DayBreaks for 2/15/18 – Salvaged and Beautiful

Art Gallery of Guelph

DayBreaks for 2/15/18: Salvaged and Beautiful

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

There is a river that runs through the city of Guelph, located in British Columbia, Canada.  As with many rivers that are near or pass through cities, over time refuse accumulates in the river.  Every year in Cloverdale, CA, is a day when local citizens and service groups go out to the Russian River and pull debris from the river banks and river bed.  The same happens in Guelph, but there’s a slight difference.  Here in Cloverdale, the refuse that’s pulled out winds up in a recycling center or a landfill.  In Guelph, I’m sure that some of the same thing happens, but they also put some of it to a very different usage: they invite sculptors in to gather up items pulled from the river and to form them into works of art that are then put on display.  Some of the items recovered are appliances, automobiles, bicycles and motorcycles, bottles, bed springs and frames, barrels and miscellaneous other discarded items.

It is amazing what beauty can come from trash.  Some of the art that is made is truly amazing and beautiful – and it’s all made from refuse. 

What is it that lets these things that were one person’s trash become the beautiful artwork and treasure of another person?  It’s the eyes of the artist that makes the difference.  While someone sees that old refrigerator as something to be destroyed or gotten rid of, the artist sees it as the torso of a statue or a spaceship, and with tender and patient skill, the trash is transformed into something beautiful.

The analogy to the Christian life is clear: we had been discarded by our previous owner (Satan), thrown into the muck and mire by our sinfulness and futility.  And then along came Jesus, trolling through the deepest, darkest recesses of this world until his eyes and hands found us.  He lifted us up from the mud, cleaned us off, and then proceeds to make something “beautiful of my life.”  It isn’t because we deserve it, or because we’ve even asked for it to start with.  It’s because he sees in us, through his Divine eyes, what we can be made into and he delights in the changing of us according to his will.

I know many people who are discouraged, despairing, afraid to look in the mirror for fear of the horror that they see when they look into their own souls.  Sadly, many of those people are believers who struggle to accept that God loves them and that He is already engaged in the process of turning them into a beautiful work of art fit to be found on the streets of heaven.  Maybe you’re one of those people, or today is one of the days when you feel like a piece of trash.  Just remember: God has salvaged you and is shaping you into a unique – and beautiful – work of His art that He will one day display in the halls of His very own home!

PRAYER: God, give us a glimpse of what you are doing with our broken lives and fill us with joy to be your reclamation projects that you are turning into your very own masterpieces!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/02/18 – The Hands of a Father, #1

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DayBreaks for 2/02/18: The Hands of a Father, #1

From the DayBreaks archives, 1/28/98: (this DayBreaks was written one week after my father died in 1998)

I remember as a child laying in the church pew (I was really young, OK?) and my dad would be resting his arm on the back of the pew with his fingers dangling down towards me.  I’d play with his fingers and hands while the preacher did his thing.  I remember thinking how powerful and strong my dad’s hands were.  He was a farmer then, so you know that they were broad, calloused and hardened from difficult work.

Last week as I sat by my father’s deathbed and I held his hand in mine, the situation had changed.  Once upon a time, it was my dad’s hand that enveloped mine.  Times when I was afraid, times when he was afraid for me (that I’d run into the road or something like that), times when he was trying to keep me from falling.  And certainly times just when he wanted to hold my hand or I wanted to hold his.

They say that at some point in our lives that the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child.  I guess that is what happened to my dad and I last week.  No longer could he hold my hand, now it was my hand that surrounded his and it was I who was trying to provide the comfort and assurance that I could. Yet for as much as my heart yearned to keep him from slipping off into eternity, I was powerless to stop it. And for his sake, I’m grateful that even as my hand had to let go of his, I know our Father had taken his hand to lead him home.

As I sat by his bedside holding his motionless hand, I thought about how many times the Father has held my hand and I’ve taken it for granted.  Psalm 37.23-24: If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.   Daniel 5.23b: But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times my dad held my tiny, weak hand in his.  I wonder how many times God has held my hand and I’ve been so insensitive that I didn’t even recognize it.  But there are even worse things than not recognizing His hand.  I have a choice to withdraw my hand from His (indeed, isn’t that exactly what we do every time we sin?).  I also have a choice to not take the hand that is offered to me (the way of escape from temptation is to take His hand and walk with Him through the test).

