DayBreaks for 9/11/18 – But I Do

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DayBreaks for 9/11/18: But I Do

If we believe in Jesus, we know the boundaries are erased inside and out, for there is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free. Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer but when he got to the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

We might be tempted to think that what the missionary did was insignificant and a waste of money. I bet God didn’t feel that way about it.

PRAYER: Open our eyes to opportunities around us today to demonstrate that we are changed people who love others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/10/18 – Ready to be Interrupted

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DayBreaks for 9/10/18: Ready to be Interrupted

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008 – Michael Card’s “From the Studio”, 8/23/08:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. – COLOSSIANS 4:5

“My friend and pastor Denny Denson was in the middle of a sermon one Sunday morning when a young man he had been witnessing to for months slipped into the back of the church. The young man was a victim of crack cocaine and had more than once tried to get off the drug, promising to someday attend our church. When Denny saw him walk in that morning, he was hopeful and excited that he had come.

“After a few minutes the young man got up and walked back outside. Denny understood at once what he needed to do. He stopped in the middle of his sermon and asked the congregation to go to prayer. With that, he followed the man outside and caught up with him a block from the church. After perhaps fifteen minutes the two of them came back inside with good news. The young man had finally accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The remainder of the service was spent in worship. Denny never finished his sermon!”

Isn’t it interesting how we get set on a course of argument or action and are loathe to deviate from it in ever the slightest ways?  As I read Mike’s account of his friend, Denny, I tried to picture myself on a Sunday morning as I deliver a message, and I asked myself, “What would I have done in the circumstance described?”  I’ll be honest…I’m not sure what I would have done.  Part of me is ruled by “order” and “the plan” and I might have foolishly kept on preaching when I should have stopped.  Preachers are very prone to thinking that whatever they are talking about is the most important thing at the moment – that people have come to listen to what’s being said.  And I’m sure that there’s a certain amount of truth in that mindset – a preacher should have a message from God for the people – they shouldn’t be speaking at all.  But, “church” isn’t about the sermon – church is about Jesus and humans who need Him. 

Denny Denson recognized that fact and had the wisdom and courage to stop in the middle of his prepared remarks.  It didn’t matter that the prepared sermon wasn’t finished – Denny acted out a far more important sermon by stopping and going to the young man.  It’s what Jesus would have done, I believe.

How willing are you to be interrupted from your carefully laid plans in order to be responsive to human need and the leading of the Spirit?  Will you stop what you’re doing today and truly love someone like Jesus if the opportunity arises?  Jesus was being interrupted all the time – and we never hear him complain about it even once.  May we become more like him!

PRAYER: Jesus, don’t let us become slaves to the plan we’ve formulated for our day, but rather let us be open to Your plan for us this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/17/18 – The Hummingbird and the Vulture

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DayBreaks for 8/17/18: The Hummingbird and the Vulture

There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts: one is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the rotting meat of the desert, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.

That is the essence of Paul’s teaching: In life, there are two birds. The one bird looks for foolishness and stupidity, the other looks for wisdom. The vultures seek to fill themselves with the rotting flesh of drunkenness and debauchery, the hummingbird sobriety, freshness, and the Spirit. In the desert of this world you have your scavengers who are angry and ungrateful, but you also have those who hum a grateful hymn of thanksgiving. The irony is that you find what you are looking for.

In the fifth chapter of Ephesians Paul outlines proper behavior for good living. In this short passage he admonishes his readers to be careful how they live. He is brief and to the point. Three things we must do: be wise, be sober, and be thankful. It’s a short list but if we can orient our daily lives around these three-be wise, be sober, be thankful-we will transform not only our lives but also the lives of our family, friends, church, and neighbors.

PRAYER: Father, help us choose the things that are beautiful to you and that lead to life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/06/18 – A Painful, Unasked Question

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DayBreaks for 8/06/18: A Painful, Unasked Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

1 Peter 3:15a (NIV) – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…

I must admit that I’m troubled.  I have been forced to look more closely into the mirror lately, and I am distressed by what I see.  I’m not talking about gray hair and wrinkly skin.  I’m talking about myself – the real me that hides somewhere inside this “fleshly tent” as Scripture so aptly put it.

