DayBreaks for 11/15/17 – Disappointments

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DayBreaks for 11/15/17: Disappointments

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

From The Culture Shift, Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro, 2005: 

“The great missionary explorer, David Livingstone, served in Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873.  Pastors Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro tell of an incident from Livingstone’s life that illustrates why we need to be thankful in all things.

“David Livingstone was eager to travel into the uncharted lands of Central Africa to preach the gospel. On one occasion, the famous nineteenth-century missionary and explorer arrived at the edge of a large territory that was ruled by a tribal chieftain. According to tradition, the chief would come out to meet him there; Livingstone could go forward only after an exchange was made. The chief would choose any item of Livingstone’s personal property that caught his fancy and keep it for himself, while giving the missionary something of his own in return.

“Livingstone had few possessions with him, but at their encounter he obediently spread them all out on the ground—his clothes, his books, his watch, and even the goat that provided him with milk (since chronic stomach problems kept him from drinking the local water). To his dismay, the chief took this goat. In return, the chief gave him a carved stick, shaped like a walking stick.

“Livingstone was most disappointed. He began to gripe to God about what he viewed as a stupid walking cane. What could it do for him compared to the goat that kept him well? Then one of the local men explained, “That’s not a walking cane. It’s the king’s very own scepter, and with it you will find entrance to every village in our country. The king has honored you greatly.”

“The man was right. God opened Central Africa to Livingstone, and as successive evangelists followed him wave after wave of conversions occurred.  Sometimes, in our disappointment over what we don’t have, we fail to appreciate the significance of what God has given us.”

Disappointments are a dime-a-dozen.  I just finished teaching the story of Joseph in one of our Bible studies.  The thing that struck me about Joseph is that he had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed and discouraged at many of the things that had happened to him.  The jealousy of his own brothers seemingly knew no bounds.  He was thrown into a pit, presumably to be left for dead, but wound up being sold by his own blood into a life of slavery.  He went to prison after being falsely accused.  He was forgotten by someone he’d helped who could have gotten him out of prison.  He lived with the pressure of answering to the most powerful man in the world, and lived with the risk of failing in his mission to save the lives of the Egyptian people if his plan went awry.  He lived with the frustration of not knowing how his father and brothers were doing – or if they were even alive – for they were alienated by affection and distance.  He had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed in how his life had gone. 

Why didn’t Joseph get discouraged?  Because he knew he didn’t really answer to the most powerful man in the world – he answered to God, the very God who orchestrated all the events of his life.  I’m so impressed with his attitude in Genesis 45, realizing that God had led him through all those things for His purposes. 

If you are living a life of frustration and disappointment, I believe it is because we don’t see God’s hand in everything – turning evil to good for us – and we blame others for bad things, or even ourselves.  And seeing God’s overarching guidance and direction relieves us from the necessity of revenge, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., as we learn to trust Him and to realize that the things that others may mean for our own harm, will instead turn out to our benefit.  

Are you disappointed with something that’s been taken from you or given to you?  Don’t judge too quickly – God has already given you His scepter to give you admittance to His home!

PRAYER: May we trust in You fully, and in Your goodness to us, even in the face of great evil.  Help us to not be disappointed with the lot in life that You may have charted out for us, but to see all of our lives as opportunities to know and experience Your leading.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/9/17 – The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

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DayBreaks for 11/09/17: The Unhappiest Person in Scripture

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Trivia.  How most of us love it!  And Bible trivia is exceptionally fun, I think (although as a pastor I’m always feeling the pressure if I’m engaged in a game of Bible trivia – I feel like I am expected to know all the right answers!!!)  Here’s a few for you to whet your own trivia whistle (don’t worry, these are easy ones!): who lived to be the oldest?  Who was the first murder victim?  Who had a donkey speak to him?  How many stones did David pick up to use with his sling when he went out to meet Goliath? 

