DayBreaks for 3/20/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #1 – The Shepherd in the Dark

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DayBreaks for 3/20/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #1 – The Shepherd in the Dark

We are in uncharted territory as a nation and world…at least uncharted as far as those of us who are alive today are concerned. The world has seen pandemics in the past but we’ve not seen it in our times. Many, even Christians, are fearful and greatly concerned. In recognition of that, my son Tim Dalrymple at Christianity Today, is starting to publish a daily devotion to help us navigate this journey. 

Starting today, I’ll be republishing them (a portion each day) with a link to that days’ full post on Christianity Today’s Facebook page. I feel confident you’ll be blessed.

From Christianity Today, The Hallway Through The Sea: The Shepherd in the Dark, 3/19/20:

Editor’s note: We confront a public health challenge unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes. Yet we believe there is beauty even in times of trial. Beginning today and each weekday hereafter, for however long, CT will publish a meditation from our president and CEO. We will pair it with a work of art or music to inspire and bring beauty through the darkness of this season.

Today we pair the meditation below with Verses by Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott. Also see this dance choreographed by Robert Bandara to the same piece. (Song embedded below.)

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

Day 1. 211,853 confirmed cases and 8,724 deaths.

Onward it comes. The world slows to a still. We hold our breath. We listen. We watch. And the affliction stretches swiftly across the land like a darkening tide.

We feel, again, the long fingers of fear scratching at our lungs. Fear of loss. Fear of death. Fear of the chaos held at the gate.

We are lost in a trackless forest of information. We grasp for the apple of knowledge in the hope it will bring us peace, and yet fear lies coiled liked a worm within the apple. We consume the apple; the worm consumes us. The food we hoped would satisfy only makes our hunger more painful. No amount of knowledge will take our fear away.

To be human is to stand suspended over a chasm. To be human is to be vulnerable.

But when have we ever not been vulnerable? We have never been more than one week, one day, or even one moment away from losing the things we love in this world.

O Lord, we have always been in your hands. At your mercy. Why should that frighten us now?

The shadow of death is an old enemy and a wise friend. Memento mori, it whispers. Remember your days are numbered. Remember your days have always been numbered since before the first day dawned. Remember each day is a gift. And remember you have never been anything other than wholly and frightfully and wonderfully dependent on your God.

To read the rest of the article, click this link:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/covid-19-devotional-shepherd-dark-coronavirus-pandemic.html?fbclid=IwAR1BOMR_kHCzI1u8d89bFQI8epYDeDrf96QnLrbDlRasdcvWlKuOZ7rXfJk

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine/

PRAYER: Lord, you hold the whole world in your hands. Remind us often that there’s no better place for us to be than in your care!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/11/20 – A Lesson From COVID-19

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DayBreaks for 3/11/20: A Lesson from COVID-19

COVID-19 (referred to simply as coronavirus by the media) is all over the news…and virtually all over the world and spreading. While it could be much more deadly than it has been, it is still a very serious issue especially for the elderly with underlying medical issues. It seems the world is learning as it goes on this.

As I was thinking about COVID-19, I was impressed yet again with several things:

  1. How precarious life is – we read stories about disasters, about meteors that pass by the earth rather than colliding with it, about war and injustice. All these things can serve as reminders to us that our reunion with you could be just around to corner for any of us and we need to be ready to take that journey at any time;
  2. How dangerous things can be that you can’t even see with your eyes – the coronavirus is tiny – as are all viruses – and yet it has caused the death of hundreds, made over 100 thousand sick, disrupted businesses and economic systems in ways that nothing has during my life. While we may fear the hulking menace in the dark of the night – fearing we may awaken some night with them presence in our rooms – we need to understand that not all dangerous things are big.

All this caused me to think that sin is much like coronavirus. You can’t see the seed of it in the human heart, but it’s there and just waiting to break out. The things that could make us sick or us spiritually don’t usually present themselves as huge or life-shattering decisions. They start small and are maybe not even recognized in the beginning, but once the infection gets into our hearts and minds it begins to multiply – and it can be deadly. Small, seemingly innocent interactions can lead to serious issues!

Psalm 51:10 (ESV) – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us be aware of how insidious Satan and sin can be so we don’t fall into his snare. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/20 – That Real Love Requires

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DayBreaks for 3/6/20: What Real Love Requires

“‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk. 12:31)

That verse from Mark’s gospel is not Jesus expressing a desire, a preference or a wish for us, but it is a command.