I like to think of myself as a fairly upbeat, hopeful, cheerful and fun-loving person.  Who doesn’t want to think of themselves in those terms?  Have you ever known anyone who had a goal in life to be downcast, hopeless about everything, sad and determined to remain miserable all their life?  I don’t know anyone who set out with those life goals and I doubt that you do either.  I know some people who seem to have many of those negative characteristics much of the time – but it was never their great desire to be that way.  Somehow, life beat the tar out of them (or so is their perception of what life has done to them) and they are just that way now.  It is really sad.

But here’s what’s really bothering me: Peter seems to suggest that people will ask me (and you if you are a believer) about the hope that they see and observe in us, in our lives.  Here’s the painful question-that-never-is-asked: Why has no one asked me about the hope in me?  When is the last time someone actually came up to you and said, “Wow.  I don’t know what it is that makes you so positive, hopeful and upbeat.  What is it?  Can you tell me?”  Have you EVER had anyone ask you that question?  I don’t know that I have – and that really bothers me because it is contrary to the image I want to hold of myself. 

Could it be that we don’t know what it is to have hope?  Have we as believers surrendered our hope to the malaise and discontent and despair that flows through our world like a mighty ocean?  Or, if we do have hope, why is it not visible, why is it not causing people to ask the question that Peter alluded to?  Somehow, I believe Peter WAS asked that question, and I’ll bet he had the answer ready.

Will you join me in a pact to be more hopeful?  To let your hope show like brilliant rays of sunlight through the tall trees of despair?  It’s time that people asked us the question: “Why are you so hopeful?”

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord, I am deeply distressed that no one asks me the question!  Reveal to us, Lord, where our hearts and hope needs to change so that people feel that they can’t NOT ask us about our hope.  Fill us with undying hope for we have an undying future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/12/18 – Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 7/12/18: Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

The world watched with baited breath as a small army of divers and rescue personnel descended into a treacherous and deadly cave in an effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” – a soccer team and their coach, who had become trapped when monsoon rains flooded parts of the cave system. For a period approaching 10-12 days, the boys and their coach were in the cave with very little food. They drank water that dripped from the cave ceiling. And they were in darkness…total, utter darkness. I read that one of the boys in particular was terrified of darkness but he went with his teammates in an effort to overcome his fear. 

Fortunately, seemingly miraculously, all twelve boys and their coach made it out alive thanks to the sacrifices of their rescuers. Tragically, on Thai navy SEAL diver died during the effort to rescue these boys.

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

If you want to know what the kingdom of darkness looks like, just ask those boys. They know what darkness means. You can’t see. It is a place of fear. It is a place of want. It is uncomfortable and threatening. You long for light. It gnaws at you and causes you to give up hope and despair of rescue.

If you want to know what gratitude feels like, just ask those boys. Can you begin to imagine how their hearts leaped when the British divers with a headlight on their foreheads first popped up in the darkness and found the boys? Can you imagine how hope must have been reborn in that instant that they first saw light again? Can you try to imagine how each boy felt when at long last they exited the mouth of the cave that had held them captive and threatened them with certain death unless a miracle happened?

I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how dark was the kingdom that held us in its clutches. We don’t often see it as darkness because it is a darkness of the spirit brought about by the blackness of sin. The enemy of our souls makes it appear as light – he’s such a good liar – and we fall for it over and over again. For a sense of what it was like inside the caves, see this (and that was the easy part – try imagining even that without flashlights in passages as small as 15 inches wide!)

But miraculously, someone came searching for us, found us, and led us out of that inky black place into a kingdom diametrically opposite to that which held us. He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

But just as with the twelve boys and their coach, someone gave their life to rescue us. Unlike that navy SEAL diver, though, the one who gave his life for us came back to life and now guides us through the darkness of the former kingdom to the light. He’s been through that blackness of death that would kill us and been victorious over it so that he knows the way out of the darkness. We need not fear. He will not fail us!  

