DayBreaks for 5/31/18 – God’s Dike

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DayBreaks for 5/31/18: God’s Dike

Much of Holland was once part of the ocean; but the industrious Dutch built great dikes far out in the shallow sea, and so reclaimed the land. As their dikes hold the ocean back, on the landward side the people occupy their homes, farmers till their land, and the wheels of commerce turn.

Many of the rural lowlanders have a quaint way of referring to Sunday, the Christian sabbath. They speak of it as God’s dike. Why? one might ask. Because what God’s people do on this day each week serves society in the same way a dike serves the land. As the dike holds back the sea, so does Sunday and the worship experience help to hold back the flood of evil which is forever threatening to overflow the people.

God interposes the instruction and inspiration of Christian worship as a bulwark against wrong. The Christian sabbath is civilization’s strongest social buttress against the overwhelming flood of evil and fear and despair which are forever pressing hard upon us. By means of it, the forces of righteousness are made stronger against all the powers that would undo us.

What we do in worship every Sunday is to strengthen our dikes, to help keep them in good repair. When we go to worship, we are not merely doing something for ourselves – we are also doing something for the world. We are taking part in an unceasing effort which involves many millions of people and stretches over many centuries of time. Let’s be aware of the vast enterprise we’re involved in, and let’s be glad we’re in it.

PRAYER: Lord, protect us through our worship, and change the world because of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 5/30/18 – Satan’s Strategy

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DayBreaks for 5/30/18: Satan’s Stragegy

It pays to know your enemy.  Ask any soldier and they’ll tell you that it’s important to understand how the enemy thinks, what their strategy is in given circumstances, what kind of tools, equipment and weaponry they have at their disposal.  It is only a fool who goes into battle without having considered the capabilities of the enemy. 

We spend a lot of time as Christians contemplating Christ and what he has done.  It is only right that it should be so, for one cannot dwell on the subject and person of Jesus too much.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if we don’t gather too little “intelligence” on our enemy, Satan.  Fortunately, Scripture is full of information on how Satan works to draw us into sin.

What is the impression that most people have about Christianity?  They believe Christians are repressed, and repressive, because the critics of Christians believe God is repressive.  Do you know why?  It’s because of the very first lie that Satan told – his first deception.  When he approached Eve, he caused her to come to the conclusion that God was repressive because He’d said, “Thou shalt not eat.”    By drawing God into question by saying (paraphrased): “Did got really say you couldn’t eat anything at all that you wanted to?”, he put the concept of a repressive God into human minds.  And it’s been there ever since. 

Is God repressive?  Eve had it right originally in her response: “No, we can eat of any tree except one.”  Does that sound repressive?  There was only one prohibition, and it was so that they could remain free from guilt.  But Satan’s strategy is, as Don Everts put it, “subtle wooing,” not blatant aggression.  He wants to mislead us, not frighten us.  He wants us to think he is our friend, after all. 

But there’s only one friend who laid down his life for us…and it wasn’t Satan.  That speaks volumes.

PRAYER:  Steel our hearts against the enemy of our souls, Lord.  Help us to see that repression leads to slavery, but grace to forgiveness and freedom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/29/18 – A Shocking Vision

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DayBreaks for 5/29/18: A Shocking Vision

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, “The Green Mile,” starring Tom Hanks.  In that movie, Tom Hanks plays a prison guard who is in charge of the section reserved for death row inmates.  His staff cares for the inmates, and escorts them on the night of their execution to the electric chair.  The name of the movie comes from the color of the floor…and how long the walk must seem to those who are condemned to die.  The movie certainly gives one moments of pause as the inmates are taken, when their time has come, to the execution chamber.  The way different characters responded to their approaching fate was thought-provoking, and as I am prone to do, I tried to put myself in their place.

Perhaps that’s why I found Don Everts writing in The Smell of Sin so intriguing.  Here’s what he had to say: “Our sins are immense and we are guilty.  We are tried and convicted, and it’s a death sentence.  And our time has come and the guards are stiffly escorting us down the long hallway to the electric chair that rightfully awaits us.  Dead men and women walking.  And when we round the last corner, the guards simply have to let us go…because the chair is already in use.  Jesus is in it.  And he’s being electrocuted.”

