DayBreaks for 8/01/18 – The Hope of a New Beginning

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The Raising of Lazarus, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

DayBreaks for 8/01/18: The Hope of a New Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

“Yellow is not my favorite color. But now that I know the story of Vincent van Gogh, I have come to value yellow differently. This famous Dutch painter, sadly, tossed away the truth imparted him in his Christian home and sank into depression and destruction. By the grace of God, as he later began to embrace the truth again, his life took on hope, and he gave that hope color.

“The best-kept secret of van Gogh’s life is that the truth he was discovering is seen in the gradual increase of the presence of the color yellow in his paintings. Yellow evoked (for him) the hope and warmth of the truth of God’s love. In one of his depressive periods, seen in his famous The Starry Night, one finds a yellow sun and yellow swirling stars, because van Gogh thought truth was present only in nature. Tragically, the church, which stands tall in this painting and should be the house of truth, is about the only item in the painting showing no traces of yellow. But by the time he painted The Raising of Lazarus, his life was on the mend as he began to face the truth about himself. The entire picture is (blindingly) bathed in yellow. In fact, van Gogh put his own face on Lazarus to express his own hope in the Resurrection.

“Yellow tells the whole story: life can begin all over again because of the truth of God’s love. Each of us, whether with actual yellows or metaphorical yellows, can begin to paint our lives with the fresh hope of a new beginning.” – Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed, Paraclete Press, 2004

Galen’s Thoughts: One of my very favorite verses in Scripture is in Revelation, where Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.”  We like “new”, don’t we?  Whether we’re talking about a car, a new recipe, a new friend, a new home.  We like new things.  In the English the word “new” is deceptive.  The Greeks had 2 different words for new: chronos (new in time) and kairos (new in kind).  In the Revelation passage, Jesus uses “kairos”, as if he’s saying, “I will be making everything new – like nothing you’ve seen before.”  Jesus gives us new beginnings – a beginning like we’ve never had, one with a different outcome than our first “beginning.”  

When will it happen and we obtain the new beginning?  At two different times, actually.  We receive some of it now when we accept Christ, but we receive it in full when the “new world” that Jesus makes come to pass.  It’s when Matthew 25:34 (NIV) becomes a reality: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Don’t miss that last phrase: “…the kingdom PREPARED FOR YOU since the creation of the world.”  God’s kingdom is to be our kingdom…it has been prepared for us.  We normally think of the kingdom as being God’s…but as His children, we inherit all things along with Christ. 

Are you ready for the new kingdom?  Are you ready for a new beginning, as Van Gogh found?  Paint your world with hope and joy, for the kingdom awaits you!

Luke 12:31-32 (NLT) – He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.’”

PRAYER:  How can we get our minds around what You have done for us?  That You should choose to give us the kingdom that rightly belongs to You is incomprehensible.  Thank you for new beginnings, for new worlds and new heavens in which righteousness, and we, will dwell!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/31/18 – Living an Accidental Life

DayBreaks for 7/31/18: Living an Accidental Life

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

From one day to the next, we form plans only to find that the day seldom goes as we’d planned.  Some things that we set out to do actually get done more or less as we’d planned them, but if your day is like mine, there are more unplanned things that happen in my life every day than I could ever anticipate.  There are interruptions that are totally unexpected – phone calls, drop-in visits, unforeseen actions by others that totally change the trajectory of my day.  It will happen to you today – bet on it.

There are many who live life this way on purpose, I believe – whose lives seem to careen from one accident to another.  And, if you buy the current thinking, I suppose it makes perfect sense.  As Neil Postman said about the scientific view of life and origins, in Science and the Story That We Need to Tell: “In the end, science does not provide the answers most of us require.  Its story of our origins and our end is, to say the least, unsatisfactory.  To the question, ‘How did it all begin’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’  To the question, ‘How will it all end?’, science answers ‘Probably by an accident.’  And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living.”

Are you content thinking that your existence here on earth is purely accidental?  That when this world is all done with, that it will have all been an accident?  That your children happen to be yours by accident?  That whatever you achieve in life isn’t really an accomplishment, but an accident?  Where is there any hope or meaning in living an accidental life?