We should be terrified of the darkness that surrounds us for when it is seen clearly it is terrifying. But we should never doubt our rescue or our Rescuer. 

And one more thing: our Rescuer has turned the tables on darkness. While it was dangerous for us as we were trapped there, now that we have been delivered not only do we no longer need to fear the darkness itself, but he has made us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness because now we have experienced the way out and can help others find the Light. 

It’s a dark, dark world. Let’s be brighter. 

PRAYER: Jesus, all glory to you for descending into the darkness, experiencing it, for your victory over it, so that you could lead us into your kingdom of Light and Life. May we never take the Light for granted! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/01/18 – The Sin of Silence

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DayBreaks for 6/01/18: The Sin of Silence

If someone were to ask you what you think the greatest sin is that is described in the Bible, what would you choose? Some might choose David’s counting of the people of Israel that led to many deaths. Others might be tempted to think of the sin in the garden that had such massive repercussions for all of mankind. Still others might point to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus as the worst sin ever.

I ran across this and thought it was provocative and thought provoking: could the greatest sin be when Jesus asked those who were trying to trap him a simple question – “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” and those he asked stood silent in response. The sin wasn’t in the question, but perhaps the greatest sin was in their silence in response to the question.

To stand silent when the power to heal is within reach; that is sin. They knew Jesus could heal as that was indisputable, that wasn’t the issue. The question was whether he would heal on the Sabbath!  They stayed silent when all they had to do and should have done was say, “Please, Jesus, heal the poor man!”

In like manner, one could argue that our communities have the ability to empty our jails of crime, our shelters of the abused, our rest homes of the lonely and our streets of hopelessness.  Our world could beat hunger, fight AIDS, educate its masses and so much more; but we lack the commitment. Perhaps, we should say; we lack the committed!  Too many are silent (including me!), too many are critics. We need to pray for laborers in the harvest. We need to pick up a scythe. We need to address the question and not be silent.

PRAYER: Lord, do not let silence be my sin.  Let us be a voice for the silent and advocates of the disenfranchised. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/23/18 – Defining Ourselves

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DayBreaks for 5/23/18: Defining Ourselves

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Just who, by the way, do you think you are?  I mean, who ARE you?  I know some of you by name, some only by email addresses, and some of you are close personal friends.  But if someone were to come up to you this day and inquire of you, “Who are you?”, how would you define yourself?  And how would others that you know define themselves?

There are those, atheists and agnostics and some of the intellectual elite who might resort to biological classification to answer the question: “I am a homo sapiens.”  They wouldn’t be wrong.  Others, who might be a bit more technical and who find that giving the obvious answer is too boring, might say something like this: “I am a featherless biped,” i.e., a two-footed walking creature that walks upright without feathers.  When you think about it, that’s not inaccurate either.  Off hand, I can’t think of any other two-footed creature that always walks upright other than humans and birds.  So, that’s a valid definition, but decidedly less than exciting. 

Christians have a different perspective, hopefully.  If someone asked you who you are, I’d hope that you’d say something about being made in God’s image.  You might delve into what that means and the implications of it, and that would be good.

It seems, however, that when it comes for us to respond to what God calls us to be and do, that we tend to define ourselves at the lowest possible level – we define ourselves minimally as “featherless bipeds,” and we’re content to live with that rather that to be maximally defined as being constructed in the image of God and living in that reality. 

What difference does it make how we define ourselves?  If we are featherless bipeds, and if that is all we really are, then it really doesn’t make much difference how we define ourselves.  But if we are maximally defined, then God certainly expects something more from us than He does from a sparrow or starling. 

To be made in His image means we have great obligations, great opportunities – and great possibilities.  The question is whether or not we will live up to them!

PRAYER:  Help us understand, Father, the great privilege and honor You have placed upon our shoulders.  Help us to also realize that it is You who gives our lives definition – and not we ourselves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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