If I had the chance for my dad to hold my hand again, I’d grab it in a heartbeat.  I hope and pray that I’ll be as eager to let God hold my hand on this journey through life.  And I pray that I’ll never again be so insensitive to the Father’s hand upon my life.  My prayer for you is the same.

PRAYER: Lord, how desperately we need Your hand to hold ours!  We tremble in fear at the roaring of the world when we think we are alone.  May Your Almighty hand reassure us that we are never alone and we are never to fear with our Father at our side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/31/18 – Screaming in the Darkness

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DayBreaks for 1/31/18: Screaming in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Michael Card’s Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ:  “When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, he was already bloody before anyone laid a hand on him.  He had been fighting a battle that would make certain the final outcome on Calvary.  Without Gethsemane, there would have been no Golgotha. The blood and water that flowed from his wounds on the cross were preceded by bloody sweat that poured from his pores as he suffered the agony of a death more painful than the physical death on the cross, the death of the will.”

“Gethsemane literally means “place of crushing,” a place where olives were crushed for their oil.  That name took on an infinitely deeper meaning when Jesus knelt down there to pray that night in the garden.  He was both a man and a child in Gethsemane.  Full of courage, it was a man who faced not an uncertain death, but one that was fully known to him.  Jesus looked the Father in the face with mature, though anguished, honesty and said, “If there is any way for this cup to pass, let it be so!”  The torment of the garden was the confrontation between the Son, whose perfect obedience came crashing down against the human desire to say, “My will be done!”  Jesus began to die in the garden.”

“Did Jesus want to go to the cross?  The garden of Gethsemane tells us, no.  Obedience is perfected not in doing something you want to do but in doing the last thing in the world you want to do.  That is why his sweat flowed with blood.  A man knelt in the garden, a man of unspeakable courage and obedience.  A Man of Sorrows…”

“Yet a child also knelt down there to pray.  We hear the tones of a child in Jesus’ plea, “Abba, anything is possible for you!”  Jesus’ words sound like a child’s cry to his father for help, not a theological statement about an all-powerful Universal Being.  (Every father is, at least for a little while, omnipotent to his children.)  He was a child, screaming in the darkness, as if he were having a nightmare, only this was not a dream.”

Galen’s thoughts: This is apparently the closest Jesus ever came to hanging it up and not going through with what God wanted from him.  Does it scare you to know how close he came?  It was only a few short letters and a twist of the words from “..not my will but thine…” to “…not thy will but mine…”.  We were that close.  If Jesus had refused to surrender his own will we would have been doomed.

The will dies hard, doesn’t it?  As you wrestle with your will and the role it plays in the sin in your life, find comfort in the fact that Jesus knows how hard it is for our own will to die within us.  He, the very Son of God, knew the struggle, too.  He can identify with me when I struggle to put the knife to the heart of my own will.  But he also shows me that it can be done.  The struggle is winnable. He proved it.

PRAYER: The struggle is great within us, Lord, to decide whether to follow you or follow our own ways.  Strengthen us in our obedience to be like our Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/31/17 – Where Things Go to Die

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DayBreaks for 10/31/17: Where Things Go to Die

Yeah, I know it’s Halloween, and there will be “zombies” walking around carrying buckets and bags for candy tonight. There will be other “undead” creatures wandering the sidewalks and streets, but this DayBreaks doesn’t really have anything to do with dead things like that. But it does have to do with where things can go to die.

I lived on the farm as a kid, and it wasn’t unusual for a cat or a skunk to go into a crawl space that ran under the side of the corn crib when it came their time to die. You typically wouldn’t see them – you’d smell them before you noticed that they were no longer around. And even for us humans, we have places we tend to die: at home, in a hospital, at a convalescent center. After all, we will all die and we need a place where we can do that.

But what I’m interested in today is a lyric from a song in worship on Sunday that talked about the place where all our sin and shame goes to die. That place? The cross of Jesus, of course!

