DayBreaks for 9/29/17 – Stars and Fear

Multiwavelength Crab Nebula

DayBreaks for 9/29/17: Stars and Fear

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love the mountains.  I love the ocean.  I love the forests.  I love redwoods.  But there isn’t much of anything, not even the Pacific Ocean, that makes me gasp in wonder as much as staring up thoughtfully at the night sky.  The vastness, the coldness of space plays tricks with my frail human mind.  I can’t even begin to grasp it.  When I stand on the beach at the edge of the Pacific, I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste and smell it in the air.  But I can’t do that with space.  As vast as the Pacific is, I can get some sense of its size by flying over it for hours on end.  Try that with the universe. 

It’s really strange – the stars don’t go away in the daytime, you know.  It’s just that because of the brightness of the sun, we can’t see them.  They’re still there – blazing away. Every second of the day and night the sun alone burns 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen and converts that into 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.  At the center of the sun the temperature is 15,600,000 degrees Kelvin.  That’ll cook a hot dog for you…really fast.

I could go on with facts and figures about the sun for a long, long time.  I never tire of the wonder of it all – the immensity.  And to think it all came into being by the words, “Let there be…”  Wow.

I could wander among the stars ceaselessly, mesmerized by the beauty of that part of God’s creation.  (In case you like to do that, too, you can go to this web site for incredible deep space pictures: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/.) 

But space is dark, and space is hostile.  It is not a place for the timid or those concerned about security.  Not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut.  And stars are only seen by night.  

I can get frightened by sounds I hear in the dark house at night, or sounds that seem to be just outside the bedroom window.  Night time is a time to be scared, but it is also when the stars can be seen.  An American astronomer spoke these wonderful words: I have lived among the stars for too long to fear the night.  Oh, how I like that!  It makes me think of the Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16 (NIV) – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

Living in the Presence of that Star will be the most awesome of all.  Here, we see through a glass darkly, but then, oh praise God, then – we shall see face to face!  And there is no reason to fear the night, for there will be no more night…just the brightest Star of all, shining in glory eternally!

PRAYER:  Lord, you tell us that our lives are like a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next.  You have filled our lives with people – some we enjoy, others we don’t – and with moments to make a difference for eternity.  What a privilege you have given to us!  May we use life wisely before the vapor that is our days is gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – The Shadow and the Sun

DayBreaks for 9/27/17: The Shadow and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I sit here in the office that is our kitchen, I look out through a window over the world famous Alexander Valley.  World famous, you say?  Yes, any oenophile knows about it.  (In case you’re not familiar with the term, “oenophile” means “wine lover”.)  It is here in the rich soil of Sonoma County, that some of the world’s finest wines are grown.  Much of the wine that comes from grapes here, I’m told, is never sold in the United States, but is exported to other countries – like France and Italy. 

We live on a hillside overlooking part of the valley.  Today is one of those kind of days that I love: the sky is mostly blue, but there are puffy marshmallow clouds drifting in from the sea, taking a somewhat southerly bent as they cross the valley.  I look out and can watch their shadows move languidly across the green vineyards and through the forests.  It is a beautiful sight to see and it brings a calmness to my soul, which is often times troubled.

Where we live there are people who love the heat of the summer.  I’m not one of them.  Fall is my favorite time – the air cools down and imparts an energy to my body that makes me want to shout for the joy of being alive!  In the summer, we have virtually no clouds.  It doesn’t rain here in the summertime.  At best, we may get a morning fog blanket from the Pacific coast that is just a few miles over that-a-way as the crow flies.  But then the fog burns off and the heat of the sun’s rays make the grapes grow and get fat and rich with juice.

I prefer cloudy days.  Not totally cloudy, but the drifty-dreamy days of fall before the heavy rains come to quench the thirst of the parched earth. 

The shadows – the darkness.  Both are metaphors used in Scripture to describe difficulties, evil, sin, times that are not good and that bode ill for the future.  On the other hand, the sun and light are used as symbols of good and of life.  Life is filled with a mix of shadows and sun, good and hard, peacefulness and turmoil.  It seems as if some live in places in their souls where there is only shadow, or at the most, very little sunshine.  And it can lead to despair and depression when all you can see is the shadows. 

