DayBreaks for 2/28/20 – The Most Precious Olympic Hardware

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DayBreaks for 2/28/20: The Most Precious Olympic Hardware

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

The Olympics have always fascinated and entertained me.  I always watch them.  They are, however, a testimony to human endeavor – regardless of whether one is talking about the games themselves, the athletes, or those who organize it all and make it happen.  There are many awards shows on television (mostly from Hollywood!) that are nothing more than people patting themselves and others on the back.  I get rather tired of that, and I get tired of athletes who are all about themselves.  That’s why stories about athletes who aren’t that way really resonate with me.  Here’s a story I’d never heard before:

“The rarest medal in the Olympics wasn’t created from gold, but a bolt.

“The story begins on a cold, winter afternoon in Innsbruck at the 1964 Olympic two-man bobsled competition. A British team driven by Tony Nash had just completed its first run, which had put them in second place. Then they made a most disheartening discovery. They had broken a bolt on the rear axle of their sled, which would put them out of the competition.

“At the bottom of the hill, the great Italian bobsled driver Eugenio Monti, who was in first place, heard of their plight. Without hesitation, Monti removed the bolt from the rear axle of his own sled and sent it to the top of the hill. The British team affixed it to their sled and then completed their run down the mountain, winning the gold medal. Monti’s Italian team took the bronze.

“When asked about his act of sportsmanship, Eugenio Monti deflected any praise, saying, “Tony Nash did not win because I gave him a bolt. Tony Nash won because he was the best driver.”

“The story of Monti’s selfless act spread. And because of it he was given the first De Coubertin Medal for sportsmanship. The award, named after the founder of the modern Olympics, is one of the noblest honors that can be bestowed upon an Olympic athlete; in other words, the most precious hardware any Olympian can own.”

Doesn’t that sound like what Jesus did for us?  Took his righteousness and holiness and gave it to us so that we can win the race? 

PRAYER: Thank you for Your selfless love that could only win if we would be able to stand in the “winner’s circle” with you on the great day of the Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/20 – An Unending Honeymoon

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DayBreaks for 2/27/20: An Unending Honeymoon

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

If you are married, think back to your honeymoon.  I would certainly hope that it was a time of great joy for you and your beloved.  Honeymoon’s are supposed to be that way – a time when you can simply focus on one another and the delight that fills the heart and put away all other concerns.  It’s great while it lasts, isn’t it?

In his book The Pleasures of God, John Piper shares why God’s love is superior to any love we will find here on earth:

“Sometimes we joke and say about marriage, “The honeymoon is over.” But that’s because we are finite. We can’t sustain a honeymoon level of intensity and affection. We can’t foresee the irritations that come with long-term familiarity. We can’t stay as fit and handsome as we were then. We can’t come up with enough new things to keep the relationship that fresh. But God says his joy over his people is like a bridegroom over a bride. He is talking about honeymoon intensity and honeymoon pleasures and honeymoon energy and excitement and enthusiasm and enjoyment. He is trying to get into our hearts what he means when he says he rejoices over us with all his heart.

“And add to this, that with God the honeymoon never ends. He is infinite in power and wisdom and creativity and love. And so he has no trouble sustaining a honeymoon level of intensity; he can foresee all the future quirks of our personality and has decided he will keep what’s good for us and change what isn’t; he will always be as handsome as he ever was, and will see to it that we get more and more beautiful forever; and he infinitely creative to think of new things to do together so that there will be no boredom for the next trillion ages of millenniums.” – John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 2000), p. 188

I wish I could be on a honeymoon with my bride forever and never have to worry again about the cost of eyeglasses or dental work or mortgage payments or the rising price of everything else.  I wish I could be creative enough to find new ways to express my delight in her each and every moment for as long as I live.  Alas, as she’ll tell you, I’m not that creative.  But God is.  The honeymoon love of God for us will never end nor will we ever tire of it, for our love for Him will be perfected, too.

