DayBreaks for 6/30/16 – Role Models Needed

DayBreaks for 6/30/16 – Role Models Needed

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

The TV show 60 Minutes ran a segment that tells us something important about fatherlessness.
The park rangers at a South African wildlife preserve were concerned about the slaughter of 39 rare white rhinos in their park. It turned out that the rhinos were killed not by poachers but rather by juvenile delinquents—teen elephants.
The story began a decade ago when the park could no longer sustain the increasing population of elephants. They decided to kill many of the adult elephants whose young were old enough to survive without them. And so, the young elephants grew up fatherless.
As time went on, many of these young elephants roamed together in gangs and began to do things elephants normally don’t do. They threw sticks and water at rhinos and acted like neighborhood bullies. Without dominant males, the young bulls became sexually active, producing excessive testosterone and exhibiting aggressive behavior. A few young males grew especially violent, knocking down rhinos and stepping or kneeling on them, crushing the life out of them. Mafuto, the gang leader, eventually had to be killed.
The park rangers theorized that these young teen-aged elephants were acting badly because they lacked role models. The solution was to bring in a large male to lead them and to counteract their bully behaviors. Soon the new male established dominance and put the young bulls in their places. The killing stopped. The young males were mentored—and saved. – Ken Sowers, Mentor, Ohio; 60 Minutes (1-20-99). 

Isn’t it strange how we can see “failures’ in animal parenting and yet miss them in human parenting?  Park rangers could see that the lack of a good role model contributed heavily to the delinquency of this group of rogue elephants.  And yet, parents scratch their heads when their child is picked up by the police for shop lifting, for drinking and driving, for taking drugs – and yet many of those same parents “teach” that stealing isn’t all that bad – they bring things home from the office, they rob God of their tithes and offerings, they drink and drive and even may sit around and smoke grass or shoot drugs when their kids are around.  And yet, they can’t make the connection between their children’s behavior and the role model that they are failing to set. 

We are all being watched.  Especially Christians.  If people know you’re a believer, they’re watching to see if you and I live up to the tenets of our faith.  What kind of role model are we being?

PRAYER:  Lord, we want to be good representatives for you.  Help us to have the courage to live up to the truth of Your Word, to emulate the lifestyle of Jesus Christ so that we can be a blessing to others and help lead them into paths of righteousness.  Especially, help those who are parents with young ones to take seriously their God-given responsibilities to model putting You FIRST in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 6/29/16 – The Birthday Boy Ponders Life

DayBreaks for 6/29/16 – The Birthday Boy Ponders Life

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Sixty-four years ago today, I emerged into a world that was locked in a Cold War, the Yankees were the dominant force in professional sports, and my parents welcomed me into their growing family (I’m really not sure how my sister felt about me at that exact moment, though.)  They took me home to the little farm house in Greene County, Iowa, that I would know as home for the first 9-10 years of my life.  I didn’t think much about life when I was young.  After all, why should I?  It stretched out like I-80 through Nevada – as far as one could see – with no end in sight, not even a bend in the road. 

But life isn’t really like that, is it?  There are things that make us focus a bit more on life itself as we get older.  A classmate in your senior year who has their life snuffed out one Saturday night by a drunk driver.  A friend whose car is struck crossing a railroad track – with near fatal results.  A move from one state to another with the broken hearts of all involved for friends left behind.  The simple reality is that life is full of nothing but bendy roads, and the road has a very definite end – we just can’t see it very often.

As I contemplate my life today, I think that I’m beginning to see where the road may end.  At least, I know for sure that there will be a DEAD END sign in my future.  And that, is a good thing to know, isn’t it?  I don’t know when I’ll come around a corner and see that sign, but it is good to know that it will show up.  I wouldn’t have always said that, because as a typical younger person, I was too busy living life to contemplate the alternative – and I had no interest or desire to die.  I still enjoy life – I love it, in fact, but the alternative to life in this world for believers is not at all bad.  Not bad at all.  I think, however, that the key to coming to that contentment is found as “the alternative to life in this world…”.  This world just isn’t that pretty of a place anymore.  When you can begin to hear the sounds of the heavenly chorus, and you learn that you can never be good enough, wise enough, righteous enough and as a result you throw yourself totally upon His mercy and love, there is a peace that is inconceivable.  It’s not even a resigned reluctance, but more of an eager anticipation for the journey ahead.

But for today, or this moment at least, I’m here until my Father calls me home.  That means that it’s still His will for me to be here – and for you to be here, too.  He’s got something for us yet to do before we go home.  But if the story of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins says anything to us, it should tell us that we need to keep our bags packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Matthew 25:13 (NIV) – Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. 

PRAYER:  God, with each day, help us to have our bags packed a little more fully, a little more completely, so that when You do come for us, we will not only be found ready, but eager, to go with You.  Thank You for the forgiveness that assures us of Your love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/28/16 – The Skeleton Is You

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DayBreaks for 6/28/16 – The Skeleton Is You

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

I find the concept of “deadly sins” intriguing.  I’m not poking fun at those who promote the idea of deadly sins versus what appear to be “non-deadly” ones, but I just don’t find the concept in Scripture.  In fact, quite the contrary is true – it seems to me that all sins are of the deadly variety.  Some may have wider-ranging consequences than others – either for ourselves or for others – but consequences being what they may, every sin is deadly because every sin has the power to separate us from God for eternity. 

