DayBreaks for 11/15/18 – Talking to Caterpillars

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DayBreaks for 11/15/18: Talking to Caterpillars

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

There are plenty of days when I am deeply frustrated by my walk with God.  Why?  Because sometimes, at least in some areas of my life, I just don’t seem to be making any progress, or if I am, it’s negligible.  I can’t see it.  I believe that I should be “better” than I am by now.  And I know that I’m not alone.  As a minister, I hear that from many people.  They, too, get discouraged and from time to time are so deeply depressed about their lack of spiritual progress that they talk about giving up.

I recently ran across an illustration that really helped me in this regard.  Suppose for a moment that you found a caterpillar.  Not all caterpillars, by the way, are fuzzy and cute, so let’s just assume that this caterpillar has been crawling around on its belly, blind and slimy.  Perhaps, being a higher life form, you might take compassion on this poor caterpillar and begin speaking to it: “Hi, there.  I can see that you’re having troubles.  You know, I want to tell you something: you won’t always be a caterpillar.  You won’t always crawl on your belly in the dirt or be blind and slimy.  There will come a time when you will wrap yourself inside of a tight, snug cocoon.  You’ll be there for a while, but then you’ll pop out of the cocoon and you’ll be able to see.  You’ll be filled with beautiful colors and you’ll have wings attached to your back and you’ll dance on the air!  Won’t that be great!?”

The caterpillar, of course, probably can’t understand a word you’re saying. But if it could, do you think it would believe you?  It’s blind: it’s never been able to see a butterfly or to even imagine such a thing.  It would probably laugh out loud at your words of encouragement and think you were nuts.  But you know it is true, even if the caterpillar doesn’t.

Here’s the point: I’m like that caterpillar, slimy, crawling on my belly and blind.  I have lived that way more often than not.  And it feels as if it will never end.  But God has told me otherwise, and He’s told you otherwise, too, if you are a disciple.  Listen to these passages:

2 Cor. 3:18: And we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.

Phil. 3:20-21: Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 John 3:2: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him.

We ARE being transformed…Jesus WILL transform our lowly bodies…what we WILL BE has not yet been made know, but we know that…we SHALL BE like him. Like the caterpillar, for now we’re blind and can’t see it, but when we emerge from our cocoon, we will have eyes to see!

God has been telling us this for 2000 years or longer.  But we’re like the caterpillar who has trouble understanding what God is saying, and even greater trouble accepting it.  When I’m discouraged about my walk, I need to remind myself that I am like the caterpillar for the time being, but because Jesus has the “power that enables him to bring EVERYTHING under his control” that He will not fail to change me into his likeness so when I arrive at the throne of God, I “shall be like him.”  It’s almost too good to believe, isn’t it?  Who and what we will be is more than we can imagine!

PRAYER: Lord, this process seems so slow and I often fear that I will gum up the works and bring it all to a screeching halt.  Help me to remember that You are the one who turns caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, and that You’ve promised to do that for me, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 11/14/18 – Is There No Hope?

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DayBreaks for 11/14/18: Is There No Hope?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  For many, those are the most offensive words ever spoken.  While many of those who accuse Christians of being closed-minded wouldn’t say it to Jesus’ face there is no hesitation to say it to the face of one of His followers.

So much is riding on whether or not we believe what Jesus said.  If you don’t believe it, you might argue that, just as “all roads lead to Rome”, so “Many paths lead to God.”  One might argue that as long as you are sincere that’s all that matters.  Some say that there is no God, or if there is, that everything that exists is not just made by him, but a part of him – and therefore we as people are no more special than a dolphin, whale, spotted owl or snail darter.  On the other hand, if we accept what Jesus said, it leaves no room for argument. 

Suppose for a second that you go to see your doctor, and the doctor, after poking and prodding and a series of tests, comes back and tells you, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have a rare and terminal illness.”  After recovering your bearings, you ask, “Is there no hope?”  “Well, there is one thing – and without it, it’s as good as over.  But, this one thing would heal you completely.  But it is certain that without this, you will not survive.”

As Mark Buchanan points out in Things Unseen,  you wouldn’t say something like: “Well, doc.  It’s been great to see you again.  I appreciate your opinion, but my favorite team is playing on TV in 15 minutes and I’ve got to get home to watch it.  See you again next year.”  You also wouldn’t be likely to say: “Doctor, I resent very much that you’re imposing your opinion on me.  You’re entitled to your opinion, but I am entitled to mine.  I think I’m just fine the way I am and that there’s nothing wrong with me.”

What would you do?  You’d sit there and listen and learn all that you could.  You’d go home, get on the internet, find resources and more information to learn even more.  And then you’d decide to take the doctor’s advice and do the one thing that will save you.

People refuse to take the advice of the Great Physician, the only One who has seen both time and eternity, heaven and earth, paradise and hell.  Why?  Because we think we’re smarter than Jesus.  Do you think the same thing about your doctor, or lawyer?  You might, and in some cases, you might be right.  But no one has ever been smarter than the Son of God. 

He’s diagnosed you.  He’s given you the treatment that will work.  What will you do with it?

