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.

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DayBreaks for 12/02/16 – Pizza and Perfume

Aroma…

DayBreaks for 12/02/16 – Pizza and Perfume

15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? – 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

A mother tells a story of how her daughter used to work for a pizzeria.  At the end of the daughter’s shift, Mom would pick her up from the pizzeria.  There was only one problem: when her daughter would get into the car she’d smell so much like pizza that often times Mom would go back into the store and buy a pizza.

I see in this an analogy of our life with Christ.  When we give our life to him, when we spend much time with Christ and seek first to live for him; when we let His love, grace and forgiveness wash over and permeate us, then we’ll have the aroma of Christ surrounding us in our daily lives.  His love will spread and shine through us for others to see and breathe in. And when we live like that, our lives become an invitation and others will be compelled to seek him and ask questions about our faith.

When is the last time your life compelled someone to ask you about your faith?  If it hasn’t happened for a long time, perhaps it’s because we’ve not spent enough time in the presence of the Master.

PRAYER: Let us draw so close to you that the sweet aroma of Jesus’ love is so present in our lives that it cannot be ignored and others are compelled to investigate the Lord of Life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

No matter where you go in Disneyland or Disney World. They are everywhere. No, I’m not talking about families or smiling faces or Mickey Mouse ears. I’m talking about garbage cans. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll find one approximately every thirty feet or so.  Do you know why?

If you think it’s just because there is so much trash in Disney’s confines, you’d be right…but that’s not why. Walt Disney himself is responsible for the fact that they are about 30 feet apart. You see, Walt reasoned that is took someone about 30 steps to eat a hot dog from start to finish, so about every 30 feet there is a trash receptacle waiting to receive the associated trash. In order to keep the place clean it was important to have enough garbage cans so people could get rid of their garbage frequently.

We, as humans, need to frequently unload our “garbage”, our sin. James puts it clearly: if we say we are without sin we are not – we are liars, which makes us sinners. Guilty…every last one of us. And we need to get rid of our garbage.

Fortunately, God has made it easy for us to do so…though at great cost to Himself. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us…(1 John 1:9). 

Do you know one of the things I’m so very grateful for about that verse? It doesn’t say “If we confess our sins and never ever commit them again He is faithful and just to forgive…”  If that were the grounds for our forgiveness, I would still be in my sin…and so would you. Oh, I understand the concept and importance of repentance, but I also understand the nature of my weakness. If my forgiveness were conditioned on my perfect repentance, it would be works and performance based. I’ve tried to live that kind of life and it is very discouraging.

Disney put his trash bins 30 feet apart. God has placed the confessional booth within reach of every single human being who wants to come to Him…and you don’t even have to walk 30 steps to get there!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for making forgiveness and salvation so easily accessible to us, even though it was far from cheap for You to do so. May we take advantage of the opportunity afforded us to come to You in confession and find Your faithfulness and justness on display! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/18/16 – RX for a World Torn Apart

DayBreaks for 7/18/16 – RX For a World Torn Apart

From our Sunday worship bulletin (and some of my own input, too):

Whatever comes out of these dates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive. – Maximus

This quote is from the movie, “Gladiator,” and the context is gladiators coming together to fight a common enemy. I love the quote because it’s a great illustration for the church. If the church works together, if it stays together, then whatever common enemy we face, we can survive. Now, Jesus said He would build His church, and therefore the church at large is not going to disappear. We’re here to stay. Still, the church, in this age, can certainly be threatened. There are enemies which would seek to eliminate it. So, the church is in a definite battle. There is spiritual warfare going on.

Who is the enemy? The apostle John instructs the church to …not love the world or things in the world. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16) In this context, we get a glimpse that the enemy is, in some ways, our own sinful desire. The apostle Peter also says, Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) The enemy is the devil, and it’s the world around us, made up of sinful people, including us. My contention is often the enemy (regardless of who or what it is) threatens to pull us apart, isolate us from one another, and bring us to disunity.

This is a huge issue, not just for the church but for our nation. But what’s so scary about it for the church is that it’s often subtle. We can easily testify Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and our lives can be isolated from one another. We are not working together or staying together. We may have gotten to the point, in which we understand we even need to be together.

