DayBreaks for 3/22/18 – There Was No One There

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18: There Was No One There

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Have you ever felt absolutely and totally alone?  I am not the kind of person who minds being alone – in fact, I rather enjoy it…most of the time.  But when I worked in high tech, I traveled a lot and there were many times when I’d go to a strange city (or even a strange country) and loneliness would settle over my soul like a shroud.  There are many places where loneliness raises its head and comes to sit next to you.  Once it arrives, it tends to stay.

Some of the loneliest places I’ve been read like a list of places most folks would like to visit: Ireland, Sao Paulo, London, and in America, Mississippi and Alabama.  I don’t know why I felt so alone here in the US, but when you’re in a foreign country (even one like Ireland or England that speaks my native tongue) you can feel desperately alone.  Without my family, my wife, my dogs or friends, loneliness haunts like a spectre.  The more foreign, the greater the haunting.

The story of Gethsemane is one of the most painful stories for me to read in the entire collection of Scripture, and having been there, is even more painful to me.  It appears to be the time of Jesus’ greatest loneliness, with perhaps the exception of the cry of dereliction from the cross itself.  Anticipation of agony is oft times worse than the pain we anticipate.  I wonder if it was that way for Jesus.

In his novel, More Like Not Running Away, Paul Shepherd wrote: “I’d always known, in one place in my throat, how Jesus must have cried in the garden—crying not to die, because there was no fear of death, and not to leave his friends, because he walked alone, and not to suffer, because the blood and bruises and thorns were part of his perfection—but crying because he could not find his Father’s face, because when he would suffer all that he could bear, the pain of every person, living and dead, in that dark moment, there was really nobody there.”

Jesus truly had no peers to swap celestial stories with.  He had no one on the planet who understood what he faced just in a matter of hours.  There was no one else who truly understood the weight of the world’s sin as it came and settled on him like a hot blanket on that Palestinian night.  If ever anyone was in a foreign land, it was Jesus.  If ever anyone found “there was really no one there,” surely it was He.  “We esteemed him smitten by God…” 

For all who have ever felt loneliness, for all who have ever felt that there was “no one there,” take heart in knowing that Jesus has been to that desolate place before you.  And no matter how alone he felt at the moment he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, he soon proclaimed with great confidence: “Into Your hands I commit my spirit!”  In the midst of his massively heavy aloneness, He still had confidence in the Father He knew and loved, and was supremely confident that the Father saw and loved Him and would not ultimately let His Holy One be abandoned. 

Dare we hope for the same assurance?  Absolutely, for His Father is our Father and is unchanging.

PRAYER: Fill our loneliness with the confidence of Jesus that we may, in childlike trust and faith, abandon ourselves into Your hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 3/20/18 – Between a Rock and Heaven

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DayBreaks for 3/20/18: Between a Rock and Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Some people have trouble making decisions about even the most trivial of things.  I’ve had the dilemma myself.  Just today when I went to the Burger King (not something I do often!), I was torn between getting the Angus steak burger or Tenderoast chicken.  I would have preferred the steak burger, but went for the chicken so I wouldn’t feel as guilty.  Silly, isn’t it? 

There are decisions that are not trivial at all.  Who to marry?  What career to pursue?  What home to buy is a pretty big one, too.  We make other important decisions sometimes by default and without a lot of conscious thought: who will be my friends?  I can’t remember ever really asking myself that – it seems that my friends are my friends because we’ve spent time together and it just turned out that way rather than as the result of a conscious decision. 

As we near Holy Week, let’s not forget these words from Henri Nouwen (“A Spirituality of Waiting,” The Weavings Reader): “Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the Good News to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say yes or no. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: He had to wait upon how people were going to respond.”

Nouwen is right: up until Jesus showed up on Holy Week, the people really had little to choose from.  There were plenty of rabbis, of course, but only One who made the kinds of demands that Jesus was about to make on them.  Up until he arrived on the scene, people had no choice to speak of: they could choose between sin or a life spent trying to perfectly live the law.  Neither were very attractive nor would either yield good results.  One was destined to lead to shame, degradation and dissolution, while the other would lead to frustration, guilt, discouragement and failure.  But when Jesus offered something different during and after Holy Week, people for the first time had a choice.