God, have mercy on us.

PRAYER:  Jesus, what can we possibly say that will begin to express our thankfulness for what You have done for us by being executed in our stead.  We are amazed at such love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/28/18 – Pondering First Thought

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DayBreaks for 5/28/18: Pondering the First Thought

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?  I was unprepared for it the first time I’d been there.  I wasn’t very excited about seeing it.  After all, who needs to see a big ditch?  But I must confess, when I caught the first glimpse of it, I was hooked.  Mesmerized.  Spellbound.  It far exceeded anything I’d expected or imagined.  My first thought was simply, “Wow!”

When my wife materialized at the end of aisle and I saw her for the first time on our wedding day, I was struck with how fortunate I was to be marrying the most beautiful woman in the world. 

When I first saw my children, I think my heart may have stopped for several seconds as I was lost in contemplating the wonder of a newborn that was flesh of my flesh, someone who you instantly knew you’d die for even though you’d just beheld them for the first time.

First thoughts are sometimes hard to recall, but not when it’s about something important.  I’ve wondered about what Jesus’ first thoughts were when he came to earth.  I wonder if at times he was despairing about what he saw in the hearts of men, or if he held great hope even when he saw us stagger and fall. 

First thoughts and last thoughts say a lot about us.  What is my first thought when I see someone who is homeless?  What is my first thought when someone approaches the church asking for money?  What is my first thought when I see scenes of the devastation in Myanmar or China?  What will I think in the morning when I see that person at work that always causes problems?

The first thought of God about man that’s recorded in Scripture is “It’s very good!”  My opinion of mankind isn’t often as high as God’s.  That says more about me than about Him, and about how much I need to have the mind of Christ formed in me.

PRAYER:  Father, give me as much of Your mind and heart as I can bear so that I can think about humanity as You do!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/25/18 – One Week in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 5/25/18: One Week in Heaven

As of last night (5/24/18) my mom has been in heaven for one week. I don’t have anything special or profound to say today, but thinking about her there as brought me joy and peace. You see, she’d struggled with dementia for about the past 6-7 years and it had gotten really, really bad. It was one of those situations where you pray for the Lord to relieve the suffering and bring wholeness to her body and soul. And I believe he has done so.

I find myself wondering what it is like to transition from this earth to heavenly spheres. I don’t believe that for His children that they are ever alone because we have his very solemn promise to never leave or forsake us. So I don’t believe my mom was afraid or left alone for even a nanosecond. I believe she saw the Lord immediately and that he gently took her hand and walked her home.

I wonder how quickly we see our loved ones who have gone before. Does God give them a “heads-up” that someone they love is coming home so that they can meet them right away and have an unearthly celebration? I’d like to think so, but I really don’t know. I find comfort in believing that we do see the right away – and it seems just like God to do something like that for us. So I choose to believe that my mom has seen my dad again, that they’ve both been reunited with the little girl they lost in infancy, and with their parents.

How long does it take to meet the favorite characters from Scripture? (In a way, talking about “how long” is rather silly because there is no time there, but I can’t wrap my mind around that reality.) Has mom met Mary, Esther, Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Peter, John and David already? My daughter rather humorously mused that perhaps those folks have an appointment book so you can schedule time to meet them. I rather doubt that, but who knows?

So what is the point of all this? I guess it is simply this: the life to come will be utterly unlike this one. It will be incredibly glorious. It will be free from dementia, cancer, tears, pain and death. I believe those things because the Word declares them to be true. But I can’t imagine it. All I can do is get excited about this: 1 Corinthians 2:9 – That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

That is all I need to know to understand that whatever heaven is like, however it all works, will be absolutely terrific. What our loved ones who have gone before have seen and experience exceeds our wildest imaginings.

Mom, I love you and miss having you here, but I’m sure you are enjoying your one week anniversary in a place we cannot begin to even dream of.

PRAYER: How comforting are your promises, how great your assurances are to us, Lord. I thank you for leading my mom safely home and for the place you prepared for her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/24/18 – Less or More?

 

DayBreaks for 5/24/18: Less or More?

