DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 12/26/18: Not Like the World Gives

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From my friend, Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets:

Christmas Day, 1863. America’s poet laureate, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, found himself in a deep state of depression. America was embroiled in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history. A devout abolitionist, his heart was broken by the terrible war. But even worse, his personal grief was overwhelming.  A month earlier, his oldest son was critically wounded in battle. Two years prior, his wife Fannie burned to death right in front of him, when her clothes caught fire. Longfellow was severely injured in an effort to extinguish her, and carried severe scars for the rest of his days. 

Looking out his window in Cambridge, Mass, in intense despair, he ruminated on the angel’s words to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. He scoffed, “There is no peace on earth. These tragic events mock God’s promise of peace.”  

But then, a Christmas miracle occurred. In an instant, everything changed, and Longfellow penned these words: 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day. 

Their old familiar carols play. 

And wild and sweet, the words repeat 

of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Through the church bells, God reminded Longfellow of the big picture; the TRUE peace that the baby in the manger brings to earth. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. He hasn’t abandoned us. The Prince of Peace still triumphs, even in the midst of war and personal tragedy, bringing peace that passes understanding: peace with God.  

Face it, if Jesus came to rid the world of war and suffering, he did a pretty lousy job! But what if…he brought something greater? What if, he did more than anyone ever dared imagine? What if he delivered a unique kind of peace, a peace so great, it transcends external circumstances? That’s the peace that inspired Longfellow to compose this cherished Christmas poem. Jesus promised, “The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Our world and lives today abound with conflict and turmoil. Like Longfellow, we have a choice: cave in to despair, or embrace the peace Jesus offers. Longfellow “heard the bells on Christmas day” and his life was changed forever.

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but one more thing about the peace that Jesus gives: it is a lasting peace and it can fill your heart for the rest of your life. Embrace it!

PRAYER: Lord, we are nearly at the new year and we pray that we will know your special peace throughout the year no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/22/18 – Habakkuk & Thanksgiving

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DayBreaks for 11/22/18: Habakkuk and Thanksgiving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

This will be the kind of Thanksgiving this year that perhaps our country hasn’t seen since 9/11/01.  You can probably recall what your state of mind was like then.  If you were like most people, there was fear about the future, uncertainty about life and what could be expected in the coming years.  This year is no different – but for mostly different reasons.  This year, we’re faced with home foreclosures, businesses disappearing and jobs vaporizing, incomes and careers being threatened.  There is a great deal of uncertainty in our communities, our nation and around the world.  It might be wise to remember what Time magazine reported on at Thanksgiving time, 2001. 

In the cover story of Time Magazine’s Thanksgiving edition, Nancy Gibbs said Americans would reflect on what had been taken away and what could be salvaged as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meals. She said, “This is the kind of holiday we need right now, an intrinsically complicated one that comes at the end of a bitter harvest and yet finds something sweet to celebrate.”

That year, a Time/CNN poll suggested 75% of Americans said they would be more appreciative that year (2001) than previous Thanksgivings. Many planned to use the time around the table to rebuild relationships damaged by disagreements and disappointment. Others expected to use the holiday to reflect on the goodness of a God they previously doubted. The context of that Thanksgiving (and this one!) may be sorrow and fear, yet it can be marked by renewed hope and greater resolve.

In many ways, America’s thanksgiving reflects the words of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. Though he lived in perilous times, and feared the future, the prophet thanked God. He realized true thanksgiving finds its roots in the God of Heaven rather than His many gifts. Habakkuk wrote: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Hab. 3:17-18, NIV)  — www.time.com/time/covers We Gather Together—Thanksgiving in the Post 9-11 World. November 12, 2001.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my friends!

Prayer: This day may we be deeply thankful for Who You Are, Who You Always Will Be, and What You Have Always Been!  May we be thankful for Your good gifts, but mostly may we be thankful because You are our God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/20/18 – With Natural Affection

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DayBreaks for 11/20/18: With Natural Affection

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I heard the most disturbing thing on the radio today while I was driving in the car.  I almost stopped to weep when I hear it.  But first, let me give you a little background.

You may recall that in the past few years, several states have passed legislation that allows parents to bring a newborn to a hospital where the unwanted child can be left – no questions asked.  The intent, I’m sure, was good: that if the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the infant, at least it will have proper care, nutrition and a chance to be adopted and raised in a loving home.  I understand that – to some degree.  In some cases, the law was written that the child must be dropped off within 72 hours or so of being born. 

But, apparently, some of those laws were apparently written in such a way that it just says that parents can drop off their child at the hospital.  What I heard today was a report from some Nebraska, which has started having parents drop off children up through their late teens.  In some cases, they reported that the children could be heard saying to their mother, “Please, mom.  I promise to be good.  I won’t be any trouble.”  Can you imagine?  Can you even begin to imagine what it would do to a child to have your mom or dad or both drop you off at a hospital just because they don’t want you any more?  My heart breaks…

So, before our very eyes, we have seen these words come to pass, from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (KJV): This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…”

Doesn’t the actions of those who would abandon their children fit the description of “without natural affection”?  Doesn’t it sound like these are “lovers of their own selves” who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?  (Again, I am not interested here in having a political or cultural discussion about why in some cases it may be better for the baby.)  I can’t help but wonder if some of these parents are abandoning their children just so the parents don’t have the hassle of raising a teen. 

