DayBreaks for 3/26/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – To Laugh at the Impossible

Image result for laughter

DayBreaks for 3/26/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – To Laugh at the Impossible

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/25/20:

For today’s musical pairing, Oh Brother by Cyrus Reynolds and Gregg Lehrman, featuring vocals by Novo Amor.

“Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Genesis 18:13–14

“[Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the death and calls into being things that were not. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.”
Romans 4:17–18

Day 6. 451,355 confirmed cases, 20,499 deaths globally.

God had promised Abraham land, offspring, and blessing. His descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky. And yet the wait between the promise and the fulfillment was agonizingly long.

When messengers of God come to their tent, Abraham and Sarah are already ancient. Sarah hears the promise that she would bear a son, and she laughs. The messenger acknowledges her laughter, which she humorously denies, but then when she gives birth, she names her son Isaac, which means laughter. “God has brought me laughter,” she says, “and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (Gen. 21:6).

The story reminds me of when my first child was born. For a long time, I could only see the crown of her head. Then suddenly there came a fierce fighting person into the world, writhing and wailing at the top of her lungs. It was so abrupt and remarkable that I began to laugh aloud too. I had just witnessed the miracle of life springing from the womb. Today she stands in front of me, 11 years old, just as much a miracle as the day she was born… (Click this link to read the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: O Lord, call into being hope where there is none. Call into being a cure. For you are a God who laughs at the impossible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to the video for today’s music: https://youtu.be/2N2QQ7WR_pE

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

 

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/24/20 – Hallway Through the Sea #4: Out of the Depths

Image result for crossing the red sea

DayBreaks for 3/24/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #4 – Out of the Depths

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/23/20:

For today’s musical pairing, something different: this acoustic version of Stay and Wait by Hillsong UNITED. See the video below.

“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’”
Exodus 14:13–14

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”
Exodus 14:21–22

Day 4. 350,536 confirmed cases, 15,328 deaths globally.

In the Book of Exodus, a series of increasingly catastrophic plagues loosened Pharaoh’s grip just long enough for the Israelites to make their way into the wilderness. Pharaoh reversed course and pursued them. The Israelites faced a vastly superior army on one side and the Red Sea on the other. They were hemmed in. “The Lord will fight for you,” Moses tells them. “You need only to be still.”

Then followed one of the most renowned and spectacular of all the miracles in the Bible. God “divided” the waters and the Israelites passed through, “with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”

It must have been an awe-inspiring experience to walk that hallway through the sea. It must also have been terrifying. At any moment, those towering walls could have crashed in upon them. Instead, after the Israelites ascended onto the far shore, the hallway collapsed upon the army of Pharaoh and freed the people of God.

The number of confirmed cases of and deaths from the pandemic in the United States soared over the weekend. We know the numbers will continue their rapid climb as symptoms begin to manifest and testing catches up with reality.

We feel, O Lord, like those Israelites passing through the sea. We are exhausted and bewildered. A frightening enemy pursues us. Danger looms at every side. The only way is forward. We know there is hope on the far shore, but we have not yet begun our ascent.

To read the rest of this meditation, click this link: 

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/march-web-only/out-of-depths.html?fbclid=IwAR21Z_2oaNU3s0pX3_E3kdL9EpuKmFBntmIG_tnpaJ_v5PWVmb9IYSJx0N0

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine/

PRAYER: Lord, as you led your people through the waters long ago, we trust in you to lead us through this perilous time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/18/20 – The Courage to Choose Freedom

Image result for choosing

DayBreaks for 3/18/20: The Courage to Choose Freedom

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, “What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?”

The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.

Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice.”

The aide said, “What lies beyond the big door?”

“Freedom,” replied the general. “I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it.”  

It is much easier to remain enslaved than to be free.  One might think it would be the opposite – that anyone in their right mind would choose freedom over slavery.  But when we are enslaved, we don’t have to make choices, we don’t have to make decisions – we are told what to do and we have no choice but to do it. 

Perhaps that’s why so many refuse to choose the freedom that Christ offers.  When we accept the invitation to freedom, we are accepting the responsibility to imitate and live like Jesus.  Do you have the courage necessary?  Once you choose freedom in Christ, however, you are truly free!  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:35-36

PRAYER: For the freedom to choose, we thank You!  For real freedom through Christ, we give you praise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/12/20 – A Harder God to Believe In

Image result for hard to believe

DayBreaks for 3/12/20: A Harder God to Believe In

I don’t know who said this, but I found it resonated with my own spirit:

“What I am displeased with is my own living of life.  I feel an acute sense that I ought to have done better with the circumstances I was given.  This is one of the reasons why it cut me so deeply when people suggested that suffering is God’s discipline — because I find it so very, very easy to believe in a God who is profoundly disappointed in me. 

