DayBreaks for 11/15/18 – Talking to Caterpillars

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DayBreaks for 11/15/18: Talking to Caterpillars

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

There are plenty of days when I am deeply frustrated by my walk with God.  Why?  Because sometimes, at least in some areas of my life, I just don’t seem to be making any progress, or if I am, it’s negligible.  I can’t see it.  I believe that I should be “better” than I am by now.  And I know that I’m not alone.  As a minister, I hear that from many people.  They, too, get discouraged and from time to time are so deeply depressed about their lack of spiritual progress that they talk about giving up.

I recently ran across an illustration that really helped me in this regard.  Suppose for a moment that you found a caterpillar.  Not all caterpillars, by the way, are fuzzy and cute, so let’s just assume that this caterpillar has been crawling around on its belly, blind and slimy.  Perhaps, being a higher life form, you might take compassion on this poor caterpillar and begin speaking to it: “Hi, there.  I can see that you’re having troubles.  You know, I want to tell you something: you won’t always be a caterpillar.  You won’t always crawl on your belly in the dirt or be blind and slimy.  There will come a time when you will wrap yourself inside of a tight, snug cocoon.  You’ll be there for a while, but then you’ll pop out of the cocoon and you’ll be able to see.  You’ll be filled with beautiful colors and you’ll have wings attached to your back and you’ll dance on the air!  Won’t that be great!?”

The caterpillar, of course, probably can’t understand a word you’re saying. But if it could, do you think it would believe you?  It’s blind: it’s never been able to see a butterfly or to even imagine such a thing.  It would probably laugh out loud at your words of encouragement and think you were nuts.  But you know it is true, even if the caterpillar doesn’t.

Here’s the point: I’m like that caterpillar, slimy, crawling on my belly and blind.  I have lived that way more often than not.  And it feels as if it will never end.  But God has told me otherwise, and He’s told you otherwise, too, if you are a disciple.  Listen to these passages:

2 Cor. 3:18: And we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.

Phil. 3:20-21: Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 John 3:2: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him.

We ARE being transformed…Jesus WILL transform our lowly bodies…what we WILL BE has not yet been made know, but we know that…we SHALL BE like him. Like the caterpillar, for now we’re blind and can’t see it, but when we emerge from our cocoon, we will have eyes to see!

God has been telling us this for 2000 years or longer.  But we’re like the caterpillar who has trouble understanding what God is saying, and even greater trouble accepting it.  When I’m discouraged about my walk, I need to remind myself that I am like the caterpillar for the time being, but because Jesus has the “power that enables him to bring EVERYTHING under his control” that He will not fail to change me into his likeness so when I arrive at the throne of God, I “shall be like him.”  It’s almost too good to believe, isn’t it?  Who and what we will be is more than we can imagine!

PRAYER: Lord, this process seems so slow and I often fear that I will gum up the works and bring it all to a screeching halt.  Help me to remember that You are the one who turns caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, and that You’ve promised to do that for me, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/13/18 – Just Wildflowers on a Log

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DayBreaks for 11/13/18: Just Wildflowers on a Log

With the recent tragedies in California (shootings, fires that have destroyed literally thousands of homes, families that have lost everything and a growing count of the dead), there are many people struggling to find hope. It’s understandable. I am not sure how I would react if I were in their place, but this I know –  without hope it is hard to continue living.

A young boy grew up in the country with his parents. When he was 15, the house caught on fire. They escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There were no close neighbors to help so he and his father walked to a distant village to get supplies. As they returned they saw something that stayed with Ruele Howe all those years after. Beside the charred remains of what had been their house, his mother had laid out lunch on a log. She had placed a tin can filled with wildflowers on the log. It was a symbol of hope in the midst of tragedy.

This is the Christian faith, isn’t it? She didn’t try to cover up the disaster with flowers, but in the midst of that gloomy scene she had placed a symbol of hope.

Have you just come through a disaster? Or maybe you’re in the midst of one now. Look for tiny signs of hope to keep you going. And remember that there was no hope to be found nearly two thousand years ago as two grief-stricken women approached a tomb on a Sunday morning. But they found hope there and you can, too.

