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.

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 6/10/16 – Raising Redwoods

DayBreaks for 6/0/16 – Raising Redwoods

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

On Memorial Day this year, my wife and I hopped in the car and drove from our home to Mendocino, California on the Pacific coast.  On the way across highway 128 are some lovely redwood groves.  The road winds its way through the majestic giants, in some places with the darkness of the shadows so deep that it’s hard to remember that the day is still young and not ending.  We stopped, opened the sun roof, reclined our seats and lay back, looking up at the underside of the treetops, swaying slowly in the wind.  

For hundreds of years these trees have stood the test of time, weather and road making machinery.  They inspire an awe that is at best, impossible to describe.  There is something very, very spiritual about this place that God has made.  One can’t help but wonder if what you think is the sound of the trees is the very breath of God.

In our yard, by our driveway, is another redwood tree.  It’s not nearly as imposing as it may some day get to be.  It’s just a mere baby – perhaps a hundred years or so old.  It’s probably not more than 40 feet tall at present, if that.  As I stand on the carpet of forest detritus that surrounds the base of the huge redwoods of the forest, I think about what it takes to raise a redwood – the patience, the constant care and attention, that someone, even if it is just God, must pay to such an undertaking.  It needs the right amount of sun, of water, of nutrients, it needs protection from the fires and infestations that might bring it down at a young age. 

Suddenly, I am stricken by the realization that raising redwoods to become all that they can be must be a lot like raising children to grow tall and straight in the Lord, to have their roots go down deep by the stream of Life that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22).  And I am even more amazed to realize that God goes through this process with each one of His children – watching over us day and night, protecting, sheltering, nurturing – with tremendous patience, dreaming of the end result that will be a spectacle to behold.  

PRAYER:  Almighty Creator, our only true Father, how can we possibly express our gratitude to You for Your incredible patience and love as You grow us from seedlings to Spirit-filled men and women?  How terrifying that You should entrust the lives and souls of our little ones to people such as us.  Gift us with the diligence and patience to raise them as You raise us up.  And thank You for seeing – and dreaming – of what we may become through Christ.  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.