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

See the source image

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 10/06/20 – Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross

See the source image

Matthew 27:35-36 (NLT2) – After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.

The day started like any other for the Roman soldiers. Another day, another execution. So they went to the hill called Calvary, nailed the offender to the cross and then got down to the serious business of gambling – right at the foot of the cross.

There were items to be divvied up – a cloak, an inner garment and some sandals to be sure. So they bet on who would get what and a few walked away with the spoils from the Nazarene.

Have you thought about how that scene must have looked to Jesus as he looked down at them? It must have been mind-blowing! Here they were, mere feet away from the most important and earthshattering event ever – and they were oblivious to the simple fact that it was God on the tree. At least they all seem to have been oblivious except one who eventually started paying attention and made his own startling declaration about who they were killing.

Oh, it’s so easy to be shocked by their behavior and games they were playing at the foot of the cross! But let’s not miss this: we aren’t that different than those soldiers – even those of us who bear the name of the Crucified One!

Consider: churches fight over a finite population of potential members. We dole out condemnation and judgments. We are seeking our own personal gain (a sandal here, a cloak there) to get ahead, get something for free.

We hold rallies celebrating how righteous my cause is and how unrighteous you are if you differ from my views. We write books about what other believers are doing wrong. We major in telling tales about the “others” and take joy in unveiling weaknesses – not for the purpose of restoration – but to take them down! We argue over points of “doctrine”, about other denominations and whether or not they are “of the Lord”.

And Jesus must look down at us in stunned disbelief.

As Max Lucado put it: “We, too, play games at the foot of the cross…So close to the timber yet so far from the blood…we are so close to the world’s most uncommon event but we act like common crapshooters huddled in bickering groups and fighting over silly opinions.

“May they all be one,” Jesus prayed.

“One, not one in groups of two thousand. But one in One. One church. One faith. One Lord. Not Baptist, not Methodist, not Adventist. Just Christians. No denominations. No hierarchies. No traditions. Just Christ.”

What can we do to stop playing games at the foot of the cross? Build bridges, toss a rope to someone struggling to keep their head above the swelling tide, pray for unity. Choose to “be the soldier who snaps to his senses, jumps to his feet, and reminds the rest of us, ‘Hey, that’s God on that cross!”

There are far too many games being played at the foot of the cross. Let’s refuse to play those petty games any more!

PRAYER: Jesus, take mercy on us! Turn us from game playing to Kingdom building! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

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

See the source image

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 9/28/20 – Seasoned With Salt

See the source image

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:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:5-6

The way we say things, especially when it comes to acting as ambassadors (ones sent on a mission) for God, can be crucial.  Consider this story about a woman who worked in an ophthalmology practice that specialized in LASIK eye surgery: “I am expected to comfort nervous patients.  But prior to one operation, the patient was so frightened that she was actually shaking.  Nothing I said seemed to calm her.  So, after the doctor finished operating on her left eye, and before he began on the right, I wanted her to know the surgery was going well.

“There,” I said, patting her hand reassuringly, “Now you only have one eye left!”

Oops!  When I worked in the high-tech world, we had our own language that we understood when we talked about computers and techonolgy: RAM, RGU, CCU, SDRAM, I/O, megahertz, etc.  We knew what we were talking about and could understand each other perfectly well. 

As Christians, we have our own language, too, and I fear we sometimes fail to connect with those who are not yet believers due to how we talk – and/or how we act.  For example, in the recent couple of weeks, much was made of the pastor in Florida who planned a Koran burning at his church.  His actions and plans drew the attention of people around the world – even the President weighed in on the matter.  The pastor had a right, as an American, to say what he wanted to say – it is a freedom of speech issue.  But was it wise to say and act as he did (or as it turns out, as he planned to)?  What got more press: that one man’s actions, or the actions of thousands of pastors around the country and world who stood up and spoke the Word of God faithfully last Sunday?  That which sensationalizes may get press – but it seldom, if ever, saves.  We can never change the message – but the message can, and should, change us.

Perhaps you’ve been trying for a long time to talk with someone about Jesus – with little or no success.  While that may be due to a variety of factors, it may be a problem with your words.  Try a different approach…and above all, make sure that your life is living up to what your mouth is saying. 

PRAYER: Jesus, fill our hearts with Your Spirit and our mouths with Your words of grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/17/20 – I Knew Who They Were

See the source image

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:

Barbara Brown Taylor, in Christian Century, created a word picture of Jesus at a feast.  Sometimes we have a hard time identifying with Biblical stories because they occurred in a time and place that is quite remote and distant to us.  The cultures were different, customs were different.  And it makes it hard for us to really grasp the dynamics of what was taking place.  So, I appreciated this prose picture that forced me to see the story of Jesus at this feast in a new and more modern light:

“So if I were putting together a sinners table at the Huddle House, it might include an abortion doctor, a child molester, an arms dealer, a garbage collector, a young man with AIDS, a Laotian chicken plucker, a teenage crack addict, and an unmarried woman on welfare with five children by three different fathers. Did I miss anyone? Don’t forget to put Jesus at the head of the table, asking the young man to hand him a roll, please, and offering the doctor a second cup of coffee before she goes back to work.

