DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/21/17 – On Failing

DayBreaks for 3/21/17: On Failing

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

Someone recently sent me this and I thought it was worth sharing!!!  – Galen

ON FAILING, By Dr. Michael A. Halleen

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. – (John 21:3)

Jesus’ disciples knew how to fish. They did it well and expected to be successful. But that night “they caught *nothing*.” They failed. We fishermen know the feeling, but I know the rest of you know it, too. Behind all of us lie some disappointments, and we can be sure there will be still more days ahead when our achievements fall short of our dreams and aspirations. But FAILING does not make one a FAILURE. That happens only when we give up.

Winston Churchill failed sixth grade, but he was no failure as a leader of his nation. Thomas Edison failed all his classes in school and was sent home to work on his widowed mother’s farm, but he was no failure as an inventor and creator of progress. David Livingstone fled from the pulpit of his first church in Scotland, a failure because he could not remember the text he was to preach on. From there he went to Africa and brought the Christian faith within reach of millions. Failing, in itself, is not the issue. It is what we do next that matters.

Some suggestions on what to do when failure comes:

~ Look for the presence of God. You have not been forsaken. God is at work in disappointment and failure as well as in success.

~ Learn all you can from it. Erma Bombeck was invited to a dinner for “highly successful people.” Appalled at the idea, she nevertheless decided to go because she wanted to hear what successful people talked about. Later she wrote, “Every one of those people, every single one of those highly successful people, could only talk about their failures – and how they learned from them.”

~ Get on with what’s next. The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind…I press on.” The mark of the neurotic person is a perfect memory of every failing, while healthy people learn from it, let it go and move ahead.

~ Challenge your idea of what is important. God has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful. God is not in the business of helping us to succeed, but of refining the soul, developing character, energizing the spirit. Success is only incidental to those ends.

The disciples got into the boat, worked all night and caught…NOTHING. Then came the voice of a Stranger on the shore, telling them to keep going, keep putting the net into the water. The story was not finished yet. They found that, while they failed, God did a marvelous work – in the sea, yes, but even more in their troubled hearts.

Isaiah 51:6 (NIV) Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

PRAYER: Thank you, Father, that though we fail often, You never fail to fulfill your purposes, and You will not fail to fulfill Your promises to us, either.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 03/20/17 – Little Things Add Up

DayBreaks for 3/20/17: Little Things Add Up

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

Long ago in the days of the Roman empire, a general by the name of Quintus Sertorius was in charge of the Roman army in the area around Spain.  It was a vast territory with which he was entrusted.  Being a Roman, he wasn’t acquainted with the term nor experience of defeat.  But general Sertorius had a problem: in spite of a huge area to account for, his army was mostly made up of undisciplined conscripts.  How was he supposed to teach them the discipline necessary to become a strong, forceful army?

He had an idea.  He called for two of his soldiers: one was the most physically dominating warrior in the army – a mountain of a man with skills and strength to match.  The other man was the puniest, weakest of the conscripts.  After the two men came forward, he had two animals brought out.  One was a scrawny, weak looking pony.  The other was a powerful and intimidating war horse. 

Sertorius ordered that the little pony be put in front of the great warrior, and the mighty war horse in front of the weak man.  He then told them that they had the same job to perform: pull out the horse’s tail.  But there was one difference: the mighty warrior was to grasp the horse’s tail and pull it out all at once, while the weak man was to take it one hair at a time and pull out one hair each time until the tail was gone.

You can guess who was successful.  Here’s the point: it takes lots of little things to add up, but it is through the discipline of knowing that small things add up to big achievements and victories that something gets achieved.  Seldom, if ever, are great things accomplished by one person and their giftedness.  At some point their strength either runs out or it is not great enough.  That’s why God gives us the church – a band of brothers and sisters – each uniquely gifted, but whom alone cannot achieve much of anything.  Together, however, it is a different story. 

Think about the apostles.  Individually they weren’t much to brag about – fishermen, tax collectors, with some others thrown in – and none of them were experienced preachers or teachers.  And yet, we’re told that they turned the world upside down.  They didn’t do it alone.  They had the Spirit, but they had their Barnabas’, Silas’, Timothy’s, Luke’s, and literally thousands of unnamed and unknown (to us) people who helped them.  But even then, people were won one at a time.  It started in a town in Palestine, but overwhelmed the world. 

It’s true, of course, with sin, too.  Little things add up.  One lie turns into another and soon an entire life is ruined.  One illicit affair and a lifetime of love and family is destroyed.  One dishonest business deal and a lifetime’s work, or a company, can come crashing down. 