I like what Jonathan Foreman said: “The shadow proves the sunshine.”  If there is a shadow, there must be a source of light.  Otherwise, there can be no shadow. 

In the middle of our lives, on the days when the shadows are deep and long, remember this: if you can see the shadow, there is a Light!

John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

PRAYER:  Father, when life’s shadows are long and our hearts are filled with despairing darkness, help us to remember that You cannot be far away or there would be no shadow!  Help us to persevere through the clouds of this day until we see the morning Light!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – Living Within a Yard of Hell

DayBreaks for 9/26/17: Living Within a Yard of Hell

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I feel that I’ve been very fortunate in my life in many, many ways.  One of them is that I’ve lived in quite a few different places.  I was born in Iowa and raised as a farm boy for about the first 9 years, then moved to Florida, then southern California, then northern California.  After graduating from high school, I went back to Florida for college, then back to California, then to North Carolina, then back to northern California.  We lived in several cities in northern California before moving to Maine in 2003, and now we find ourselves back in northern California once again…but in a different place. 

I have enjoyed living in all those places – different scenery, different customs, different accents, different weather, different friends and I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed living in every place I have ever lived.  I believe that of all the places we’ve lived, that Maine takes the cake for beauty – but other places have better weather.  For example, I’ve never slipped on the ice in the shopping center in Cloverdale, CA, which is more than I can say for living in Maine!  The leaves in Maine are like nowhere else on earth when they turn color, but Cloverdale is ringed with vineyards that turn colors, too, after the grapes are harvested. 

If you could live anywhere that you wanted to live, where would it be?  I found an interesting quote that I’d like to share with you.  It’s from C. T. Studd, and here’s what they had to say: “Some wish to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of Hell.”

Wow.  That draws me up short and really makes me think about how selfish I can be (and am!)  It also forces me to take stock of what matters the most to me.  Sure, who wouldn’t love to live close to the church and be constantly surrounded by other believers who are committed to loving one another and loving God?  But, such a scenario can have its drawbacks: it’s possible to love each other and God so much, but not love the world of unbelievers around us and therefore not make an effort to reach them because of their differences from us. 

What really makes me ashamed is to ask the question: “Where would Jesus have lived?”  Think about it.  If ever anyone was living in the sound of church bells (or choirs), Jesus had that luxury in heaven for all eternity.  He could have just stayed sitting on the throne of heaven and reveling in the music and praises of the angels.  But, instead, he chose to live within a yard of Hell by coming here and living with us. 

Does this mean that you have to feel guilty and move to a slum or inner city or jungle in order to fulfill your Christianity?  No, not at all.  Hopefully, you are where you are because God has called you to that place.  Besides, everywhere in this world is within a yard of Hell – just look around and you’ll see people queuing up to pass through its gates.  And, we may be the last chance any of them get at hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER:  Lord, we thank you for where you have placed us.  Help us to never grow complacent or become too introverted as your family, the church, that we forget the mission we are called to!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/25/17 – From Coward to Courage

DayBreaks for 9/25/17: From Coward to Courage

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado: “During the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion.  Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter’s death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln.  The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon.  The soldier returned to service, fought the entirety of the war, and was killed in the last battle.  Found within his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president.”

Application:

What a poignant story.  A soldier running from duty, most likely because of fear.  Captured, caught, condemned to die, he pleads for mercy – an appeal of the sentence that would have caused him to be hanged and remembered as a coward.  The plea lands on the desk of the commander in chief.  And mercy flowed down to a man who didn’t deserve it. 

We’ve all needed a pardon from time to time.  Just as with the soldier who had exhausted every appeal, except to the commander in chief, we were out of appeals, too. Like him, if our Commander in Chief hadn’t granted mercy, death was certain.  The case had been heard already and sentence passed.  This was the only hope left. 

What touched the heart of president Lincoln?  I don’t know.  By offering a pardon, others might desert when the times got tough and hope for a similar pardon.  Some of the generals were no doubt angry about the president’s pardon – after all, discipline must be maintained in a military organization.  They probably felt he was soft, or too old, or just to tired to think straight and make a good decision.