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

How are the old bones doing these days?  Are you creaking just a bit more than you did a couple of years ago?  How’s the muscle tone?  Still got those six-pack abs that you had when you were in college?  Does that old wedding dress or tuxedo still fit you perfectly?  Is the hair as thick as it once was?  How about the color of your hair these days?  Has the old “get up and go” gotten up and gone somewhere and left no forwarding address? 

If so, you’re being Biblical!!!!  The apostle Paul aptly described our physical condition in 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) when he wrote: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

How are you doing with Paul’s statement, “we do not lose heart”?  Paul was describing his outward condition and the sufferings he’d been placed under for his stand for the faith.  It seems to me that many (including myself from time to time) lose heart as we see our bodies failing with higher frequency and greater severity.  My medicine cabinet has been pretty full of medications since my bypass surgery at 49 years of age.  I can only look forward to it getting even more congested as time passes and other things start to go bonkers on me.  It would be easy to lose heart – if my physical body is all that constitutes “me.” 

But Paul goes on to point out that though we are physically wasting away, inwardly we are not.  Inwardly we can be renewed day by day.  Eugene Peterson in Run With the Horses said it very well: “One of the supreme tasks of the faith community is to announce to us early and clearly the kind of life into which we can grow, to help us set our sights on what it means to be a human being complete.  Not one of us, at this moment, is complete.  In another hour, another day, we will have changed.  We are in process of becoming either less or more.  There are a million chemical and electrical interchanges going on in each of us this very moment.  There are intricate moral decisions and spiritual transactions taking place.  What are we becoming?  Less or more?”

In response to his own question, Peterson notes that 1 John 3:2 gives us the answer: Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  We are children; we will be adults.  We can see what we are now; we are children of God.  We don’t yet see the results of what we are becoming, but we know the goal, to be like Christ, or in Paul’s words, to arrive at mature manhood, to the measure of the statue of the fullness of Christ.  (Eph. 4:13)

“We do not deteriorate.  We do not disintegrate.  We become.” – Eugene Peterson

How’s your “becoming”?

PRAYER:  What wonderful news, Father, that we don’t deteriorate spiritually – but that we are becoming mature persons in Christ!  Shelter us safe as we grow and get strong in You, even as our bodies get weak and fail.  Help us to remember that we are not destined for deterioration, but for becoming!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/23/18 – Defining Ourselves

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DayBreaks for 5/23/18: Defining Ourselves

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Just who, by the way, do you think you are?  I mean, who ARE you?  I know some of you by name, some only by email addresses, and some of you are close personal friends.  But if someone were to come up to you this day and inquire of you, “Who are you?”, how would you define yourself?  And how would others that you know define themselves?

There are those, atheists and agnostics and some of the intellectual elite who might resort to biological classification to answer the question: “I am a homo sapiens.”  They wouldn’t be wrong.  Others, who might be a bit more technical and who find that giving the obvious answer is too boring, might say something like this: “I am a featherless biped,” i.e., a two-footed walking creature that walks upright without feathers.  When you think about it, that’s not inaccurate either.  Off hand, I can’t think of any other two-footed creature that always walks upright other than humans and birds.  So, that’s a valid definition, but decidedly less than exciting. 

Christians have a different perspective, hopefully.  If someone asked you who you are, I’d hope that you’d say something about being made in God’s image.  You might delve into what that means and the implications of it, and that would be good.

It seems, however, that when it comes for us to respond to what God calls us to be and do, that we tend to define ourselves at the lowest possible level – we define ourselves minimally as “featherless bipeds,” and we’re content to live with that rather that to be maximally defined as being constructed in the image of God and living in that reality. 

What difference does it make how we define ourselves?  If we are featherless bipeds, and if that is all we really are, then it really doesn’t make much difference how we define ourselves.  But if we are maximally defined, then God certainly expects something more from us than He does from a sparrow or starling. 

To be made in His image means we have great obligations, great opportunities – and great possibilities.  The question is whether or not we will live up to them!

PRAYER:  Help us understand, Father, the great privilege and honor You have placed upon our shoulders.  Help us to also realize that it is You who gives our lives definition – and not we ourselves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.