What does it mean that our sin and shame can truly go there to die? It means that I don’t need to feel crushed any longer by the sin in my life, no matter what that sin may be. It is dead. It is nailed to the cross. And I also no longer have to be weighed down with my shame for all that I’ve done, and all the good that I know I should have done, but which I left undone. That shame, the reports of those things, will never be revealed as I’ve been washed clean and carry the shame of my deeds and thoughts no longer. And if my shame were to be revealed, rather than being embarrassed by it, I should exult in the greatness and completeness of His forgiveness and grace. Instead of dying of my shame, my shame died so I can exalt His greatness!

Some dead things, like cats in a crawl space, stink. My sin and shame is dead, too, and the scent of the grace of Jesus accompanies my soul. In the Father’s eyes, it is as if those things never happened for the price was paid that took those things away…forever!  

PRAYER: Thank you for providing the perfect place for our sin and shame to die and be hidden for eternity! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/27/17 – How Could He Not Have Sinned?

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DayBreaks for 10/27/17: How Could He Not Have Sinned?

Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yesterday, I wrote about Peter’s denial and how God used stories like that to encourage us in our human weakness – not to encourage us to be weak – but to know that in spite of our failures He still loves us. We are just like Peter. There is only One who lived a sinless life.

So, how did Jesus do it? How did he manage to live sinlessly?

Philosophers and theologians like to debate subjects which may seem trivial at times. And they like to sound like they know what they’re talking about. My guess is that philosophers probably come closer to knowing what they are talking about because I’m not convinced that finite human minds can really begin to grasp God and His mysteries very well.

One such subject in the theological realm is the peccability of Christ. Peccability means “liable to sin, susceptible to temptation”. In a nutshell, the argument is about whether or not Christ could really have sinned. The NT is clear he was human: he had to learn, grow, he got hungry and tired, he ate, he was tempted just like us, he cried, he bled, he died. It is equally clear that he was God: “I and the Father are One”, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”, etc.

So, if he wasn’t just half human and half divine, but fully human and fully divine, how could he have not sinned?

I think it must be the case that in his humanity he could have sinned, the divine nature was so much stronger (as one would expect) that he was able not to sin. It boils down, I think, to this: He was led by and in constant harmony with the Spirit that dwelt in him fully. And the strength of that Spirit because of Jesus’ walk in the Spirit was able to defeat every temptation.

And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to have that same Spirit in us? Yes. So why don’t we live flawlessly? Because we are not in constant harmony with that Spirit. We don’t have the 100% God nature that Jesus had that enables him to overcome.

The secret to overcoming sin is to walk in the power of the Spirit. I wish I had a magic wand that would let me and you do that. My experience is that I’m not sufficiently in tune with the Spirit to overcome sin always – let alone often.

Should I despair over this sad state of affairs? Well, I certainly should repent when I fall and pray for the power of the Spirit to be unleashed more in my life, but I don’t think God wants us to despair over it. I believe that the same divine nature that was able to prevent sin in Jesus will, through the blood of Jesus, present me to God sinless and pure on the day of Judgment. And that’s something not to despair over, but to rejoice in!

PRAYER: Jesus, we all need to walk more in the power of Your Spirit. Mortify the fleshly desires that lead us into sin, and help us cry out for help when we are tempted rather than stifling Your power to keep us from sinning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/15/17 – Your Garden of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 9/15/17: Your Garden of Gethsemane

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Have you ever stopped to think how many decisions you will make in any given day?  We make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  When we think of decisions, we tend to think of the weightier matters of life – and that’s a good thing.  Weighty matters deserve lots of thought as we try to decide what to do.  Hopefully, if you are a Christian, the very first thing you contemplate is whether or not the thing you are doing is in God’s will.  Regardless of whatever other factors you choose to apply to decisions you are facing and making, that one should be the most prominent. 

How do you know His will?  I’m not going to try to provide an exhaustive list here, but certainly His revealed and written Word is our primary tool for discerning his will.  If we cavalierly throw that out the window, we have no solid basis for a decision.  God expects us to follow the Word when we are facing decisions.  That means we have to accept it as truth, not try to explain it away or rationalize why it doesn’t apply to us.

