DayBreaks for 10/21/20 – Of Rifles and Expectations

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Who was the first person you ever let down, besides God? Chances are it was your parents. But can you remember the pain of letting down the first person you loved that lead to a break-up and the resulting excruciating pain?

Expectations are killers. Max Lucado says they’re like rifles – when used the right way and in the right circumstances – they are valuable and necessary. The problem is that far too often we often use they the wrong way and at the wrong time. The result is we shoot those we love with a bullet of expectation.

Examples might be a father who presses a child to be the great athlete he fancied himself to be, or a parent pushing for a doctor or lawyer. A spouse pressing the other spouse because they can’t afford the house or things that one of them wants. The boss who tells the employee that though they’ve earned vacation time, those who want to get ahead must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the firm (and what is sacrificed is family relationships!)

Lucado says that expectations create conditional love: “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…’  The latter part may go unspoken, but its definitely implied.

Is it right to have expectations of others? Sure! We should encourage each other toward excellence. But as Lucado again says, “…it was Christ on the cross who taught us how to use expectations. Does he demand a lot? You better believe it. Does he expect much? Only our best. Does he have expectations? Just that we leave everything, deny all, and follow him.

“The difference? Jesus couched his expectations with two important companions. Forgiveness and acceptance.” – No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, by Max Lucado

Here it is in a nutshell: Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), not after we’d lived up to his high expectations. And he never says, “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…”. His love has no strings attached, no dependencies on excellent performance in denying self and sin. His “I love you” is unqualified because it is married to his forgiveness and acceptance.

Can we not do the same for one another, especially those you claim to love?

PRAYER: Lord, keep me from firing the rifle of expectations today unjustly. And if I am let down today, let me emulate Jesus in his forgiveness and acceptance that he extends to me every single day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/16/20 – The Scariest Verse in the Bible

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What do you think is the most frightening, scariest and terrifying verse in the Bible?  It could be about the fate that awaits liars, cheats and others: the lake of fire. That would be a good candidate because we all know we are liars, cheats, etc. It could be one about the very existence of hell itself. I suppose there are many possible candidates.

Perhaps, though, it is this one: Genesis 6:6 (ESV) – And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  

Think about that for a minute. Here’s a God who made man who is now wishing he hadn’t. The implications of that are frightening. With the kind of power God wields, he could do anything he chooses that doesn’t contradict his nature. And there – in those last five words is our only hope!

God’s nature was perhaps best said by the apostle John with three simple words: God is love. God cannot act against his love. It was his love that caused the hands to fashion the cross and then send his son there in our place. Rather than undoing the creation of man he chose to redeem mankind instead.

Perhaps there’s also a bit more to this verse than meets the eye: …the greatest of these is love. In context, it speaks of faith, hope and love…with love being the greatest. Is God’s justice greater than his love? I don’t think it can be or his justice would prevail and we’d all get what we deserve – eternal damnation. He is a God of justice – but found a different way to act against evil than obliterating us: he sacrificed himself because his love wouldn’t let him do the unthinkable to us. Bottom line: the scariest verse in scripture is more than tamed by those three words from John: God is love.

PRAYER: Father, I’m so grateful for your love and that love is what defines you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/07/20 – Where God Walks

We just returned 10 days ago from a glorious trip through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. We visited three national parks: Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier. While they are all spectacular in their own way, Glacier stands out in my mind.

I shot the first picture accompanying this article one day as we were driving to the top of Glacer on Going to the Sun Highway. It was glorious – the fog/low clouds in the valleys below and then a layer of sun and then scatter clouds higher up along the peaks.

As I looked at the scene, I couldn’t help but think that God must enjoy walking through that place. The majesty of the mountains is as close as I can come personally to imagining God’s magnificence!

Then the thought struck me that God must enjoy walking through places like Glacier more than Mud Fort Slum in India (the second picture in this article is one I shot in Mud Fort Slum a number of years back). I mean, who wouldn’t? He must be like me in that regard, I am tempted to think.  

But I was taken aback by what came to mind next. It was almost as if I could hear God saying, “Sure, I love the beauty of my mountains, but I love walking through the slum even more. You see, my mountains wear down and crumble away, but the people in the slums have eternal souls and they are made in my own image. Besides, I’m omnipresent – I’m in both places simultaneously. While you may choose to tune out the suffering in Mud Fort Slum, I never can and never will. People are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever created.”