“If that offends you even a little, then you are almost ready for what happens next. Because what happens next is that the local ministerial association comes into the restaurant and sits down at a large table across from the sinners. The religious authorities all have good teeth and there is no dirt under their fingernails. When their food comes, they hold hands to pray. They are all perfectly nice people, but they can hardly eat their hamburger steaks for staring at the strange crowd in the far booth.

“The chicken plucker is still wearing her white hair net, and the garbage collector smells like spoiled meat. The addict cannot seem to find his mouth with his spoon. But none of those is the heartbreaker. The heartbreaker is Jesus, sitting there as if everything were just fine. Doesn’t he know what kind of message he is sending? Who is going to believe he speaks for God if he does not keep better company than that? I saw them eating and I knew who they were.”

Galen’s Thoughts: the people at that table were you and I.  We are all like those who sat at the table with Jesus.  And like them, we need His mercy and grace just as much, if not more.  I can’t help but wonder at which table we would have chosen to sit – with Jesus and the outcasts, or with the local ministerial association across the room.

PRAYER: Help your word to come alive to us today so we can see ourselves in every page and learn what it is that you want us to become!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/16/20 – I Am a Christian

See the source image

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:

In 1988, the poet Carol Wimmer became concerned about the self-righteous, judgmental spirit she was seeing in some people because she felt strongly that being judgmental is a perversion of the Christian faith.  So, she wrote a poem called “When I say I am a Christian” and here it is:

“When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not shouting, ‘I’ve been saved!’ I’m whispering, ‘I get lost!’ That’s why I chose this way.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t speak with human pride. I’m confessing that I stumble – needing God to be my guide.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t think I know it all. I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught.

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I’m worth it.

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name.

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I do not wish to judge. I have no authority – I only know I’m loved.” 

This is a rather stark contrast to the statement that many make, “I’m a Christian!” in response to something that they have observed that disgusted them, or to an invitation to do something that they should not.  It makes the three words sound like a boast – a judgment – that “If you were a Christian you wouldn’t do such things!”  It is sad, that of all the people who should be the most humble in the world, Christians are frequently proud rather than abased.  Shouldn’t knowing that I’m wretched and sinful that Christ had to die for ME make me humble, not proud?

PRAYER: Lord, I am a Christian because I believe in Your Son and I am so desperately needy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/27/20 – 2020: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

See the source image

This will be a strange DayBreaks. I may be castigated by some for what I write today but please know that I mean no offense to anyone and I truly hurt for those who have been impacted by COVID-19, hurricanes, derechos, tornados, fires and the like. I would never minimize the pain and heartache involved in those events.

Today I attended a webinar about how the church around the world has responded to the pandemic. It was inspiring! Someone mentioned this verse from Luke 4:18-19 and Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As I listened, speaker after speaker (these were leaders of some of the largest faith-based organizations in the world such as World Vision, IJM, Compassion International, Young Life and the like) talked about how the church globally was heroically responding to the pandemic, it struck me that rather than this being a year of terrible calamity and loss that we could see it as the year the Lord’s favor has been poured out globally. Hard is always hard, but it’s not always bad.

Strange, you say? Yes, I suppose in a way it is. But they told of incredible things the church is doing, of hugely increased interest in spiritual things globally, about people witnessing the love of Christ at work to help them and care for the sick and dying. They spoke of how God has had to push the church into new wineskin types of thinking to see and seize new opportunities on how to share the gospel with the world that make more people reachable with the Good News and love of Christ than ever before.

Someone relayed this Chinese proverb: “Not all storms come to disrupt out lives. Some stores come to clear our paths.” God is constantly trying to channel the church (that’s us, folks!) into his purposes and he’ll move heaven and earth to do it.

What might God be asking you to do in this crisis? How might you need to change your thinking to see increased opportunities around you?

Instead of being consumed with thinking of it as a disastrous year, we may need to change our thinking to see it as the year of the Lord’s favor when humanity is drawn to him through these extraordinary events. Although he cares about all aspects of our lives, his ultimate goal is to see heaven populated with people from every tribe, tongue and nation.

PRAYER: Lord, your ways are not ours. Your thoughts are not ours. Your purposes are beyond our comprehension. We feel somewhat adrift in this maelstrom but help us see your hand in the storm as you open doors of opportunity for your church and us as individuals to serve the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/21/20 – Dancing in the Desert

See the source image

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2010:

Don’t you just love being discontent?  Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  I’ll bet you got up this morning thinking to yourself, “Boy, I sure hope I am discontent today!”  What?  You didn’t think that?  I’m shocked and appalled!!!!

We don’t like to be discontent, do we?  And in American culture, our society seems to look upon discontentment as a mortal sin.  Our culture is built upon a consumer model that suggests that you are discontent because you don’t have this or that – the latest iPhone, iPad, newest car or fanciest Bluetooth device hanging from your ear.  Maybe you’ve grown discontent with your spouse and are thinking of trading them in for a new, flashier, more exciting model.  Advertising is designed to play off of our discontentment and feeds our “wanter” – that part of us that thinks we’d be content and happy “if only…” 

Let me suggest that discontentment isn’t the monster that it’s cracked up to be.  In fact, it can be good: in her book, Dancing in the Desert, Marsha Crockett writes, “Sometimes discontentment is a good sign. It acknowledges our incompleteness, our yearning for fulfillment in the emptiness of our souls.”