I am so grateful that our Father is not the kind of parent who will abandon us – even in our most rebellious times.  I think that, giving our sinfulness, it may be “unnatural affection” that He loves us – but it is Divine affection, the love of a Creator for His creation.  And God can’t help but love us, in spite of hating what we sometimes do.  He just loves us.  It is His natural affection for us caused him to say, in Hebrews 13:5b (NLT) – …For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You are far better than us.  Give us the kind of love for our children that You have for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/16/18 – Stay In School

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DayBreaks for 11/16/18: Stay in School

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

In New York’s East Harlem is a dilapidated old school for inner-city kids.  The buildings are in horrible shape – it looks like it could fall down at any time, and for the most part, the morale had fallen to even lower levels of repair than the buildings.  This is one of those schools that statistics paints with a dark and dismal picture for the students who attend there.  Within 3 years, most of the 6th graders there would have dropped out of school and become gang-bangers, or would be actively engaged in selling drugs or selling their bodies as prostitutes.  A great many would wind up in prison.  If history were to hold true to the pattern, most of these kids didn’t stand a chance.

But one day, a millionaire by the name of Eugene Lang was asked to speak at the school.  He accepted the invitation, and as he stood before the audience of 6th graders, he knew the grim tale of the statistics.  He’d begun his talk, but suddenly stopped.  He put down his notes on the podium and looked out at his audience, his heart filled with compassion.

With his voice and heart breaking, he said, “Stay in school.  Stay in school, and I will pay the college tuition for every one of you.”

The result: over 90% of the 6th graders present that day wound up graduating from high school and went on to college.  One young boy who was present that day described that transformational power this way: “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me.  It was a golden feeling.”

Would it have been easier for the kids to drop out?  Sure.  But would it have been better?  Of course not.  Peter, Paul, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – all encourage us to stay in Christ’s school throughout our life.  There is something waiting for us far better than a college education or a career in law or medicine or business.  There is LIFE that awaits us – a glorious life far beyond anything we can conceive of.  We just need to stay in school.  Jesus has paid our tuition to heaven.  The debt has already been covered.  Will we accept it?

Prayer: Father, for Jesus and His payment on our behalf, we praise You.  For hope that keeps us afloat, we thank You.  For the promise of a better life, we exalt You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/31/18 – Pick and Choose Morality

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DayBreaks for 10/31/18: Pick and Choose Morality

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/09/98:

James 3:11-12: Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Our country is suffering a real trauma. For months, accusations against President Clinton were on the front pages, along with denials from the president himself. As events have sadly shown, they weren’t just accusations or rumors – they were true (by the president’s own admission). It is sad and heartbreaking. We need to pray for the president just as we would for anyone who has been overtaken by sin – pray for true repentance so forgiveness can be given. But I don’t really want to focus on the president or the political issue per se. In J. Budziszewski’s article in the August 22 issue of WORLD magazine, he was discussing the president’s situation and the fact that many Americans believed Mr. Clinton was lying, but many go on to say he was doing a good job as president. Budziszewski asked, “What could they be thinking?” and then went on: “Through diligent listening, I’ve compiled some possibilities: ‘Who am I to judge?’, ‘Everyone lies about sex’, ‘All I care about is the economy’, ‘The other politicians are just as bad’, ‘If his wife can put up with it, so can I,’, ‘I’m so disgusted I’ve stopped paying attention.’ “Have these thoughts any common thread? Yes: they all express the idea that character doesn’t count – that you can be a bad man and yet a good statesman. I doubt that many people would swallow that notion whole. But they do tend to swallow a big part of it – the belief that you can be a bad man in some ways, yet a good statesman.”

Budziszewski calls this the “Pick and Choose Delusion”. It is a disease I think we all suffer from. He says, “We believe that we can pick and choose our sins; persistent disobedience to God in one area of life leaves the others unaffected. This delusion is like thinking, ‘I’m not going to do anything about my cancer. After all, it’s only in my lymph glands!’ The truth is that we cannot pick and choose our sins. Untreated by repentance, disobedience to God spreads from organ to organ until it reaches the heart.”

We can’t pick the areas of our life that we are willing to let God clean. We can’t choose to be holy in some areas and unholy in others. In fact, it is precisely those areas that we might choose to be “unholy” that God most wants to clean in us. You can’t be a good Christian but a bad father or mother, or a faithful follower of God and be unfaithful to your husband or wife. Yes, we all sin and all need forgiveness, but we can’t pick and choose morality. “No man can pick and choose his sins, because sin is never satisfied. Like the fire, it spreads; like the leech, it devours.” And like the cancer, it kills. “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve….

PRAYER: You know our secret sins and weaknesses even better than we do, Lord. We need your help to be clean! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/25/18 – Three Poison Pills

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DayBreaks for 10/25/18: Three Poison Pills

During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” With that George Washington got back on horse and rode off.

Where did Washington learn such leadership skills? I have no doubt he learned them here in these words of Jesus: Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. The young corporal had these words modeled to him from the man at the top. The disciples, likewise, receive from their leader a picture of servant hood.

Mark 10:35-37 (ESV) – And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

This heartbreaking text comes at a crucial time in the life of Jesus – and by now you’d think the disciples might be imitating their leader just a bit. But when this happens, it is only five days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Four days before his betrayal and trial. One day before the clearing of the temple. A few hours before the Triumphal Entry. If the disciples are going to start appropriating Jesus’ teachings in their life it ought to be now. But it doesn’t happen. Moments before the most crucial events in their life they are a bickering, petty, bad-tempered quarrelsome lot. We need to learn from this not-so-flattering moment in the life of the disciples.

How is it that critical moments can be so close at hand and we are wondering what’s in this for me? It has to do with the three poison pills of position, prestige, and power.

Let’s all check ourselves to see if we’ve swallowed any of those poison pills.

PRAYER: Lord, keep us from pursuing position, prestige and power. Let us recognize poison when we see it!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>