DayBreaks for 3/02/20 – A Different Attitude

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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.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/20 – An Unending Honeymoon

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DayBreaks for 2/27/20: An Unending Honeymoon

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

If you are married, think back to your honeymoon.  I would certainly hope that it was a time of great joy for you and your beloved.  Honeymoon’s are supposed to be that way – a time when you can simply focus on one another and the delight that fills the heart and put away all other concerns.  It’s great while it lasts, isn’t it?

In his book The Pleasures of God, John Piper shares why God’s love is superior to any love we will find here on earth:

“Sometimes we joke and say about marriage, “The honeymoon is over.” But that’s because we are finite. We can’t sustain a honeymoon level of intensity and affection. We can’t foresee the irritations that come with long-term familiarity. We can’t stay as fit and handsome as we were then. We can’t come up with enough new things to keep the relationship that fresh. But God says his joy over his people is like a bridegroom over a bride. He is talking about honeymoon intensity and honeymoon pleasures and honeymoon energy and excitement and enthusiasm and enjoyment. He is trying to get into our hearts what he means when he says he rejoices over us with all his heart.

“And add to this, that with God the honeymoon never ends. He is infinite in power and wisdom and creativity and love. And so he has no trouble sustaining a honeymoon level of intensity; he can foresee all the future quirks of our personality and has decided he will keep what’s good for us and change what isn’t; he will always be as handsome as he ever was, and will see to it that we get more and more beautiful forever; and he infinitely creative to think of new things to do together so that there will be no boredom for the next trillion ages of millenniums.” – John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 2000), p. 188

I wish I could be on a honeymoon with my bride forever and never have to worry again about the cost of eyeglasses or dental work or mortgage payments or the rising price of everything else.  I wish I could be creative enough to find new ways to express my delight in her each and every moment for as long as I live.  Alas, as she’ll tell you, I’m not that creative.  But God is.  The honeymoon love of God for us will never end nor will we ever tire of it, for our love for Him will be perfected, too.

Long ago when I first married my wife, I couldn’t conceive of a love that would get more and more beautiful as time passed.  Now, from the perspective of a few years, I can understand that such a thing can be true.  But I still can’t conceive of a love that gets “more and more beautiful forever” – yet that is precisely what we will find in Him!

PRAYER: How we long to fully experience your creative, unending, exciting, joyful, beautiful love forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/17/20 – The Great Depression

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DayBreaks for 1/17/20: The Great Depression

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There’s a movie out that you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s James Cameron’s Avatar.  If you can, you REALLY should see it in 3D (there’s both a 3D version of it and a 2D version.)  I can virtually guarantee you that you’ve never seen anything like it in terms of movie-making.  It is literally breath-taking in scope, achievement and visual effects.  You feel as if you are in the jungle on Pandora (the name of their planet). 

It is a movie that also, if one has an eye for it, packs lots of messages and evokes many responses.  Here’s one that I don’t think anyone really anticipated: 

From the Huffington Post, Tuesday, January 12, 2010: Avatar-Induced Depression

“The beautiful alien planet Pandora depicted in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ is so captivating that some audience members are becoming depressed and even suicidal when they fail to find meaning in real life after the film is over.

“Writes Jo Piazza for CNN: On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

“Here are just a few of the ways people are coping on Avatar Forums:

“I just watched avatar a few weeks ago and I’m feeling depressed and sad. It’s like I want to reach out and be in Pandora. I’d do anything to be in Pandora. I’ve tried so hard to dream about me being on Pandora but it hasn’t worked.”
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
“Because, at this point, there isn’t pretty much anything else that can be done. Until the release of DVD/BluRay. But even that won’t take away all of the depression. Because you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(“

“Whether or not these posts are for real there is reason to believe the affliction is rooted in legitimate despair.”

Let me say first, that those I know who have gone to see the movie have not had these kinds of reactions.  Why?  Because the people I’ve talked to about the movie are Christians…and perhaps, just perhaps, we aren’t “depressed and sad” because we understand what the longing is that these folks are experiencing because we’ve found the answer: Jesus. 

As awesome as the world of Pandora is in the movie, it can’t hold a candle to heaven.  As Paul said (he and John are the only humans who’ve ever seen it as far as I know for sure!), it isn’t possible (nor permissible) to discuss what it is like.  I was driving to a meeting early one morning recently as the sun was rising over the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley where we live, and I was captivated by the beauty of that sunrise.  I started talking with God about what heaven would be like.  Are there colors there?  Revelation describes things with color…so there must be.  But are they the same colors?  Will they be different, vastly richer and more beautiful?  I have to believe so.  I can’t believe anything about heaven would be nearly as dull as things on this earth.

As the sun rose, I thought about God’s glory.  He can’t help but be glorious.  It’s not like he wakes up each morning thinking, “I think I’ll be glorious today.”  He can’t help it.  Wherever He goes, His glory arrives before Him like the rays of the sun arrive before the sun is fully up.  And His glory follows after Him as the rays of the sun still light the sky once the sun has set.  As that sunrise came, I realized that the glory of heaven will far outshine anything we can dream of, hope for, long for.  And we don’t need to despair, because our inheritance is being kept for us by God Himself.  Who do you think will be able to take it away from Him?  No one!

