DayBreaks for 9/30/19 – Pain and Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/30/19: Pain and Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How would you feel if someone that you couldn’t see showed up to your door one day and offered you a deal like this one: “Hi!  I’m here to offer you a deal.  I know that you are concerned for your children.  Every loving parent is and you are clearly a loving parent.  Here’s the deal I’ve got for you: I will guarantee you generations of descendants.  I will make sure that they have a place to live.  I will see to it that they are taken care of and loved forever.  But, in order to have me do those things for you, your descendants will have to go through a few minor things, in particular, they’ll have to wait 400 years to get their land and in the meantime, they’ll be slaves to the most powerful nation on earth. How’s that sound? Do we have a deal?”

Chances are, you’d slam the door quickly and tell the visitor to “take a hike.”  And you’d have plenty of company. 

The scenario, of course, is not just a made-up story.  It really happened to a man by the name of Abraham and it is recorded in Genesis 15:13-14.  What is amazing is that Abraham essentially said, “Sure!  Sounds like a deal to me!”

We could always marvel about this grand old man of the faith.  He earned that nickname the hard way – by being tested and purified by the fire many times in his life.  I doubt than many, if any, living today would want to go through the same kind of testing to earn a similar nickname to “father of the faithful.”  But that’s not really the point that I’m after today. 

I’m sure that it was great for Abraham to hear that his children and their descendants would be cared for and loved by God.  But I’m also sure that it was very painful for him to hear about the 400 years of servitude that would precede their taking possession of the land of promise.  And so, at one and the same time, Abraham’s descendants because both his greatest joy…and his greatest pain.

If you look back at your life, isn’t that how it’s worked for you?  That the sources of your greatest joys become the sources also of your greatest pains, and that the things that have caused you the most pain often bring the greatest joys?  As Dr. Gerald Schroeder wrote in The Science of God, “If we mistake pleasure to be the avoidance of pain, we may miss some of the greatest pleasures in life, such as reaching the peak of a mountain or rearing children.  Ask parents the source of their greatest pleasure, and then ask them the source of their greatest pain.  It’s their kids every time.”

For all the complaining and moaning we often do about the pain in our lives, maybe we’re just too short-sighted to reflect back on the pain later and see how God has turned it into joy. 

PRAYER: Thank you for the many ways you teach us and for the fact that even our greatest pain can be turned into life’s greatest joy through your power!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 9/27/19 – The Truck or the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 9/27/19: The Truck or the Shadow

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me – Your rod and Your staff comfort me. – Ps. 23:4

There is a wonderful story that is told about Donald Barnhouse, who was a great man of faith and servant of the Lord.  While his children were still very young (he had 3 at the time), his first wife, Ruth, died of cancer.  One can only try to imagine the feelings that assailed the grieved family!  On the day of the funeral, Mr. Barnhouse and his children attended the service at the funeral home and then got into their car to go to the cemetery for the graveyard service. 

As they drove to the cemetery, Dr. Barnhouse heard the crying of his children but he was so overcome with his own grief and heartbreak that he didn’t know what to say in an effort to comfort his small children.  As they drove, all of a sudden, a very large moving van drove immediately past their car and the shadow of the van momentarily threw them into the shade.  It was the inspiration that Dr. Barnhouse needed.  He turned to his children and asked them this seemingly very simple question: “Would you rather be run over by a truck or by a shadow?”  The children, perhaps thinking that he’d taken leave of his senses, quickly replied through their weeping, that they’d rather be run over by the shadow.  Dr. Barnhouse then said, “About 2000 years ago the truck of death ran directly over Jesus so that only the shadow of death would touch us.”

The point was clear: for those who are His children, death not only holds no fear for us, but it cannot harm us – it is nothing more than a shadow.  It has been nothing but a shadow for all believers since Jesus took the sting of death away and overcame it once and for all time.  Yes, the shadow of death still looms in the dark valley, but David seemed to sense when he wrote Psalm 23 that it was only shadows…that there is no reason to fear it for the Lord God is with us.

PRAYER: We praise You, Jesus, for taking away death’s sting and that You have protected us from what You endured!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/26/19 – Struggling With the Will

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DayBreaks for 9/26/19: Struggling with the Will

Matthew 26:39-42 (ESV) – And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

To my way of thinking, this scene in the garden is the crux of all eternity. What transpired there had the ability to doom us forever or open the doorway to paradise.

But what was it that was so hard for Jesus to do? Was it the fear of death? It doesn’t seem possible to me given his power over death. Was it the coming separation from the Father, when God would turn his face away? I’d imagine there was some of that in it. Certainly the humiliation and pain of the crucifixion could not be a good thing to contemplate at all. But I think that we have the clues right in this passage itself.