So, what do I mean “to be together”? Well, we’re in relationship with others in the church, those who know us, including some of our struggles. Yes, that’s scary, and there are a lot of challenges with that. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek it out. Why? Because we need one another. To walk this journey of faith, which is hard enough, I’m convinced we can’t do it on our own. We need the church. We need to be in relationship with God’s people, and that’snot just your name on a roll.

The enemy is at the gates. If we’re to stay together, as a church, as a nation, if we’re to work together, we must first be together. United we stand and survive, divided we fall.

PRAYER: Jesus, in an age characterized by anonymity, isolation and texting instead of face-to-face conversations, it’s easy for us to withdraw, to not be together with others. Let us learn from your example that you didn’t text us from heaven, but you came to BE with us. Create that desire in us to be with others, to risk the relationships, so we can work together in peace and harmony. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/15/16 – What Were You Thinking?

The Darwin Awards

DayBreaks for 2/15/16: What Were You Thinking?

Chances are good that if you have been around the internet and have had email for longer than a month, you know what the Darwin Awards are. It has been around since 1994 and they describe themselves (more correctly their winners, this way: Winners of the Darwin Award must die in such an idiotic manner that “their action ensures the long-term survival of the species, by selectively allowing one less idiot to survive.”

I want to be respectful of those who die, and those who loved them, but some of the stories are totally ridiculous. Here’s a case in point: Double Darwin Award: Two men in Kenya were capturing selfies with a wild elephant when they were trampled to death by the irate pachyderm who proceeded to bury the corpses with brush. The two men were actually touching the elephant’s face while taking the photos. Charles Darwin cautions, “When taking sensational selfies, remember the Photoshop option.”

At the end of nearly every one of the Darwin Award stories, I find myself wondering: What were you thinking? How could you possibly have been so stupid?!?!

We sit around thinking we’d never do something so foolish, that we’d never act in such an ignorant or thoughtless way. But that’s where it gets interesting, isn’t it?

I would imagine that God looks at the things we do – at the voices and advice we listen to and act upon – and shakes His head and says to no one in particular: What were you thinking? I gave you so many warnings in the Word about the effect of sin on your life and you choose to do it anyway!

What are you doing these days that is spiritually foolhardy? Does not God give better advice than anyone else you could possibly ask?

While the Darwin Awards may make us wonder – and perhaps laugh at some of the stories – who is the greater fool: someone who does something that knowingly endangers their physical life, or someone who disregards the warnings of the Word and the offer of grace and forgiveness that can bring us from death to life eternal?

Ephesians 2:1-5 (MSG) – It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, you know our hearts. You know how we want to hear that which we want to hear rather than Truth. You know how quickly we run rashly to let the world tell us how to live instead of listening to You. Have mercy on us and give us wisdom that we can know and follow the Truth and live!

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/6/16 – Why Should I Tremble?

DayBreaks for 1/6/16: Why Should I Tremble?

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

Ps 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation — so why should I be afraid?  The LORD protects me from danger — so why should I tremble?

It all sounds so simple when you read it – especially when it’s someone else that is saying it.  It’s easy to make those statements (“The Lord is my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid?  The Lord protects me from danger, so why should I tremble?”), but when we hear the snarling of life and the monsters that live nearby (and within us!), we are often afraid and we tremble. 

I wonder if David was making a statement that he didn’t react that way, or if he was legitimately asking the question: Why is it that I DO tremble?  “The Lord protects me from danger” is such a broad sweeping statement that it often seems to us to fly in the face of reality, but that’s probably because we can’t even begin to see Him fully at work.  We need otherworldly eyes to be able to accept such a statement at face value. 

But what good is a God that only protects us from ultimate evil in eternity?  Certainly, there is great value in it – and if we had to choose protection in one life or the next, well, if we’re wise we’d chose the protection for the life to come and say “good riddance” to this life when it is done.  But it really isn’t a “one or the other” situation, is it?  We just need to learn to recognize God’s protection in this life.  Perhaps we’d do well to visualize it: the car crash we could have been in, the protection from disease if we’ve experience it, the protection from financial ruin, from starvation – and of course the spiritual things as well: protection from shame, guilt, despair. 

