DayBreaks for 6/30/17 – The Hidden Possibilities

DayBreaks for 6/30/17: The Hidden Possibilities

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

Agostino d’Antonio, a sculptor in Florence, Italy, labored diligently but unsuccessfully on a large piece of marble.  After much effort and time, Mr. d’Antonio pronounced his verdict: “I can do nothing with it.”  But, rather than just throwing the large piece of marble out, other sculptors tried their hand at it at making something of the chunk of rock, but they too gave up the task.

For forty years that large slab of stone lay in a huge pile of rubbish, until one day, another sculptor was out walking and spied the stone.  He immediately gave orders to have the marble brought to his studio, and he began to work upon it at once – falling on it with the hammer and chisel, laboring to release the image within the stone.  Ultimately, his work and labor met with success.  From that seemingly worthless stone that had been cast into the rubbish pile, Michaelangelo carved one of the world’s greatest masterpieces of marble sculpture, the statue known to us as David!

What was it that made the difference between Agostino d’Antonio and Michaelangelo’s work on the same piece of marble?  The secret lay in the sculptor, not in the stone. 

As we look at the great men and women of Scripture, we might be tempted to draw contrasts with our own lives.  The lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Moses – they look like giants made out of granite.  They seem to tower over us and make our own lives seem small and significant by comparison.  Our lives seem to be full of disappointments while their lives seem bolder than life, full of color and vibrancy.  We see all that God has accomplished in them, and probably see little of what He’s done in our lives.  What is it that made such people so strong and great?  It wasn’t the nature of who they were.  It was all in the Sculptor who worked within them. 

The same Sculptor is at work in all those who have entrusted their lives to them.  What can we expect?  We can expect Him to produce a masterpiece out of your life because you know the quality of the work of the Sculptor, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 44:24 (NIV) – This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself…

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that You are trustworthy to make us and chisel away the dross to form us into the image of Your precious Son, Jesus.  May we yield to the hammer and chisel until we reach the design You have for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 6/29/2017 – Looking in the Mirror at 65

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DayBreaks for 6/29/17: Looking in the Mirror at 65

Well, today I celebrate another trip around the sun. I thought that it might make sense to reflect back across my life and share a few things I’ve learned – and haven’t yet learned – as I stare at my reflection in the mirror.

Lessons Learned:

Life is far shorter than you think it will be. It seems like only yesterday that I was 18 years old and thought anyone that was over 40 was really old…really old. And now, I’m 25 years past 40. Where does the time go? What have I done with my life? How much longer do I have left? How will that time be filled? There is no way to recover lost time, but you can make the best of whatever time you have left.

Lessons can be learned in either an easy way or a hard way. It seems that some things I’ve been able to learn just by listening to others. That’s the best way to learn. I’ve also discovered that the most painful lessons are usually the ones that are most important and that I really need to learn.

Purpose becomes more important as you get older. There are many who struggle at a young age with the meaning of their life – and they sometimes don’t find it with drastic consequences as a result. I think that we make life much more complicated than it needs to be – and the same is true with our search for meaning. I think Jesus summed it up perfectly when he gave us the two greatest commandments: to love God with all we’ve got, and to love others as much as we love ourselves. As we get older and things (at least some things) get clearer, those two purposes in live become more and more important. Glory with God is just around the corner when you’re 65 (at least for most of us it’s much closer than when you’re 18) and the number of opportunities when you can hold your loved ones and tell them what they mean to you are like the sand through an hourglass – and you never know how many more chances you’ve got to do that. It might make me sound sentimental, but so be it. I’m resolved to tell people more often how much they mean to me while I can. Purpose also becomes more important because you want to think that your life mattered in some way because there’s not time to make many major adjustments.

People grow more and more precious. I thought when I married my wife at the early age of 18 that I loved her – and I think I did really love her. But not like I do now. Rather than finding that the years have tempered and worn down the love I had for her, I find that I have never loved and appreciated her more than I do now. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because I can look back at my life and see all that she’s had to put up with through the years. Perhaps it’s because I know our time together is limited – unlike when we were young and you think that somehow you’ll live forever. I wish this lesson had been learned far earlier in my life and I would have been a better husband for it. And I’ve learned to love my children more, too, as I’ve watched them raise their own families.

Figure out as early as possible what really matters. It’s not money. It’s not worldly achievement. It’s not a fancy title. It’s certainly not a fancy home or cars. It’s about being a person of compassion, of mercy, of forgiveness, of mirroring as best you can the greatest of all God’s own characteristics: love, mercy, grace, gentleness and stopping to give a hand to those who need your help. I’ve learned that God has never failed me or disappointed me – and that He never will. I am still learning to walk in His oversized steps and trying to be just a bit more like Him tomorrow than I am today.