Jesus gives us the clue twice in this passage. Two times he mentions “his will” versus the will of the Father. And in between he tells Peter that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I’d always taken that to refer to the disciples who were sleeping, and that is true. But I think it runs deeper than that.

I think what we’re witnessing here is Jesus’ own statement about his struggle with his will. His spirit is willing to proceed full speed ahead, but the flesh and will embodied in that flesh is weak. Let’s not forget that Jesus was flesh and blood just as are we.

And for the first time in all eternity that we’re aware of, Jesus’ will and the will of the Father were at odds. It must have been a very strange thing for Jesus to find himself in that situation. Yet for him to be tempted in all ways that we are, wouldn’t he  need to come to the point that his fleshly will and that of the Father contradicted one another? At this moment his will was clearly different than the Father’s.

So Jesus statement, “not my will”, was the moment of surrender of his will to the Father. One more thing to note from Luke 22:43. It was precisely when Jesus prayed for the Father’s will and not his own that the angel came to strengthen him – not before. As John Ortberg (who inspired these thoughts from his message this past Sunday) put it: “That angel is still on duty and he makes house calls.”

I don’t know about you, but it is worth knowing that Jesus understands how hard the will dies and surrenders. It’s not impossible – but it can be very, very hard. If you are struggling with the will, don’t give up. When you truly surrender, you will find the Comforter immediately by your side.

PRAYER: Jesus, I’m glad to know that you didn’t find the surrender of the will to be easy and that you understand my own struggle with my will. Help us all in our surrender.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/25/19 – Snakebit

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DayBreaks for 9/25/19: Snakebit

My son, Tim, recently wrote a brief article in the October 2019 edition of Christianity Today about a story in the book of Numbers. You may recall that the Israelites were in the wilderness when, in apparent desperation, they grumble about God. “Fiery” serpents show up and start biting them and many died. Moses intercedes and God instructs him to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that …if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live (Num 21:9, ESV).

It only takes five verses to cover the tale. As strange as the story is, Jesus alludes to it in John 3:14, saying that he would also be lifted up and that anyone who looked to him would find life everlasting.

But here’s what caught my attention in Tim’s article: “One of my favorite aspects of the Numbers story is what it requires

of the afflicted. If a snake bites your foot, the natural reaction is to look down. We are all tempted to fixate on our troubles and our fears. In order to look for God, in order to be healed, we have to lift our eyes and see God’s provision.”

We are often afflicted, are we not? And when we do, we hang our heads, downcast and we can’t seem to think of anything else but how we’ve been wounded. If the Israelites hung their heads in despair, they would die. They were forced to lift their eyes heavenward if they wanted to survive.

Nothing has changed since then. If we want to survive, we must still look upward. It’s a natural reaction to look at your foot if you’ve been bitten by a snake, it is intuitively unnatural to look upward. God knows our tendencies and that we will fixate on the wrong thing if we aren’t careful.

Struggling? Have you been snake-bit? Look up to see Jesus and find life!

PRAYER: Jesus, let us lift our eyes to you when we need help and when we have been ‘snake-bit’ to find deliverance!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/24/19 – Armchairs and Earthquakes

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DayBreaks for 9/24/19: Armchairs and Earthquakes

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

Do you have a favorite armchair that has grown accustomed to your shape and form – a place you like to sit (or recline, if you’re lucky) and just veg?  I have one.  It’s in our front room and from there I can watch TV, plug in my notebook and surf the internet, process email, read, study, write or listen to music.  I am very fond of this chair (as is my dog, Casper, who likes to crawl up on my lap, especially if I pop out the footrest and get really comfortable!) 

Armchairs are great.  They are made for one purpose and one purpose only: to make you comfortable.  Ya gotta love ‘em!

There are, however, drawbacks to armchairs.  For all their comfort, the greatest danger is that they’ll make us too comfortable.  I can fritter away an entire afternoon sitting in my chair entertaining myself instead of cleaning out the garage, washing the car, doing some yard work or even washing the dishes!  All of those things need to be done, but when I’m all comfortable in my chair, I seem to lack motivation to get up and do any of those things that might even remotely resemble work!

Still, I’m convinced that God doesn’t begrudge us some relaxation and comfort.  In fact, I’m sure He doesn’t.  After all, one of the names for the Messiah and the Spirit is “Comforter.”  That being said, it is true that God doesn’t want us to get too comfortable – at least not with things of this earthly life. 