“It seems utterly natural to believe in the Disappointed God, because I myself am disappointed.  He must be even more disappointed, I think, because his standards are so much higher than mine.  How could he not be disappointed?  That makes complete sense to me.

“It’s the other God, the God who does not experience that kind of disappointment, the God who sees me the way that Prodigal Son’s father saw him — that is the harder God for me to believe in.  It takes work for me to believe in that God.” 

It takes me no effort whatsoever to believe in a God who is very thoroughly disappointed in me.  I am now a minister of the gospel, but it took me nearly 25 years to get to this point – 25 years of secular work.  Yes, I was serving in the church all that time, but not in what I believe I was called to do.  And even though I can see how, in His wisdom, He has used all the things I did and learned in the secular work world to be a better pastor (though I still have much to learn!), I can believe He might have been frustrated with me for not going into the ministry right away (as I considered doing.) 

And, even if I concede to myself that I was still serving God and perhaps even doing what I was supposed to be doing for those 25 years, I can still look at my life and think, “Galen – you really should be further along than you are in your faith walk with Jesus.  Your faith is still shaky.  You still struggle with some of the same old sins that have plagued you for years.  You quench the Spirit from time to time – far too often, actually.  You are not generous.  You can be envious.  You could be a much better husband than you are and a better pastor to the flock, too.”  Those thoughts come easily.  And I’m sure that similar thoughts come easily to you in your own situation.

What a change took place in my life when I learned that God was running towards me to embrace me and weep at my feeble attempts to come to Him!  Do I believe that that God is real – that He is the God I’ve sought to serve all these years?  Yes…but it is harder.  It is harder to accept grace than to live with the whip of the lash.  I feel I deserve the lash, but instead of the lash on my back, I feel the Father’s arm as He puts on the robe of righteousness that Christ wore around His shoulders.  I feel His tears against my cheek – not tears of sadness or despair, but tears of exultant joy.  He takes pleasure in me…and that’s a hard God to believe in.

PRAYER: How desperately we need reminders that You run to us, not from us, and that You rejoice in us through Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/10/20 – My Struggle With Repentance

Image result for repentance

DayBreaks for 3/10/20: My Struggle with Repentance

Repentance. I think I know what it’s supposed to look like – a turning away from sinful practices and a return to the pathway of the Anointed One, a turning away from putting myself on the throne to carrying my cross to Calvary. Scripture says that God forgives those who repent. Acts 2:38 and 3:19 seem to link repentance with forgiveness. And that’s what terrifies me.

You see, no matter how hard I’ve tried, here I am bearing down on my 68th year, still struggling with some of the same old sins. Have I cried out to God for forgiveness? Countless times. Have I begged him to take those temptations away from me, to set me free from it? Over and over and over. Has he done it? No, not entirely.

Perhaps he lets me continue to struggle with it like he did Paul (not that I’m anything like Paul!), because if I suddenly was relieved of those temptations I may grown too proud when my greater need is to be reminded of my sinfulness and dependence on the grace of One who can even save someone like me.

But this weekend a thought occurred to me and the more I’ve noodled it around, the more it makes sense to me. It’s basically this: God has had to make up for human shortcoming since the dawn of human history. He had a plan for it then and it still holds true today. It can basically be summed up in the words mercy and grace. Here’s how I think it must work regarding repentance: just as he knows my obedience will never be full and complete as long as I’m tied to the flesh, he also knows my repentance will never be full and complete. If my salvation is dependent on the “once and forever” kind of repentance that never struggles with that sin – no matter how many times I tell God I’m sorry and resolve to obey – then I’m doomed to be engulfed by fire and brimstone for all eternity.

But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?  God knows that my human nature will never perfectly repent any more than I can perfect obey (the two are closely linked, after all), and just as he makes up for my sinfulness with his mercy and grace, counting my obedience as complete in Christ, so I think he makes up by his grace for my failure to completely, once and forever never-to-sin-that-way-again repent.