Yes, God protects us from danger.  David didn’t claim God protected him from all danger – and we shouldn’t make that assumption, either.  David knew plenty of danger in this life – he was a warrior and a king, but also a refugee who knew great pain and suffering.  But somehow, even in the midst of that, he could visualize that life could have been much worse but it wasn’t because “the Lord protects me from danger.”

I need to visualize God’s actions and protective hand upon and around me much more than I do.  I don’t believe it’ll lead to paranoia, for I must realize that in His wisdom He sees more dangers than I and even keeps me from seeing things in advance that might break me if they were revealed to me too early – when I am not yet mature or grown up enough to handle them.  I should analyze why it is that I tremble – and then look at how God has dealt with those things before in my life and in history.  Then, perhaps, I can come to the point at which David found himself – where the fear and trembling are replaced by such confidence in God’s protection and deliverance.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, we are such a fearful people.  The fear-inducing demons that fill our heads seem to come in an endless procession.  They seem huge and insurmountable and far too many to deal with.  Help us each time that our knees start to shake to remember that You are our Light, our Salvation and our Deliverer.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/21/15 – Sleep in Heavenly Peace

DayBreaks for 12/21/15: Sleep in Heavenly Peace

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

I’ve written before about watching my grand kids sleep – or my kids, when they were little.  In fact, I just got a great picture that I took of my grandson, Charlie, sleeping in his little bed in his room.  Why does it move me so?  I don’t know, but I know that when I see them sleeping, my heart just melts.

Charlie is now a bit over 2-1/2 years old, and he’s quite the little man.  He just had his first appearance in a Christmas pageant.  I must say that he was the cutest sheep I’ve ever seen.  Now here’s something you need to understand: Charlie isn’t bashful.  The kids were supposed to stand on one of the steps, but all of them were too afraid to do so, that is, except for Charlie.  So, Charlie was standing in front of all the other kids on the step as they sang their Christmas songs.  Or, it might be more accurate to say “As Charlie sang their Christmas songs.”  And at the end of each song when the members would clap for the little ones, Charlie joined right in with the joyful clapping, a smile on his face that would brighten Carlsbad Caverns. 

But, all the excitement did finally get to him, however.  After the pageant was over and the party was finished afterwards, Charlie and his family went home, and as little Charlie lay down to sleep, he said to his parents, “I want to sleep in heavenly peace.”

Charlie knows what it is to sleep in heavenly peace – at least what it means to a 2-1/2 year old.  The question strikes me, “Do we know what it means to sleep in heavenly peace?”  It’s the kind of peace that has its source in heaven itself, the kind of peace that characterizes heaven, and if we were to sleep in heaven, it would be the kind of peace that characterizes our sleep.  No more of this waking up in the middle of the night when we hear a strange sound, or when the worries about our finances or schedule or obligations comes bubbling up through our unconscious mind to awaken us to the nightmares that walk our minds in the wee, dark hours of the night and which stir us to consciousness.

As I think about this past year, my brother-in-law passed away, my father-in-law passed away, and I was able to spend time with those who were dying as they passed from this world to the next.  Friends who I didn’t even have last year at this time are now gone – at home with the Lord. 

It’s a busy time of the year, a cacophony of sounds, smells, events – and we desperately need to sleep in heavenly peace.  May the peace that heaven proclaimed with the Messiah’s birth be with you tonight as you sleep, watched over by the One who watched over the baby in the manger 2000 years ago.  He hasn’t slept since.  He doesn’t need to.  And He alone can give you peace.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Heavenly Father, teach us to trust in your unfailing love and in the fact that you constantly keep watch over us.  Lord, I want to sleep in heavenly peace, resting in the comfort that I am yours and you are mine.  May this be a week of peace for all of us wherever we go.  Thank you for giving us a peace that the world can’t begin to understand – and I pray You help us understand it better, too.  Almighty God, I pray that we will truly celebrate Christ this Christmas.  May we remember that he didn’t come here for his own pleasure, but for our salvation, to die and take away our sin.  Help us to remember the cost of Christmas to our Savior.  In His name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.