See!  I told you they’d be easy ones!  But here are some tougher ones (and I don’t know that I know for sure the answers to all of them): who was the most patient person in Scripture?  Who was the apostle of love?  Who was the meekest man that ever lived?  The wisest?

I found intriguing this story about Eli Wiesel that former Secretary of State Madeline Albright shared: “Not long after September 11, I was on a panel with Eli Wiesel.  He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible.  Some said Job, because of the trials he endured.  Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land.  Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son.  Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord’s name.”

It would be hard to argue with Wiesel’s answer.  What am I doing today that might be adding to God’s unhappiness or sadness? 

John 13:34-35 (NIV) – A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

PRAYER: Make us instruments today, Lord, that delight Your heart and who do not contribute to your unhappiness.  Help us to love one another as fully and richly as You have loved us that Your heart may rejoice!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/26/17 – Ask Not for Whom the Cock Crows

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DayBreaks for 10/26/17: Ask Not for Whom the Cock Crows

John 18:25-27 (ESV) – Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

I have often wondered why God put some of the things He did in Scripture. Like today’s text, for instance. There can be no doubt that Jesus and Peter were very close friends. There can be no doubt that they loved one another deeply. And yet, here we have it: Peter’s denial recorded in black and white for people to read and ponder.

If I had been the one determining what would be written, I would have left things like this, and David’s dalliance with Bathsheba, and Noah’s drunkenness out of the pages of holy writ. I would have wanted to save Peter, David, Noah and countless others the embarrassment of having their failures recorded and paraded in front of people for thousands of years. And you’d think that God would have wanted to save them the embarrassment, too. But it wasn’t up to me. And that’s a really good thing.

I believe that God put those things into Scripture to encourage us in our humanity. Let me explain: there hasn’t been any human who has ever endeavored to live the Christian life who hasn’t found themselves despairing over their own failures in ethical, moral and all other ways. Imagine how difficult and discouraging it would be if all we had were stories off the great triumphs: the saving of humanity in the ark, the victory over the giant Goliath, Peter’s great ministry and brave martyrdom. And if we were only to have those stories and compared ourselves to them, we’d be devastated. So, God in His great wisdom, knew we needed to hear of the failures of the great men and women of faith so we wouldn’t be discouraged.

And here’s another thing: Scripture shows us that God deeply loved all those flawed characters, and that gives me hope, too, that He can love a sinner like me.

We shouldn’t gloat over the fact that we’ve not done like Peter did, for we have all denied and betrayed the One who would die for us. We should never ask for whom the cock crows, for it crows for each of us!

PRAYER: Thank you for the stories of Scripture – good and bad – and showing us that even our failures can’t overcome your plan for us nor your love for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary

DayBreaks for 10/20/17: Temporary

“It’s just a temporary condition.  You’ll feel better in a few days.”  Those are comforting words when they come from our doctor or dentist, are they not?  Temporary, meaning that it will not last long.  It’s a passing thing. 

“It’s just a temporary setback.  We’ll get back on track soon.”  Those words are often spoken in the business world or even in a military setting when something bad has happened and we want to put on a good face and try to be encouraging to others who may really be upset and disturbed by the goings-on.  In that case, it’s meant to be a comforting word.

But there are things that we don’t want to be temporary: enjoying beauty, enjoying the love of a spouse, children and grandchildren.  We don’t want the mountain-top experiences of life to be temporary things – like fleeting shadows that are here for a moment or two and then gone.  There’s nothing comforting about hearing that someone’s love for you is temporary.  We want it to be permanent – lasting, a forever-thing. 