Lessons I’ve Not Learned:

I’ve not learned how to defeat some of my sin. Oh, I know the answer is through the power of the Spirit, but He hasn’t given me miraculous delivery from the sins that have nagged at me all my life. In a way, though, isn’t the problem in the statement of what I’ve not learned? It is not within ME to defeat the power of sin in my life. I can’t. I’ve proved that, if nothing else, in my 65 years. But it has taught me one very, very important lesson: that the love and grace of God are abundantly more than I need and the power of the blood of Jesus is far more than just adequate to cover every one of my sins. And he has already paid the price for them all! It took me many years to come to understand that nothing more is necessary to take away my future sins. And as hard as it is to believe, I stand before Him justified and forgiven of every…single…sin.

How to be a more generous person. This one bothers me. All my life I’ve struggled with “security” and that has led me to not be as generous as I should have been. When will I learn that my security doesn’t lie in the bank account, but in the God Who holds me, my family, and my future in His hand?

James 1:22-24 (MSG) – Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

Thank you for sharing this walk with me!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the six and one-half decades of life which you’ve blessed me with. I am thankful and blessed because of You. Help me now to not just look in the mirror of my life reflected in Your word, but to act on what your Spirit shows me that my remaining time may glorify You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/28/17 – Held Captive

DayBreaks for 6/28/17: Held Captive

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

Now I would like to stop the world for just one minute and ask you to think back. Think back with me to the first century. Think about those 50 years after Jesus’ death and what it must been like for Jesus’ disciples. Before the last one died their efforts had brought 500,000 men, women, and children into the ranks of the church. But what they had to suffer in order to accomplish this task is seldom discussed. We like the outcome of their discipleship but we don’t want to hear the cost of discipleship. So for the record here is the cost: History tells us…
1. John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the East Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.)
12. Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
What sacrifices! And I ask you why? Why did they choose to die this way? Why desert your father and mother, your wife and child, and your home? Why put up with the constant humiliation, and hunger, and persecution, and defeat town after town after town?
I’ll tell you why, because, in the words of Apostle Paul, they were held captive by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s way of saying they were slaves to Christ. But this wasn’t a begrudging slavery – they were so thankful that this master had set them free from their former captor – that they considered it a privilege and honor to be His slave.
1 Timothy 2:4-6a (MSG) – He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out.

Romans 1:1 (MSG) I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the Christians in Rome, God’s friends.

The question that haunts me is: how do I feel about being a slave of Jesus? Does it stir my soul as it did that of the first disciples? If not, why?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you freed us. Stir in our hearts the same passion that ignited the imaginations and actions of those you chose in the first century that we might be held captive by You and nothing else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/27/17 – The Immaculate Infection

DayBreaks for 6/27/17: The Immaculate Infection

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

Most Christians have heard of, and understand, what is referred to as the “immaculate conception” – the begetting of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit rather than through the normal human means of reproduction.  It is a fundamental aspect of Christ’s divinity that cannot be bypassed or glossed over.  If Jesus was begotten through human agency rather than through the Holy Spirit of God that came upon the virgin Mary, well…Jesus then is just like the rest of us in our humanity and he would not have been divine.  It would have made God out to be a liar because His word said that a “virgin shall conceive”.  We should never underestimate the importance of the virgin birth and divine nature of Christ!

But there’s another interesting thing that we should consider about this Jesus that we worship and follow.  John Ortberg, with his brilliant insight, pointed it out in his book, Love Beyond Reason, when he was describing the leper that came to Jesus with a strange request: “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  There are several fascinating things about this story:

FIRST: it was the leper who approached Jesus, not the other way around.  (We shouldn’t take that to mean that Jesus wouldn’t have approached him, but some step of faith on our part is always welcomed by Jesus.)  By law, the leper’s job was to keep himself separated from those who were not infected with that horrible disease.  And, by practice, the rabbis who had so committed themselves to following the law in all its minute detail, made it a point to keep themselves separated from others lest they should become infected by the sinfulness of others.  But this man chose to ignore the demands of the law as taught by the rabbis…and he approached Jesus.  His faith was on display, but an even greater display of faith was on the horizon.