Beware of the small things that seem powerless to harm you or to bring you down.  And honor the small contributions that others, and you, can make for the cause of Christ.  Little things do add up.

Numbers 16:9 – (NLT) Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the LORD’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them?

PRAYER: Father, may we be wise enough to know that we are not powerful enough to do great things on our own, for no one can do great things apart from you.  Help us to appreciate the giftedness of others, according to your great pleasure and wisdom.  And keep us from thinking that the little faults in our life don’t add up to great evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/17/17 – Would I Say Yes?

DayBreaks for 3/17/17: Would I Say Yes?

There are moments that grab us by the throat and really force us to take a HARD look at ourselves in the mirror. More often than not, I don’t like what I see when that happens.

This past Sunday our lead teacher was telling us about a trip he’d taken the prior week to Lima, Peru to meet with a set of pastors from around the world. These pastors meet once a year and have done so for about ten years now. He shared with us some of the ways the discussion had changed over those ten years.

He said that when they first met, the subject of the Muslim population and faith came up and there was a sense of resignation and desperation. Based on the statistics that were available at that time, they were told that in 100 years, based on the birth rate in Muslim countries and the pace with which the Muslim faith was growing that the population of the world would be 99% Muslim in 100 years. The pastors, all Christians, found that to be discouraging because as Christians we believe that the only way to the Father is through Jesus (John 14:6). There was a sense of despair among the Christian pastors.

In between that time and the meeting they held this past week, much in this world has changed. This year, the reports of the pastors from some of the darkest parts of the world we quite different. They spoke of how literally millions of Muslims are coming to Christ – in unprecedented numbers. Why is this happening? There were two factors:

FIRST: because of thousands upon thousands of visions that are being given to Muslims around the world. These aren’t just happening in one country or two – but all over the world, where men and women who didn’t have any knowledge of Jesus had a vision (or visitation) by Jesus that has led them to faith. I’ve read stories about these visions and they are incredible. We must never think that God is not at work.

SECOND: the rise of radical, militant Islam is driving people from the faith in which they grew up. The vast majority of Muslims are repulsed by the actions of ISIS and other such groups. ISIS was trying to terrify people into becoming Muslims, but God is using that horrible group (and others like it) to bring millions to know Jesus.

Prior to the teaching time, there was a baptismal service where several people were baptized. They were asked the normal questions that the church has always asked those who are desiring to become Christ-followers. And every person who was asked gave the expected response that they recognized that they were sinners who could be saved only by the grace of God and that they believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is always wonderful to witness such things.

But here’s what grabbed my attention at the start of the teaching time. As our lead teacher shared the stories about Muslims coming to faith, he also shared that the stories they heard about the persecution of Christians and the church were heartrending. Millions are coming to Christ, but thousands upon thousands are being martyred for their commitment to Christ. And because it is a fact of life in Muslim countries, when someone wants to become a Christian, the church asks the usual questions, but then the church in those places adds another question that goes something like this: “Are you ready and willing to die for your faith in Jesus Christ as a martyr?” If those wanting to become Christians say no, the church (at least in some places) tells them they are not ready to become followers of Jesus.

That question was not asked of me when I became a believer, and I doubt that it was asked of you, either. And I asked myself: how would I answer that question? Am I ready and willing for martyrdom just to follow Jesus? Are you? And if I had been asked that question, would I have proceeded with the decision to become a Christian? Just because it wasn’t asked doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all be ready to say yes. After all, we are all asked to take up our cross…and follow in his footsteps, even if they lead to death.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know that I should be willing to die for you because you already died for me. I am grateful that I live in a land where I am not confronted with that as an ever-present reality. I pray for those for whom martyrdom is a very real possibility at any given moment on any given day. I thank you for their faith, for their example to us. And I pray, Father, for their steadfastness even as I beg your forgiveness for my own lack of obedience and fear. Give us God-sized faith that will stand in any test, I pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/16/17 – The Power of Going the Second Mile

DayBreaks for 3/16/17: The Power of Going the Second Mile

Matthew 5:38-41 (ESV)“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

Shortly after the battles ended the American Revolution, but before the peace had been negotiated, George Washington was with his troops in Newburgh, New York. But they began to grow very restless because they hadn’t been paid. Washington had begged the Continental Congress to do what they said they would do and pay the soldiers, but they refused.

Well, some of the officers began to organize a rebellion. They talked about marching on Philadelphia, which was at that time the seat of the reigning national government, and overthrowing that government and letting the army rule the nation.