Jesus also said that he came to bring a sword.  A choice is much like a sword – it will cut things and make them separate.  There can be no middle ground, there is no living in the space that the sword cut through.  You must be on one side or the other.  It’s not popular these days to be exclusionists, but that’s what Jesus was.  “You are either for me or against me” and “I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father BUT BY ME.”  As much as we might wish it were otherwise, that’s the plain and simple truth.  We don’t do anyone favors when we soft pedal the choice that Jesus puts before us – in fact, if we do soft pedal it, we are doing people a great disservice.

We must say either yes or no to Jesus.  The world is waiting to see what we’ll choose. And we need to put that choice in front of the world, too.

PRAYER: Lord, give us hearts and minds of wisdom that when we hear Jesus’ invitation to choose, we will make the right choice that leads to life eternal.  Give us the courage of the truth to speak the truth about the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/16/18 – My Father’s World


DayBreaks for 3/16/18: My Father’s World

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

“This is my Father’s world, and too my listen ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.  This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought, of rocks and trees of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought.” 

I’ve always loved that song.  I remember on the morning after my father died and I was waiting for the train that was bringing our oldest son home from Seattle, that as I wandered around the train station and the marshland nearby (there was a walking trail through it), I sang this song inside my head.  It felt strange to sing it, for my father was no longer in this world and I felt that loss very keenly. 

As I sang it to myself, over and over, I knew and understood that as much as I would miss my dad and his being in “my world”, that I was not Fatherless.  This was still my Father’s world, and even as He’d given that gift to my dad, He’d also given that same world to me – to all of us. 

This song should be a daily part of our worship, I think.  I don’t know about you, but I find it all too easy to get down on the world – to just see the ugliness of it, the greed and rape and killing and abuse.  Let us not forget, however, that it is God’s world – made with the words of His mouth.  It is not the world that is bad, it is men and women.  If nothing else, singing this song should fill us anew with the wonder of God’s creative power, and we need to remember that this is His world – it is not a wasted effort by God that He hates and which He will someday throw out in the trash.  No, I rather think God loves His creation and if I read this verse correctly, He’s at work redeeming it, not planning to trash it: Colossians 1:19-20 (NASB) – For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Did you catch that?  He’s working to reconcile ALL THINGS to Himself – whether things on earth or things in heaven.  And this: Romans 8:22-23 (NIV) – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  The creation groans…it awaits its own redemption, just as we await the fullness of our deliverance.

I hope to remember to sing this song to myself much more often in the future.  It matters how I see the world.  If I see it as something horrendous that must be avoided at all costs, from which I must distance myself, I’ll not have God’s own heart for the creation and people that He declared good and that “He so loved”.  Just as some people refuse to watch the news because it’s just too ugly and painful (as a result they become out of touch with life lived on this sphere), we’re tempted as believers who are so repulsed by the evil we see and sense all around us to just shut it off.  We can’t – we mustn’t – if we are to be followers of the Rabbi.

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on our souls.  Fill us with the wonder of your world, with love for its people, with hope for its future, with praise for your greatness and confidence in your work to redeem all things to yourself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/15/18 – Out of My League

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DayBreaks for 3/15/18: Out of My League

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I don’t know how it happened.  But I’m glad it did.  It happened a long time ago – 38 years in August, to be precise.  Somehow, don’t ask me how, but the girl I loved agreed to marry me and we were married on an August day in 1970.  Why she agreed to it I don’t think I’ll ever know.  As the saying goes, “She’s out of my league.”  My wife is smarter than I am, more spiritually attuned to things, a deeper thinker than I am, a much better communicator of many things, she’s filled with a mother’s love and compassion – and she’s far better looking than I am.  Now, can you tell me why she married me?!?!?!  I can’t.

At the recent National Pastor’s Conference, John Ortberg was one of the main speakers (I could listen to him speak all day and night!)  Apparently, he feels that same about his wife as I do.  It seems that we both married over our heads and out of our league.  (If truth be told, I think that’s the case with most of us men…women seem to be far better as a general rule!)  It’s hard to believe that I have had such great “luck” as to have my wife as my partner and friend for nearly 38 years now. 

Can’t the same thing be said about Jesus?  If my wife is out of my league, how about Jesus?  He’s so far out of my league that you can’t even see him from here!  And yet, and yet…if the Bible says anything at all, it says this: “Jesus loves me.” 

