DayBreaks for 4/4/17 – Under Construction

DayBreaks for 4/4/17: Under Construction

2 Corinthians 5:4 (NIV) – For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

I tend to think of myself as fairly patient. Oh, there are things that make me very tense and impatient such as traffic if I’m on my way to the airport and I think I may not have a lot of extra time to get parked, get through security and all the way out to my gate. I’m not very patient if I’m supposed to be at a particular place at a certain time and my wife or someone else is making me later (or at least making me think I’ll be late.)

So maybe I’m not so patient after all. Perhaps I’m quite impatient. I know that to be true when it comes to my “perfection”. I am quite tired of waiting for the sanctification process to be completed in my life. I am quite tired of struggling with the same temptations week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Not far from where we live they’re working on the freeway to add an additional lane both north and south-bound. I do not understand why it takes so long. I don’t know the rate with which cement cures. I don’t know why lanes are still blocked off when it seems they could be open and traffic could flow more quickly and smoothly. I’m tired of the struggle of the journey.

The construction work that God is doing in my life is frustratingly slow. I do not know why He chooses to take so long in His process of curing the cement of my heart so it is useful to Him and to others. Yet He seems to be content to let it happen at the pace He dictates.

Yes, I am a work in progress – and even when I can’t see much progress – I believe it is true. I am not a finished article. One thing, though, that I cannot ever afford to forget in the frustration is that while I am a work in progress, His work is not. His work is finished. Jesus has been seated at the right hand of the Father indicating his labor is over and what he set out to do – to cleanse us of all unrighteousness, has indeed been completed.

There is nothing more that Jesus can – or needs to do – for you or me to be saved. The justification is over – it is a finished work, completed, lacking in nothing. And while I struggle with the pace of the process of sanctification, and while I may be frustrated by the apparent lack of progress – I need to remember that right now, this instant, as far as the Father is concerned, I stand before Him in the perfection that Jesus possesses and has given to me. And that is enough!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus’ righteousness that surrounds us and shields our sin from Your holy eyes. As we long to no longer struggle with sin, never let us forget the righteousness that we already have – and that the day will come when we will stand in perfection before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/21/17 – On Failing

DayBreaks for 3/21/17: On Failing

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

Someone recently sent me this and I thought it was worth sharing!!!  – Galen

ON FAILING, By Dr. Michael A. Halleen

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. – (John 21:3)

Jesus’ disciples knew how to fish. They did it well and expected to be successful. But that night “they caught *nothing*.” They failed. We fishermen know the feeling, but I know the rest of you know it, too. Behind all of us lie some disappointments, and we can be sure there will be still more days ahead when our achievements fall short of our dreams and aspirations. But FAILING does not make one a FAILURE. That happens only when we give up.

Winston Churchill failed sixth grade, but he was no failure as a leader of his nation. Thomas Edison failed all his classes in school and was sent home to work on his widowed mother’s farm, but he was no failure as an inventor and creator of progress. David Livingstone fled from the pulpit of his first church in Scotland, a failure because he could not remember the text he was to preach on. From there he went to Africa and brought the Christian faith within reach of millions. Failing, in itself, is not the issue. It is what we do next that matters.

Some suggestions on what to do when failure comes:

~ Look for the presence of God. You have not been forsaken. God is at work in disappointment and failure as well as in success.

~ Learn all you can from it. Erma Bombeck was invited to a dinner for “highly successful people.” Appalled at the idea, she nevertheless decided to go because she wanted to hear what successful people talked about. Later she wrote, “Every one of those people, every single one of those highly successful people, could only talk about their failures – and how they learned from them.”

~ Get on with what’s next. The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind…I press on.” The mark of the neurotic person is a perfect memory of every failing, while healthy people learn from it, let it go and move ahead.

~ Challenge your idea of what is important. God has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful. God is not in the business of helping us to succeed, but of refining the soul, developing character, energizing the spirit. Success is only incidental to those ends.