SECOND: what the man says to Jesus is fascinating.  He doesn’t say, “Perhaps you can make me clean.”  No, he’s much more honest and faith-filled than that.  He said, “If you CHOOSE you can make me clean.”  There was no doubting of Jesus’ ability or power.  This man believed with all his heart that Jesus could heal him.  The issue, as he saw it, was one of willingness on the part of Jesus.  “If you choose…”  Why was this the issue for the man?  Several points might be productive to consider: 1) maybe he’d seen Jesus operate before, noting that sometimes he chose to heal and at other times he didn’t – he recognized Jesus’ sovereignty; 2) he might have been unsure of Jesus’ willingness to be approached, perhaps fearful that Jesus would be repulsed by the leprosy and as so many other rabbis had done – shrink away and leave the man behind; 3) this man was used to being ignored and knew that nearly everyone he’d ever met had chosen not to be near him.  Would Jesus be the same?

THIRD: we see the heart of God on display.  Rather than being concerned about his own health and the risk of infection by leprosy, Jesus chose to infect the leprous man with Life!  It wasn’t like John Coffee in the movie, The Green Mile, who had the special ability to take disease away from someone and into his own body.  The man’s leprosy did not pass into Jesus, but as the text says, it was completely gone!  What did pass between the two men was life…and it flowed from Jesus into the body of the dying, diseased man.  This, Ortberg says, was “the immaculate infection.” 

It wasn’t just this man, however, who has been infected in such a way.  All who come to Jesus through faith, come saying “If you choose, you can make me clean!”  Praise be to God, Jesus chooses to do that very thing!   Let all that is within us praise God for the infection we’ve caught from Jesus!!!!!

John 5:24 (NIV) – I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you that you choose to heal us even as we ooze and reek from sin!  Thank you that you choose us to infect us with your life!  May we, in turn, pass the infection on until all the world comes to know you as Lord and Savior!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/26/17: The Power of Naming

DayBreaks for 6/26/17: The Power of Naming

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

One of the privileges of being a pet owner is being able to assign a name to your pet.  I’ve come up with some good ones and some pretty bad ones.  As a parent, a lot of thought goes into the name you will pin on your children.  You want to pick a name you like, that will reflect well on the child and not be prone to mean nicknames that playmates might dream up.  Sometimes, people assign names or “labels” to others that aren’t very good.

For example, in India, the Dalits (you may know them better as the group referred to historically as the “untouchables”) are given only one name.  And it is not a pretty name – certainly not a name that is to be desired.  The name must be a derogatory, insulting name, such as Stupid, Ugly, Dung, Useless.  Can you imagine growing up wearing an “official” name like that – and knowing that it will be your name for your entire life?

Something great has been happening among the Dalits of India.  As they’ve come to hear the message of Jesus, they’ve discovered some amazing things that has turned their lives around:

FIRST: they have learned that Jesus, too, was born and lived his life as a Dalit.  He had no place to lay his head.  He lived in poverty, much of the time living off the charity and kindness of friends and followers.  He was called names by others that were ugly and insulting.  The incarnation was about God Almighty becoming a Dalit.  And suddenly, the Dalits knew that Someone very special knew and understood their plight. 

SECOND: the Dalits learned that Jesus could give them new names, names found in Scripture to describe the children of the Heavenly Father: Beloved, Chosen, Beautiful, Poetry, Precious, Holy, Righteous, Saint, Son, Daughter.  After having a filthy, derogatory name all of your life, the re-naming by Jesus makes them glow with great joy.

Perhaps you are in need of believing the wonderful news that Jesus understands even your misery, that he understands what it is like to carry a derogatory name and to be viewed by others as dirty, filthy and stupid.  But no matter – he gives you a new name, a glorious name.  Wear it with joy and thanksgiving today!

1 John 3:1-2 (NIV) – How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God..

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you that you know and understand us even in our darkness and confusion.  Thank you that you shared in our disgrace but that you didn’t leave us there, but raised us up to heavenly glory in yourself.  Let us live lives that bear testimony to who and what we are in you!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/23/17 – As Jesus Was Walking

DayBreaks for 6/23/17: As Jesus Was Walking

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

John 9:1 – As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.

And so begins the story of the healing of the blind beggar in the gospel of John.  It’s a rather innocuous beginning, but it is also profound.  Jesus was out walking.  We don’t know where he was going, but he wasn’t in the temple.  It doesn’t appear that he was on his way to some ministry our counseling appointment.  We simply don’t know where he was going.  But one thing is clear: he wasn’t punched in on the ministry time clock. 

Time clocks rule our lives in many ways.  We have certain times when we are supposed to be at work and when we are to leave work, when we’re supposed to be in class at school.  Even our vacations are often dominated by glances at the clock and the sobering awareness of the passing of time – of vacation freedom coming to an end.  We are ruled by time. 

