DayBreaks for 11/17/15 – A Heart Outside Your Body

DayBreaks for 11/17/15: A Heart Outside Your Body

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Genesis 31:48-49 – And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; and Mizpah; for he said, The LORD watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.

You’ve seen the Mizpah necklaces in lots of places.  They are very common (or at least they were!) during my teen and college years.  Boyfriends and girlfriends exchanged them as a token of their love.  It has the last part of verse 49 printed on one side of the medallion.  It really is two necklaces, each with half of a heart torn down the middle.  The love birds are saying that it won’t be until the two parts are put back together again that they will feel whole – as if half their heart is outside of their body.  It is a very difficult thing to be young and “in love.”  Your thoughts are consumed by thoughts of your loved one and you don’t really feel alive until you see them again.  Every moment of every day, your thoughts fly back to them over and over again.   

It is no different as a parent who is separated from their child.  The longing to have the child home again, to be able to see them, converse with them, celebrate with them is huge.  Those who have not experience their children growing up and moving away, sometimes far away, can understand that statement.  As someone once said, “Having a child is like having your heart walk around outside your body.” 

God most certainly knows that feeling.  How many children does He have walking this veil of tears?  He knew the feeling when His only Son was here.  He knows that feeling with you and I, for we are His children, too.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we have so much to learn about love.  As your bride, may we prepare ourselves – not with outward adornment, but through learning how to love so that we may give you the glory that you deserve.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/13/15 – The Progression of His Love

DayBreaks for 11/13/15: The Progression of His Love

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

The way that we love, and learn to love, is fascinating.  As little children, we love the person who can meet our needs – whether its for food or for a diaper change.  We’re rather self-centered at that stage.  (Sadly, some folks never learn how to leave that self-centered stage behind to grow into more mature love.)  It really isn’t until we perhaps fall in love for the umpteenth time that we learn that love isn’t about us, but about someone else.  It’s about being there for them, being there with them, in spite of who they are or what they can offer to us.  Even then, during the early years of that kind of love, we may be too focused on things like appearances.  As time passes, the beauty that needs to draw us the most is the beauty that grows inside of our loved one – for it is by far more beautiful than any physical beauty.  And then our love enters into another stage – perhaps the closest that we’ll get to the agape love of God.  We may be tempted to wish that we could just jump to that mature stage of love immediately and bask in its warmth, but we can’t because we have to learn how to love and how to be loved by someone else.  It takes time and a growing understanding of what love is.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible lays out the story of God’s love for us in a very intriguing way.  It starts with rather impersonal terms of relationship or likeness, and as the story of God’s interaction with mankind develops, the terms become more and more intimate and compelling.  This was pointed out in the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, pg. 114: “…Scripture uses a number of metaphors to describe our relationship with God.  We are portrayed as clay, and He is the Potter.  We are sheep, and He the Shepherd.  Every metaphor is beautiful and speaks to the various seasons of our spiritual lives and to the various aspects of God’s heart toward us.  But have you noticed they ascend in a stunning way?  From the Potter and his clay to a shepherd and his sheep, there is a marked difference in intimacy, in the way they relate.  It gets even better.  From master and servant to father and child, there is a wonderful progression into greater intimacy.  It grows more beautiful and rich when he calls us his friends.  But what is most breathtaking is when God says he is our Lover (our Bridegroom, our Fiance), and we his bride.  That is the pinnacle, the goal of our redemption (used in the last chapter of the Bible, when Christ returns for his bride) and the most intimate and romantic of all.

Here’s the bottom line on this, I think: we shouldn’t assume that God has been learning how to love us throughout human history, and that only by the time we reach the end of time itself will He love us maturely.  God doesn’t need to grow in anything.  It is we who must do the growing.  It is our love and understanding of it that is imperfect and immature and childish.  We learn from God’s dealings with His people more about Him, just as we learn more about our best friends as we go through life with them.  We couldn’t possibly understand God’s metaphors of love and relationship for us if not for the inspired record of His dealing with us.  And we couldn’t understand His dealings with us except for His Son and His sacrifice.  The final proof of His love for us that will usher us into that final relationship will be revealed when the Groom comes to collect His bride – just as the groom would come to collect his bride in the ancient Middle East.  He will keep His word and His promise that He’s given us.  He will prove His love yet once again when He comes back to get us and take us home.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we have so much to learn about love.  As your bride, may we prepare ourselves – not with outward adornment, but through learning how to love so that we may give you the glory that you deserve.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/12/15 – Wildflowers for God

DayBreaks for 11/12/15: Wildflowers for God

Ruele Howe tells about growing up with his parents in the country. When he was 15 years old, the house caught on fire. They escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There were no close neighbors to help so he and his father walked to a distant village to get supplies. As they returned they saw something that stayed with Ruele Howe all those years after. Beside the charred remains of what had been their house, his mother had laid out lunch on a log. She had placed a tin can filled with wildflowers on the log. It was a symbol of hope in the midst of tragedy.