Is it possible that your discontentment is being used by God to pull you towards the only One who can give true contentment in the deepest part of your soul?  You already really know that getting more stuff won’t lead to contentment, don’t you?  Certainly not contentment that will last. 

God offers us contentment, but of a different kind that the world offers.  2 Peter 1:4 reminds us that Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  God offers us promises – ones that can never be broken, by the way – in order that we can share in the Divine nature and get away from the decay in the world that evil desires and discontentment bring about. 

Consider whatever discontentment you currently struggle with to see how God might be using it to pull you towards Him and away from potential disaster!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let us be content in You and You only!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/13/20 – And They All Came Tumbling Down

See the source image

Remember that old nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, the old egg who sat on a wall and fell off, but who couldn’t be put back together again in spite of the best efforts of “all the king’s men and all the king’s horses”?  Or the old children’s Christian song about the foolish man who built his house on the sand and how the walls “all came tumbling down”?  There are great lessons to be learned from such simple stories and rhymes.

Edward Gibbon, the author of the seminal work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, examined and studied the decline and fall of the mighty Roman Empire.  At the conclusion of his research, he attributed the fall of mighty Rome to five key things:

1. The rapid increase of divorce; the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.

2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public monies for free bread and circuses (giveaways) for the populace that led to laziness and complacency.

3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.

4. The building of gigantic armaments and armies to protect themselves from outsiders when the real enemy was within, the decadence of the people.

5. The decay of religion–faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds awfully familiar to me.  But instead of focusing on the nation, we need to focus on ourselves first, for if God’s people are not different from the world when it comes to the five things Gibbon discovered, will not our own personal lives all come tumbling down, too?  Statistics say that those who identify themselves a born-again believers are not different that the world in most of these things: our attitude towards family and sexual mores, wanting handouts instead of being willing to earn things by the sweat of our brow, the pursuit of pleasure and comfort while others are starving and in torment, erecting all sorts of mechanisms to protect us from others who can hurt us but turning a blind eye to the disease that is within our own flesh and spirit, a faith that has become watered-down, ritualistic and that has lost meaning and power to make us different from the world around us. 

I fear that the diseases that led to the fall of Rome will lead eventually to the fall of America, but before that happens, we need to look hard at the church (that’s His disciples – we ourselves – not buildings!) and see if we aren’t already crumbling from within for all these reasons.  If you look at your life and feel that you’re doing just fine, you may be.  But someone once said that the greatest sin is to have no sense of sin.  We can all be guilt of that far too easily.

“Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.”

PRAYER: Father, turn Your Spirit loose to search each corner of our hearts and reveal to us the corruption that is within us as individuals, as Your church, and as a nation that You brought to power to do good in this world.  Let us repent with bitter tears and return to You in all humility and trust.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/9/20 – The Forgetfulness of God

See the source image

DayBreaks for 7/09/20: The Forgetfulness of God

The story of the creation and fall of man in the garden is ancient history. It is intriguing in so many ways. But even as it is ancient history, it is as new as this day’s sunrise.

There is no secret in Scripture that Satan and God are at odds with one another and they work for different goals. Yet, it is intriguing in the temptation narrative from the garden how Satan seeks to manipulate the situation.

He starts by asking what appears to be a very simple, harmless question: Did God really say…? That question alone is fascinating, but the name Satan uses for God is even more intriguing. Satan doesn’t use the word Yahweh-Elohim (the Lord God) as God is described in Genesis 2, but simply uses the term Elohim (God). What’s the big deal? Satan is removing the relational Yahweh from his language. The implication Satan is making is that there’s a distancing, that God is not a Supreme Being that one can know and engage in a relationship, but a theoretical idea to ponder. Deitrich Bonhoeffer noted this when he said, “Satan does not…fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God.”

It is only after planting a seed of doubt about God at all to challenging and contradicting what God said about pending punishment should they disobey.

And the very first thing they learn after seeking to be like God is that they are in fact exceedingly vulnerable. There was no sense of being empowered to a greater position or of being enlightened other than to their miniscule-ness. They are ashamed and try to hide.

Satan is a smart cookie. He’s no fool and no one should play him as a fool. He’s certainly not on an equal footing with God, but he’s no idiot. And rather than seeking to get us to hate God, he’s quite content with getting us to forget God. Once we forget God and his omniscience, we are freed from boundaries (or so we believe) because the thought of a watchful God has vanished from our minds, giving us permission to do in secret things we’d never do in the light.

The secret, I suspect, to living a Godly life has more to do with mindfulness of God than any sort of human willpower and determination to “do good”. 

How is Satan seeking to make you forget God? What will you do to see to it that you remember Him more often?

PRAYER: Father, we are so prone to Satan’s sneakiness and we so quickly forget you, even as Israel did of old. We beg you to fill us with awareness of your presence and existence and watchfulness so that we can never forget you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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