Imagine the relief and happiness in the heart of the soldier when he heard the president’s decision!  He was free.  He could have gone home.  Who would want him in their unit when the chips were down?  But instead of running home, he ran back to the front lines and fought for the rest of the war, only to be killed in the last battle of that great conflict.  What happened?  He was touched by the president’s act of grace.  His pardon was so precious to him that it changed his life.  He carried his pardon with him the rest of his days.   

The grace of Christ has caused men and women to do strange and heroic things.  To die singing songs of praise, to willingly submit their necks to the noose, their bodies to the flames, or their heads to the sword.  The grace of Christ turned Peter from a denier and coward to a martyr.  The grace of Christ empowered Thomas the doubter to be skinned alive (according to tradition).  The grace of Christ empowered 160,000 Christians around the world last year to say “Jesus Christ is Lord!” before their lives were offered as martyrs.

Have you found courage in the grace of Christ?  Has it changed your life forever?  Tell someone about it.  Don’t run from the battle – run to it.  The cause of Christ will move forward.  He’s looking for good soldiers who will, if necessary, die knowing their pardon has been established by the Commander in Chief.  This IS the call of the Master to us.  What will your answer be?

PRAYER:  Father, make us bold because of our thankfulness of what You’ve done for us!  Thank You for pardoning us and calling us into Your service!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/22/17 – Playing to Lose

DayBreaks for 9/22/17: Playing To Lose

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Last week a brother who gets DayBreaks suggested a thought on the topic of “playing to lose” and the idea captured my thoughts.  This brother and I have played together on church softball teams and we have some firsthand knowledge about losing!  But he wasn’t talking about softball.  He was talking about our life before God.  There are at least two ways of thinking about this that I’d like to explore:

First: the phrase “playing with sin” is not uncommon.  What does it mean?  It means tolerating the little sins in our life that we don’t think are so bad.  I mean, after all, have you ever murdered someone?  Been a drug “lord”?  Betrayed your government?  Been a terrorist who blew up innocent people?  Chances are that for those of you who read this, you’ve done none of those things.  They do the things they do because they don’t feel it’s wrong and because they believe those things will help make them richer and more powerful.  But when we start to think that the little sins we tolerate in our lives are OK, we forget the Words of scripture from Romans 8.13: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, … and also: Col 3.5-6: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

These verses should serve to remind us that “playing with sin” in our lives is like playing balloon toss with nitroglycerin.  It is playing to lose, not playing to win.  These verses are real clear: the things of the sinful nature don’t have to be huge things like murder or terrorism, but can be sexual immorality, impurity, lust, etc..  They are just as deadly in God’s eyes (even deadlier!), and because of that, they will bring His wrath.  Doing the things that cause us to fall under the wrath of God is definitely playing to lose!!!!

Second: there is a way that Scripture talks about in which we can lose and still win.  It’s all a matter of perspective – whether you look at things from God’s eyes or from the vantage point of the world and which is the most important to you.  Read Matt 10.39: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

Matt 19.29: And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Here’s a situation where we WANT to be playing to lose, because in losing, we WIN!  If we play our lives in such a way that we lose ourselves to the passions, lusts, greed and sinfulness of the earthly life, even to the point of forsaking the most precious things on earth (our families who would hinder us) for the cause of the kingdom, Jesus tells us that our won-loss record will be 100-1.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to throw in the real trophy: eternal life!  If you do this, your friends will think you’ve lost your mind.  And they’ll be right, because even your earthly mind and it’s sense of what is good, will be lost by being transformed to the mind of Christ.

In this DayBreaks, I’ve talked about “playing”.  But the bottom line: this isn’t a game.  Life, and what we choose to follow, is a deadly serious business.  There is a huge difference between playing to lose and playing to lose so you win.  Are you playing to lose or are you playing to lose so that you can win?  Make sure that you are on the winning team, because when the “game” is over, it’s either eternal life or sudden death!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for winning the victory and for sharing the crown of victory and life with us!  Give us the good sense to play to lose so we may win that which is wroth winning!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/21/17 – I Wonder About Lazarus

DayBreaks for 9/21/17: I Wonder About Lazarus

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

ABID JAN, Ivory Coast (08/26, Reuter’s): “A 2-year old girl was recovered alive three days after she was buried in a village cemetery.  Grave diggers in the area heard the young girl and immediately uncovered her grave.  Minata Lafissa was taken back to her parents in the village of Yakasse-Feyasse.  Lafissa was originally pronounced dead from a mystery illness.”