God has a much different view.  We are not accidents – God knew us before we were born.  The universe is not an accident, your mind is not an accident, your family and children are not accidents. 

Yes, we make our plans, and our days are full of what seem to be accidental encounters and events.  We can believe that if we choose.  But I, for one, cannot find any meaning in that, nor comfort.  I choose not to life an accidental life – or at the very least, to believe that my life – and yours, are not accidents, but rather generated in the thoughts and purposes of God.

PRAYER:  With each person that we meet and each event that crosses our pathway, may we seek Your purpose and wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/29/18 – Three Reasons

 

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DayBreaks for 6/29/18: Three Reasons

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

When was the last time that someone did something that made you feel unimportant?  Chances are that it was fairly recently. It may have been the way you were treated by a co-worker or a boss.  It may have been the fact that your spouse didn’t greet you warmly when you got home last night.  It might even be that your dog wouldn’t even give you a warm sendoff as you went out the door this morning!  (You know it’s getting bad when your dog shines you on!)  Some were raised by parents who made them feel worthless – like human trash.

It is easy to get down on ourselves.  We grew up in a school system where our mistakes were pointed out.  Have you ever noticed how it is the errors on the page that are marked and counted instead of the right answers?  We might feel better about ourselves if the positive things we did were highlighted instead of the mistakes we made!

I ran across a quote from Lorne Sanny, the long-time head of the Navigators that I think is worth sharing.  It has a very biblical answer to the question of why we are important and valued by God.  Here it is:

“I can give you three reasons why you are important to God:

First, simply because of who you are;

Second, because of what you cost, and;

Third, because of what you can become.”

Who are we?  We are the pinnacle of God’s creation  –  made in His very image.  It was only after God made man on the sixth day of creation that He was moved to declare that what He’d done was VERY good (Gen. 1:31).  Everything else that He’d made up to then only rated “It is good.”  Mankind, however, was something else!  Psalm 8:5-6 says we were made only slightly lower than the angels, we’re crowned with glory and honor and we are charged as rulers over the works of His hands!

What did we cost?  You know the answer to that one already.  We were purchased not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the blood of the Son of God (1 Peter 1.18-19).  In this age of multi-billion dollar mega-mergers and huge corporate buyouts we are somewhat dulled to the scope of the finances involved.  Yet not one corporate CEO or president has yet bought out their enemies by literally bleeding to death for them.  Why?  The cost is too great.

What can you become?  You can become like a bright star in God’s heavenly galaxy (Phil. 2:5); a partaker in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); a pillar in God’s temple (Rev. 3:12); like a tree besides fresh waters (Ps. 1:3); and certainly not least, His son or daughter (Rev. 21:7).

Never let anyone tell you that you are not important or valuable.  God begs to differ!

PRAYER:  We often feel so small and insignificant in this vast universe that was created by Your hands.  When we feel useless and insignificant, help us to remember that truth that You find us precious and that we are important in Your eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/4/18 – Fifty-Two Miles

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DayBreaks for 6/04/18: Fifty-Two Miles

It was 1970. Exciting times for a high school senior. Many wonderful and amazing things were going on in the world at that time that still are very, very clear in my memory.  One of them has even been immortalized in a movie, Apollo 13

On April 11, 1970, a crew of three men, James Lovell (who at the time had spent more time than any other American in space), Jimmy Swigert, and Fred Haise, were hurtled into space on a moon landing mission – the third landing mission in the Apollo series of moon shots.  James Lovell had been to the moon before on an earlier Apollo shot, but during that mission they just circled and tested equipment and procedures that would be used for the actual moon landings that were part of the Apollo program.  But this time it was different: Lovell and Haise were to walk on the moon while Swigert, the command module pilot, orbited overhead. 

You know the story.  One problem after another happened in rapid fire sequence, and through an incredible sequence of heroic events (and God’s intervention, I believe), the three men made it back to the earth safely and were returned to their loved ones.  But they didn’t get to land on the moon because of the problems.  

