DayBreaks for 11/30/17 – The Value of Opposition

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DayBreaks for 11/30/17: The Value of Opposition

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I enjoy watching kites fly.  I especially enjoy watching either little children fly a kite and squeal with delight, or in watching experts who really know what they’re doing fly exotic and beautiful creations.  The colors, the shapes, the fun of using the wind to fly – it’s great stuff!  Multicolored creations of varying shapes and sizes fill the skies like beautiful birds darting and dancing in the heady atmosphere above the earth.  As the strong winds gusted against the kites, a string keeps them in check.

Instead of blowing away, they rise against the wind to achieve great heights.  They shake and pull, but the restraining string and the cumbersome tail keep them in tow, facing upward and against the wind.  As the kites struggle and tremble against the string, they seem to say, “Let me go!  Let me go!  I want to be free!”  They soar beautifully even as they fight the imposed restriction of the string.  Sometimes, one of the kites will succeed in breaking loose.  “Free at last!’ it seems to say.  “Free to fly with the wind.”

Yet freedom from restraint simply puts it at the mercy of an unsympathetic breeze.  It’ll flutter ungracefully, sometimes in a death-spiral, to the ground where it lands in a tangled mass of weeds and string against a dead bush.  “Free at last” – free to lie powerless in the dirt, to be blown helplessly along the ground, and to lodge lifeless against the first obstruction. 

How much like kites we sometimes are!  The Lord gives us adversity and restrictions, rules to follow from which we can fly and gain strength.  And how we fight against those restraints!  We would like to cast them off like a heavy coat on a blazingly hot summer day!

Restraint, however, is a necessary counterpart to the winds of opposition.  Some of us will tug at the rules so hard that we never soar to reach the heights we might have otherwise obtained.  We keep part of the commandment and (pardon the pun) never rise high enough to get our tails off the ground.

Let us each rise to the great heights our Heavenly Father has in store for us, recognizing that some of the restraints that we may chafe under are actually the steadying force that helps us ascend and achieve.  Without those restraints, we cannot truly fly.

Romans 3:18: – They have no fear of God to restrain them.

PRAYER:  Teach us to love Your commandments and precepts, and to see them as blessings that give us the ability to soar rather than weights to hold us down.  Let us fly with Your Spirit through the winds of obedience!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.


DayBreaks for 11/29/17 – The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water

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DayBreaks for 11/29/17: The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Have you ever competed in any kind of sports?  When I was in high school, I played basketball, tennis, football and ran a little track.  I found the competition very exciting.  I loved basketball above all other sports.  I remember one game, I was fouled with 2 seconds to play.  We were behind by 1 point so I had a chance to win the game.  The opposing coach called a timeout, intent on “icing” me – making me think about whether or not I’d be able to make the shots or whether I’d miss.  We were playing in the opposing team’s home gym.  The crowd was pressed all around the court and they were yelling.  The official blew the whistle and we walked back onto the court and I took my position at the free-throw line.  I missed the first shot, and then I missed the second shot.  I had failed.  I felt awful – like I’d let my teammates down, my coach down, my school down.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand and never come up again.

The next week, we were playing a different team, this time in our home gym.  Can anyone say “Déjà vu?”  Unbelievably, the scenario was repeated.  Down by 1 with just a few ticks of the clock, and I was fouled while shooting.  Once again, the opposing team coach called timeout.  My mind was spinning with the irony of it all – and the horror at what had happened the previous week.  After the timeout, I went to the free-throw line and made the first free-throw.  At least now the game was tied and at worst, we’d go into overtime.  The second free-throw also went through and I was a hero for the rest of the day. 

What made the difference between the first game and the second?  Hard to say.  But one thing I know: in the intervening time, I made a determined effort to shoot a LOT of free throws at every practice.  After practice, I’d go home and shoot free throws at the hoop on the back patio.  I can’t begin to guess how many free throws I shot between the first and second game.  To this day I don’t know if that’s why I made the shots during the second game, or if it was just God’s blessing.  And frankly, at the time, I didn’t care too much why – I was just relieved.

Kim Linehan held the world record in the Women’s 1500-meter freestyle.  According to her coach at the time, Paul Bergen, said his 18-year old was the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world.  She would exercise endlessly, swimming 7 to 12 miles a day.  Someone once asked her what was the hardest part of her regimen.  She replied: “Getting in the water.”

It is difficult to make strong beginnings.  It is difficult, day after day to get in the water, to step up to the free throw line and practice.  It is difficult, day after day to step up to the plate and take swings at being a Christ-like man or woman.  It would be so much easier to just stay in bed, to skip the practice, to circumvent the discipline.  But one thing is sure if we do that: we’ll never know or experience victory.  All we’ll know is defeat. 

