DayBreaks for 9/22/17 – Playing to Lose

DayBreaks for 9/22/17: Playing To Lose

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Last week a brother who gets DayBreaks suggested a thought on the topic of “playing to lose” and the idea captured my thoughts.  This brother and I have played together on church softball teams and we have some firsthand knowledge about losing!  But he wasn’t talking about softball.  He was talking about our life before God.  There are at least two ways of thinking about this that I’d like to explore:

First: the phrase “playing with sin” is not uncommon.  What does it mean?  It means tolerating the little sins in our life that we don’t think are so bad.  I mean, after all, have you ever murdered someone?  Been a drug “lord”?  Betrayed your government?  Been a terrorist who blew up innocent people?  Chances are that for those of you who read this, you’ve done none of those things.  They do the things they do because they don’t feel it’s wrong and because they believe those things will help make them richer and more powerful.  But when we start to think that the little sins we tolerate in our lives are OK, we forget the Words of scripture from Romans 8.13: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, … and also: Col 3.5-6: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

These verses should serve to remind us that “playing with sin” in our lives is like playing balloon toss with nitroglycerin.  It is playing to lose, not playing to win.  These verses are real clear: the things of the sinful nature don’t have to be huge things like murder or terrorism, but can be sexual immorality, impurity, lust, etc..  They are just as deadly in God’s eyes (even deadlier!), and because of that, they will bring His wrath.  Doing the things that cause us to fall under the wrath of God is definitely playing to lose!!!!

Second: there is a way that Scripture talks about in which we can lose and still win.  It’s all a matter of perspective – whether you look at things from God’s eyes or from the vantage point of the world and which is the most important to you.  Read Matt 10.39: Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

Matt 19.29: And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Here’s a situation where we WANT to be playing to lose, because in losing, we WIN!  If we play our lives in such a way that we lose ourselves to the passions, lusts, greed and sinfulness of the earthly life, even to the point of forsaking the most precious things on earth (our families who would hinder us) for the cause of the kingdom, Jesus tells us that our won-loss record will be 100-1.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to throw in the real trophy: eternal life!  If you do this, your friends will think you’ve lost your mind.  And they’ll be right, because even your earthly mind and it’s sense of what is good, will be lost by being transformed to the mind of Christ.

In this DayBreaks, I’ve talked about “playing”.  But the bottom line: this isn’t a game.  Life, and what we choose to follow, is a deadly serious business.  There is a huge difference between playing to lose and playing to lose so you win.  Are you playing to lose or are you playing to lose so that you can win?  Make sure that you are on the winning team, because when the “game” is over, it’s either eternal life or sudden death!

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for winning the victory and for sharing the crown of victory and life with us!  Give us the good sense to play to lose so we may win that which is wroth winning!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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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 9/5/17- Hungry for the Light

DayBreaks for 9/05/17: Hunger for the Light

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

It was just Tuesday, 8/28, that I once more found myself surrounded by redwoods.  It was a week of much needed and appreciated vacation for my better 99.937% and I, and on that day we drove into the redwoods and got out of the car, wandering off from the road to stand surrounded by giants.  It is a humbling thing to stand among monstrous, ancient giants, you know. 

I’ve written of my love for redwood groves before and I’m fairly certain that you’ll hear about them again at some point in time, but this time I noticed something that I’d not really seen before.  I stood near the base of several behemoths and looked upward towards the top of the trees.  Now, bear in mind that I say “towards the top of the trees” for a reason – you can’t really see the tops.  These trees are the height of a 20-30 story building (and those are still relatively babies as redwoods go.)  As you stand at the base of the tree and look upward, there are no branches for a good 75-100 feet.  And even then, branches are few and far between.  (I feel strange calling them branches, because if they fell, they’d be the size of most trees!)  The branches congregate, in a glorious company of celebration, toward the top of the tree.

I understand why it is so – down on the floor of the woods there is not much sunlight to warm a seed to the point of germination.  And there is certainly not enough light to carry on the photosynthetic process that such a large tree needs.  And so, in His wisdom, God put the branches of such trees on top. 