It is easy to sit in our armchairs and pontificate.  We can wax eloquent on politics or the latest world events.  We can speak with great passion about the needs of the orphans and hungry.  We can talk and give lots of facts about the plight of those living in the third world and what should be done to make their existence better.  It’s easy to sit in an armchair and talk about important things…but it’s even easier to do nothing BUT talk about them. 

We need to consider that our God is the kind of God who is alive and who is not hesitant to take action, who shakes the earth from its place (Job 9:6) from time to time.  It seems that it is His penchant to shake the earth around us particularly when we get too comfortable in our armchair.  And when He does, our armchair shakes right along with it.  The question then becomes, what will we do when that happens?  What will become of all those trite and quaint sayings we have about God as we sit in our comfy chair?  Will they change?  Will they turn to accusations or recriminations? 

I’ve lived through numerous earthquakes in my many years of living in California.  I don’t enjoy them, but I will confess that they get your attention and make you pay attention.  We should be grateful for the earthquakes of life, for those times when God shakes us out of our comfort induced, sleepy haze.  It may be uncomfortable and stir us up – but more often than not, that’s precisely what we need!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for not letting us grow too comfortable that we forget our responsibilities and fail to serve You or others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/23/19 – Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

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DayBreaks for 9/23/19: Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

On our last full day in Denali National Park, we were driven to Kantishna, Alaska which is only 2.5 miles up the road from where we had been staying. It’s the end of the road…literally…92.5 miles into Denali National Park. It was strange to stand at the signpost that marked the end of the road and it made me think.

During our time in Denali we’d seen grizzlies, moose, caribou, ruffled grouse, golden eagles, ptarmigan, otters, seal lions, beluga whales, magnificent foliage, spectacular lakes and ponds left by glacial melt, looming mountains, massive glaciers, glorious sunrises and sunsets. If you have never been to Alaska you cannot possibly understand what I’m trying to describe. It is breathtaking.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the wonderment of it all, to be swept off you feet and to forget things that should not be forgotten. The end of the road sign reminded me of that.

At the end of my road, what will my story be? In the end it isn’t about grizzlies or moose, mountains or lakes. It’s all about people – creatures far more magnificent than the mightiest grizzly or the hugest moose. They are more magnificent because they are made in God’s image, and though we hope the animals we have loved will be part of the afterlife, we don’t know for sure. But the people we have loved – and hated – do have an eternal destiny. At the end of the road, God won’t ask what I thought of the wonder of Alaska. He’ll ask if I put my faith in Jesus. He’ll ask if I fulfilled the two greatest commandments: 1) loving him with all I have within me, and 2) loving my neighbor as myself. Part of that last command is to tell them about Jesus. When I’m at the end of the road, how many will I have brought to the cross to find the love and forgiveness to be found there? That’s what will matter.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CSBBible) – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.

PRAYER: I am prone, Lord, to get too caught up in the things that surround me in life rather than the people who surround me. Give me greater boldness to introduce friends and loved ones to you so that at the end of the road I shall not be ashamed and found before you empty-handed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/20/19 – Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

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Tree in Denali National Park, September 2019. Photo by Galen Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/20/19: Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

I sat on the porch of our cabin in Denali National Park one afternoon in silence and listened to the rustling of the leaves. Fall was coming to Denali, or maybe more correctly, winter was just around the corner. In the one week we’d been there, the fall colors had changed dramatically and the trees that surrounded our cabin shed copious amounts of leaves. As I sat there, listening, I watched them fall quietly to the ground. Winter comes quickly to the tundra – and in human life.

The story of life is portrayed in seeds and by deciduous trees that sprout leaves each spring, bearing them gloriously throughout the summer, yet surrender them to the inevitable in the fall. During winter, they appear dead.

I am well into the fall, perhaps early winter, of my life. I can look back across the years and recount memories of faces and places that are incredibly dear to me. I have lived a wonderful life!

But I know that the season of my life is well along. Many of the leaves of my life have spent themselves and fallen due to the inexorable march of time.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s a good thing. We spend so much time fighting the inevitable but I think we should embrace it. You see, even as the leaves fall from the tree in fall and the tree, though just slumbering, appears dead in winter, the kernel of life is still harbored within, to be awakened by the gentle warmth of the sun when the right time has come.

For me, the time will come when I, too, appear to be dead, lifeless. But just as the tree “comes back to life” with the sun warms the earth, I will also come back to life when the Son shines his brightest.

All seasons of life should be cherished for the wonder that they are, the treasures they hold, and the promise that lies hidden within.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NKJV) – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for each season of life, including this season I am presently in. Let me welcome the winter because I know that after the sleep, life will erupt immortal! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>