Prayer: Father, thank You for showing us our desperate condition and for diagnosing our fatal illness.  Thank You for the cure, accepting You Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross.  Humble us to accept the cure.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/9/18 – They Barely Make a Noise

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DayBreaks for 11/09/18: They Barely Make a Noise

In the NT is the story of the widow who gave her two mites…a mere pittance, but it was all she had. That story has remained an enduring image throughout the ages. We play favorites. We treat those who give more as if they are the pillars on which the church is erected.

But consider for a moment another image. Jesus, sitting opposite the place where the offerings were put, is observing the people as they make their donations as they enter the temple. He is not alone. Seated with him are the leaders-the Sadducees. It is startling to think of Jesus sitting with those whom he had scorned for their hypocrisy. Remember that as they watch there is no paper money so all of the offerings make a terrible clatter as they roll down this long, horn shaped object and fall into the pool of coins. And here comes this little widow with two small coins worth nothing and she drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. Thus, at its heart, the story of the widow’s mite is a strong reminder to the kingdoms of this world and a reminder to us that God’s ways and thoughts are nothing like ours.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be more like this woman and have her kind of faith. Give me eyes to see as you do and value what you value. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/16/18 – God’s Scalpel

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DayBreaks for 10/16/18: God’s Scalpel

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/10/2008:

One of the books that has most profoundly touched my life was written by C. S. Lewis after the death of his wife, Joy. He had been a single man for nearly all of his life when he met Joy Davidson, an American, and fell in love. She died, tragically after just four years, of cancer. The book is titled, A Grief Observed, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It is at one and the same time one of the most unnerving, yet triumphant messages of faith you’ll ever read. In it, Lewis grapples with death and his feelings towards himself, his dead wife, and his feelings towards God. He is brutally honest, and as time passes (the book was written over some period of time to capture the range of his emotions and thinking) he moves in his writing from great anger and bitterness towards God to where his faith in God’s goodness comes crashing to the forefront.

While in the midst of his anguish, he wrote these very insightful words describing the experience of pain in our lives: “The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed – might grow tired of his vile sport – might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.” (I warned you he was brutally honest, didn’t I?!)

Personally, I don’t believe the Bible teaches that the pain and suffering we experience in this world is God-inflicted. I believe it is a result of the struggle between good and evil, God and the powers of darkness, and sometimes it comes about as a direct consequence of sin in our own life. God wants to overcome all the pain and suffering, and He someday will, when the last enemy is defeated (1 Cor. 15:23-26). Until then, God uses even painful things in our lives to make us whole. And if He stopped before the process was complete, we’d never be well.

Can you trust God with the pain in your life? You can. Can you survive the anguish you may face? I believe you can, though I’ve not walked in your shoes. Because through them, as well as through the joys of life, God is only doing what 2 Cor. 3:18 says: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

PRAYER: Jesus, we plead with you to be as tender with us as possible – but to do the work that must be done in us. In Your name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/4/18 – The Problem Wasn’t Him

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DayBreaks for 10/04/18: The Problem Wasn’t Him

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Get the scene: Jesus has been crucified and buried and has raised from the dead.  He’d met with his 11 remaining disciples in the upper room and they’d seen him, and at least Thomas had also touched him.  He’d met them on the shore of the lake and fixed a fish breakfast – and restored Peter.  And now, the time has come for him to return to the Father. 

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) – Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

You’d think that after all the time they’d spent with Jesus and all that they’d witnessed, they’d have it down by this time, but as verse 17 says, “some doubted.”  (Mercifully, the names of those “some” are not revealed to us, or we’d probably criticize them severely.)  There were still some who doubted and wondered and were fearful.  And so, Jesus has a message for them, a message about God having given him ALL authority in heaven and on earth. 

What was it that Jesus wanted them to understand?  That they needn’t fear even one single thing (or any thing) for one simple reason: He has all authority – and control.  He has healed the sick, given sight to the blind, strengthened feeble legs so that they could walk, filled the ears of the deaf with the song of birds and laughter, brought the dead to life and even rose from the dead himself.  And yet, they still doubted – they still feared.  You see, their doubting problem wasn’t caused by some failure in Jesus and how he’d prepared them – it was humanity’s problem of believing what they’d seen and heard him do and not accepting that all authority resides in him.  There is no need to fear anybody on earth or in heaven.  Why?  Because He has all authority!

Are you a doubter?  Are you fearful?  The problem isn’t his – it’s yours – and mine – for not remembering His authority! 

PRAYER: Lord, quell our fears and doubts, and help us to believe in the full authority of Your Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – The Reality of Now

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DayBreaks for 9/26/18The Reality of Now       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.

If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future.  The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there.  We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings.  And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon.  I think such things are only normal and natural.

But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways.  And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention.  Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Isn’t that interesting?  Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience.  And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.

The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us.  A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives.  We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us.  That means that His kingdom is also within us…now. 

As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else.  We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.  It’s this: heaven starts now.

“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity.  It is not first and foremost a place.  Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship.  It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person).  All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person.  But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense.  If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life.  Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.

PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You.  Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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