One of my favorite stories about the life of Jesus has to do with his night in the garden of Gethsemane, my favorite place in the Holy Land.  I am moved by that story – even more, I think, that by the story of the crucifixion itself.  Physical pain is one thing, but spiritual pain can be far worse.  It was in the garden that we’re told Jesus was in agony – not on the cross.  (I’m not minimizing what happened upon those old timbers – I am sure there was incredible agony there, too.)  It was in the garden that he wrestled with both flesh and blood and principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Why?  Because in the garden he was faced with the decision that would form the crux of his life.  It all culminated there, in the shadows of the olive trees, as the Son of God knelt down in the dirt and made the most crucial decision in all of history: would he do things his way, or God’s way?

There are times and decisions in our lives that are seemingly insignificant (although I’d like to argue that one with you – notice I said “seemingly insignificant”), but then there are moments that clearly rise into the stratosphere in terms of importance.  At those times we are faced with our own garden of Gethsemane.  We must decide whether our prayer will be, “Nevertheless, my will not Thine be done,” or if we’ll echo Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” 

You may be wrestling with a decision today that has life-altering potential, that once made may not be able to be undone ever.  Have you considered what God’s Word would say about it?  If you know how God feels about it, what will you do about it?  You may be facing your own garden of Gethsemane right now.  What will your prayer be?

PRAYER:  Spirit, help us not to fail the test in moments of crisis.  Strip away Satan’s deceptions from our eyes so that we can see what is at stake in the decisions of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

DayBreaks for 6/20/17: The Wonder of Wonder Woman

OK, I’m not ashamed to admit it: my wife and I went to see Wonder Woman over the weekend. It was a rollicking good time, and I think I enjoyed it every bit as much as my wife did – and she loved it a lot! I love stories where there is a strong woman character – always have, I guess.

Anyway, after the movie, we were reflecting on the movie and we were both thinking along the same lines. There were many parallels (some really strong, others a bit more of a stretch) to the gospel story. Perhaps – unwittingly – that’s why so many people have loved the movie. It makes me wish they understood the true reason the story resonated with their imaginations and heart!

A few years back, John Eldredge wrote a short book, Epic, and had a video series to accompany it that I believe explains what I’m talking about. Here’s the excerpt from Amazon.com’s description of Epic: Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived to forty minutes late. Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart. We need to know the rest of the story.

For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, heroism . . . and betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you’ve ever loved―there’s a reason they stirred your heart. They’ve been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.

In Wonder Woman, as in Titanic, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart and nearly every other movie that is grand and epic in scale, the story is the same, only told with different characters, somewhat different circumstances and settings. It goes like this: there was something grand and glorious, but something horrible happens and a hero has to rise to make things right and to rescue what has been lost – usually at great cost to her/himself. But in the end, things wind up restored.

In Wonder Woman, Diana is supposed to be half-human and half-god (I didn’t realize that before seeing the movie) who lives in a peaceful, beautiful place that is separated from the world of trouble, but one day, that is shattered. Diana feels compelled to do something about it – so she journeys to the broken world to fix things in spite of the fact that she’ll never be able to return to her original home again. While there, she fights to overcome evil – and to some extent she does, but she also learns that there is something fundamentally broken inside of human beings that she cannot fix.

Do you begin to see the parallels? Jesus was in heaven – he didn’t have to come, but he chose to – driven by compassion. He wasn’t half-human and half-God, he was 100% human and 100% God. He entered into the broken world because he felt compelled to do so out of love and compassion. He fights against the lord of this world, against the chaos and suffering and it cost him dearly. But, the victory is won and in the end, it turns out OK.

There are differences, too, and one in particular that I think is well worth noting. While I was intrigued by the final battle in Wonder Woman where Diana fights against Ares (the Greek god of war in mythology), she had to struggle to obtain victory. Not so with Jesus – at least not in the final battle. In the final battle, the fate of mankind won’t hang in the balance when Christ returns. It won’t be a struggle with the outcome uncertain. It won’t take several minutes for the enemy to be defeated. When God decrees the end – the victory will be instantaneous, unilateral, unequivocal and total – in the time it takes God to say “It is finished!” Satan will collapse like the pretender that he has been for millennia, his vaunted strength revealed to be nothing more than a trifle by the power of the One Who speaks.

Wonder Woman was fascinating entertainment. Jesus is the real thing.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long for you to glorify yourself at your return and to see you absolutely, totally and forever crush the enemy in an instant. Thank you for things that remind us of the epic story of which we are a part! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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