DayBreaks for 1/23/20 – Indiscriminate Compassion

Image result for compassion

DayBreaks for 1/23/20: Indiscriminate Compassion

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

In the past 10 days our television screens have been filled with images of incomprehensible devastation in the nation of Haiti.  Just today, one of the headlines is stating that the government of Haiti is claiming that 150,000 bodies have already been buried – and who knows how many have yet to be found and buried?  Stories of children who have lost their parents, parents who have lost children, elderly individuals who have essentially been left to die because no one could get water or food to them in time.  Photos and videos of people shrieking in anguish as they’ve been informed of the death of a loved one, or when they recognized their crushed bodies in the makeshift morgues prior to burial.  It would take a truly hard-hearted person to not be filled with compassion at times like this.  I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by this unparalleled disaster in the western hemisphere. 

Compassion at such times is relatively easy to come by.  There are other times, however, when we struggle to find a compassionate bone in our bodies.  We tend to look at people who have as much as we do (or more) and when they are faced with disaster, we tend to not be as compassionate as we are for the Haitians. 

Perhaps we would be well advised to consider the nature of Jesus’ compassion.  How did Jesus evaluate who was worthy of compassion and who wasn’t worthy?  I don’t see that he ever discriminated when confronted with suffering or need.  Brennan Manning made it pretty clear in Abba’s Child when he wrote: “What is indiscriminate compassion?  ‘Take a look at a rose.  Is it possible for the rose to say, ‘I’ll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people’?  Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light?  It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp.  And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature – even to the one who seeks to cut it down.  This is the first quality of compassion – its indiscriminate character.”

Have you thought about the compassion that Jesus has shown you?  Did you deserve it by your exemplary behavior?  Do you feel that Jesus was obligated to be compassionate to you?  Jesus isn’t obligated to do anything for us, but he is compassionate toward all of us because he can’t help being compassionate to all. He would no longer be Jesus if he stopped being compassionate. As His children, we should be the most compassionate people on earth. But I wonder: are we?

PRAYER: Jesus, teach us to follow in harmony with your compassionate heart that we may be more like you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/21/20 – Top 10 Indispensible Things Since 1999

Image result for top 10

DayBreaks for 1/21/20: Top 10 Indispensible Things Since 1999

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

It’s been an interesting decade from 1999-2009, hasn’t it?  So much has happened in that short 10 years.  So many fears exist now that we’d never acknowledged before.  We’ve seen the birth of worldwide terrorism at a scale we’d never thought existed in the human heart.  We’ve had numerous epidemics (bird flu, swine flu, etc.).  We’ve witnessed devastation caused by nature on horrific scales: Katrina/Rita, the Asian tsunami, Haitian earthquake and so on.  We’ve witnessed masses of people dying in wars, global economic meltdowns.  It’s been quite a decade and it makes one wonder what the next 10 years might hold.

This is from Newsweek, who compiled several interesting lists toward the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, and it was the “Top 10 Indispensible Things Since 1999”.  Check it out:

  1. WikiPedia
  2. YouTube
  3. iTunes
  4. DVR
  5. Gardasil
  6. Chipotle
  7. TMZ
  8. Red Bull
  9. Free Credit Reports
  10. Online Airline Check-in

All I can say is: WHAT?!?!?!?!?!  As I look at the list, I don’t need a single one of those things.  Not one of them would be on my “I can’t live without this” list – and isn’t that the definition of “indispensible”?  I mean, water and air are indispensible.  Sunlight is indispensible.  So’s sleep.  But there are even more important and indispensible things.

If those are the most indispensible things since 1999, we’re in sorry, sorry shape.  Where is God?  Where is love?  Where is social decency?  Where is integrity? Where is faith?  Where is mercy?  Where is grace?  Where is the family?  Where is the church?  Where is forgiveness?  Where’s the Word of God?  Where’s hope?

Those things have always been the most indispensible.  That will never change, no matter what decade it is.

PRAYER: Keep us from thinking that foolish things are indispensible and keep us from happiness and contentment if we have them so that we’ll look for what is truly indispensible to the human soul!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/16/20 – Can’t Touch This

Image result for bank safe

DayBreaks for 1/16/20: Can’t Touch This

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Chrysostom, the ancient Church Father, was a beautiful example of true Christian courage. When he stood before the Roman Emperor, he was threatened with banishment if he still remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot, for the world is my Father’s house; you cannot banish me.”

