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.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18 – The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18: The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk–you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice–you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation-that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.

Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. One might wonder if it is worth the struggle, but that won’t be a question we even contemplate once we step out of this world into the next.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us be patient with you and with ourselves in the transformation. Keep us from despair and discouragement on the journey home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/6/18 – Failure to Thrive

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DayBreaks for 7/06/18: Failure to Thrive

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

FTT.  Do you know that that means?  If you’re a nurse or doctor, you probably do.  It is shorthand for “Failed to Thrive” and it is used when a baby or child does not gain weight or grow.  I didn’t know that until I read an illustration from John Ortberg just this past week that enlightened me:

“FTT—my wife first introduced me to those initials. Nancy was a nurse when I first met her. There were many parts of nursing for which she did not care. But she loved diagnosis. To this day there cannot be too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or ER for her.  She is constantly telling me her private diagnoses of people—even total strangers—based on their skin color. She can tell you how long you have to live if she gets a long look at your face and the light is good.

“But of all the diagnoses I ever heard her discuss, FTT is the one that sticks in my mind. Those initials would go on the chart of an infant who, often for unknown reasons, was unable to gain weight or grow.

“Failure to thrive.

“Sometimes, they guess, it happens when a parent or care-giver is depressed, and the depression seems to get passed down. Sometimes something seems to be off in an infant’s metabolism for reasons no one can understand, so FTT is one of those mysterious phrases that sounds like an explanation but explains nothing.

“Failure to thrive.

“I didn’t know why it struck me as so unspeakably sad until I read Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines, a book that has affected me more than any book other than the Bible, from which Dallas actually gets his best ideas.

“Dallas writes that although we have tended to think of the word salvation as the forgiveness of sins or the escape from punishment, it actually has a much more robust meaning for the writers of Scripture: “the simple and wholly adequate word for salvation in the New Testament is ‘life.’ ‘I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.‘ ‘He that hath the Son hath life.‘ ‘Even when we were dead through our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ.‘ “

“This is the human condition.  FTT.

“Thrive is a life word; a word full of shalom. Thriving is what life was intended to do, like a flower stubbornly pushing through a crack in the sidewalk. It is why we pause in wonder at a human being’s first step, or first word; and why we ought to wonder at every step, and every word. Thriving is what God saw when he made life and saw that it was good. “Thrive” was the first command: be fruitful, and multiply.”

Galen’s Thoughts: how sad it must be for a nurse to see what appears to be a perfectly healthy baby or child, who for some unknown reason, fails to thrive…and dies.  Can it be any less painful for God to see what He created suffering from the same illness spiritually?  Even some Christians seem to suffer this syndrome.  If we are “alive together” with Christ (can anything be more ALIVE than Christ?!?!?!?), why do we look and act so dead?

PRAYER:  You are the Source of Life and of life abundant, Lord.  Don’t let us FTT, but awaken us through Your very Spirit of LIfe!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/29/18 – Three Reasons

 

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DayBreaks for 6/29/18: Three Reasons

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

When was the last time that someone did something that made you feel unimportant?  Chances are that it was fairly recently. It may have been the way you were treated by a co-worker or a boss.  It may have been the fact that your spouse didn’t greet you warmly when you got home last night.  It might even be that your dog wouldn’t even give you a warm sendoff as you went out the door this morning!  (You know it’s getting bad when your dog shines you on!)  Some were raised by parents who made them feel worthless – like human trash.

It is easy to get down on ourselves.  We grew up in a school system where our mistakes were pointed out.  Have you ever noticed how it is the errors on the page that are marked and counted instead of the right answers?  We might feel better about ourselves if the positive things we did were highlighted instead of the mistakes we made!

I ran across a quote from Lorne Sanny, the long-time head of the Navigators that I think is worth sharing.  It has a very biblical answer to the question of why we are important and valued by God.  Here it is:

“I can give you three reasons why you are important to God:

First, simply because of who you are;

Second, because of what you cost, and;

Third, because of what you can become.”

Who are we?  We are the pinnacle of God’s creation  –  made in His very image.  It was only after God made man on the sixth day of creation that He was moved to declare that what He’d done was VERY good (Gen. 1:31).  Everything else that He’d made up to then only rated “It is good.”  Mankind, however, was something else!  Psalm 8:5-6 says we were made only slightly lower than the angels, we’re crowned with glory and honor and we are charged as rulers over the works of His hands!

What did we cost?  You know the answer to that one already.  We were purchased not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the blood of the Son of God (1 Peter 1.18-19).  In this age of multi-billion dollar mega-mergers and huge corporate buyouts we are somewhat dulled to the scope of the finances involved.  Yet not one corporate CEO or president has yet bought out their enemies by literally bleeding to death for them.  Why?  The cost is too great.

What can you become?  You can become like a bright star in God’s heavenly galaxy (Phil. 2:5); a partaker in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); a pillar in God’s temple (Rev. 3:12); like a tree besides fresh waters (Ps. 1:3); and certainly not least, His son or daughter (Rev. 21:7).