Maybe this morning you feel as if you’ve just about had it.  You’re ready to surrender to that temptation that just keeps nagging you.  You’re ready to throw in the towel on your marriage.  You’re sick and tired of working so hard and getting so little recognition for it. 

Get in the water.  Once you do, good things start to happen.  Practice the spiritual disciplines that will equip you to win when hard times come, that hone your responses to a fine, shining point.  And never forget that it isn’t really you that gains any victory, it’s Jesus!

PRAYER:  When we are weary, God, tempted to not make the effort to be what you want us to be and to do what you want us to do, change our hearts and charge us with new fire from above.  Help us to do our part and get in the water and leave it up to you whether we walk on the surface or swim!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/28/17 – I Have Returned Alive

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DayBreaks for 11/28/17: I Have Returned Alive

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Shoichi Yokoi was a soldier, conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1941 and sent to Guam shortly thereafter.  In 1944, as American forces reconquered the island, Yokoi went into hiding.
On January 24, 1972, Yokoi was discovered in a remote section of Guam by two of the island’s inhabitants.  For 28 years he had been hiding in an underground jungle cave, fearing to come out of hiding even after finding leaflets declaring that World War II had ended.  “It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive,” he said upon his return to Japan, carrying his rusted rifle at his side.

There is no question that the Japanese soldiers during WW2 were incredibly loyal and committed to their cause.  Much of the fiercest fighting of the war took place in the Pacific theater.  One of the things that the Japanese had drilled into them through their culture for centuries is that you never surrender.  To surrender was the greatest possible insult and shame that a soldier could face.  If you were a Japanese soldier, there were only 2 ways that you could return home honorably: either as a victor at the war’s end or as a corpse.  Hence, Mr. Yokio’s comment: “It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive.”  The poor man had stayed at his post, alone and in hiding on Guam, for nearly 30 years.

Many thoughts run through my mind as I read this story:

I’m impressed with such dedication to a cause, such loyalty.  It makes me wonder about my commitment to the cause of the cross. 

I’m intrigued by the mindset that coming home alive is a shame.  Then, I stop to think about our Lord’s instructions that we must lose our lives if we hope to find life.  We must die to who we are in our sinful human natures.  And to come home, to stand before God’s judgment bar in heaven without having fully died, would be a great shame.  I think that I must redouble my prayers and efforts to “put to death” the old man so that a new One can live inside of me.

In spite of the shame of not truly dying to myself as I should in this life, Jesus will see to it that I do come home alive.  And when I do, it will be to a welcome, not to shame.

PRAYER:  Help me to die, Lord, that I may live.  And let that life be in the glory of Your Presence, that we may not be ashamed!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/27/17 – An Unpredictable Future?

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DayBreaks for 11/27/17: An Unpredictable Future?

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How would you describe the future?  You might describe certain things that you want or hope to have happen in the future, but my guess is that at some point you’d couch your description in terms like, “If I could, I would…”.  I am always amazed at how many of the supermarket tabloids have covers that relate to some prediction of the future by people like Nostradamus, or some modern-day “psychic”.  There is something in us that would like (we think) to be able to predict or know what the future holds.  I think that we’re actually far better off not knowing myself.

When I speak of an unpredictable future, I am not talking about one that is unstable…just one that can’t be very well predicted by human experience.  As humans, we just don’t have the requisite knowledge or skill to be able to predict with any degree of certainty what will take place.  And that’s especially true because to some extent, our “possible” futures are based on our past and present experiences.  But what happens when something totally out of the realm of human experience intervenes?

In his book, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann mused on the topic of the future and what God’s promises mean related to the future: “A promise is a declaration which announces the coming of a reality that does not yet exist.  Thus promise sets man’s heart on a future history in which the fulfilling of the promise is to be expected.  If it is a case of a divine promise, then that indicates that the expected future does not have to develop within the framework of the possibilities inherent in the present, but arises from that which is possible to the God of the promise.  This can also be something which by the standard of present experience appears impossible.”

The future towards which we move cannot be predicted by any human, no matter how wise he or she may be.  It takes One who is not only all-wise, but all-powerful, to control the events so that the future finds it’s fulfillment for which it was planned.  Certainly, in Genesis when God makes his initial promises to humanity, he was declaring a reality that, at least in time, did not yet exist.  The future is not dependent on the experiences of your life, or of all our lives put together.  It is dependent only on the God who made and formed the promise and who shapes the future to His liking. 