This is the Christian faith, isn’t it? She didn’t try to cover up the disaster with flowers, but in the midst of that gloomy scene she had placed a symbol of hope.

There is a story in the New Testament about a very poor widow who visited the temple one day and put her two coins into the collection. The point of this story isn’t that we should give (which we should), but rather that we should have faith – a faith that finds expression in what we do and how we live our life. Do you think that after this woman demonstrated her faith in God to provide for her needs that she went home, lay down and starved to death? No, me neither.

These two coins that the widow placed in the temple treasury were her wildflowers. This was her symbol, her way of saying I know God will provide.

What ways are you demonstrating your faith in God? Is it more than a conversation topic to you – are you living it? Am I?

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, I want to be a person who lives by faith. I don’t know what went through the widow’s mind or heart, but I know that I want to have greater faith! It frightens me to say that, God, but I know You are a good Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/12/15 – What Impresses You?

DayBreaks for 11/12/15: What Impresses You?

(Sorry, friends!  I’ve been traveling!  Will try to get back on a regular schedule!)

Tourists. As Mark 13 opens, the disciples are like tourists, gawking at the more striking features of “the big city” that they were visiting for the high and holy festival of Passover. If there had been cameras in those days, you can almost picture the disciples mugging for the camera in front of the magnificent opulence of the Temple. Little bands of tourists wearing bright orange hats would be milling through the plazas and colonnades of the Temple as tour guides with bullhorns shouted forth impressive statistics. “Some of these foundation stones weigh 5 tons and were brought into the city through the massive efforts of thousands of masons and slaves.”

Appreciative “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” would follow each stunning stat.

It was, all in all, a heady atmosphere. You couldn’t help but look up to see the towering heights. When I’ve been in places like Chicago and New York City, I know full well that standing on a sidewalk and staring up at the towering heights of the Sears Tower or the Empire State Building is the surest way possible to have me be easily identified as a tourist. But I can’t help it! I don’t want to look like some hick from the outback who is bowled over by skyscrapers, but they are just so impressive. They simply dwarf you! And so I steal as many heavenward glances as I can.

The disciples were like that. They don’t want to look like simple fishermen from Galilee and the like, but let’s face it: you just don’t see stonework like this back on the farm. Their enthusiasm is so great that they cannot resist pulling Jesus into the action. Their master seems oddly unmoved by the ramparts and architectural heights of Jerusalem. He is the only one NOT craning his neck and mugging for the camera. So the disciples try to bring him around. “Teacher! Lookee here – isn’t this one massive hunk of limestone!? Isn’t the craftsmanship on these carvings impressive? Can you imagine what it must have taken to raise up such a high edifice!?”

But Jesus meets their breathless enthusiasm with a shrug of his shoulders. “Yes, I see them. But you know what? Even the biggest of these stones will soon fall and be thrown down. One day, there won’t be a single building to look at here.”

We humans are easily amused and impressed. What impresses you? I’m convinced that God isn’t one bit impressed with our great skyscrapers, warships, rockets, art, music or anything else that we’ve come up with since the beginning of time.

What does impress Him? When we act in faith: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” – Luke 7:9

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, how I would love to be able to delight your heart with even my small faith! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/05/15 – An Ungrateful Heart

DayBreaks for 11/04/15: An Ungrateful Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/03/05:

From Bizarre News, 9/28/05: “Randall Dale Adams was convicted of murder in 1977.  Ten years later, filmmaker Errol Morris made a film about the Adams case and as he did, he became convinced that Adams was innocent.  The movie, The Thin Blue Line, presented the case for Adam’s innocence so effectively that he was released from prison.  Morris’s reward?  When Adams got out of jail, he sued the filmmaker for $60,000 for using his story.”

You would think that a convicted murderer would be grateful for a reprieve from prison.  I don’t know if Mr. Adams was condemned to the electric chair or just to life in prison, but he certainly didn’t show any gratitude toward the man who made the movie that convinced the legal system that Mr. Adams was innocent.  I would like to think that if I’d been in Mr. Adams place, I’d have given profuse thanks to Mr. Morris.

But would I really?  After all, you and I are all convicted – found guilty of sin by the Highest Court in existence.  There are no plea bargains to be made, no one else that we can “surrender up” as a bigger sinner to get us off the hook.  No, we’re guilty.  Plain and simple.  And our own offense carried the penalty of death – eternal death, called the “second death” in Scripture.  Not a very comfortable position to be in.  Yet, while we were imprisoned by sin awaiting the execution that was scheduled for us, someone took an interest in our story.  There was a huge difference, though.  Jesus knew that we weren’t innocent.  But still, as our Advocate, he took our seemingly hopeless case to the Father and offered himself in our stead. 

What is shocking is that the Father agreed to such an arrangement.  Of course, He and Christ were of one mind on the matter, so that made it somewhat easier, I’m sure.  So, the way our story ends is with us being released not only from prison, but from the sentence we had earned, to be giving something we could have never hoped for. 