PRAYER: Thank you for the fact that as your children we are never without hope, even in the darkest of times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/16/18 – God’s Scalpel

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DayBreaks for 10/16/18: God’s Scalpel

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/10/2008:

One of the books that has most profoundly touched my life was written by C. S. Lewis after the death of his wife, Joy. He had been a single man for nearly all of his life when he met Joy Davidson, an American, and fell in love. She died, tragically after just four years, of cancer. The book is titled, A Grief Observed, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It is at one and the same time one of the most unnerving, yet triumphant messages of faith you’ll ever read. In it, Lewis grapples with death and his feelings towards himself, his dead wife, and his feelings towards God. He is brutally honest, and as time passes (the book was written over some period of time to capture the range of his emotions and thinking) he moves in his writing from great anger and bitterness towards God to where his faith in God’s goodness comes crashing to the forefront.

While in the midst of his anguish, he wrote these very insightful words describing the experience of pain in our lives: “The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed – might grow tired of his vile sport – might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.” (I warned you he was brutally honest, didn’t I?!)

Personally, I don’t believe the Bible teaches that the pain and suffering we experience in this world is God-inflicted. I believe it is a result of the struggle between good and evil, God and the powers of darkness, and sometimes it comes about as a direct consequence of sin in our own life. God wants to overcome all the pain and suffering, and He someday will, when the last enemy is defeated (1 Cor. 15:23-26). Until then, God uses even painful things in our lives to make us whole. And if He stopped before the process was complete, we’d never be well.

Can you trust God with the pain in your life? You can. Can you survive the anguish you may face? I believe you can, though I’ve not walked in your shoes. Because through them, as well as through the joys of life, God is only doing what 2 Cor. 3:18 says: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

PRAYER: Jesus, we plead with you to be as tender with us as possible – but to do the work that must be done in us. In Your name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – The Reality of Now

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DayBreaks for 9/26/18The Reality of Now       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.

If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future.  The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there.  We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings.  And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon.  I think such things are only normal and natural.

But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways.  And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention.  Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Isn’t that interesting?  Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience.  And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.

The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us.  A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives.  We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us.  That means that His kingdom is also within us…now. 

As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else.  We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.  It’s this: heaven starts now.

“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity.  It is not first and foremost a place.  Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship.  It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person).  All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person.  But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense.  If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life.  Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.

PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You.  Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/25/18 – Yet Even Now

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DayBreaks for 9/25/08Yet Even Now

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

What an interesting mess our country is in!  If anyone had asked at the beginning of the year if such giants as Merrill-Lynch, Lehman Brothers and others would be bankrupt and out of business by this time, people would have laughed at them.  The big 3 American car manufacturers are all teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.  Even the huge AIG corporation had to be bailed out.  It’s enough to make you discouraged.

Discouragement comes from many different venues.  By the bountiful hand of God, I do have some funds tucked away in a large investment company, but each day I watch them dwindle in value.  The value of our home here in California has taken a huge hit – I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly sell and come out on the right side of things.  But discouragement also comes from moral failings (otherwise known as sin) – and once again, I’m in the same boat with everyone else on that score.  In fact, every human being is in that boat – just look around at your fellow passengers and you’ll see everyone you know there!

Discouragement…it’s easy to come, but hard to make it go away.  Andree Seu wrote in the August 23-30 issue of WORLD magazine about this phenomenon: “Sometimes I give in to the discouragement because I have been round this block so often that God can’t possibly forgive and reinstate me again – at least not until I show Him a good two weeks of being properly miserable.  If this is your problem, too, I have a verse for us: Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart.  (Joel 2:12)  I often rest my whole life on that “yet even now.”…There are no larger battles than the private internal ones…And the corollary is that there is no Christian life except the moment-by-moment kind – more pointedly, the moment-by-moment choice to believe in God.  The Christian life is not lived on the level of doctrine, or our various observances, or our political action, though these are all required.  And what that moment-by-moment faith in God looks like is a brawl.  If there is no constant battle, there is probably no authentic life.  The battle can be joyful, but it is a battle.  And it comes with a promise: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (Jas. 1:12)

Discouraged?  Someone sent me this just this past week, and it was too good to keep to myself:

TOP TEN PREDICTIONS FOR 2008
1. The Bible will still have all the answers.