The disciples got into the boat, worked all night and caught…NOTHING. Then came the voice of a Stranger on the shore, telling them to keep going, keep putting the net into the water. The story was not finished yet. They found that, while they failed, God did a marvelous work – in the sea, yes, but even more in their troubled hearts.

Isaiah 51:6 (NIV) Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

PRAYER: Thank you, Father, that though we fail often, You never fail to fulfill your purposes, and You will not fail to fulfill Your promises to us, either.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/7/16 – Bad Reception

DayBreaks for 12/07/16: Bad Reception

I’m sure that you’ve had some version of this discussion if you have, or ever have had, a cell phone:

“I have full signal, it must be you.”

“No, it must be you, I haven’t moved and I have 5 bars.”

How often have you received a call back from the person you thought you were talking to and with great frustration you ask, “At what point did I lose you?”

Or maybe it goes more like this:

“Do you have reception? How many bars to you have?”, or:

“Can you hear me now?”

What do all these things have in common? They’re people talking about the quality of reception (or lack thereof) that they have on their cell phones. Why? Because bad reception causes interruption to communication. Sometimes we even get so frustrated with dropped calls that we stop trying any more.

Those things are all understandable when we talk about cell phones, but what about our spiritual reception? What causes a “bad signal” or blocks the exchange of information in our communication efforts with God? You may not want to take the blame, but chances are, it’s YOU! You can be sure that God always wants to hear from you, so He’s not going to be the one who creates the static on the line.

There’s another factor that enters into this equation, though, and it is this: for there to truly be communication, not only must there be someone who is communicating something, but there must also be someone who is listening. And that, I’m convinced, is where a great deal of our problem with prayer comes into play. We’re too busy talking, or thinking about other things, to hear the “still, small voice” of God.

Perhaps you are frustrated with your prayer life…feeling that you just “aren’t getting through”, that you’ve got a bad connection. Please, don’t let what you perceive as a “dropped call” stop you from reaching out. Keep “dialing”, but be sure that you’re also ready to listen for His voice at all the other times of your life, too…not just when you reach out to Him. It seems to me that there are as many instances in the Bible when God spoke to people when they weren’t praying as times when He responded directly to a prayer request. If we’re not listening, we won’t hear Him under any circumstances.

PRAYER: Teach us the sound of Your voice, let us recognize when You speak and listen closely to what You are saying. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/27/16 – In Search of the Real Me

DayBreaks for 10/27/16 – In Search of the Real Me

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

British style writer Neil Boorman has decided to burn every branded thing in his possession.   I am addicted to brands,” he confessed in a magazine article:

“From an early age, I have been taught that to be accepted, to be loveable, to be cool, one must have the right stuff.  At junior school, I tried to make friends with the popular kids, only to be ridiculed for the lack of stripes on my trainers.  Once I had nagged my parents to the point of buying me the shoes, I was duly accepted at school, and I became much happier as a result. As long as my parents continued to buy me the brands, life was more fun. Now, at the age of 31, I still behave according to playground law.

Boorman finally realized that the happiness found in his possessions is hollow and short-lived, leaving him with a “continual, dull ache.”  So he’s taking drastic action and turning to a life of simplicity.  He summarizes: The manner in which we spend our money defines who we are. … In this secular society of ours, where family and church once gave us a sense of belonging, identity, and meaning, there is now Apple, Mercedes, and Coke. … So, this is why I am burning all my stuff.  To find real happiness, to find the real me.

I am torn over this poor man’s actions.  He sounds like he’s recognized a problem in his life, and that’s good!  We spend much of our lives in denial that we have problems.  And when a problem does come up, we always try to find someone else to bear the blame for “our” problem.  So, in short, we usually are still in denial that we have problems that need to be fixed.  It’s a good thing that Mr. Boorman looked deeply into his heart and saw that something was broken that needed fixing. 

And it’s a good thing that he’s divorcing himself from the pride and vanity that go along with designer clothes, Air Jordan’s, the latest and greatest brand names, etc.  Those things invariably cost more than non-name brands, and chances are that they don’t last any longer.  They can’t make us younger, and wearing the name label clothes won’t work magic on how much we weigh (or where we carry that weight!)  I wonder if anyone has ever calculated, over the course of a lifetime, how much money could be saved and used in better ways (feeding the hungry, helping build houses for the homeless, etc.) if we bought generic instead of name brands.  It might be an interesting exercise.