“But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.

“No, but you cannot,” said the noble champion of the faith again, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away thy treasures.” “No, but you cannot,” was the retort; “in the first place, I have nothing you know anything about. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from man, and you shall have no friend left.” “No, and that you cannot,” once more said the faithful witness, “for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you shall not separate me. I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

How does an ordinary human get such courage?  It surely doesn’t come from our human nature.  It comes from the Spirit of boldness that we have as part of the indwelling of the Spirit…the very Spirit that was in Christ Jesus.  There has never been a braver, more courageous and fearless man than Jesus. 

What we have is secured, not by the power of Rome or the United States, it is not kept by a refrigerator or a preservative additive, it is kept by the power of the Almighty God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – ESV, 1 Peter 1:3-5

PRAYER: Give us courage to live in the power of Your Spirit and to be fearless like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 11/25/19 – Where Insignificance Goes to Die

Related image

DayBreaks for 11/25/19: Where Insignificance Goes to Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

At the northern end of the Locke Hill Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, is a tombstone marking the final earthly resting place of Grace Llewellyn Smith.  Her marker has no date of birth and no date of death.  One might wonder why – was it because no one knew them?  That’s not likely given the fact that the names of her two husbands are also on her tombstone.  Our best clue as to why her tombstone has no dates of birth and death may be found in the other words that are carved into the granite, that say this: Sleeps, but rests not.  Loved, but was loved not.  Tried to please, but pleased not.  Died as she lived…alone.

Given that epitaph, one can probably assume her date of birth and death aren’t there because no one really cared about her.  Her epitaph would seem to stand as a monument to futility.  Doesn’t it make you wonder about Grace Llewellyn Smith…about her life?  Did she perhaps choose those words herself in advance of her death as her way of telling the coming generations about her life and misery…or did she just live those words and someone else put them in stone?  She had two husbands…yet died alone.  Did she deserve that?  Was she some kind of shrew that drove two men and friends away forever?  Was she as bitter and forlorn as these words make her out to be?  What did she look like?  Was her hair flowing blond, or black?  Were her eyes sparkly or dull?  Did she ever laugh, and if so, at what? 

Bigger questions could – and should – be asked, including this one: what is it that causes some lives to be so productive and fruitful and others to be so empty and futile?  Loved but was not loved…can you imagine the long nights, the empty space in the bed next to her, the sounds of silence that must have filled the house where she lived?  The lack of response to messages and letters she may have left or written?  She loved…but received none back. 

Tried to please..but pleased not…can you hear the words of disappointment chopping into her heart?  “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t like it when you dress that way!”, or “You’ve never amounted to anything and you never will!” or “Are you stupid –can’t you ever do ANYTHING right!”  The hurtful words keep chopping away – day after day – week after week – year after year – until a lifetime is gone and the words couldn’t hurt any more.

Died as she lived – alone.  How sad.  Dying alone.  How long had she been dead before anyone found her?  A day, or was it a week or more before someone wondered why they’d not seen her?  No one knows anymore.  It sounds like she was dead inside for most of her life. 

This is about as tragic as it gets.  Yet there are many Grace Llewellyn Smith’s in the world: the homeless living in the garbage dump in Ecuador, the party and bed-hopping hoi polloi in glitzy Miami Beach who seek love but don’t find it, the spouse that is now facing life alone who was constantly reminded of how pitifully useless and inept they are by the one who promised to love them until death parted them.  The list is long and varied. 

To human appearances, Grace Llewellyn Smith died alone.  Yet if Scripture is true in saying that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father knowing it, surely neither did Grace Llewellyn Smith die alone.  One can only hope that she knew the Lord, for she surely was loved by Him.  In Jesus is the answer to every one of the critical lines in Ms. Smith’s epitaph: in Jesus we can find rest (“come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened and you will find rest for your souls”); in Jesus we are loved eternally (“For God so loved the world…”); from Jesus we shall hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’; and we will never die alone (“I will be with you always.”)

Are you a Grace Llewellyn Smith?  Do you know one?  Grab hold of Jesus – and never let go!