The movie, Apollo 13, movie was made about it and you’ve probably seen it.  At one point, as they whip around the moon and use its gravity to help sling-shot the nearly powerless ship back towards earth, they are poignantly looking out the window and see the moon’s surface a scant 52 miles below them, identifying features on the surface and even seeing their planned landing site as it moved past them.  In terms of the percentage of distance travelled, those 52 miles represented just over 2 ten-thousandths of the distance travelled.  In other words, they’d gotten 99.999702 percent of the way there. 

As I watched the movie again just last week, I was struck by how melancholy that moment was.  This was to be Lovell’s last mission – and he had a burning desire to walk on the moon.  Now, it was over – “we’ve just lost the moon” as Lovell put it to his shipmates.  I got to thinking about how difficult that moment must have been: to have travelled a quarter of a million miles, only to come up 52 miles short. 

And, as I pondered that, I wondered what Lovell will think when he lies on his death bed, knowing he’d come within 52 miles of walking on the moon, only to have been denied the actuality of doing it.  And that turned my mind to spiritual parallels.  I don’t know if James Lovell is a Christian or not (I hope he is for I’d love to talk with him in eternity!), but I certainly hope that when he has crossed over into eternity that he won’t be faced with the thought: “I was so close to heaven…but came up short.” 

How close can we come to heaven and miss out?  Well, one thing is sure: we won’t get there by our goodness or good deeds.  There’s only one thing that can get us there and that’s accepting Christ’s sacrifice for us through faith. But that’s still one decision that must be made – one option that cannot be missed – if we are to land safely on heaven’s shore.  We could spend all of our life getting 99.99802% of it right, but miss that one all-important decision…and regret it for all eternity.

Don’t let it happen to you.  To so close, only to be turned back, would be heartbreaking.  Do everything you can not to let it happen to someone you love, either.

PRAYER:  Father, thank You for Your assurance that those who have accepted Christ will make it safely to the destination.  For those who waver on the brink of making a decision for Christ, we pray Your mercy and the influence of Your Spirit to cause them to make that vital decision.  May we not awaken in eternity with the realization that we were so close, only to be turned away.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/22/18 – A Premature Death

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DayBreaks for 5/22/18: A Premature Death

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

How long do you expect to live?  Chances are, your answer will depend largely on how old you are right now.  The younger you are, the longer you expect to live.  It makes sense – but it isn’t always true. 

There are many ways to die: asphyxiation, heart attack, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, poison, accident, drowning, failure of a parachute to open, shark attack, etc.  The list is endless.  But there are other ways to die, too, that don’t come to mind as regularly, and perhaps they are equally, or more, tragic than some of those mentioned.

Vietzslav Gardavsky, a Czech philosopher and martyr who died in 1978, wrote a book titled God Is Not Yet Dead, in which he wrote about this topic.  The terrible threat against our lives is not death, pain, nor any one of the myriad types of disasters that we frantically try to protect ourselves against.  The terrible threat, as Gardavsky put it, is “that we might die earlier than we really do die, before death has become a natural necessity.  The real horror lies in just such a premature death, a death after which we go on living for many years.”

We can become so paranoid about life and death and health and illness that we “die” prematurely.  It is easier to stop taking any risk (spiritually) and become a spiritual parasite that contributes nothing to the kingdom of God than it is to live fully as a human made in His image, committed to obedience and to live on the ragged edge of faith.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that I’ve yet achieved that kind of total abandonment to God’s calling.  As Eugene Peterson put it in Run With the Horses, “It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average.  Easier, but not better. Easier, but not more significant.  Easier, but not more fulfilling.”

Look back at your life with and for Christ this past year.  Have you been resting in the “embracing arms of The Average”?  If so, you’ve died prematurely.  Jesus can give you new life!

PRAYER:  Lord, we settle for settling.  We settle for mediocre.  We are afraid to live lives of reckless abandonment to the leading of Your Spirit.  Help us not to be entranced with being average and safe.  Lead us to life abundant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/21/18 – Before and Now

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DayBreaks for 5/21/18: Before and Now

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Through some recent reading, I’ve been led to contemplate the importance of the human concept of our origins.  I know the Biblical concept: man was made in the very image of God.  We come from Him, we are to live for Him, and we will some day return to Him – and at that time we’ll all have to give an answer for how we lived in this world (Heb. 9:27). 