What a terrifying experience this must have been for little Minata!  One of my greatest fears (I’m claustrophobic – afraid of being closed in), is that I would be buried alive.  I can’t hardly stand to crawl underneath a car to change oil!  Can you imagine what it would be like to be sick, fall asleep, and wake up some time later in a closed, sealed coffin – buried alive!?!?!  It is the stuff of the worst horror movies and nightmares.

How do you feel about death? 

John 11.43-44: When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

There was a difference between Lazarus and Minata: unlike Minata, he was really and truly dead, it was done, over, finished.   He, like Minata, had been in the grave for days.  Only he was dead for all that time – not awake and screaming.  Then, all of a sudden, he hears an irresistible Voice – he opens his eyes and sees he is in a tomb.  Somehow (the verse isn’t real clear on how it exactly happened) his body moves forth out of the tomb (he couldn’t probably walk wrapped up as he was – it appears that he perhaps was “levitated” out of the tomb, but who knows?)  His eyes begin to see light through the wrappings around his face.  The first face he sees is probably his friend Jesus, or the faces of his sisters, Mary and Martha, as their trembling hands remove the wrappings.  They’ve all been crying, but for different reasons.  Mary and Martha are crying out of incredible joy for having their brother back.  Jesus has been crying because of the ravages of sin on mankind that brought death to his friend. 

How do you think Lazarus felt?  I wonder if he was happy to be back, or if he’d rather of stayed where he was.  (Probably a silly thing to wonder – if he was with God!)  How would I have felt?  If I’d already gone through the anxiousness of death itself, of the painful good-byes to loved ones, of drawing the last breath with a shudder – I think I wouldn’t be too keen on repeating the experience all over again.  I wonder what he saw while he was dead.  We simply aren’t told, because it really isn’t important.  I’d have liked to see him, talk with him, to have known him after this happened.

But, at the same time, if I’d been Lazarus, I would be amazed.  I would be standing before Jesus, knowing that some incredible power, His incredible power, had made me alive again after I’d been dead.  Here’s the amazing thing: I have been where Lazarus was!  If you’re a believer in Christ, you’ve been there, too:  Col 2.13: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins… 

How does it feel?  I have been brought back to life by God’s amazing power.  And I am sustained by His great power.  And even though I will die physically, I will not die spiritually – I will live forever with Him.   Let me tell you in case you haven’t experienced this resurrection of the spirit – it feels great!!!!

What Jesus did for Lazarus, what He’s done for me, He can and will do for you – if you believe in Him.  He wants to raise you to a new life.  He wants to raise your friends and family to the same life, too.  When you look at your fellow-believers this weekend at church, remember – you’re looking at a person who has been raised from the dead by the power of Jesus Christ!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for life, for stirring and breathing life into our dead souls.  Help us to celebrate and rejoice in the new life You have given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/20/17 – Who Are You Afraid Of?

DayBreaks for 9/20/17: Who Are You Afraid Of?

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Some time ago I shared a DayBreaks about a prayer walk I participated in through downtown San Francisco.  I shared that when we came to the Tenderloin part of town that I had some fear.  The people were unkempt, it is an area given to violence.  The looks in their eyes were contemptuous and hard. 

In reading further in Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship, chapter 25 talks about the decision that people must make to be disciples.  Here’s what he had to say: “They (disciples) must not fear men.  Men can do them no harm, for the power of men ceases with the death of the body.  But they must overcome the fear of death with the fear of God.  The danger lies not in the judgment of men, but in the judgment of God, not in the death of the body but in the eternal destruction of body and soul.  Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.”

This is, indeed, the crux of the issue.  We are too attached to our bodies – we are so attached to this life that we fear losing it.  No one would say that we would rather lose this life than the one to come.  In hearing “…the power of men ceases with the death of the body” we find ourselves yelling out, “Yes, but that’s what I’m afraid of!  I’m afraid of what may lead up to the death, too!”  No one wants to suffer.  If and since we all have to go, we all want to go quietly and peacefully.  But to some, and to increasing numbers in our day and age throughout the world, He grants the privilege to suffer and die for Him.  What gives Him the right to ask someone to do that?  The fact that He first suffered and died for us.  For you.  For me.  God has never asked us to do anything that He hasn’t first done Himself.   