Don’t despair.  There’s a place far better than Pandora.  It’s called heaven.

PRAYER: Let Your glory shine on us and led us unto a life lived in the glory of Your eternal day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/01/20 – Seeing the Invisible

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DayBreaks for 1/01/20: Seeing the Invisible

From the DayBreaks Archive, 1/01/09:

Do you remember the story, The Invisible Man? I faintly remember seeing black and white TV movies or shows about it. I found the premise fascinating. For those of you who don’t remember it, a man had become invisible (I don’t remember how), and he wore clothes and bandages over his head to hide the fact that he was invisible. Of course, when he took the bandages off, there was a gap between his hat and his shirt collar! Most of us have probably wished at times that we could be invisible. It may have been when we were in trouble, or when we were feeling mischievous.

Have you ever seen anything that is invisible? I haven’t. But the Bible claims that it has happened. Listen to Hebrews 11:27-28 as it describes Moses: By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.  I’m sure that the writer to the Hebrews had Ex. 33:20-23 in mind when he wrote this, but I think there are several lessons here to be learned:

FIRST: Moses left Egypt on less than good terms. He wasn’t afraid of the pharaoh and his anger (according to this passage), but the thing that allowed Moses to continue on until he died was seeing things that were invisible. It gave him the power to persevere. Many times when my life is frantic and falling into disarray and I think I can’t bear another day, it is because I have only been looking at visible things and stopped seeing invisible Reality.

SECOND: God wants us to see Him. In the ultimate sense, He wants us to look on His face as His child (Rev. 22:4) in heaven. But it wasn’t enough that we should see Him some day. There are some days that are so bad that we need to see Him NOW! And it is at those moments that God reveals Himself in quite unexpected ways. It may come in the form of a cool wind on a blistering hot day, it may come disguised as a kind person who gives a cup of cold water, it may come in the form of someone who has hurt us surprising us by apologizing for some mean words they said. And when we see those things, I hope we’ll see and recognize not just the physical, but the invisible Truth behind all love, kindness and forgiveness.

THIRD: God grants us glimpses of himself when we need it. But more often than not, He is cleverly disguised by human flesh. That’s how He came in the person of Jesus. That was how He revealed Himself through the prophets. And that is how He wants to reveal Himself to the world around you – by and through you: (Colossians 1:27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. You see, if Christ is in you, and you are in Him, God lives within you in a real and utterly unfathomable way. I can’t see it, I can’t explain it, but God lives inside of you and me. When people see us – will they be able to identify and see the Invisible?

PRAYER: Father, may we make You visible to all who see us that they may come to know Your goodness and glory and be saved!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/10/19 – A Message for the Grieving

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DayBreaks for 12/10/19: A Message for the Grieving

Do you remember your first brush with death?  It might have been the death of a pet, or when you first saw road kill.  For some, the first touch of death is for a human who was loved but now gone.  It matters little what the first encounter was, for we will most certainly encounter death numerous times during our few years.  People have wondered since the dawn of creation about the dead – where are they, is there a place they go to, if so – what is it like?  Will we see them again?  For Christians, the questions are a bit more focused: do the dead in Christ go to be with him right away, or do they go to some kind of “holding tank” until the end?  Or, are they even conscious until the resurrection?

It appears that the Christians at Thessalonica had questions about such matters and the apostle Paul wrote partly to bring their questioning to an end.  Paul had several things to say that were instructive:

FIRST: We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13, JB)  As with any group of people, they’d seen loved ones die and be buried.  And they wanted to know more about their plight.  And, thankfully, God wanted them to know more about their status, so He had Paul pen these words.  There are some who will read this that will experience their first Christmas without a particular loved one. Let God speak to you through the words of Paul this year to give you comfort.  But Paul goes on:

SECOND: I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him all the Christians who have died. (1 Thes. 4:13-14, TLB) What is God telling us in this passage?  That we will see our believing loved ones again.  This passage also hints at something another verse will make even more clear: where the dead believers go in the interim – that Jesus will bring them “with him” – so they must be where he is.

THIRD: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Phil. 1:21-23, NIV)  Where does Paul say he would go if he departed this life?  “To be with Christ.” 

Just a day or two ago, I was exchanging email with a friend whose wife (both he and his wife are Christians) passed away this past summer, and I asked him how he was doing during this holiday season.  He replied to me, and I wrote back and simply said, “This year she’ll be celebrating Christmas with the One who was born in the stable.”  I believe that with all my heart – she is presently with the Lord, and when He comes back, she’ll come with Him – as will all our loved ones who have died in Christ.

I want to remind us all that the holidays are very difficult times for people who face them alone for the first time – for all who will have an empty chair at the family gathering this year.  Please – reach out to them and share this part of the good news with those who are in Christ – let God speak peace through you to encourage them as to the fate of their loved ones.