It’s quite a different story if you reject the idea of creation and of the existence of a Divine Being.  Without believing in a Divinely ordained destiny for all of creation (including mankind), you are left to believe that everything is the product of chance and mathematical probabilities.  It means that you were born for no reason other than a chance meeting of reproductive materials.  It means that your life has no teleos – no goal toward which it is moving.  It means that when you die, it’s done, period, over and out. 

Jeremiah, at one point in his life, had an encounter with God that reveals the fallacy of such thinking.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NIV), he wrote these words: The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

God told Jeremiah wonderful things: “I knew you before you were even formed in the womb.  I didn’t just know that you were going to be, but I knew YOU.”  How could it be that God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived?  It can only be that God had plans for a particular person (Jeremiah), and that God quite literally knew him.  That was the “before” in Jeremiah’s life.  And it was through understanding that he had a “before”, and a call for the present (he was consecrated) and that there was a purpose for his life (he was given as a prophet to the nations), that Jeremiah found meaning.  It is the “before” that gives the “now” meaning.

God didn’t just know Jeremiah before he was born.  He knew all of us.  David says that God knew every day that was appointed for him to live before he was born, that every thought he’d ever have and word he’d speak was known before he literally had a single thought.  In Ephesians, the great apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. 

What does all this mean for you and I?  It means that there is a definite purpose for our lives and that we are not to think our lives are meaningless, directionless and without value.  It means we don’t have to scurry around trying to find, or even to create, some kind of answers to life.  Instead, we can go to God to discover the reason and truth of our existence.   

Is it any wonder that there is so much despair among those who don’t know Christ?

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with the confidence that comes from knowing our before and how that shapes our now and directs our future.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/30/18 – Everyone in Hell has a Big But

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DayBreaks for 4/30/18: Every One in Hell has a Big But

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

Let’s take a closer look a favorite saying of those who know little or nothing of Scripture: “If you live a good enough life, you’ll make it to heaven.”

The following is from Greg Stier:

“After preaching in countless churches across the nation, I’m convinced that these fighting words are the biggest lie that is still being bought by millions of professing Christians. There is a mentality that “sure Jesus died for me, BUT…” As a matter of fact, I always say that “everyone in hell has got a big BUT”:

“BUT you also have to live a good life.”
“BUT you also have to obey The 10 Commandments.”
“BUT you also have to live by The Golden Rule.”
“BUT you also have to turn, try, seek, surrender…”

“The way of work and the way of grace are separate ways. If you seek to earn salvation via the way of work, you have to go the whole way. Jesus laid it out pretty clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus begins the “You have heard…but I say unto you” list of impossible standards, I’m sure that everyone listening wilted. Those present (save Jesus himself) had unjustly been angry at their fellow man and had lusted at their fellow women. And having lusted, they were busted and unable to measure up to the ultimate standard of entrance into heaven: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). 

“If our people dare approach Christianity as a religion, then the standard is impossibly high. To get into heaven, we have to be as good as God himself.

“Oops.

“That’s why the offering of salvation is the way of grace through faith and not by good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Those ways, according to Romans 11:6, cannot be mixed: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

“We need to do our best to help all of our people embrace the way of grace for the salvation of their souls. What’s interesting is that, when they do, good works will flow out of grateful hearts that long to please the Father who redeemed them through grace.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Paul got on the same bandwagon with Jesus when Paul wrote Galatians to show the foolishness of trying to please God by living the Law.  Still, I think Stier is on to a real truth: I think we’ll be surprised when we get to the judgment and we start to hear many say, “But Lord, I lived a good life,” “But Lord, I’m even a better person than some of those so-called Christians,”, “But Lord, there must be some mistake,” and “But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?”

There is only “but” that will work: “I am but a sinner, clinging to the cross of Jesus.”

PRAYER:  Father, teach us not to offer You excuses, but penitent, humble hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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