We live in a day and age filled with growing fear.  We’re afraid of violence on the streets, of robbers breaking and entering, of rape in a dark parking lot, of terrorism striking into our community, of random shootings.  We don’t like to admit that we are afraid.  But it’s true.  Jesus himself said we SHOULD be afraid in Luke 12.5: But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  Did you notice – after He has told us to fear the great Judge of all mankind, He reiterates it in case we missed it: Yes, I tell you, fear him.  

But doesn’t “perfect love cast out fear”?  Yes.  But in our culture, we’ve gone so far to the side of not fearing God, of seeing Him simply as a white-haired old gentleman with a toothless grin and kindly eyes, that we have forgotten His demand of holiness, of the fact that He can, and will, carry out judgment against sin and vengeance.  God hates sin.  All sin.  It doesn’t matter what the sin is – He hates it.  It must be punished.  It must be paid for.  Every single one of us deserves to be banished to outer darkness with Satan and his angels forever.  Not one of us can stand on our own two feet before God’s throne, look Him in the eye and tell Him, “I deserve to be let into heaven!”  On that day, no one will dare do such a thing.  No, I have a feeling that when we stand before Him and are confronted with the absolute Holiness that is His alone, even though we are believers and His children, that we will fall on our faces in shame and yes, fear.  But then – oh, praise God!!! – then, His very own Son will step forward and show God His nail-scarred hands and feet and say, “I’ve paid the price for this one.  Let him/her in.”  Then God will smile, nod His head in perfect and absolute agreement, Jesus will gently lift us up and tell us, “Welcome home!” as tears of joy stream down His face and mingle with our own tears of relief and thankfulness. 

That day will come.  We will stand before Him.  Jesus holds our destiny in His hands.  Thank God they are nail-scarred!

PRAYER:  May we live boldly in the holy fear of You and You alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/19/17 – In the Midst of Doubt

DayBreaks for 9/19/17: In the Midst of Doubt

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Doubts.  Uncertainties.  This past Thursday morning I was in a meeting with other pastors and we were discussing a particular aspect of doctrine.  Now you might think, “Wow, that really sounds exciting…a real snoozer!”  Normally, I’d have to agree with you.  As one of the pastors put it, “Doctrine, schmoctrin! I’d rather talk about Jesus!”  Right on!  Part of the reason that we struggled with the conversation so much was that we all recognized and admitted our own imperfect knowledge and understanding.  I think that one of the reasons that God chooses to save us by faith in Christ and not by passing a theological or doctrinal test is that He knows not one of us would ever get any, let alone all, of it perfectly right.  And so, while some discussions of doctrine are at least important, and some are very interesting, our doctrinal certainties are not the basis of our salvation. 

I have no doubts in my mind about who Jesus is.  I have no doubts in my mind about what He can do (although since it’s far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend, I don’t know ALL that He can do, so I just say, “He can do anything!”).  But every once in a while, something comes along that tends to knock the tracks off the tank of our life’s smooth progress and we begin to question, to ask (even if just for a fleeting moment), “Do I really believe this stuff?  Does it make any sense to believe it?”  Sometimes those thought-provoking questions come as the result of a cataclysm of worldly proportions (tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), sometimes as a result of the fall of a man or woman of God who seems to have lost or abandoned all they ever held true for a momentary dalliance with sin.  Sometimes they come tip-toeing into my mind for no apparent reason at all. 

I am not the kind of person who is free from doubts.  I have had people tell me that they have never doubted for a moment the eternal existence of God.  Many times, such people also tell me that they’ve never felt the need to read any of the outstanding books that wrestle with the questions of God’s existence, evidences for it, for the resurrection, for the virgin birth, for the miracles, etc.  More power to them.  I’m glad that God has given them such a simple, yet strong and resolute faith.  Maybe someday I’ll reach a point where I never even have the thought or shadow of a doubt pass across my mind.  But for now – every once in a while, I wonder.  I ponder.  I question.  I think God can handle that just fine.  And, I feel stronger for having to wrestle with those things.  I think Thomas’ faith was stronger after he wrestled with his doubts about the resurrection and then had it confirmed as a result, don’t you?  Jesus said that Thomas was blessed because he believed – but those who have never seen and believed are at least equally blessed.  Jesus didn’t knock Thomas for the doubt.