PRAYER: Lord, my heart breaks to read Ms. Smith’s epitaph and to ponder her lot in this world.  Open our eyes to the Grace Llewellyn Smith’s who are all around us, living lives of silent desperation, bleeding from a thousand wounds – who need what Jesus alone can give.  When we are broken and hurting, may we turn first to the One who can heal and cure our every hurt.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/19/19 – The National Rush to Therapy

Image result for psychotherapy

DayBreaks for 11/19/19: The National Rush to Therapy

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Ft. Hood, Texas.  Sadly, that name is now in the archives along with Columbine, Lockerbie, Auschwitz (though this was a much larger scale) and others.  It is a name that will “live in infamy” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt.  On a beautiful fall day, blood was spilled mixing its color with the leaves.  Thirteen died (as of this writing) and many more were wounded.  It was a tragedy that should not have happened – just as Cain should not have slain Abel, David should not have had Uriah killed, and Saul should not have killed Stephen.  Yet human tragedy seems to be the legacy of the human race.

On November 9, 2009, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times in an article titled “A Rush to Therapy”, analyzed the events and news coverage in the aftermath of Ft. Hood.  I have no interest in sitting in judgment on Maj. Hasan – I am more than willing to leave the judging to God as He alone is qualified to sit in judgment.  I don’t have that right, but He does.  What was interesting about this article was Brooks’ focus on how people have tried to explain away the man’s behavior.  He was stressed out from hearing about others stresses (secondary stress syndrome – we even have a name for it).  As a pastor, I can understand that – I’ve been there before and most assuredly will be again.  Others suggested that he acted out of a fear of going to Afghanistan into a war zone (then why did he create one of his own?)  Others said it was “pre-traumatic stress syndrome” – anticipation of the events of the foreseeable future that cause him to snap like a dry twig (yet couldn’t we blame everything on such a “syndrome” if we want to?) 

I want to be fair and honest about this, so I now tread carefully.  I don’t know what was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” but it seems to me that all the efforts to explain it away, to reassure us as to why it happened, have missed a very crucial point: the existence of evil.  Major Hasan was not different from anyone you meet on the street.  Everyone has struggles and they’re happy to tell you about them if you’ll stop long enough to listen.  Everyone has things they dread in the future (aging, loss of income, health issues, fear of death or abandonment, fear of conflict.)  But not everyone responds as Major Hasan did.  He chose to act evilly.  Why did he kill and wound so many?  Because of evil in the heart.  So it has always been – and so it will always be until we let God create new hearts within us. 

On the same day as Brooks’ article came out, it was announced that the Beltway Sniper (John Allen Mohammad) would not receive clemency and would be executed that same evening at 9:00 p.m..  Something inside of me “cheered” at that news.  After all, I wanted to see “justice” done to this man who held much of the eastern seaboard hostage to a murderous terror spree some years back.  What beat in his heart?  Evil.  I recall people trying to excuse his behavior, too.  I have no doubt that he suffered disappointments, possibly abuse.  Yet that didn’t make him a murderer.  It was his choice about how to respond to those things that made him a murderer.  He could have chosen to go another way – to become a counselor or social worker who helps people who have experienced the things he did, but that wasn’t what he chose.  He chose to act evilly.

But then God puts a check in my heart.  “How have you responded to evil, Galen?”  Well, Lord, there have certainly been times when I talked about someone who hurt me behind their back.  I’ve thought thoughts about them that should never be thought – let alone spoken.  I may have intentionally wronged someone or acted in an evil manner.  But those, too, were choices.  And where do they come from?  From the same heart that drove Hasan or the Beltway Sniper to do what they did.  Perhaps my actions weren’t as evil in the eyes of society, but they are still evil. 

Enough of the evil.  Enough of denying its existence in the hearts of others – and in our own hearts.  Let us all pray that God creates that new heart within us that David pled for when he recognized his own need: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and renew a right spirit within me.  (Ps. 51:10) 

PRAYER: Create in us clean hearts, Father and a spirit that is fashioned after Your Own.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/22/19 – Drinking Your Own Kool-aid

Image result for drinking your own kool

DayBreaks for 08/22/19: Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Many of you will recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple located in Guyana.  Jones was a charismatic leader by all accounts.  He had fanatically devoted followers who left behind families, homes, careers and jobs in America to follow him to a jungle “paradise” that was called Jonestown (that should have been a clue to the man’s ego.)  They moved after a magazine, New West, raised questions about the legality of some of their practices.  According to Wikipedia, after moving to Guyana, Jones developed a belief in something he called “Translation” – the idea that he and his followers would all die together and go to another planet to live in peace.  He even held mass suicide “practices” where followers would drink Kool-aid and fall to the ground as if they were dead in order to prepare for Translation. 