I was stunned and humbled how little of the heart of God that dwells within me. I’d far rather be in Glacier than one of the world’s slums. But there’s no doubt in my heart where Jesus would be if he were walking the earth today.

Mud Fort Slum, by Galen C. Dalrymple, 2012. All rights reserved.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/02/20 – On the Way to the Rat Race

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So, what do you think it would take to REALLY make you content? A new job? A new house? A new spouse? Another child? A bar of chocolate?

Contentment is such an elusive butterfly, seemingly forever out of reach. When you get that thing that you think will make you happy and content, it either breaks, gets lost, gets scratched (why does that always happen with a new car?) or a new model is released the next week that you didn’t know was coming!

The simple fact of the matter is that we are far too busy to be content. Contentment carries with it a slow pace, a lack of urgency. Picture a cow laying in a green pasture chewing her cud. It’s a picture of contentment, even if crude.

Our busyness steals the opportunity to be content right out from under us. And why are we so busy? Because we are craving that promotion, the first $million, the new car, the better house and so we jump into the rat race with both feet and we lose our chance for contentment at that instant. We hurry and scurry so much today because we think it will give us contentment tomorrow. Fools, we are.

And surely you know this, too: that things will never give you contentment. They cannot. It is not within their power. I think Max Lucado (No Wonder They Call Him Savior) put it perfectly when speaking about what can give us contentment: “An hour of contentment…an hour when we realize that a lifetime of blood-sweating and headhunting can’t give us what the cross gave us in one day – a clean conscience and a new start.”

Now, go lay down in a green pasture and contemplate that for a while.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

PRAYER: Give us the ever present awareness of what the cross gave us and makes possible for us even today! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/01/20 – Rag Tags and Ne’er Do Wells

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You are undoubtedly aware of “Who’s Who” lists that tout exceptional people. We may look up to them, may envy them and see them as the movers and shakers who change the world. What a waste – at least in God’s economy! Consider those rag tags and ne’er do wells that God chooses:

The father of the Jewish nation was an inveterate liar who twice said his wife wasn’t his wife. He traded his integrity for his own skin without a thought to what it would mean for Sarah. Where was his faith? Does that sound like a man who “believed God’s promises”? Who chose him to change the world and eternity as the ancestor of the Messiah? God.

A man 80 years old who looked like he’d live his life as a prince but who is now an outlaw – a murderer, in fact. On the run, hiding in sheep pens in the desert. Who would think of asking a killer to carry the Ten Commandments? God.

A shepherd boy who is sitting on a throne let his lust get the best of him. He got a woman pregnant and killed her husband in an attempt to cover things up. And then he went about his everyday life as if nothing wrong has taken place. Who would dare to say he was a man after God’s own heart? God.

A reluctant prophet is giving his calling but runs the opposite way, gets swallowed up by a fish and barfed out in the surf. Who would think he would be a good candidate to preach repentance to the enemies of his people? God.

Jacob was a shifty as they come. Gomer was a prostitute. Sarah laughed at God. Jesus’ ancestors were adulteresses, prostitutes and a woman who took baths in all the wrong places. Who would include such people in the ancestral line of the Son of God? God.

And you know, when I come to think of it, we’ve all traded our integrity for safety, hidden things we’re ashamed of, failed to act in faith, let our lust take over when it should have been put down.

What’s the point here? It’s not about the horrible those people did and not even about the horrible things I’ve done, but it is that God uses regular, ordinary, everyday people to change the world. Not superheroes. Why? Because whatever we lack in terms of perfection or righteousness, God makes up for it with his love.

You may long for God to use you but you block him because of your past (or present). Don’t give up on God because he won’t give up on you! Let him use you to change the world one encounter at a time.

PRAYER: I am comforted, Lord, knowing that you can still use a sinner like me to do your work. For those who doubt that you can use them, give them reassurance that they can be used just as they are to change the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/30/20 – Godly Imaginations

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We know him best as “doubting Thomas” but often forget he was willing to march into Jerusalem side by side with Jesus after they religious rulers tried to kill him the previous time. Thomas, though he may have doubted, was built of stern stuff.