But, I think Mr. Boorman is destined for frustration in his pursuit to “find the real me.”  He seems to think that by just getting rid of things that he’ll discover the real self.  It can help, but the real self is only seen when we look into the perfect law of liberty and let it speak to us about the real us, the ideal us, and how God loves the real us, sees the ideal us, and is at work to make the real us something that glorifies Him.  And is “real happiness” to be discovered by finding the “real me”?  I don’t think so.  The real me isn’t very pretty.  What God knows I will someday become – now that’s something to bring happiness to us!  But in the meantime, what I really need to find in order to have happiness in this life is the understanding of the grace and mercy of God that sees the real me, and loves me enough to not leave the real/sinful me alone, but sheds His blood, light and grace into my life to enable me to not become despondent in this world as I wait for the next. 

PRAYER:  Father, help us to see ourselves as you do, and to know that you love us infinitely.  May be find our happiness in serving you, other and in becoming more like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/14/15 – The Squeeze of God’s Hand

DayBreaks for 7/14/16 – The Squeeze of God’s Hand

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2006:

Many of us have been conditioned to think of God as a doting Parent whose function is to shield us from unpleasant circumstances.  No wonder we’re disappointed. – Helen Grace Lescheid, “The Place of Acceptance”, Discipleship Journal, Issue 60

Why do we get mad at God when there are hard times in life?  When you think about it, a parent isn’t tasked with keeping children from unpleasant circumstances in spite of what many today seem to believe.  A parent is supposed to teach children how to live with and through both pleasant and unpleasant circumstances because both are part and parcel of life.  Unpleasant things can either knock us off kilter or teach us about what to avoid.  A parent who never lets their child experience the negative consequences of inappropriate behavior is a parent who is failing to teach their child that sin has consequences. 

That doesn’t mean that those circumstances are fun.  But perhaps it will help you to think of them in the same way that Helen Lescheid described them in Issue 76 of Discipleship Journal: Sometimes trouble or hardship is an indication that the hand of God is on our lives…I sometimes say to myself, ‘The pressure I feel right now is but the squeeze of God’s hands on my life as He’s shaping me.’ 

I like that.  Scripture uses the analogy of the Potter and the clay (Rom. 9:21).  The clay cannot be formed without pressure.  Sometimes, depending on what the Potter is forming, the pressure comes from without, but sometimes from with – pressing us outward until we take on the shape He wants for us. 

If you are feeling pressure in your life right now, try to think about it as the hand of the Master shaping the clay of your life.  Rest assured that the Potter doesn’t make junk and doesn’t make mistakes.  In spite of any pressure you may feel – if you belong to Christ, you are not a failure and you are not a mistake.  You are being formed into a vessel for His use and His glory. 

PRAYER:  Father, you are the Potter and we are nothing more than clay.  Help us to remember that is not for the clay to determine what it should become, to try to dictate to You what You’ve done well or what to make of us.  May we yield gracefully, full of loving trust in you, to the gentle pressure of your hands on our life as you shape us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/07/16 – What Can I Give Them?

DayBreaks for 7/07/16 – What Can I Give Them?

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Sometimes pastors find themselves in strange circumstances.  Some are just funny – like playing golf and watching how some of the guys you play with struggle to control their language after they make a bad shot.  You just know that if the pastor wasn’t there, the struggle wouldn’t probably even be attempted and the language would flow like the water that took away the golf ball!  Sometimes the words slip out anyway, and they’ll turn and look at you with a despairing face and say, “I’m sorry, pastor!” 

Sometimes, though, the struggle is inside the pastor.  Sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of situations where we don’t have a clue what to say (and I know you’re thinking that it would be a miracle for a pastor to NOT have something to say!)  Such situations are fairly common, however.  What do you say when you are confronted by parents of a young child who is deathly ill, and one bit of bad news after another seems to pile up like the snows on Everest?  What are you supposed to say when the dreaded “Why?” question comes up at times like those? 