PRAYER: Thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises and reassurances to us, Lord!  Please give comfort to all those who have lost believing loved ones during this year and make us be instruments of Your grace and comfort.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/04/19 – If Jesus Were Not There

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DayBreaks for 12/04/19: If Jesus Were Not There

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE Lord YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.” – Matthew 22:36-38 (NASB)

If you have been a Christian for even a short time, chances are you know this verse well.  It is, I suppose, the single greatest thing that we are to try to do with our life: learn to love God desperately.

Can you remember when you were first falling in love with someone?  I do.  I can never forget the sickness in my stomach and heart at parting from my beloved wife-to-be.  I literally ached inside my chest when I saw her turn her back to go into her home at night, or when she left me to get in her car to drive back to her college.  It was hard to breathe, hard to want to do anything except see her again.  We’d write letters nearly every day, we’d call and talk on the phone nearly every day.  (I never asked my folks about how much the phone bill was, even though our calls were long distance – and to their great credit, they never mentioned it to me, either!)  Love hurts.  But what a wonderful hurting it is!

Jesus statement takes on a new dimension when I think about it compared to the love of my life and how we were when we were falling in love.  In Christian circles we are expected to say, “I love Jesus!” – and we should love him, no doubt.  But while it is one thing to say it, it is another thing entirely to really love Him.  The author, John Piper, in God is the Gospel, confronts us and challenges us to think about whether or not we are truly in love with God.  If you are squeamish, you may not want to read what he had to say: “The critical question for our generation – and for every generation- is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

Worth pondering, don’t you think?  I’m not sure how I would answer that question at times.  All of the things that Piper said are things we all love and long for.  It’s harder to love someone you’ve never seen.  It’s hard to love someone who lived 2000 years ago.  Admire them?  Yes.  Want to emulate them?  Certainly.  But love them? 

I want to be able to say that heaven will be nothing, that all those things we could have as Piper described them, would not be nearly enough if Christ was not there.  The point is: Christ is what makes heaven worthwhile.  It won’t be all those other things.  Sure, they’ll be great, but they won’t even qualify as icing on the cake. 

May we learn to love Jesus more than all other things that we might love combined.

PRAYER: Jesus, we aren’t omniscient like you.  You see us – but we’ve never set eyes upon you.  It is hard to love someone from afar.  Help us to draw close to you, to love you more than anything and everything else for you will be our greatest joy in heaven.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/22/19 – The Renewal of All Things

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DayBreaks for 11/22/19: The Renewal of All Things

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

As a general rule, I don’t like it when I have to renew my driver’s license, or my prescriptions, or my eyeglasses, or memberships to various organizations or subscriptions to magazines.  I don’t like renewing things.  I suppose there are several reasons for that: it implies that what I’ve got is older and not as up-to-date, and in fact, may be approaching the end of its useful life, which hints at the passing nature of all that exists in this world.  It is also expensive to have to renew car licenses – among other things!  Renewing stuff – bah humbug!  That, however, is not true of all things.  There are things that I don’t mind renewing at all: renewing my promises of love to my family and friends. 

My truck has a bad power window on the driver side.  I probably need a new window motor – but I’m thinking instead of getting a renewed one instead because it will probably be cheaper to get a refurbished one instead of a new one.  I’m cheap.  I’ll almost always take the cheapest route if I think it is worth the risk.  But there is always that risk – that nagging suspicion that something that has been merely “renewed” is not as good as a brand new one.  Usually that suspicion proves to be true.  It is more costly to buy new things than to renew old ones. 

We are “new creatures” – not just renewed ones – in Christ.  And that was expensive.  God wasn’t content to simply renew us – that wouldn’t be good enough.  We needed to be made new through-and-through, not just renewed and spiffed up on the outside.  We needed new hearts, new spirits, new life deep inside where the real “us” lives.  Our old hearts, hearts of flesh and stone, could never be renewed enough – they needed transplanting entirely – we needed new ones.  And God chooses to create that heart in us bit by bit.  We probably couldn’t stand it if it happened all at once!  We might not survive that experience!

We are, also, being ‘renewed’ day by day: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV)   We are renewed in the sense that with the dawning of each new day we are reminded that God will provide the strength for that one day, the courage for facing whatever life brings our way, renewed in a sense of purpose and meaning.  This is good renewal.

Here’s another one, from Matthew 19:28, where Jesus was describing his return to earth when he said, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.  The word for “renewal of all things” in Greek is palingenesis, used to describe the great conflagration after which history, having been purified, starts over.  This was a radically new concept when Jesus applied it to himself.  He was making the claim that his return would be accompanied by such power that even the material world and universe would be purged entirely of decay and brokenness.  It would be a time, as Timothy Keller put it in The Reason for God, that “All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.”

At the end of the Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee, the faithful hobbit friend of Frodo and Gandalf, discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as Sam thought he was) but very much alive.  Sam cries out, “I thought you were dead!  But then I thought I was dead myself!  Is everything sad going to come untrue?”  Keller said: “The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes.  Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”

Let us await with patience the renewal of all things – when all will be as glorious as the moment God first spoke things into existence – including us!

PRAYER: We groan as we await the fullness of completely new hearts and the renewal of Your creation, Lord.  Teach us patience, fill us with trust, overflow our hearts with hope for the glorious future that awaits us as part of Your renewed creation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>