He was easily confused: when Jesus said they knew the way he was going, Thomas raised his hand and in effect said, “I don’t! What do you mean?”  For all his faults (which aren’t that different than mine), Thomas was loyal.

Could it be that Thomas wasn’t in the upper room during the first appearance of Jesus after the resurrection because he had taken the death of Jesus so hard? Might it have been because Thomas was so confused about the sudden and dramatic turn of events just a couple days before? He couldn’t imagine where this was all leading.

He couldn’t fathom a resurrection of a crucified man. That sort of flashy occurrence was outside of Thomas’ thought processes. He didn’t want to get his hopes up just to be disappointed again. Max Lucado says that Thomas appears to have been too honest to be gullible but too loyal to give us hope entirely. His doubt wasn’t caused by distrust, but by the reluctance to imagine the “impossible”.

In this we are much like Thomas. We ponder things with wrinkled brows. We proceed with great caution. We don’t want anything, let alone God, to surprise us. So, we can’t imagine what God might do.

When is the last time that you let God surprise you?  When is the last time you claimed the promise that he is able to do “exceeding more than we are able to ask or imagine”?

Thomas got his proof. Legend says he traveled to India where they had to kill him to get him to stop talking about this friend of his who had lived, been crucified, but came back to life. Thomas learned to imagine God doing the impossible and to know for a fact that he can and does the impossible. This man of loyalty finally had his imagination captured and expanded by the God who has no limits. May our minds and hearts be expanded, too, knowing that Jesus must have smiled when he let Thomas touch his wounds, knowing that Thomas would never be the same, either.

PRAYER: Let us dream the impossible and count on you to make your fame and glory known through even humble, flawed beings like us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/29/20 – Getting a New Soul

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NOTE: I should be back tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

We Americans like to think that we’re pretty determined, persistent, tenacious even.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  We take pride (there’s that nasty word!) in how dogged we can be.  When we consider that our ancestors created a country and shaped it through persistence and hard work, carving out settlements, fighting tyrant kings and governments, creating new and amazing inventions that have fueled our health, economies and culture, we have become a symbol to the entire world of hard work, diversity and freedom.  But let me ask you a question: do you love going to the Department of Motor Vehicles?  Me, neither. 

Would you voluntarily subject yourself to going there 960 times in order to get your driver’s license?  That is precisely what Cha Sa-soon, a Korean lady, did in her quest to get her own driver’s license.  This amazing 69-year old woman studied diligently, but she just couldn’t seem to pass the written part of the driver’s test.  She first took the 50-minute, 40-question test once a day starting in April 2005, five days week – and each time she failed.  Perhaps thinking that she needed to study harder to prepare, she eventually slowed down to only taking the test twice each week.  Finally, on her 960th attempt, she got enough of the questions right to pass.

Local news outlets heard the story and it wasn’t long before the tale caught the ear of vehicle manufacturer, Hyundai-Kia. The company asked people to post congratulatory messages online, and after an overwhelming response, Kia gave her the keys to a brand-new Soul. 

That, my friends, is persistence!  Cha Sa-soon really wanted to drive and was determined not to let anything stand in her way!

It causes me to think of several things:

  1. How determined am I to obey Christ?  Does my ability to resist sin even begin to compare to the diligence of this woman?  She wanted something so badly that she could taste it and she refused to let anything stand between her and her goal.  It often doesn’t take much to get me to surrender to temptation.  My persistence is poor!
  2. Persistence is a good trait.  We are to persist in prayer, we are to persevere in doing good – though we may fail over and over and over.  Even the disciples question about forgiving 70 times 7 is only about half way to the 960 attempts at this woman to pass the test!  Thankfully, God isn’t counting down to a point where He will refuse to forgive us if we humbly repent and ask for His forgiveness.
  3. While this woman was given a new Soul (that’s a model of Hyundai car in Korea), only Jesus can give us a new, clean soul after our record has been tarnished.  And thank God that He does!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

PRAYER: Father, give us strong spirits to fight the good fight and to finish the course strong!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/24/20 – For the Long Haul

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  –  Romans 5:1-5

Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. “To give my life for Christ appears glorious,” he said. “To pour myself out for others … to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom – I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.