Never let anyone tell you that you are not important or valuable.  God begs to differ!

PRAYER:  We often feel so small and insignificant in this vast universe that was created by Your hands.  When we feel useless and insignificant, help us to remember that truth that You find us precious and that we are important in Your eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/15/18 – The Lifestyle of a Tourist

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DayBreaks for 6/15/18: The Lifestyle of a Tourist

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

It was only about a month ago that I was a tourist.  My wife and I were on vacation in Florida, at the world’s number one vacation city: Orlando.  We lived in Florida many years ago, but I was stunned at how much Orlando had changed.  The air was still hot and humid, but everything else had changed.  The orange groves that used to blossom and smell so sweet were nowhere to be seen.  But there I was, in my shorts and touristy-looking shirts.  I’m sure that wherever we went, we were quickly spotted as tourists. 

Tourists live a different lifestyle than residents.  Tourists don’t have to get up and go to work in the mornings.  Tourists don’t have to cook, mow the grass, wash the car or water the lawn.  When you’re a tourist, someone does all that for you.  And that’s not bad.

But what is sad is when Christians start to live all their lives as if they are tourists.  By that I don’t mean living as sojourners in a strange land – for we are to live like that!  What is bad about being a Christian living as if you’re a tourist is that tourists are often living on a tight schedule – too many things planned to see and do and not enough time to really enjoy any of it.  And so tourists want shortcuts – shortcuts through the lines at DisneyWorld, shortcuts through security at the airport, shortcuts to getting your luggage and to hit the road for adventure. 

Christians live like tourists when we want shortcuts through the life that God has designed and given to us.  We want instant sermons, shorter worship.  People seem to want a list of things they can do that will earn them instant credit at the gates of heaven.  People, Christians – don’t want to take the longer way and learn things as they go.  We are far too impatient for results and don’t focus nearly enough on the process and what it is meant to teach us.  It is interesting that, of all people, Friedrich Nietzsche (who was certainly no friend of Christ or Christianity) saw this so clearly: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”  And the world tries to crush that “long obedience in the same direction” out of us, leading us to despair and give up.

Yes, we are like nomads in this world.  But we are not to be tourists.  We are residents here.  We are to engage in the sometimes long and painful processes that shape us, and which in turn, shape the world.  God isn’t looking for heavenly tourists – he wants folks who are coming to the kingdom to stay! 

PRAYER: Jesus, you persevered so much in this world and have given us an illustration of what it means to live as a stranger in a foreign place, yet remain fully engaged with life.  Help us to be patient – to see the blessing in the process and not just in the ending.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/30/17 – The Value of Opposition

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DayBreaks for 11/30/17: The Value of Opposition

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I enjoy watching kites fly.  I especially enjoy watching either little children fly a kite and squeal with delight, or in watching experts who really know what they’re doing fly exotic and beautiful creations.  The colors, the shapes, the fun of using the wind to fly – it’s great stuff!  Multicolored creations of varying shapes and sizes fill the skies like beautiful birds darting and dancing in the heady atmosphere above the earth.  As the strong winds gusted against the kites, a string keeps them in check.

Instead of blowing away, they rise against the wind to achieve great heights.  They shake and pull, but the restraining string and the cumbersome tail keep them in tow, facing upward and against the wind.  As the kites struggle and tremble against the string, they seem to say, “Let me go!  Let me go!  I want to be free!”  They soar beautifully even as they fight the imposed restriction of the string.  Sometimes, one of the kites will succeed in breaking loose.  “Free at last!’ it seems to say.  “Free to fly with the wind.”

Yet freedom from restraint simply puts it at the mercy of an unsympathetic breeze.  It’ll flutter ungracefully, sometimes in a death-spiral, to the ground where it lands in a tangled mass of weeds and string against a dead bush.  “Free at last” – free to lie powerless in the dirt, to be blown helplessly along the ground, and to lodge lifeless against the first obstruction. 

How much like kites we sometimes are!  The Lord gives us adversity and restrictions, rules to follow from which we can fly and gain strength.  And how we fight against those restraints!  We would like to cast them off like a heavy coat on a blazingly hot summer day!

Restraint, however, is a necessary counterpart to the winds of opposition.  Some of us will tug at the rules so hard that we never soar to reach the heights we might have otherwise obtained.  We keep part of the commandment and (pardon the pun) never rise high enough to get our tails off the ground.

Let us each rise to the great heights our Heavenly Father has in store for us, recognizing that some of the restraints that we may chafe under are actually the steadying force that helps us ascend and achieve.  Without those restraints, we cannot truly fly.

Romans 3:18: – They have no fear of God to restrain them.

PRAYER:  Teach us to love Your commandments and precepts, and to see them as blessings that give us the ability to soar rather than weights to hold us down.  Let us fly with Your Spirit through the winds of obedience!  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.