My wife is lovely and the most beautiful woman in the world to me, but if I were married to a supermodel, do you know how I’d feel?  I’d be scared out of my mind.  Look at the lives of supermodels or the super-actresses and actors – the “beautiful people”, if you will (as far as the world is concerned).  It seems that if they’re not in rehab, they’re hopping from one lover to the next, from one set of marriage vows to another.  If I were married to a supermodel, I’d always be fearful that she’d find someone more in her league than I am, and that perhaps any love she had for me would grow cold and would be withdrawn. 

Can the same happen with Jesus?  No.  Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) –  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Is Jesus out of my league?  Absolutely.  (He’s out of yours, too, by the way.)  Is his love for me real?  Look at the nail prints in his hands and feet.  Will his love for me ever be withdrawn or given to someone else with me being left in the cold?  Never! 

PRAYER: The depth of your love is amazing, Jesus!  Thank you for the words of encouraging reminder that Romans records for us – letting us know that you will never turn your back on us, that you will always love us.  May we always see your love engraved on your hands and feet when we are tempted to doubt and become fearful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/13/18 – The Diagnosis

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DayBreaks for 3/13/18: The Diagnosis

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

HAVERFORDWEST, England – A boy from Haverfordwest, England, can hear on one side for the first time in nine years after a cotton wool bud suddenly popped out of his ear. Jerome Bartens, 11, was diagnosed deaf in his right ear when he was two, causing him to struggle in school and strain to hear the TV and friends, Britain’s Daily Mail reported.  But when playing pool with his friends in a church hall Jerome felt a sudden pop. And out of his right ear came the tip of a cotton wool bud that had been wedged in for almost 10 years. “It was just incredible — his hearing returned to normal in an instant. He was cured as suddenly as he became deaf. I had always suspected Jerome had stuck something in his ear when he was little and that was causing the problem. But the doctors and hearing specialists said it was wax and he would probably grow out of it,” said Jerome’s father, Carsten Bartens. “I am amazed they didn’t spot something as obvious as a cotton wool bud.”  

Every now and then a story like this comes along and we are both fascinated and puzzled at the same time.  I’m very happy for this young boy!  It is one of those “feel good” stories that you hear about.  But I’m also puzzled that the boy could have had this problem for so long and all the specialists and doctors he’d been to had never discovered the problem. 

There are, as usual, lessons to be learned:

FIRST: don’t put your trust too much in the “learned and wise” in this world.  They are still just humans, fallible as can be.  They can be very persuasive, because we give them the benefit of the doubt because of their “knowledge”…and quite frankly, knowledge seems to equate to power in today’s world.  It always has been that way, I guess.  But our knowledge is limited.  We may pretend to know more than we really do so that we have more power, but that’s a dangerous game to play.

SECOND: there are lots of things that can cause deafness – and that’s true spiritually as well.  The Word is replete with comments on how we don’t hear God (usually meaning that we don’t seek to understand what He’s saying and then refusing to obey it if we do).  Biblically, hearing usually implies action as well.  A loud noise, a Q-tip, ear wax, various diseases – all can cause physical deafness.  There are many causes of spiritual deafness, too: pride, willful rebellion, illicit pleasures and passions that we don’t want to have to give up, anger, lack of a forgiving spirit – the list is almost as long as Psalm 119! 

Having the right diagnosis is important.  When it comes to your life and how you should live it, whose diagnosis are you putting your faith in?  A self-help book (even one bought at a Christian bookstore?)  The words of a friend?  The words of a pastor/minister/priest?  If you do, let me suggest you’re putting your diagnosis and treatment plan in the wrong place.  Put it in the revealed Word of God and His Spirit.  If the diagnosis anyone else gives you doesn’t match with those two things – reject it and keep seeking! 

Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  We won’t open if we can’t hear him. 

PRAYER: Our eyes and ears deceive us, Lord!  We want easy answers and seek diagnosis of our lives and condition in all the wrong places, putting trust in those who don’t deserve our trust.  Heal us, O Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/09/18 – The Great and the Small

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DayBreaks for 3/09/18: The Great and the Small

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive,  March 2008:

Rev. 20:12: And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

I was talking with some new members in our church family and was really blessed by spending the time with them.  Godly men and women are so refreshing!  As it turns out, the wife is from British origin and still has a wonderful accent.  Being a “Brit”, she was deeply saddened by the death of Princess Diana.  In fact, they shared a story with me about the time that they were within about 10 feet of her while they were “on holiday” in England, and then the wife shared a story with me of a time when she went right up to the window of the Queen’s motorcar (how about that for another British term that I squeezed in here?!?!?) and snapped a picture of Her Royal Majesty.  Things like that wouldn’t happen in America – if you rushed the President’s motorcade to snap a picture, the Secret Service just might snap off a shot at you!