Have you ever really thought about the why  behind the giving of this command? I don’t mean “Why does Jesus want us to love one another?” as the answer to that should be blatantly obvious. I mean, why did Jesus feel the need to command us to love our neighbor?

I could be wrong, but here’s my thinking: true love requires a command because otherwise we probably wouldn’t do it. That may sound strange because we might think that love is something that just “happens” to you on a starry summer night when you meet that certain someone and – boom! – you’re hooked and in love and will live in love happily ever after.

Anyone who has had any experience at all with love will tell you that’s a load of bunk. If it were only that easy and permanent! Look around – divorce and broken families abound – because love just ISN’T that easy nor permanent. Neighbors don’t love one another. Love is hard…and when the going gets hard it is a fact that too often the person we thought we’d love forever and who’d love us forever gets “going” to..right out the door.

Our culture has created a fantasized caricature of love that you see on the movie screens, read in the trash novels and on TV. It’s all glorious, glamorous, wonderful and passionate – until it no longer is and then it’s time to find a new person to love.

But that’s not God’s way. God wants us to grow in love, not surrender it when it no longer feels romantic. Thus the command that we are to love our neighbor as ourself. Would you abandon yourself? No. Like it or not, we’re stuck with ourselves. We need the command of God to remind us that our love is to stick it out through thick and thin and not look for reasons to stop loving.

PRAYER: Lord, deliver us from foolish romanticized notions of what it takes for love to last and let us learn to obey your command to always love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/21/20 – The Other Side, Part 2

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DayBreaks for 2/21/20: The Other Side – Part 2

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In Mark 6, Jesus feeds the 5000 on the western, Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.  They are in a remote place – no Burger King’s or McDonald’s in sight.  Not even stores with enough food to feed such a crowd are within miles and miles.  But the people don’t seem to mind – they’re listening to Jesus preach.  And he preaches all day.  At the end of the day, the disciples are moved with compassion on their Jewish friends and neighbors and they approach Jesus with the problem: what are we going to feed them?  Jesus, as you know, miraculously solves the problem.

Switch to Mark 8 and Jesus is back on “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee again – in pagan territory.  The last time he and his disciples had landed here, they had a welcoming committee of one: Legion.  But now it seems that the Man Formerly Known As Legion has been busy telling his story and a great crowd has gathered to welcome Jesus – to hear him and have their infirmities healed.  Jesus doesn’t disappoint them on either score.  He heals many, and he preaches.  And preach he does!  Day one and at the end of the day the crowd is still there – and the disciples say nothing.  Day two comes and goes and still the disciples have said nothing about the fact the crowd hasn’t been fed.  Day three is all that Jesus can bear – and at the end of the day, he tells the disciples (apparently seeing that they weren’t going to say or do anything about the crowd’s hunger) that he has compassion on them and wants them to feed the crowd. 

Do you see what happened here?  The disciples had plenty of compassion on those who were like them – on those who shared their religious and political positions, but not on the people from “the other side.”  Jesus, however, after watching his disciples fail this compassion test, shows them that he has compassion and that something must be done.  He’s setting the example for them for their eventual mission to the world – to take the gospel everywhere to every tribe, and people and language. 

But it moves me to wonder: who am I so prejudiced against that I don’t even feel compassion for them?  Who is the church so dead set against that we can’t be moved with mercy towards them?  Are we so judgmental that we condemn those with open, bleeding sores and diseases because we think they brought their problems on themselves with their wicked decisions?  Are we so blind that we can’t see this message in the contrasts of the feeding of the Jewish 5000 and the pagan 4000?  In the first case, 12 baskets of food were left over – the same number as the tribes of Israel.  Jesus was saying, “I’ve not forgotten my people.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.”  When he was done feeding the 4000, there were 7 baskets of food left over.  This wasn’t a co-incidence – it wasn’t 7 instead of 12 because Jesus had realized he’d overdone it the first time.  There were 7 baskets because there were 7 nation groups that lived in the Decapolis, in “the other side”…the very same nations that God had driven out of Palestine when Joshua took the land (Joshua 3:10; Acts 13:19).  What was Jesus saying with the leftover 7 baskets?  “I’ve not forgotten that these are my people, too.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.” 

On the cross, Jesus tore down all that separated “our side” from “the other side.”  They all now belong to Jesus, and it is time we started treating those on the “other side” as Jesus treated them!