So, the time comes to ask the question: how’s my heart when I consider this true-life story?  Is my heart grateful, or like Mr. Adams, do I snipe and complain at my Deliverer – accusing him of false motives, or of making bad choices for my life regarding my career, my finances, my marriage or children or parents – even my church?  If we can come to grips with what he did for us, we should realize that we have no right to complain against him.  Yet it seems to be a human pattern – after their delivery, Israel, too, carped at God.  I pray that we’ll not repeat that mistake!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, forgive us for our selfishness and for our critical spirit towards You.  You’ve given us not just this life, but the life to come – freely.  Help us to never criticize you or be ungrateful toward You again.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/04/15 – The Effort to Get Home

DayBreaks for 11/04/15: The Effort to Get Home

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/04/05:

BIZARRE NEWS – Wednesday, December 29, 2004  –  FORT VALLEY, Ga. – “Some people will do anything to get home to their family. One man walked almost two miles with a bullet hole in his head to die surrounded by loved ones if that was his fate. Larry Taylor had been walking to a friend’s house when a man came up to him and asked to use his cell phone. When Taylor said no, the robber pulled out a gun and shot him in the head. Bleeding severely from the wound, Taylor stumbled through the streets until he made it to his mother’s house, only to discover she had moved to a nursing home. After all this, Taylor was finally reunited with his family and was able to spend Christmas recovering from the trauma.”

All I can say is that Mr. Taylor must be one pretty tough dude.  I’m sure that the thing that kept him going must have been his motivation to be at home with his family.  With each step, he must have wondered if he’d see them again, if he could hang on and make it home before he died.  I can’t imagine the reaction of the people who were living in his mother’s home – and his disappointment at not finding his mother there.  Still, there seem to be some lessons here:

FIRST: We would do well to emulate Mr. Taylor’s desire to get “home.”  He was clearly a driven man – a clear goal and destination kept calling him onward in spite of the pain.  We are encouraged again and again by Scripture to “persevere” and “keep pressing on” in order that we can arrive safely at our destination.  Clearly, our efforts to make our way home can flag when we get tired or discouraged, and our motivation sags with the result that we lose sight of what was once so precious to us.  We need to hang tough – like Mr. Taylor.  The effort to get home may be monumental – but it is worth it.  No, we’re not saved by our works…but we were created for “good works in Christ”…and that takes effort!

SECOND: This world is full of disappointments.  Mr. Taylor must have been grievously disappointed when he got to where his mom lived only to find she’d moved!  It made me wonder about the relationship between Mr. Taylor and his mother.  But even though we are still sorely disappointed at times in life, just as Mr. Taylor found someone to help him, so we, too, find the One who wants to help us.

THIRD: Mr. Taylor was bleeding severely as he trod the path homeward.  Jesus bled profusely as he trod a pathway, too…the one up Calvary, not so that He could get home, but so that we could get there. 

Rev. 12:10-11 (NLT) –Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has happened at last — the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth — the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die.’

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, help us to remember the path that Jesus walked in order to ensure that we could safely reach home.  Give us the strength for each day that we can hang in there as we make our way through life, and let us be available to help those who are stumbling through this life’s journey.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/03/15 – How to Make God Laugh

DayBreaks for 11/03/15: How to Make God Laugh

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/02/05:

Ps 33:10-11 (NLT) –The LORD shatters the plans of the nations and thwarts all their schemes. But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.

Have you ever thought how you might be able to make God laugh?  Wouldn’t it be great to know that you were able to give Him joy!?!  Well, obviously we can – through loving Him and loving our fellow man.  But what about making Him LAUGH?  Someone once suggested that this is the perfect way to make God laugh: “Make a plan.”

You may remember the plan that the residents of Babel put together before building their infamous tower.  God laughed at them.  Remember the farmer who had such a huge crop that he couldn’t store it all – so he made a plan to build bigger and bigger barns?  God upset his apple cart, too.  Satan had his own strategy for how he’d defeat Jesus and win the seemingly endless struggle between himself and God.  For some period of time (exactly 3 days, I should think) Satan thought he’d actually pulled off his plan.  God laughed as Jesus walked out of the tomb. 

I must confess: I don’t make too many plans.  Not even when it comes to the church.  Perhaps I should make more – I’ve read so many books that talk about leadership and the necessity of a plan with measurable action steps.  It all sounds so good when I read it.  But I’ve also found that when I try to direct my own footsteps with a plan made by Galen C. Dalrymple, that invariably God has something else planned and my carefully thought out plans go down the drain like so much dirty water.  I find that to be especially true regarding His church.  That shouldn’t be surprising, should it?  After all, it’s HIS church…not mine!  He is the one who makes the plans, He is the one who alone knows what must happen and when and who has the power to make it happen.  So, here’s my plan for our church and for my life: “Lord, help me to see You and follow You without hesitation.”

Works for me.

James 4:13-16 (NLT) – Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog — it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.

 TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, help us understand that it is not up to us to direct our own pathway, but to simply follow You where you lead.  Help us understand that our plans are inconsequential.  Help us to see Your plan for our day today and for our lives hereafter.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>