Now I understand that when Christ died, he paid the price for our sins, and that for those who have accepted him through faith and obedience to the gospel, the penalty for our sin has been removed.  But that doesn’t mean they weren’t deadly sins.  As Jesus – they were certainly deadly to Him.

Still, I found this from Frederick Buechner to be an interesting perspective on one of the so-called “deadly sins”: “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.

“The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” – Frederick Buechner

How true is that?!?!  Anger consumes us from the inside out until all that is left is a skeleton. 

Are you handling your anger in a Godly way, or do you need to confess that the way you’ve been dealing with it has been consuming you?   

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, we confess to you that we all harbor some anger in our hearts for the hurts and slights that we’ve suffered or perceived against us.  Help us to see how deadly anger is, not only for our own well-being, but for those against whom our anger burns.  Teach us to be like you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/27/16 – Walking Around Holding Our Wounded

DayBreaks for 6/27/16 – Walking Around Holding Our Wounds

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

“I have on my desktop a picture of a boy named Sasha. Sasha is one of the children of Chernobyl, a young boy born after the disaster that happened when the core at a nuclear facility in Russia melted and leaked. This little boy, Sasha, is perhaps 5-years-old, and he is gripping, with a tiny arm, the side of a crib. His other hand is flailing upward toward his ear, his head and shoulders the only portion of his body not mutated. On the right side of Sasha’s chest rises a lump the size of a softball, and his belly grows out disfigured before him as though he were pregnant, a truly painful sight.

“His legs are oversized and blocky, and he has no knees, only rounded flesh flowing awkwardly to his oversized feet, which produce four toes each, the largest of which, as big as my fist, is distanced from the others and pointing itself in an opposite direction. From the bottom of his stomach protrudes a rounded flow of flesh as though it were a separate limb, stopped in half growth. Sasha, the article in which I found the picture states, is in constant pain, lives in constant pain.

“As terrible as it is to compare Sasha to ourselves, I have to go there. I have to say that you and I were not supposed to be this way. As creatures in need of somebody outside of ourselves to name us, as creatures incomplete outside the companionship of God, our souls are born distorted, I am convinced of it. I am convinced that Moses was right, that his explanation was greater than Freud’s or Maslow’s or Pavlov’s.

“I believe, without question, that none of us are happy in the way we were supposed to be happy. I believe that nobody on this planet is so secure, so confident in their state that they feel the way Adam and Eve felt in the Garden before they knew they were naked. I believe we are in the wreckage of a war, a kind of Hiroshima, a kind of Mount Saint Helens, with souls distorted like the children of Chernobyl. As terrible as it is to think about these things, as ugly as it is to face them, I have to see the world this way in order for it to make sense. I have to believe something happened, and we are walking around holding our wounds.” – Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004, pg. 87-88

Let’s face it.  We all have wounds.  Some are old, some are new.  They all are infected and nauseating when we recall them.  We’ve inflicted some of them on ourselves.  Some have been inflicted by others.  But it matters little where they came from.  What matters is that they exist and we shouldn’t try to deny them.  In fact, we need to admit them, and seek help to deal with our wounds while at the same time offering to help others with their woundedness.  And we need to find the faith and the courage to take our hurts and pains to the Great Physician who will one day heal all our wounds.  We’ve already been healed by the wounds that He bore in our place. 

“By His stripes, we are healed.” – Isaiah 

PRAYER:  We try hard, God, to pretend that we’re just fine, that we’re not in pain or infected.  But deep in our hearts, we know otherwise – and so do You.  Give us the courage and strength to admit how full of infection we are and to come to the one place where we can truly be healed of that which will take our eternal life away from us.  Thank you that in Christ’s cross we can be made whole once again, forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/24/16 – You Must be Kidding!

DayBreaks for 6/24/16 – You Must be Kidding

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Jesus said many things during his Incarnation that were provocative and considered scandalous by those who were nearby.  He told stories about the hated Samaritans in which they were the heroes and the Jews were the bad guys.  He forgave sins – a prerogative reserved only for God Himself.  He healed on the day of rest – showing us that God’s compassion doesn’t take days off – and created a scandal.  His teaching about marriage and divorce, hate, lust – all stirred anger, bitterness and resentment.

But perhaps no words of Jesus were more scandalous, nor more hard for us to keep, than these words from Luke 6:35-36 (NLT): Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

As Michael Card put it The Lost Language of Lament: “This is one of Jesus’ most unbelievable and scandalous statements about His Father. Nothing like it had ever been spoken before. The Father is merciful to the ungrateful and the wicked, Jesus says. With these words He opens a door to an understanding of God which He would perfectly demonstrate on the cross. Jesus would die for the ungrateful and the wicked so the Father could show them mercy.”