Long ago when I first married my wife, I couldn’t conceive of a love that would get more and more beautiful as time passed.  Now, from the perspective of a few years, I can understand that such a thing can be true.  But I still can’t conceive of a love that gets “more and more beautiful forever” – yet that is precisely what we will find in Him!

PRAYER: How we long to fully experience your creative, unending, exciting, joyful, beautiful love forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/26/20 – The Tireless Pursuit

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DayBreaks for 2/26/20: The Tireless Pursuit

DayBreaks for 2/26/20: The Tireless Pursuit

Tedd Kidd was five years older than Janet.  He finished college before her and started to work in a city hundreds of miles from where Janet lived.  They always seemed to be at different places and going in different directions in their lives. But they had been dating for seven years. 

Every Valentine’s Day for seven years, Tedd proposed to her.  Every Valentine’s Day for seven years, Janet would say, “No, not yet.”

Finally, when they were both living in Dallas, Texas, Tedd reached the end of his patience.  He bought a ring, took Janet to a romantic restaurant, and was prepared to reinforce his proposal with the diamond.  Another “No”, he’d decided, would mean he had to get on with his life without her, even though he’d be broken hearted.

After the salad, entree, and dessert, it was time.  Tedd summoned up all his courage for this one last attempt.  Knowing that Janet had a gift for him, however, he decided to wait.  “What did you bring me?” he asked.  She handed him a box the size of a book.  He opened the package and slowly peeled away the tissue paper.  It was a cross-stitch that Janet had lovingly made herself that simply said, “Yes.”

Yes: it is the word that God, in his tireless pursuit of the sinner, longs to hear.  It is the word that He loves to hear from us in response to: “Do you love me?”  “Will you accept my Son as your Lord?”  “Will you let me change you to become like Jesus?” 

For how many years did God pursue you?  I know stories of people who have been prayed over for 50 years who have finally said, “Yes” to God’s proposal. 

Thank God for His tireless pursuit of our hearts!

PRAYER: Let the praises ring, O Lord Most High, for your unending love and pursuit that always holds out hope for us to say “Yes!” to Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/25/20 – Lazarus Laughed

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DayBreaks for 2/25/20: Lazarus Laughed

Early in his career, the great American playwright Eugene O’Neill wrote an imaginative play called “Lazarus Laughed” about Lazarus’s life after Jesus raised him from the dead. I’ve often wondered how Lazarus felt about being brought back, or the widow’s son, or Jairus’ daughter.  Were they happy to come back and get more time on this earth?  Or, if they had their druthers, would they have chosen to remain in the next “world”?

Near the beginning of the play, guests from Bethany are gathering for a banquet in Lazarus’s honor. They are all desperate to hear what Lazarus has to say about his experience (wouldn’t you love to hear such an account from one that you know was truly dead and raised directly by a voice command from Jesus?)

One guest says, “The whole look of his face has changed. He is like a stranger from a far land. There is no longer any sorrow in his eyes. They must have forgotten sorrow in the grave.”

Another guest, one who had helped roll the tombstone aside, recalls the scene after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead: “And then Lazarus knelt and kissed Jesus’ feet, and both of them smiled, and Jesus blessed him and called him ‘My Brother’ and went away; and Lazarus, looking after him, began to laugh softly like a man in love with God. Such a laugh I never heard! It made my ears drunk! It was like wine! And though I was half-dead with fright I found myself laughing, too.”

I’ve not been physically raised from the dead – not yet, but someday I’ll have that experience.  Only when it happens for me and you, we won’t have to repeat the dying process ever again – the same cannot be said of Lazarus or the others mentioned above.  I have, however, been “raised with Christ.”  I have been dead (in my sins and transgressions) but been given new life!  And so, as I move in a crowd and sit at a banquet table with friends, acquaintances and family, can people hear and see in me a man who laughs softly because I am so in love with God?  Or do they see a grumpy face that because I’ve been raised with Christ, I can no longer just lie still?

Such a presentation of a living soul in communion with God would be powerful, indeed.  And it would certainly give others reason to pay attention to what has happened to us.