Isn’t it strange how we spend so much of our life’s energy chasing after temporary things?  Can you imagine how our lives would be if we spent our time, money, energy and spirits on pursing permanent things?  In his books, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, John Ortberg described an incident where a speaker stood in front of a large group of people.  He had a roll of stickers in his hand.  Behind him on the platform were all kinds of objects – tables filled with things from our lives – computers, dollhouses, desks, a Matchbox car, pots and pans, etc.  The speaker began to roam around the stage, placing red stickers on everything.  He explained to the crowd what he was doing: although they couldn’t see it from their vantage point, each sticker had the same word on it: TEMPORARY.  He said, “Everything that I’m putting a sticker on is temporary.  It will not last.  It will fade away.  We invest our emotions in them be3cause when we acquire it, it gives us a little thrill.  And we think the thrill will last.  But it does not.  It fades.  And eventually, so will what we acquire. 

“If you are living for what you see up here, then you are living for what is temporary.  Temporary satisfaction, temporary fulfillment, temporary meaning.  It will come to an end – but you never will.  It will leave you with a terrible emptiness.”

Wouldn’t it be easier to make better decisions in life if the things we pursue in this world all had that red sticker on them to remind us that they are temporary?  I have to think we might make different choices – at least some of the time. 

Later, the speaker did one more thing.  First, he said, “There is only one thing in this room that is not temporary.  There is only one item that you will be allowed to take with you from this life into the next.”  With that, he invited a little girl to join him on the stage, and he put a blue sticker on the collar of her dress.  “When you get to the end of your life and take in your last breath, what do you want your life to have been about.  What will make it rich in the eyes of God?”  The answer was obvious: people. 

Are you wise?  Are you building your life around temporary things or permanent, eternal things?  The next time you’re tempted to invest in something (large or small), try to picture the sticker – is it imprinted with “Temporary” or “Eternal”?

PRAYER:  Give us wisdom to see things as temporary, yet to see the people we encounter every day as eternal.  Please remind us of how we should invest our lives, and what we should invest them in.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 8/9/17 – ‘Tis Foolishness

DayBreaks for 8/09/17: ‘Tis Foolishness

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/7/2007:

I’ve been thinking about contentment lately.  Mind you, I’m not content with my thinking on the topic!  But I’m trying to learn to be more content in my station in life in various venues, but especially in the area of possessions.  It seems that much of what we struggle with in this world as far as contentment goes has to do with things – stuff – possessions. 

I recall when our kids were little.  They’d hear about a new toy in a Happy Meal, or a new video game, or some new action hero figure, and they would ask for it.  Sometimes I gave it to them, sometimes not.  My decision certainly wasn’t all based on “need” – they really didn’t need any of it.  Sometimes I withheld the gift solely to help them learn lessons related to happiness and contentment.  Sometimes, if they really wanted something, they’d say words to this effect: “If you get it for me, I promise I won’t ever ask for another thing, ever!!!!”  Yeah, right.

Of course, none of us adults would be so silly as to think that a change in circumstances or possessions would bring lasting contentment, would we?  Maybe not.  Someone once said that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.  There’s more truth to that than I want to admit.  In Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg observes: “All day long we are bombarded with messages that seek to persuade us of two things:

  1. That we are (or ought to be) discontented, and
  2. That contentment is only one step (or change or purchase) away.”

These two things are at the heart of all marketing.  They try to make us believe that the only thing that stands between us and the girl or guy of our dreams is our toothpaste (as if all our other problems were already fixed!) – and that if we buy a certain brand of toothpaste, we’ll get that girl or guy and live “happily ever after.”  We may have jobs that we’re competent at and that we love, but the promise and allure of “more money” makes us discontent and leads us to jump ship into a position that will mean we sacrifice family time or values.  That one new car may seem like a siren calling your name – and if you had it, you just know you’d be forever happy. 

It’s all a pack of lies.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Doesn’t even your own experience and life tell you that such marketing drivel is not true?  The pursuit of such things, indeed of happiness in this world, is trivial pursuit.  The pursuit of the Kingdom of God bears everlasting dividends, and the promise of happiness and joy that is not made by marketers who have something to gain, but by God, who can’t gain a single thing from us.  How much better for us to seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness…and in due time, all that He has will be ours!

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>