As I looked upward, two things struck me:

FIRST: in its desperate rush to reach the light, the redwood shoots straight up, not bothering to grow lots of branches or to get distracted from its journey and purpose of getting to the light.  It’s as if it just can’t wait to reach the sunshine.  How true that should be of the Christian’s life!  We should be focused on getting to the Light, for in the Light is the life of men.  We shouldn’t let ourselves get diffused and too spread out – it would only distract us from growing up into the Light.  And there is no time to waste.

SECOND: when you stand at the base of the tree, you see no movement at all.  But when you look up towards the underside of the branches towards the top of the tree, you see the huge monolith swaying to and fro with the subtle nudgings of the wind.  The roots, however, are unshaken.  It doesn’t take much to move the top of a redwood, but to move the bottom, where the roots are?  Forget it.  A good root system is vital – for trees and for humans.  May we be like the tree planted by the water of Psalm 1, firmly rooted and reaching as fast and as hard as we can for the Light!

Psalms 1:1-6 (NLT) – But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.  But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.  They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

PRAYER: Almighty One, may we stretch hungrily for the Light and put roots down deep into the good soil that is the Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/02/17 – Longing to be Just A Little Bit Better

DayBreaks for 6/02/17: Longing to be Just a Little Bit Better

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Have you ever had your dreams shattered?  Have you wondered where God was when life became too much to bear?  Have you ever thought that if you had more in life you would get more out of life?

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb wrote: “Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum. It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

When it comes to spiritual matters, we are destitute before God.  People who possess true joy are quick to admit and accept that they are dependent on God, not on their own wisdom, knowledge, looks, talent or strength.  Those with true joy yearn for a better relationship with Him in both the good and hard times – and they have found that joy to be rooted in the relationship itself, not in fulfilling worldly dreams. 

When we think it all depends on us, we’re miserable because if we fail, we’re responsible for our failure.  If we don’t get what we want, we think it must have been because we just didn’t try hard enough, and so we commit ourselves to trying even harder the next time.  It’s a treadmill of disappointment, resolve, determination, effort and more disappointment.  We just simply aren’t big enough to manage life alone.

Maybe you’re one of those people who is self-sufficient, self-confident to a fault.  You look back at the track record of your life and achievements (good or bad) and are pretty comfortable with and in your own skin.  It’s one thing to love being alive, but another thing entirely to like living here in this broken world.  Don’t you still have dreams of a better place?  Instead of just wanting to be a little bit better (and better off, as Crabb noted), wouldn’t you rather be born again to a new and living hope that will never perish?  You know that this world will someday end – and chances are that your life will end long before this world does.  What are you investing for eternity?

Matt. 5:3 KJV – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PRAYER: Time and life are so short and out of our control, Lord.  Thank you that you are in control at all times and in all ways.  May your kingdom come quickly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

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

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  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 1/11/17 – Hearing the Hard Words

DayBreaks for 1/11/17: Hearing the Hard Words

Proverbs 27:6 (AMP) –  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.

We love to hear about ourselves – all the good things we’ve done, how bright we are. We love to have our exploits recounted and to have other people brag on us. Even the most humble among us secretly find delight in it.

Very few people like to hear the truth about themselves. It’s hard enough when we open the Word and learn some hard truths: 1) there is none that is righteous; 2) there is none that is good except for God; 3) our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags. Now, don’t those things make you feel really good?

The truth is that the Truth isn’t necessarily designed to make us feel good. Oh, it makes us feel good when we understand that on the other side of the “bad news” about who we are and the things we’ve done lies the truth of forgiveness and grace. Guilt is part of the grace of God because on the other side of the guilt lies the understanding of grace. No, the purpose of the truth about us is so we will realize our need for a Savior.

There’s another truth we need to hear and take to heart, but it’s a much more difficult on in some ways. It’s one thing when God, who is perfect and sinless, tells us about our shortcomings, but it’s another thing entirely when others tell us about our faults. How often have you asked others to totally level with you…to tell you the unvarnished truth about how they see your and your life? I like how John Ortbeg put is: Trying to grow spiritually without hearing the truth about yourself from somebody else is like trying to do brain surgery on yourself without a mirror. – John Ortberg sermon, “Loving Enough to Speak the Truth”

Who can you ask to “level” with you? How long has it been since you’ve done it (if ever)?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for telling us the truth about ourselves. May we be that kind of friend to others – and give us friends who will do the same for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.