I recently found myself in such a situation, and I was praying inside myself to God.  “Lord, what can I say?  What do You want me to tell them?  What can I do to help them get through this?”  As He often does, His Spirit whispered to me, “Just give them Me.”  I found myself quickly reverting to my skeptical, faithless self and I replied to Him, “But God, that’s not enough.  They need more.”  And again, ever so lovingly, the Spirit sighed, “If you give them Me and that’s not enough, nothing will ever be enough.” 

I immediately realized my sin in thinking God was not enough.  Of course He’s enough.  When pastors and others find themselves in such situations, we must NOT try to give them answers to the “Why?” questions because we simply don’t have answers.  And to share Romans 8:28 (“all things work together for good…”) is like a cold slap in the face when a child lies in critical care.  That’s not an answer, either.  Not at times like that.  Only God knows the answer, and that’s part of the reason that we must give them Him and nothing else.  Encourage them to talk to Him, to rant at Him, to shake their fist in His face, to beg and plead and argue. 

But is this biblical?  I think it most certainly is.  We don’t know the answers to why.  Job’s friends tried to supply the answers to “Why” for Job, and at the end of the long discussions, God says that his friends were ignorant and didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, that they’d spoken foolishly.  May God spare me from being that kind of friend, or having that kind of friends.  Let me have friends in times of need who just give me God.

PRAYER:  There is so much in this world that we don’t understand, Lord, and which puzzles and perplexes us in the deepest levels of our souls.  Help us to realize the limitations of our wisdom and thinking, and not try to answer for You the questions that only You know the answers to.  Help us to be true friends who will share Jesus with all our acquaintances as the only answer to the world’s questions.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/18/16 – Don’t Waste Your Pain

DayBreaks for 5/18/16 – Don’t Waste Your Pain

NOTE: Galen will be out of the office and traveling next week. 

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2006:

Ministers often hear about pain.  I’m not complaining about that, mind you – after all, most ministers are in that line of work because they are compassionate and want to help those who hurt.  It is a blessing and privilege that is granted to few humans to be trusted at those moments of deepest pain and anguish and to be admitted to the inner sanctum of someone’s heart and hurt. 

But what do you say when there seem to be no answers to the inevitable “Why?” questions?  I’ll be very honest – I often don’t know what to say at those moments.  It is often enough just to be there with them as a loved one slips the bonds of this life to enter into the next. 

Once again, let me share a perspective from Brian Jones in Second-Guessing God: “The question we need to ask ourselves when God allows us to go through hard times is not why but who?  In the mind of God, pain always has two intended recipients: us and someone else.  If we choose not to take what we’ve experienced and find some way of using it to help other people, we miss a large part of why God allowed us to suffer in the first place.

“In his book The Gospel of Suffering, philosopher Soren Kierkegaard asked: ‘When indeed does the temporal suffering oppress a man most terribly?  Is it not when it seems to him that it has no significance, that it neither secures nor gains anything for him?  Is it not when the suffering, as the impatient man expresses it, is without meaning or purpose?’

“Absolutely.  Suffering is pointless when it is without meaning, and suffering is without meaning, ultimately, when what we’ve suffered isn’t put to some greater use.”

We have all suffered in this world – to varying degrees and in various ways.  There is no consistent scale of pain like there is for earthquakes.  The pain in one heart is unique, but related, to the pain of other hearts.  We cannot know another’s pain – but our own pain helps us identify with it.  Simone Weil wrote: “The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.”

What do you think God wants you to do with your suffering and pain?  How can you put it to work, to use, for Him, for others?  What pain are you carrying right now, this moment, that can be redeemed by the One who gives our very existence meaning and purpose?

Job 36:15-16 (NIV) – But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.  He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.

PRAYER:  Help us, Lord, as we bear the arrows of suffering, to find in it – in You – a way to use it to bless others for the cause of the Son who bore the stripes for us.  As You redeemed his suffering, we invite you to show us how You wish to redeem ours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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