PRAYER: Let us laugh in the delight of what You have done for us with a laughter that is contagious so contagious that the world joins us in joyful rejoicing that we have been brought to life again!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/24/20 – Do Not Be Afraid?!?!?!!!

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DayBreaks for 2/24/20: Do Not Be Afraid!?!?!?

In every instance in Scripture where God appears to people they fall terrified to the ground! The only exceptions that I can think of (I may have missed some) are the incarnation appearances of Jesus – and in his case he looked just like a human and not God. But what I find interesting about the times God does show up and we humans cower in fear, his words to us are: “Do not be afraid”

Does that make sense to you? After all, when confronted by the One who is the Lord over all, the Creator, ultimate in power, who wouldn’t we cringe in fear and shame? At that moment there must be no doubt about the fact that he knows every single thing we have ever done, every impure, mean, angry, hateful thought we’ve ever had, every opportunity to do good that we let pass by. He knows everything about us – there is nothing that escapes His all-seeing eyes! And when confronted by the absolute judge of the universe who is totally pure and loves justice, why wouldn’t we be terror stricken!!!

Yet isn’t that precisely why he came as an incarnate human being? To show us what he is really like…to say, in essence, “See me? Touch my hands, hear my words, know my heart…and you’ll know you don’t need to be afraid. I’m on YOUR side and I love you! I won’t ever leave or forsake you.”

The more I think about it, the more I think that was a key part of his coming – to take away our fear. His truest revelation of himself to us is visible in the incarnation and on the cross. Once we have seen that and accepted him, there is no need for fear for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for taking away our fear and for showing us the true nature of the Father! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/21/20 – The Other Side, Part 2

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DayBreaks for 2/21/20: The Other Side – Part 2

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In Mark 6, Jesus feeds the 5000 on the western, Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.  They are in a remote place – no Burger King’s or McDonald’s in sight.  Not even stores with enough food to feed such a crowd are within miles and miles.  But the people don’t seem to mind – they’re listening to Jesus preach.  And he preaches all day.  At the end of the day, the disciples are moved with compassion on their Jewish friends and neighbors and they approach Jesus with the problem: what are we going to feed them?  Jesus, as you know, miraculously solves the problem.

Switch to Mark 8 and Jesus is back on “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee again – in pagan territory.  The last time he and his disciples had landed here, they had a welcoming committee of one: Legion.  But now it seems that the Man Formerly Known As Legion has been busy telling his story and a great crowd has gathered to welcome Jesus – to hear him and have their infirmities healed.  Jesus doesn’t disappoint them on either score.  He heals many, and he preaches.  And preach he does!  Day one and at the end of the day the crowd is still there – and the disciples say nothing.  Day two comes and goes and still the disciples have said nothing about the fact the crowd hasn’t been fed.  Day three is all that Jesus can bear – and at the end of the day, he tells the disciples (apparently seeing that they weren’t going to say or do anything about the crowd’s hunger) that he has compassion on them and wants them to feed the crowd. 

Do you see what happened here?  The disciples had plenty of compassion on those who were like them – on those who shared their religious and political positions, but not on the people from “the other side.”  Jesus, however, after watching his disciples fail this compassion test, shows them that he has compassion and that something must be done.  He’s setting the example for them for their eventual mission to the world – to take the gospel everywhere to every tribe, and people and language. 

But it moves me to wonder: who am I so prejudiced against that I don’t even feel compassion for them?  Who is the church so dead set against that we can’t be moved with mercy towards them?  Are we so judgmental that we condemn those with open, bleeding sores and diseases because we think they brought their problems on themselves with their wicked decisions?  Are we so blind that we can’t see this message in the contrasts of the feeding of the Jewish 5000 and the pagan 4000?  In the first case, 12 baskets of food were left over – the same number as the tribes of Israel.  Jesus was saying, “I’ve not forgotten my people.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.”  When he was done feeding the 4000, there were 7 baskets of food left over.  This wasn’t a co-incidence – it wasn’t 7 instead of 12 because Jesus had realized he’d overdone it the first time.  There were 7 baskets because there were 7 nation groups that lived in the Decapolis, in “the other side”…the very same nations that God had driven out of Palestine when Joshua took the land (Joshua 3:10; Acts 13:19).  What was Jesus saying with the leftover 7 baskets?  “I’ve not forgotten that these are my people, too.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.” 