So, what do you do when you are faced with doubts, when the moving picture of life beats you up one side and down another like an automated car wash? Here are some thoughts from my youngest son, Tim: 

“…I always recommend that in the midst of doubt, one continue to go to the places where one has met God before–it only makes sense.  But what’s most important for you to understand is that you do not need to “come back” to God.  God is not “back there” somewhere, as though you have left Him behind, and He is only in one place.  God has been right there with you all along, right beside your bed, with His hand on your shoulder as you wept.  We do not worship an abstract philosophical God.  We worship a God who cared about us in the midst of our suffering so much that He became human so that he could stand before suffering and death alongside us.  We worship a God who “so loved the world” that He gave Christ in order that whoever trusts in Him “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without realizing it, I can see that this is what I do when I question.  I got back to the place where I met God before – and find He’s still there.  The patriarchs made a habit of every so often revisiting places where they and their predecessors had encounters with God (Bethel, for instance).  There’s a lot to be said for that.  There is something about familiar surroundings that can help resolve the doubts.  And so I read the words and life of Jesus again, and there I’m struck down and reminded of what a great God He Is and why I believe in Him.  The answers that I found to the questions I’ve asked still hold water.  And I can’t avoid those answers – they are solid, like the Rock Himself. 

PRAYER:  Thank you for being patient with our shaky faith and deep-rooted questions, Lord.  Thank you for the story of Thomas and how you blessed him after his faith was confirmed.  Thank you for solid places upon which we can regain our footing when our faith falters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 9/15/17 – Your Garden of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 9/15/17: Your Garden of Gethsemane

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Have you ever stopped to think how many decisions you will make in any given day?  We make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  When we think of decisions, we tend to think of the weightier matters of life – and that’s a good thing.  Weighty matters deserve lots of thought as we try to decide what to do.  Hopefully, if you are a Christian, the very first thing you contemplate is whether or not the thing you are doing is in God’s will.  Regardless of whatever other factors you choose to apply to decisions you are facing and making, that one should be the most prominent. 

How do you know His will?  I’m not going to try to provide an exhaustive list here, but certainly His revealed and written Word is our primary tool for discerning his will.  If we cavalierly throw that out the window, we have no solid basis for a decision.  God expects us to follow the Word when we are facing decisions.  That means we have to accept it as truth, not try to explain it away or rationalize why it doesn’t apply to us.

One of my favorite stories about the life of Jesus has to do with his night in the garden of Gethsemane, my favorite place in the Holy Land.  I am moved by that story – even more, I think, that by the story of the crucifixion itself.  Physical pain is one thing, but spiritual pain can be far worse.  It was in the garden that we’re told Jesus was in agony – not on the cross.  (I’m not minimizing what happened upon those old timbers – I am sure there was incredible agony there, too.)  It was in the garden that he wrestled with both flesh and blood and principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Why?  Because in the garden he was faced with the decision that would form the crux of his life.  It all culminated there, in the shadows of the olive trees, as the Son of God knelt down in the dirt and made the most crucial decision in all of history: would he do things his way, or God’s way?

There are times and decisions in our lives that are seemingly insignificant (although I’d like to argue that one with you – notice I said “seemingly insignificant”), but then there are moments that clearly rise into the stratosphere in terms of importance.  At those times we are faced with our own garden of Gethsemane.  We must decide whether our prayer will be, “Nevertheless, my will not Thine be done,” or if we’ll echo Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” 

You may be wrestling with a decision today that has life-altering potential, that once made may not be able to be undone ever.  Have you considered what God’s Word would say about it?  If you know how God feels about it, what will you do about it?  You may be facing your own garden of Gethsemane right now.  What will your prayer be?

PRAYER:  Spirit, help us not to fail the test in moments of crisis.  Strip away Satan’s deceptions from our eyes so that we can see what is at stake in the decisions of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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