Does God want me to give in to those sins again? Of course not! But he knows I’m frail and weak and seemingly just not able to completely and forever repent.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

PRAYER: God, I truly am sorry for my sinfulness. And I say yet again to you, “I repent” and I mean that. But if I fail, I am grateful for the amazing grace that you have surrounded me with and that you’ll still love and welcome me as your child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/09/20 – Though He Slay Me

Image result for judge

DayBreaks for 3/9/20: Though He Slay Me

Job 13:15 – Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.

It is when Job final gives vent to his angst that he makes this amazing statement. Think about what he’s saying for a moment in the first part of that verse (paraphrasing): even if he kills me, I’ll hope and trust in him.

Now, who is going to place their trust and hope in someone who is going to kill them? It makes no sense, right? Why would someone make such a statement?

I think it is only because Job knew God so well that, much as Abraham reasoned that God could raise Isaac from the dead, Job believed that if God slew him it was for a good reason. He believed that God was trustworthy – even up to and through the point of being killed by him. That takes faith! In some ways it is perhaps a greater statement of faith than Abram’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac.

But still…Job, in spite of God perhaps killing him, is also ready to stand before that very God and argue his innocence face to face. And that takes trust in the character of his God, too.

Most of us would say we wouldn’t trust God if we knew God was going to kill us. It would make us question and doubt his goodness and character. But apparently, not Job.

One great note of encouragement here, though: Job was ready to argue his own case before God. I that God (literally!!!) that I will not have to stand before God and plead my own case. Instead, I have one who will plead my case for me. And when I look into the eyes of my Judge, I will see the eyes of my Savior looking back at me.

PRAYER: God, I need to walk closely enough with you that my faith could say the same thing as confidently as Job did. I thank you that my Savior will be my judge. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/02/20 – A Different Attitude

Image result for olympic medals

DayBreaks for 3/2/20: A Different Attitude

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

I am not lucky when it comes to contests.  I am told (mostly by my wife and also my good friend, Ken) that I am a pretty competitive individual.  I don’t see it, but I guess that they do.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but I’m certain it could be either – or both – depending on what it is that I might be competitive about!  I don’t like to lose.  And sometimes, if I don’t think that I’ve really got a reasonable chance of success, I won’t even compete because I dislike losing that much. 

How we feel about winning and losing probably says a lot more about us than we want to admit.  I know those who lose and then they sulk about it for days or weeks.  And that’s especially true, it seems, the closer they came to victory.  Consider running the 100-meter dash in the Olympics.  Such an event draws the fastest men and women in the world – people who literally can run like the wind.  In such a short race, with such a high caliber of competitors, the difference between winning and losing is often measured in hundredths of a second – faster than the blink of an eye. 

Can you imagine what it would be like to have trained for year after year after year – perhaps a decade or more – only to lose the Olympic 100-meter dash by .01 second?  It would be crushing.

A fascinating study done by Professor Vicki Medvec reveals the relative importance of subjective attitudes over and above objective circumstances. In her study, she studied Olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were quantifiably happier than silver medalists. Here’s why: Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren’t satisfied with silver; bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all, so they were just happy to be on the medal stand. 

Again, in the case of an Olympic race, the difference between 2nd place and 3rd place (silver or bronze medal) may be only .01 second (or less).  I find it very telling that the third place finishers didn’t feel worse, and in fact felt better, than the second place competitors. 

What does this say about us?  Perhaps it is a lesson in thankfulness and grace: none of us can run the race that Jesus ran – He is the hand’s down winner and no one is even close to Him in terms of holiness.  I suspect that the Pharisees, to the extent that they allowed the truth of their sin to come to the surface, beat themselves up incessantly about their sin, thinking things like, “I was sooooo close to being as holy as God wants me to be!”  Balderdash.  Not one of us can say that. 

I don’t know about you, but when the heavenly dawn breaks for me, I will be thrilled to be on the victory stand and look up at the One who won the race not only for me, but for everyone who puts their trust in Him.  I know I will have no right to be there…I would be more than content to be the stable boy for Jesus’ great white war horse for eternity.  But God won’t permit that.  He has made us His beloved children, He will give us the crown of life, and we will be so eternally thankful that we won’t worry, as did the disciples on the night that Jesus was betrayed, about who is “the greatest.”  It will be perfectly clear Who the Greatest will be!

PRAYER: Help us to have attitudes of thankfulness for what you have done for us, for our destiny and for the joy that awaits us and not to be envious or jealous of those who we might be tempted to look up to in this life.  Let us lift our eyes to see only Jesus and to praise Him for all eternity!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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