PRAYER: Be merciful to us, Lord, and fill us with the heart of compassion that beat within your breast for all of mankind.  Forgive us our prejudices and our sinful tendency to think of our side and “our kind” as better than others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/11/20 – A Marionette’s Awakening

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DayBreaks for 2/11/20: A Marionette’s Awakening

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In William Steig’s Yellow & Pink, a delightfully whimsical picture book for children, two wooden figures wake up to find themselves lying on an old newspaper in the hot sun. One figure is painted yellow, the other pink.

Suddenly, Yellow sits up and asks, “Do you know what we’re doing here?”

So begins a debate between the two marionettes over the origin of their existence.

Pink surveys their well-formed features and concludes, “Someone must have made us.”

Yellow disagrees. “I say we’re an accident,” and he outlines a hypothetical scenario of how it might have happened. A branch might have broken off a tree and fallen on a sharp rock, splitting one end of the branch into two legs. Then the wind might have sent it tumbling down a hill until it was chipped and shaped. Perhaps a flash of lightning struck in such a way as to splinter the wood into arms and fingers. Eyes might have been formed by woodpeckers boring in the wood.

“With enough time. A thousand, a million, maybe two and a half million years, lots of unusual things could happen,” says Yellow. “Why not us?”

The two figures argue back and forth.

In the end, the discussion is cut off by the appearance of a man coming out of a nearby house. He strolls over to the marionettes, picks them up, and checks their paint. “Nice and dry,” he comments, and tucking them under his arm, he heads back toward the house.

Peering out from under the man’s arm, Yellow whispers in Pink’s ear, “Who is this guy?”

This story is just like the discussion that goes on in scientific, academic and sadly, even some religious circles.  There are those who have a mind like the yellow wooden marionette – it refuses the obvious evidence in favor of something far less delightful and threatening than an all-powerful God to whom one must give an answer. 

At the same time, the pink marionette holds that they must have been made by someone.  But when the someone shows up, the pink marionette doesn’t recognize its creator. 

I can only hope that for all our blather and verbosity, that we won’t just talk about our Creator, but that we’ll recognize Him when He shows up!

…for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:11-12

PRAYER: Help us be prepare for Your arrival, Lord!  May we know You when we see You and hear Your voice.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/04/20 – Cod Liver Oil Evangelism

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DayBreaks for 2/04/20: Cod Liver Oil Evangelism

Jesus came preaching that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What was there about that kingdom that got the fishermen and tax collector so excited that they left their livelihoods and even families behind to follow him? Maybe a more telling question is why are we not just as excited? Maybe we don’t understand what the kingdom is. Or maybe it just hasn’t been presented very well.  Maybe both.

There is a story of a woman who read somewhere that dogs were healthier if fed a tablespoon of cod liver oil each day. So each day she followed the same routine. She chased her dog until she caught it, wrestled it down, and managed to force the fishy remedy down the dog’s throat.

Until one day when, in the middle of this grueling medical effort, the bottle was kicked over. With a sigh, she loosed her grip on the dog so she could wipe up the mess. To her surprise the dog trotted over to the puddle and begin lapping up what had been spilled. THE DOG LOVED COD LIVER OIL. It was just the owner’s method of application the dog objected to.

Sometimes I think something like that has happened to the good news of the Kingdom of God. We present it so poorly that others are not captured by its attractiveness and its power. We have the most beautiful, wonderful story to tell the world. We don’t have to feel obligated to make people into Christians. The story, rightly told, has the power to do that through the Spirit. If even cod liver oil can be enjoyed, how much more the great news of God’s love for mankind! If we tell the story and no one responds, the problem isn’t with the story but in how it’s being told.

PRAYER: Let us tell the story in a way that is as beautiful and winsome as the story itself, Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/03/20 – The Deadliest War

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DayBreaks for 2/03/20: The Deadliest War

It has been said that the deadliest war is the one that most of us never realize is being fought. Why? Because by the time we wake up and realize what is happening the war is over and it has been lost.

My guess is that not one single person who reads this has ever crafted an image of wood, metal or some other material and then bowed down to worship it. We wouldn’t think of doing such a thing. But as Os Guinness said, “Idolatry is huge in the Bible, dominant in our personal lives, and irrelevant in our mistaken estimations.” In other words – we read about it, it dominates our lives and we think it is irrelevant to us.

Kyle Idleman wrote in Gods at War, “Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethrones, and the Lord God takes his rightful place, you will not have victory.

“Idolatry isn’t an issue; it’s the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods.”

Let’s explore this issue more in future DayBreaks, but for today, let me pose this single question: What is your greatest temptation that causes you to sin most often and what god are you serving when you give in to it?

PRAYER: God, open our eyes to the truth about idolatry in our own lives and help us destroy those idols so you have your rightful place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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