The day finally came when it wasn’t practice – it was for real.  A total of 914 people died in the mass poisoning – 638 adults and 276 children.  By the time that authorities arrived, many of the bodies were already in such a state of decay that there is some dispute about how many actually died.  It was not a pretty scene. 

I have often wondered about the mindset of those present in Jonestown on that fateful day.  It is hard for me to comprehend parents giving cups of poisoned Kool-aid to their little ones.  For me, it is almost as hard to understand how people could take the cup and drink it down themselves.

An old blog entry had a synopsis of an article from Vogue magazine by Jenny Sanford (the wife of the infamous Governor Sanford who was caught having an affair with an Argentine woman while lying about his whereabouts to his family and staff), where she was describing what it was like to watch her husband’s “addiction” to a woman with whom he was carrying on an affair.  The writer of the blog (my youngest son, Tim) noted this quote from Ms. Sanford: “Politicians become disconnected from the way everyone else lives in the world. I saw that from the very beginning. They’ll say they need something, and ten people want to give it to them. It’s an ego boost, and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid. As a wife, you do your best to keep them grounded, but it’s a real challenge.” 

What struck me was her comment: “…and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid” – a reference to what happened in Jonestown and how it was so deadly.  It isn’t just politicians who are quick to drink their own Kool-aid.  I fear we are all quick to believe our own deceptions and lies and to seek that which flatters and boosts our egos.  It is frequently said of sports teams or athletes that get too “fat” of a head that they “believe their own press,” i.e., they believe the things they say and think about themselves to an unhealthy and potentially fatal degree.

We do the same thing when we think we’re better than we really are, or when we think we can withstand a certain temptation that has always pulled at us – and we’ll get too close to it and wind up in the dirt like the families who died in Jonestown. 

God doesn’t give us poisoned Kool-Aid, nor does He want us to drink our own concoction.  Instead, He offers us the Living Water – water that is pure, sweet and gives us life. 

Maybe it’s time for us all to do some serious introspection to find out if we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12:2-3 (KJV)

PRAYER:  Our eyes are all too often blinded and our minds are dulled by our own press and impressions of ourselves, Lord.  Help us not to drink our own Kool-Aid, nor the Kool-Aid that anyone else would offer us.  Help us to seek and drink only Living Water!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/30/19 – Vanished From Sight

Image result for vanished

DayBreaks for 07/30/19: Vanished from Sight

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

A recent story from the Associated Press told a fascinating story about hoarding which holds Christian implications.  “Jesus warned against piling up money on earth, because money comes and goes. A sad reminder of the vulnerability of money came with the June 2009 news story of an elderly woman in Israel who had hidden her life savings of one million dollars in her bed mattress. Every night she slept on one million in American dollars and Israeli shekels. She must have felt very secure with her fortune literally inches away, holding her up each night—especially since 2008 and 2009 had been disastrous years for banks and financial institutions as the world economy suffered its worst recession in decades. What’s more, she had had a bad experience with a bank and had lost trust in them. Whom could she trust? No one! In fact, she did not tell even her own daughter where all that fortune was hidden.”

And that was the wealthy woman’s big mistake. One day her daughter decided that the mother needed a new mattress. Who knows, maybe she sat on the bed, and it felt a bit lumpy—one of those ten thousand dollar lumps perhaps—and she thought, “What a cheap bed this is!” She decided to replace the mattress. She wanted to present the new mattress as a surprise gift, so the new mattress was delivered without her mother’s knowledge, and the old, lumpy mattress went into the garbage.

How pleased the daughter must have felt as she watched the delivery men put the new mattress in place and haul the old mattress out to the truck. Imagine the smile on her face when she brought her mother into the bedroom and presented her surprise gift. Somehow her elderly mother did not put two and two together right away. After a night of sleep on her new mattress, however, she woke up and suddenly realized what had happened to her life savings. She literally screamed.

A video news report of this story showed the daughter walking through a garbage dump hunting for the lost mattress. News reports showed workers combing through the trash as bulldozers moved piles of garbage attempting to uncover the lost treasure.

Truly there is no sure way to safeguard our worldly treasures – and they will all be taken from us at one point or another by life or death. 

PRAYER: Help us to truly believe that the only things in life that are worth pursuing are the eternal ones.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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