  1. Prayer will still work.
    3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
    4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
    5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
    6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
    7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
    8. There will still be room at the Cross.
    9. Jesus will still love you.
    10. Jesus will still save the lost.
    ISN’T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS STILL IN CONTROL?!
    The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! Lamentations 3:22.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that we don’t have to control events – that we can leave them in Your perfectly capable hands.  Help us to remember that no matter what happens to the markets or the elections or the war or with disease or anything else, some things never change because You have decreed them from ages past.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/05/18 – For Some Prospect of Hope

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DayBreaks for 9/05/18: For Some Prospect of Hope

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

Right now as I write this, I have friends in Florida who are hoping that Gustav will bypass them.  Unfortunately, that will mean that it strikes somewhere else…almost with a certainty, barring a miracle or the Lord’s return.  Hope.  It fuels us with the vital energy we need to face the future – a future that is mostly unknown to us.

There are those who have reasonable hopes – and then there are those who have crazy hopes.  Just look at how many people buy lottery tickets each day.  That’s an example of crazy hope if there ever was one. 

Let me say, before proceeding, that God is the God of hope.  It is clear: nothing is impossible with God.  God could extinguish Gustav as simply as a child blows out a birthday cake candle.  Will He?  That’s another matter that at this point in time, only He can answer.  But as humans, we often are so desperate for hope that we put our hope in things that aren’t worthy of our hope.  We like to put our hope in things we can see, hear, touch or count.  Somehow, those things have a solidity to them that gives them gravitas – seemingly more weight than the things which are unseen.  But that can be very, very dangerous.  Listen to these words from the pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be.  It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God.  Here alone lies the promise of God’s faithfulness and help.  It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.”

I’m afraid we’re prone to deviate from the truth sometimes in our pursuit of some prospect of hope.  Instead of placing our hope in the Truth, we place our hope in our ability to figure out some answer that we believe will give us hope.  But is a hope born of our own wisdom and therefore a hope that is built on very shaky premises.  It doesn’t take much of a deviation from the truth for the deviation to become a tool of the Destroyer. 

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV) – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  According to verse 3, there is a hope that is described as “living hope.”  That implies to me that there is a hope that is a dead hope.   If we’re putting our hope in our judgment, analysis and reason, in a political system or politician, in an earthly king or the courts or anything on this earth – may heaven have mercy on us all.

PRAYER: Keep us, Lord Jesus, from putting our hope in our own ways and our own thoughts.  Reward our hopes that rest on you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/28/18 – The Old Man and the Gulls

 

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DayBreaks for 8/28/18: The Old Man and the Gulls

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

From Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story – The Old Man and the Gulls: “It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped with a large bucket of shrimp. The sea gulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket. Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

“Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, the weather and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was 9 X 5. The biggest shark…10 feet long. But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them. And a miracle occurred.

“In Captain Eddie’s own words: ‘Cherry,’ that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, ‘read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat. With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull. I don’t know how I knew, I just knew. Everyone else knew, too. No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull. The gull meant food…if I could catch it.’

“And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice. You know that Captain Eddie made it. And now you also know…that he never forgot. Because every Friday evening, about sunset…on a lonely stretchy along the eastern Florida seacoast…you could see an old man walking…white-haired, bushy-eyebrowed, slightly bent. His bucket filled with shrimp was to feed the gulls…to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle…like manna in the wilderness.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Today, let’s remember that One who poured Himself…without a struggle…so that we might have the Bread of Life and the Living Water. And let our thankfulness cause us to never forget to do the same for others that need that Bread of heaven!

 PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for how you provide for us all in miraculous ways each and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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