If there is one thing that can be said about Jesus, it is this: he wasn’t very mindful of the clock.  Even though he wasn’t “punched in”, as he traveled to wherever it was that he was going, he saw a man who had been blind, beside the path, begging.  The key word is “saw.”  Jesus stopped and engaged the man in his hour of need.  No one else seemed to pay any attention to this man: he’d probably been a daily sight at the same location for years.  And after that much time passes and if you see that same person every day for year after year, you tend to lose sight of him eventually, he becomes invisible.  And that’s what this man was to apparently everyone that day except for Jesus.  Jesus, on his own time, saw him. 

This man was used to being ignored, to being treated as if he were invisible.  What did it mean to him that day that Jesus saw him and healed him?  It meant that, perhaps for the very first time in his life, he knew that God saw him.  In fact, God had seen every quivering of the man’s chin as he began to cry in his frustration and degradation.  God has seen every person that the man had not seen who had chosen to cross to the far side of the roadway to avoid having to come face to face with this needy may.  But God didn’t pass him by, God came to him that day and saw him, and he saw God. 

And it all happened “as Jesus was walking.”  Today, we’ll take lots of steps – you may even have a watch or phone that will count them for you – we’ll go lots of places and we will almost certainly see lots of people.  But will we “see” them as did?  And even if we see them as we go along our way, will we take time to give them encouragement, a blessing of some kind – spiritual, emotional or physical?  There is to be no time that God’s love and mercy through His children is not in full employ.  As you go on your way today, make it your goal to see people with Jesus’ eyes and to let Him minister to them through your hands and feet.

PRAYER: Lord, we’ve got lots of things on our minds today, many things to do and many places to go.  Open our eyes to see people today as Jesus sees them…we ask You to see them through our physical vision and then to move our physical hands and feet to act as Jesus would in each instance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/22/17 – Sins Borne of Myopia

DayBreaks for 6/22/17: Sins Borne of Myopia

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007, from my oldest son’s blog:

Safe in Egypt we shall sigh
For lost insecurity;
Only when her terrors come
Does our flesh feel quite at home.

“The quote is from Auden. Perhaps you can relate. That we experience this dual attraction towards the security of peace and the ecstasy of danger eloquently illustrates our unsettled condition. In his 1998 essay, A Taste for Danger, Theodore Dalrymple maps out the phenomenon nicely. He opens with reflections on a gallery display of Vietnam-era photojournalism:

“These photographers hated the war, but they loved it too: for it gave meaning to their lives or at the very least provided a temporary relief from those nagging questions about the meaning of life that even the most complacent of us sometimes ask…

“Dalrymple goes on to describe his own experience working in conflict zones and the difficult withdrawals that follow an addiction to personal peril:

“The problem with having lived too long or too frequently in dangerous situations is that one ceases to care very much about the actual content of the existence one is so anxious to preserve. Danger absolves one of the need to deal with a thousand quotidian problems or to make a thousand little choices, each one unimportant. Danger simplifies existence and therefore…comes as a relief from many anxieties.

“This business of daily life can be rather dull, can’t it? Peace is uninteresting. It’s a crime we should ever find it so, but sometimes we do. Worse, when we lack for outward threats we tend to manufacture them: spiritual or intellectual crises, superfluous interpersonal conflicts, flirtations with sin. And when these manufactured dangers fail to satisfy we borrow threats and conflicts from others through gossip, consumption of sensationalized media and mass entertainments.
“Boredom, lust for distraction and attraction to danger are, more often than not, sins born of myopia. Corrective lenses are available. But these are very old temptations, so deeply rooted in the soil of our social and personal lives that it’s difficult to imagine where we might be without them.  Perhaps a certain garden in the east.”

Galen’s Thoughts: it has been said that 20th and 21st century Americans are the most bored people in earth’s history.  The word, boredom, wasn’t even in use much (if at all) until the last century.  Isn’t it interesting that boredom came upon the scene with humanism, modernism, relativism and the great scientific explosion?  Up until those things happened, people would contemplate and posit God as the central aspect and concern of existence.  Sadly, when God “disappeared” from social consciousness and discourse, we became self-centered as a species, and we became myopic (strange how that word starts with “my”, isn’t it?).  Can we turn our focus back to God, away from self?  Not fully in this life.  We can’t go back to the garden in the east, but we can journey to the garden in heaven, where the Tree of Life will once more be found and enjoyed.

PRAYER: Lord, may we not become disinterested in the actual content of existence and those who inhabit this realm with us.  May we not be so myopic that we fail to see the greater picture and cause outside of our own lives.  May our meaning, here and in eternity, be found in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>