It seems to us that being kind to our enemies should be enough.  Jesus says, “No.  You must LOVE them.”  One of the greatest qualities about love is that it is forgiving, compassionate, dare we say, merciful?  There have been many times when I wondered why it was that God wanted me to be kind to someone who had hurt me, to love them.  It always seemed as if it did no good.  Sure, I’d cling to the verse about doing good towards them and in doing so, I’d be heaping piles of burning coals on their head (Romans 12:20)!  (Ah, now that’s the kind of motivation that usually moves us – causing pain to someone who has hurt us!!!!)  But other than that, why, Lord?  Why should I love and do good to them other than to cause them guilt, shame and hopefully, remorse?  I think Michael may be on to something: it’s because when we love them and do good to them that we are most easily recognizable as children of the Most High.  And as always, God doesn’t ever ask us to do something that He hasn’t already done – God demonstrated His own love and compassion on the cross through the death of Christ for one reason: so the Father could show them mercy.

God wants us to love our enemies so that God is modeled to them and so that He can show mercy to them.  As always, it’s not about us and what we can or can’t do, it’s about God and what He wants to do through us. 

PRAYER: God, we are not very noble creatures and we are not driven by very noble motives.  The words and commands of Jesus sometimes are shocking to us and we can’t understand how you could ask such things of us.  Help us to realize that it is your heart of love and mercy that brought us to repentance and which longs for all to come to salvation.  Help us to love our enemies so that You can show them Your mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float – and Faith

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float and Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

I recently spent some time talking and praying with a fellow pastor whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer.  They still haven’t settled on what the course of her treatment will be, and everyone is remaining hopeful that God will work a healing in her life, one way or the other.

As I sat talking with my friend, we got around to pondering the imponderables of life.  Although we are both people of faith, as is his wife, the questions still come about what purpose God has in this and why such things happen.  Sure, we both know the theological arguments for it, but when something hits that close to home, you do rethink things.

He shared with me an illustration that he’d read just recently about Romans 8:28 – you know, the verse we’re so fond of quoting about how “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord…”.  Here’s the illustration: if you were to take any of the individual parts of a huge ocean liner and throw them into the water, they would sink like the proverbial stone.  They just can’t float by themselves.  But when all the parts are organized and put into the right place and attached together in one finished product, the entire ship floats perfectly.  It is much more successful at floating than just the sum of its parts or than any one of its parts.  Why?  The key is in the verse from Romans 8:28: All things work TOGETHER…for good…”  Do you see?  Individually, any one part may not work at all, we would look at it and say “That can’t float!”  But somehow, when it works together with the rest of the parts, they ALL float magnificently.

And so it is with the things that happen to us in life.  I can’t explain how it works.  I can’t tell my friend why God has brought this trial into their life – but I can say that somehow, God takes all the individual pieces of our lives that would sink like a rock, puts them together in an intricate weaving of life, and he sees to it that in the end, it all WORKS TOGETHER for the best.

As you look at individual happenings in your life (like the striking of cancer, heart disease, losing a job, etc.) they look like nothing less than an unmitigated disaster of cosmic proportions.  But God sees all those things put together, working together, to make us something special that DOES work.  So, when you look at something that happens in your life that appears disastrous, remember that God is still working to fit it into the overall design that He has in mind for you, and that His design will do more than float…it will fly! 

PRAYER:  Lord, Your ways are so far beyond our understanding that we can only bow before you, knees knocking, and do our best to trust and believe that somehow, in a way that none of us can begin to fathom, You’re putting our life together perfectly.  May we rest in this certainty as we face the challenges and disappointments of life today and always.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/22/16 – The Appointed Hour

DayBreaks for 6/22/16 – The Appointed Hour

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

A former Navy man told this story:

“Most Friday nights at the Naval Station in Bermuda, we would assemble at the officer’s club after work.  One Friday, Rick, a newly married ensign, insisted he had to leave at 6 p.m.  We all tried to talk him into staying, but he’d promised his bride he’d be home by six.  I offered to call home for Rick.

“When his wife answered the phone, I said, “Rick has been kidnapped.  Put five dollars in small, unmarked bills in a plain brown bag and throw it in the door of the officer’s club.”  I then hung up.

“A short time later, a waiter brought a grocery bag to our table.  In it were Rick’s baseball glove, a tennis racket and a teddy bear.  Attached to the bear was a note: ‘Rick can play kidnapped until 7 p.m.  Then he must come home.’”

I have to admit, I like the ingenuity of Rick’s wife.  She sounds delightful!

I also thought about the story of Hezekiah – who had an appointment with God to “come home.”  But after prayer, God granted him more time.  There was still a “coming home” time that was set and which needed to be followed, but God was gracious.

Whether we like to think about it or not, we all have an appointed rendezvous with God.  When that time comes, like Rick, we “must come home.”  I’m sure that Rick thought about it as the time approached. 

How much are you and I thinking about our going home? 

PRAYER:  Thank you for the very gift of life.  Thank you for the length of our days – however long or short that number may be.  Help us live this day in the light of eternity, and help us to be ready to come home at our appointed hour.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.