like the person they once was (if we can speak of ghosts in such a way.)

What does Jesus do? He invites them to touch his body and thereby be convinced of his corporeal substance. This is flesh and bone, not as phantasm. You’d think that would be enough to convince them. The flesh, I’m sure, wasn’t cold and rigid, but warm and flexible. Yet it wasn’t enough to convince them. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to convince me, either.

So, Jesus asks for something to eat. They hand a him a piece of fish – a fish stick, if you will. And Jesus eats it. As Dave Buckley said in his blog post: “Enter the fish finger! This is the moment. The moment that a fish finger changed everything…As Jesus swallowed that fish finger, suddenly the idea of of him being alive again was easier to swallow too.”

That’s all it took – one fish stick. Their disbelief turned into a faith that would lead them all, save one, to martyrdom. That fish stick changed the world – and it has changed eternity because it turned doubters into absolute believers.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a fish stick again in the same way because once the disciples saw a fish stick disappear, they never saw Jesus again in the same way.

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/02/15 – What Do You Lack?

DayBreaks for 9/02/15: What Do You Lack?

A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him. – Mark 7:2 (NLT)

In ancient Greece it was customary for peddlers who walked the streets with their wares to cry out, “What do you lack?” The idea, of course, was to let people know they were in the vicinity, and also rouse the curiosity of the people who would come out of their homes to see what it was that this peddler was selling. It might, after all, be something they lacked and needed, or simply something they desired.

It is a good question, don’t you think? “What do you lack?” We may have sight and hearing, but what do we lack? Take a bit of time to conduct an honest inventory of yourself. Have you found contentment? Are you close enough to God to receive his guidance and strength? Have you secured peace of heart and peace of mind, invaluable assets in life?

Deciding what we lack is the first step in securing it. Christ can fulfill our needs — needs that are to some extent physical, but, more so, the deepest needs of heart, mind, and soul.

The man in Mark 7 lacked the physical ability to hear. Let me suggest that many of us spiritual ability (or at least the spiritual discipline) to hear. We suffer a kind of a spiritual deafness. The affliction of not listening to people, or, to put it another way, the affliction of physically listening to people, yet failing to comprehend, to understand, and come to grips with what they are saying, is a plague upon the Church. For, you see, it is possible to listen to a person, yet fail to really hear them.

Perhaps you are spiritually blind to the truth of the Word and how it speaks into the culture around you. Perhaps you don’t think it is relevant to a time 20 centuries removed from the time of Christ. Maybe you read the words on the pages but think they are antiquated and that the truth that is behind the translation is no longer valid for our modern, “enlightened” culture.

I hope today you’ll really spend some time to think about what it is that you lack…and what you need to get from Jesus.

PRAYER: Lord, we all lack many things and it can be rather daunting to contemplate what it is that we truly lack and need. I pray that today You will reveal to us that which we are most in need of and then create a hunger in us that will not die until You satisfy it within us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/01/15 – Of Slaves and Freedom

DayBreaks for 9/01/15: Of Slaves and Freedom

“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – John 8:33-36 (NLT)

I was born a free citizen in a country that has historically loved and honored freedom. I am very grateful for it. I have never known someone who was a slave to another human being. Powerful movies (Twelve Years a Slave, The Color Purple, and Alex Haley’s Roots to name a few) give us amazing images related to the horrors of slavery – and yet I suspect it is even worse than those images could begin to portray.

Human trafficking and slavery is a huge topic around the world – and rightly so. It is an abomination and every decent human being longs for its eradication.

However – according to Jesus, we are all slaves. Everyone who sins is a slave to it – and that encompasses us all. There is nothing we can do about it. This is a depressing statement and would be enough to crush our spirits if not for what Jesus says next: So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. There is a mystical transaction that takes place in the heavenly places where our slavery to the power of sin (both our constant desire to give in to temptation) and the domination of sin over us through death, is broken. It is broken by the Son, not by our obedience. Our job then is to hold to his teaching (as best we can), knowing that the power of sin has already been dealt with so we do not have to carry that questioning around with us.

Ready to cast off your bonds of slavery? Jesus came for that very purpose – to remove our chains and set us free!

PRAYER: Thank you for breaking the chains we have forged with our sin and for setting us free! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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