“We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table – ‘Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.’

“But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

“Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.”

PRAYER: It is hard to persevere, Lord.  We would much rather have it done with!  Fill us with the assurance that perseverance creates proven character and that the character that grows in us will result in hope that will never disappoint us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/22/20 – Striped

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

Ralph Milton tells of the teacher who, for whatever reason, asked her students one day, “If all the bad children were painted red and all the good children were painted green, which color would you be?”

It’s a tough question, don’t you think?  Think about it.  What color would you be?  Red or Green?  The fact that you are only allowed two options makes it much tougher.  We know what color we’d like to be, but we’re pretty sure that we wouldn’t rate the green paint brush.

One wise child, however, answered the teacher very simply and honestly: “Striped.”

The gospels present us with the red/green scenario.  The only problem is, that one person walks on to the scene and everyone who might have thought of themselves as “good” (green), could no longer claim to be good.  Jesus raised the definition of “good” to an entirely unexpected level!  At best, all that anyone could claim was to be striped – a mixture of bad and good. 

We frequently see Jesus in situations where there were those who thought they were green/good – those who had brought the adulterous woman to Jesus certainly thought they were good, but they left with heads hanging as the darkness of their hearts was revealed to them by the only one who was good.  In the gospel, everyone but Jesus is striped.  It is the same in our world today.

As Richard Fairchild put it, “We are a curious combination of the lost and the found. We are striped. We are, in some sense, not completely complete. It is hard language, this language of lost and found, especially for folks in the middle, as most of us are most of the time. It seems too absolute.

“Rarely are we completely lost. And rarely are we completely found. There is always a part of us that needs to be dragged and cajoled into the light, and there is always a part of us that is already there in the light. For some it is more and for some it is less, but always some part.

“The wonderful thing is – that God wants us to enter fully into the light. The wonderful thing is that God wants to bless us all richly to keep us safe, to make us strong, to help us be like a Shepherd who really cares for his sheep, or like a poor widow who really values all her coins.”

Won’t it be a delight when we are all made good in the Father’s house? 

PRAYER: We confess our brokenness and duplicity to You, Lord Jesus.  We trust in You to complete the work that You’ve started in us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/18/20 – The Cause of Fears

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

It doesn’t take much to look up the definition of worry or fear.  They are close cousins – related by blood and tears.  It is all the more interesting to learn what Jesus, not Webster or Freud, thinks about the cause of worry.  He gives us his definition of it in Matthew 6:25, when he said, That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough

Do you see it?  “Whether you have enough…”  Our worries are about shortfalls, lack of supply.  It might be that we are afraid we won’t have enough time to complete our bucket list or even to complete today’s tasks, that we won’t have enough good luck to win or even to survive, that our smarts just don’t rate up there high enough, that we won’t be able to receive or give enough love or even that God’s forgiveness will run short just when I get to the front of the line.  We are worried about the supply of oil.  The fact is, we worry about just about everything – fearing that there won’t be enough of it.  There’s only one problem with this: worry doesn’t work.

Jesus went on to talk about the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields.  Neither worries.  As far as we know, no flower or bird has ever worried.  It seems that worry and its cousin, fear, barge into the human mind alone.  Maybe it’s because we are the only beings capable of that level of thought, or that we’re the only creatures that are so self-centered. 

Isn’t it true in your life that when you are worried you are not thinking about God?  You are trying to figure out how to do something, trying to predict the future or control future events.  You are wondering how to manipulate people, events, materials and situations to create the outcome that YOU desire.  We do these things when we are worried about what’s happening.

In my experience, when I am worried, if I pull back and just concentrate on God and His love and care for me, on His promises of not leaving me, of working things out for my best and not my worst, then I find my fear going away. 

God knows, Jesus says, what it is that we need and how much of it we need.  He knows that better than I.  He also knows what will be good for me and what will turn out to be harmful.  Our challenge is to trust His judgment and wisdom and not our own.

PRAYER: I confess, Lord, that I at times worry about whether there will be enough of this or of that, or whether things will work out in ways that I want them to.  Help me to not try to control if, when or how much You choose to give me, but to trust that Your wisdom far surpasses mine in all ways!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>