What does the future hold?  I can’t predict it…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t predictable.  With God, all things are possible.  We think of Him interacting with the world as we know and experience it, but that is at least limited, if not false, theology. 

You don’t need to consult actuarial tables to know what the future holds.  They can’t tell you.  God can.  And He does tell us another thing about the future: we don’t have to worry about it because it’s in His perfectly capable hands!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord God Almighty, that you hold not only the future of the universe and the world but of each and every one of us who have put our trust in Christ, in your hands.  May we sleep well tonight knowing You are in control!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/23/17 – Thanksliving

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DayBreaks for 11/23/17: Thanksliving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the entire year.  The smells of Thanksgiving dinner that start early in the morning.  The anticipation of the arrival of family.  The joyful hugs of children and the encircling arms of my grandchildren around my neck.  Turkey, dressing, green-bean and mushroom casserole, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pies and whipped cream topping.  My mouth waters just to think of it!

And as much as I love those things about Thanksgiving, I’m sure that the real reason for Thanksgiving goes underappreciated year after year after year by most of us.  Not that we don’t take time to give God thanks on this day, but we don’t take much time to do that compared to what we spend cooking, or even eating, the feast that His hand has provided.  How much time do you spend eating or watching football on Thanksgiving day?  How much time do you spend giving thanks to God? 

I’m not saying that to make any of us feel guilty, it’s just an observation – and something I think we need to ponder.  As much as God desires to hear our “Thank You, Father”, I think that if it comes to just saying thanks then we’ve missed the point.  How can we practically demonstrate our thankfulness?  It’s been said that the art of thanksgiving is in thanksliving.  It is gratitude in action.  That being the case, here’s some ideas on how we can really demonstrate that we understand what we’ve received and that we are thankful for it:

It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.

It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.

It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.

It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.

It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.

It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.

It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and respect you show your body.

Rudyard Kipling at one time was so popular that his writings were getting ten shillings per word. A few college students, however, did not appreciate Kipling’s writings; they facetiously sent him a letter and enclosed ten shillings. It read, “Please, send us your best word.” They got back a letter from Kipling that said, “Thanks.”

What a great word: “Thanks!”  May we say, and live, it often not just on this one day a year, but constantly.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

PRAYER:  There are not enough words in existence to give You due thanks, Father God.  But today we’ll try to give You appropriate thanks by not just saying it, but by trying to live lives that demonstrate our gratefulness!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/22/17 – A Great Mystery

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DayBreaks for 11/22/17: A Great Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

You’ve probably gathered by now that I’ve been interested in the topic of godliness lately.  I’ve been preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1, and since Peter wrote about godliness, even saying that we need to make every effort to add to our “perseverance, godliness,” it’s rather caught my attention.  Godliness could be defined as being “like God”, or “like Jesus”.  Well, since none of us have ever seen God or Jesus, it’s a bit hard to know what that means in all its entirety. 

The apostle Paul, as he often does, digs deep into the topic of godliness, too.  Perhaps one of the most intriguing passages of Scripture on the topic, yet one I’d not really contemplated too much before, is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, where the apostle Paul wrote these mysterious words: Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.”   Paul, describing Christ, says that the mystery of godliness was revealed by certain things relating to the life and person of Jesus.  In particular, there are six things about the godliness that Christ demonstrated (as noted by Mark Buchanan in Hidden In Plain Sight:

FIRST: he appeared in a body.  Now that doesn’t sound all that godly, does it?  In fact, it sounds rather human.  I think what Paul was getting at might have been this: Christ, in the flesh, made God accessible – and personal.  Before, we could only imagine God, but in Christ, we could see Him.  Being godly means making Him accessible to those in our world.

SECOND: Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit.  One of our least godly characteristics is our intense desire to vindicate ourselves – to make ourselves look good to others, to show that we ARE good and that we are not bad.  Jesus didn’t worry about how others would perceive him.  He was more than willing to let God vindicate him – which He most certainly did by raising him from the dead.  Godly people don’t worry about pleasing others – but entrust God to vindicate them before their enemies in His time.

THIRD: Jesus was seen by angels.  Throughout his life, Jesus was aware that life consisted of more than meets the eyes.  Angels ministered to him at various times.  He lived with an awareness that this world isn’t all there is.  People who are godly know and understand that we are “playing” out a scenario that is viewed on a heavenly stage and that the main audience we live for is not earthly, but cosmic.  When we remember that angels and God are watching us, it could change a lot in how we live!