Nonetheless, we do tend to think in a special way about “nobility” or the powerful.  We really shouldn’t.  They are just men and women like the rest of us.  They eat, sleep, get sick, and if they are cut, they bleed just like us.  They even will die just like us.  And whatever special treatment they may have received here will stop at that moment in time when they pass from this world.  There is no reason to be envious of them.

General Robert E. Lee was a devout believer in Jesus Christ.  Not too long after the end of the Civil War, he was attending worship services at a church in Washington, D.C. and he knelt down next to a black man to pray.  After services were over, someone approached him and asked him, “General, how could you do that?  How could you pray next to a black man?”  The general replied, “All ground is level beneath the cross of Jesus.” 

On that great and final day when the kings, queens, princes, paupers and beggars are all gathered before the throne, degrees won’t matter nor will royal blood.  It won’t matter how many sales you made in this lifetime, how high you rose in the ranks of business or academia, how much money you had in the bank or how beautiful or handsome you were.  None of that will even be discussed.  You won’t be able to bribe God with your money, titles or with an autograph of your famous name.  On that day, the cross of Jesus will tower over everything else and your only hope will be to plead the blood of Jesus.  Princess Diana will be there and all the good things she may have done to benefit the starving or help children won’t mean a thing unless she knew Jesus as her Savior. 

Are you confusing success in one part of your life with spiritual success?  It is easy to do.  Just because you are successful in the physical realm doesn’t mean your spiritual life is great, too.  The ground will be level beneath his cross on the judgment day.

PRAYER: Remind us, Lord, that the small and great all must alike pass through death’s door and face judgment.  Help us to not confuse success in this world with faithfulness to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/8/18 – The Perils of a Cold Heart

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DayBreaks for 3/08/18: The Perils of a Cold Heart

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive,  March 2008:

An early candidate for 1998’s “Darwin Award” (an annual “award” given to the stupidest thing that someone did during the year – usually awarded posthumously), from Remy, France: “Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide.  He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck.  He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock.  He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes.  He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment.  He jumped and fired the pistol.  The bullet missed him completely and cut through the rope above him.  Free of the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea.  The sudden dunking extinguished the flames and made him vomit the poison.  He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman and was taken to a hospital, where he died of hypothermia.”

I’ve wondered what makes people contemplate suicide.  I understand financial stress, grief, despair, anxiety, depression, etc. – at least at some level.  I’ve never reached the point where I felt that life was so hopeless that I had no other option.  I have had friends who have committed suicide and it is heartbreaking.  I don’t know what problems were hounding Mr. LeFevrier, but he was determined to leave nothing to chance.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the noose, the poison, the fire, the pistol or the fall that took his life.  It wasn’t even really something external – but something internal.  His core body temperature fell to such a low level that his organs couldn’t do their job – his heart and brain stopped.

So it is with us.  It isn’t the things around us that will prove our undoing – it is what is within us.  Matthew 24:12 says: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… .  We can spend great amounts of energy and time to make sure the circumstances surrounding our life are just right, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts.  We can install backup system after backup system to make sure our life is planned to the smallest detail.  But you know what?  Those things don’t matter.  They are just details.  What matters is what is within.  Is your heart on fire after God, or is it cold and unfunctioning?  When Jesus once again comes crashing through the barriers of time and space with a trumpet blast and the earth and the heavens are consumed with flaming fire all the backup plans we may make prior to then will go up in smoke – literally!  But it is the heart and what is in it that will determine what happens next.

What is your core heart temperature?  What are you doing to fuel the fire of your heart towards greater love and service to God and His creation?  Mr. LeFevrier never would have guessed in his wildest dreams that he would have died of coldness.  I hope and pray that coldness doesn’t claim any of us!

PRAYER: You are a consuming fire, Your Spirit appeared as tongues of fire…light our hearts on fire that they may never grow cold, lest we die.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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