On the cross, Jesus tore down all that separated “our side” from “the other side.”  They all now belong to Jesus, and it is time we started treating those on the “other side” as Jesus treated them!

PRAYER: Be merciful to us, Lord, and fill us with the heart of compassion that beat within your breast for all of mankind.  Forgive us our prejudices and our sinful tendency to think of our side and “our kind” as better than others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/20/20 – The Other Side, Part 1

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DayBreaks for 2/20/20: The Other Side – Part 1

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

After preaching in Galilee, Jesus told his disciples he wanted them all to go to the “other side”.  We read that as simply referring to the other side of the lake, and at one level, that is true.  But it was also a technical term that describes the area of the Decapolis – a heathen, pagan, non-God honoring region populated by the 7 tribes that God had driven out of Israel when the Hebrews took the Promised Land.  It would be like saying, “I’m going over to the Dark Side” in Star Wars terminology – to a place where evil and pride and badness rules, led by Darth Vader and the evil Emperor.  The disciples knew well what it meant. 

As they cross the lake, a storm comes up – a bad one.  What made it worse for the disciples is that the people of the Decapolis worshipped a pagan god that they believed ruled over the weather and the sea.  It’s a bad omen – to those who believe in such things.  Jesus, however, is fast asleep.  When awakened, he calms the storm and they land near Bethsaida in the Decapolis.  Their greeting party is huge, consisting of one man and an entire legion of demons that possess him.  Other than that, they were apparently alone. 

This poor man had been cast out by his people because of his possession.  Jesus heals the man and sends the evil spirits into a swine of 2000 pigs who commit mass suicide by running over a cliff into the water.  (By the say, the pig was part of their pagan worship, too!)  When the townsfolk hear about these going’s on, they ask Jesus and his disciples to get back in the boat they came in on and go back to the “other side” (isn’t it interesting how both sides think the “other side” is whatever side they’re not on?)  When Jesus humbly turns to get back into the boat, the Man Formerly Known As Legion begs to follow Jesus as his disciple.  To my knowledge, this is the only time in Scripture where Jesus tells someone, “No.”  Always, it’s been Jesus extending the invitation: “Come!  Follow me!”, but not now.  Though the man begs, Jesus stands steadfast: No.  You must go tell your story to your people.  Go. 

A couple of chapters later (Mark 8), Jesus returns again with his disciples to “the other side.”  Only this time, a great crowd is present.  Why?  Apparently because one man, formerly possessed, went and told his people what Jesus had done for him and what mercy he had received from the Christ.  All because, it appears, of one man telling his story. 

Couldn’t Jesus have been more effective if he’d stayed and preached after casting Legion out?  I don’t know.  All I know is that Jesus, filled with Divine wisdom, knew it wasn’t the best way.  The people of the Decapolis wouldn’t have been ready to hear Jesus if not for the story of Legion.  They knew this man and even though they’d thrust him out of their communities – he was still “one of us” to these Decapolis dwellers.  He didn’t make them suspicious.  Jesus and his disciples may have had the opposite result.

So, we see the power of telling the story of what Jesus has done for us and of the mercy we found at his outstretched hand. 

Who is on “the other side” from you?  Who is it that you alone, of all God’s many peoples, may be able to reach for Jesus? 

Wouldn’t it be great if when Jesus arrives on the shores of Planet Earth this next time he is greeted by you and by a great crowd to whom you’ve told your story and they’ve become his followers, too?

PRAYER: Help us to not think in terms of “our side” or the “other side”, but to focus on telling the story of the love of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>