With the fate of America in the balance, George Washington made a surprise appearance before these officers. After praising them for their service and thanking them for their sacrifice, he pulled from his pocket a copy of a speech that he wished to read. But then he fumbled with a paper and finally reached for a set of reading glasses-glasses those men had never seen him wear before. Washington made this simple statement: “I have already grown gray in the service of my country, and now I am going blind.”

Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Instantly rebellion melted into tears. It was a galvanizing moment, and the rebellion…” and the rebellion was put down because they had seen before them a second miler.

Becoming a Christian is one thing; being a Christian is another one. Every chance you get for the glory of Jesus, for the goodness of others, and because of the grace of God, go the second mile.

PRAYER: Lord, we often resent even being asked go to one mile. Give us hearts that are willing to go not just that mile, but more, for Your glory and the benefit of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/14/17 – The Conflict Wars

DayBreaks for 3/14/17: The Conflict Wars

Ephesians 4:32 (MSG) – Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

It’s a story that is repeated on every elementary school playground, nearly every day in our country. Two fourth-graders get into it during recess; something about “he did this, so I did that” and it kind of goes south from there. When they get back to class, Billy trips Joey. After lunch, Joey breaks Billy’s pencil on purpose. When nobody is looking, Billy writes on Joey’s desk, and later, Joey steals Billy’s folder. After school, Billy and his friends face Joey and his friends, and they call each other names. Somebody gets hurt. Somebody else gets hurt worse. And then there is no telling when or if these conflicts will ever end.

Sound familiar? Sadly, that kind of tit-for-tat doesn’t just take place on the playground of children. We have all experienced this sort of escalating pettiness many times in our lives and in our more lucid moments we all readily admit that it is silly, right?

But let me suggest to you that we can remove the names “Billy” and “Joey” and insert the words “husband” and “wife” and the story is much the same. Or we could insert the names of two rival high schools, or two rival companies, or “The Hatfields” and “The McCoys.” Or Republicans and Democrats, or “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” or Israel and Palestine, or America and almost any Arab nation you care to name. Conflict at any level is conflict. And if not preventable, most conflict is at least resolvable…but not until one side refuses to retaliate and instead decides to reconcile.

It isn’t right to give in to something that is clearly proscribed by God’s Word. But we need to make sure that we are on solid footing when we take our stance that we aren’t engaging in schoolyard pettiness just because of something I “feel” or “think”. And if we find ourselves engaged in a conflict war with someone, let us seek resolution that leads to reconciliation rather than black eyes all around. Consider how Jesus could have dealt with us – and then think about how he actually did deal with us and our pettiness. Maybe just maybe, we can learn something from his example.

PRAYER: Father, help us to be the sort of people who seek to prevent conflict when appropriate, but if not, help us be more interested in reconciliation than in proving our point. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/13/17 – Looking at Dead Hearts

DayBreaks for 3/13/17: Looking at Dead Hearts

Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Some of you are old enough to remember when the first heart transplant took place. It was an amazing feat. The first transplant was performed in 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa by Dr. Christiaan Barnard. The recipient was Louis Washkansky, a fifty three year old grocer with a debilitating heart condition. Unfortunately Mr. Washkansky survived only 18 days after the operation, but I remember when the story broke about the heart transplant. The entire world seemed captivated by this seemingly impossible accomplishment.

The first successful transplant was performed on Dr. Barnard’s third patient, a Jewish dentist named Dr. Philip Blaiberg. He survived for nearly two years.

After his surgery, Dr. Barnard carried Dr. Blaiberg’s old heart in a plastic box and showed it to him. The two men sat on the hospital bed examining the scars and thickening of the dead useless heart.

Dr. Barnard said, “Dr. Blaiberg, do you realize you are the first man in the history of humankind to sit and look at your own dead heart?”

What an amazing story! Of course, today, thanks to modern anti-rejection drugs, people are living much longer after heart transplants than in those early days.

We’re thankful for physicians like Dr. Barnard, but we’re even more thankful that we worship a God who is the only surgeon who can put an entirely new heart in an individual. That is the only heart transplant that really matters. It is when God replaces a heart filled with malice, anger, hatred, envy, guilt and a host of other negative, destructive emotions with a heart filled with love, joy, peace and wholeness.

Do you perhaps need a heart transplant? To you need a new beginning in life? That’s what God offers us – each one of us – every day. Perhaps we all need to sit still for a moment and let God show us our dead heart and cause us to marvel at the new heart that beats within us!

PRAYER: God, the truth is that we all need a heart transplant and so we ask You today to create in us a clean heart that loves the things You love, that hatest the things You hate and that longs to do Your will! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.