FOURTH: Jesus was preached among the nations.  While Jesus himself lived in Palestine nearly his entire life (except for a brief sojourn in Egypt), the message of Jesus has been preached throughout the world.  His message was for the world, it was not something to be hoarded and kept in a righteous little box.  His influence goes far beyond where he lived.  Our influence, too, should be global, and we should be engaged in carrying his message to the world – we should, like Christ, have a global influence.

FIFTH: He was believed on in the world.  It’s key that he says, “…in the world.”  We would have expected people in the “church” to believe on him, but even those in the world believed on him.  Part of the reason he was believed upon was because of how he lived his own life.  And when people believed on him, their world was turned upside down and changed for the better.  Godly people are supposed to have an influence outside of the church walls – in fact, that’s where our primary influence should be felt.  That’s where the non-believers are!

SIXTH: Jesus was taken up in glory.  He wasn’t caught up with glory – he wasn’t a “glory-hog”.  He was taken up “in glory.”  His life had a purpose and an ultimate reward.  Godly people will live in such a way that, though we live in the here and now, we never take our eyes off the “forever” towards which we are moving, and the reward that awaits us there.  This is motivation for us to be godly.

What is godliness?  Maybe you’ve not thought about this verse in that way before, but I think Buchanan was onto something good.  Everything there is to be learned about being godly can be learned at the feet of Jesus.

PRAYER:  Thank You, God, for the mystery of godliness that has been revealed in and through Your Son.  May we imitate the One You sent.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/21/17 – A Muddy Foam

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DayBreaks for 11/21/17: A Muddy Foam

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I like to maintain an even keel.  I think most of us do.  Sure, there are those who are into the extremes: folks who put on a kite-type suit and jump out of an airplane and ride the wind currents coming up off the face of a mountain.  And there’s the other extreme, too: folks who, for whatever reason, are so afraid to even set foot outside of their home that they live as prisoners of their own fears.  But most of us operate “normally” – we try not to get too carried away with anything, thinking that a good balance is what life is all about.  There’s something to be said for that, but I’m not really convinced that it’s all good.

Consider: how would your wife or husband feel about it if you just had neutral or luke-warm emotions towards them?  How would your children feel if you made it a goal in life not to go overboard in truly loving them?  How would your employer feel if you thought your job was okay, but didn’t make every effort to work hard for them?  Chances are you wouldn’t be employed for very long.

How does God want us to live our lives, especially our emotional lives? 

There are many passages of Scripture that relate to this: we are to live sober-mindedly, we are to live peaceful lives characterized by the joy of Christ.  We are to be wary and alert, to test the spirits to see if they’re from God or not.  Sounds rather balanced and reserved, doesn’t it? 

But, I think that there’s an area or two where God wants us to truly go overboard, to cast our caution aside and jump into the deep end of the pool, so to speak.  The first one is in the way that we love God Himself.  We are to love Him more than our very lives if it should come to that.  We are to love Him, not with part of our heart, soul and mind, but with ALL of our heart, soul and mind.  In other words, hold nothing back from this love.  There is no other love like it and there’s nothing better to reserve our love for than for loving Him.  The second one, you can probably guess: we are to love what God loves – goodness, righteousness, holiness…and yes, other people, even our enemies.  It’s far easier to say than to do. 

I like this quote, which I find expresses the feeling I have down deep in my heart about my own poor emotional condition: “I am spellbound by the intensity of Jesus’ emotions: not a twinge of pity, but heartbroken compassion; not a passing irritation, but terrifying anger; not a silent tear, but groans of anguish; not a weak smile, but ecstatic celebration.  Jesus’ emotions are like a mountain river cascading with clear water. My emotions are more like a muddy foam or a feeble trickle.”  – G. Walter Hansenin, Christianity Today

How can we have the emotional passion of Jesus for others and for the Father?  I think that there are probably many possible things that can help us, including praying that God will give us Jesus’ heart for the world, for the lost, for the hurting – to make us compassionate and also capable of true rejoicing.  We also need to learn to see through the surface appearances into the deep realities of eternal destiny and of the human heart so that we can see in others and in situations what Jesus sees in them.  It’s hard to be moved with compassion toward someone who is engaging in blatant and offensive sin, but if we could see them in an eternity without Christ, I have a hunch that we’d all be moved to be more loving and compassionate.  After all, isn’t that how Jesus saw us before we were saved? 

PRAYER:  Father, help us to have the heart that beats with the passion of Christ.  Help us to have the eyes to see past the hurts others may cause us, the offenses we may suffer at their hands, to see them as marred images of what You intended them to be, and to see the reality of their destination if they continue to live without Jesus.  Then, give us the strength to act like Christ towards them.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.