DayBreaks for 10/22/20 – Standing Within Inches of God

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It really happened, you know. The ten apostles (Judas was dead and Thomas was MIA) were huddled in a locked room, fearful for their lives. After all, if the one they’d hoped was the Messiah was killed, what was to stop them – mere followers – from being killed themselves? I can identify with fear – can’t you?

Then, incredulously, in the middle of the room Jesus appeared. Some might take it that he was a hallucination of fevered, grieving minds. That’s why his next appearance with Thomas added to the ten is so important – they touched him and you can’t do that with hallucinations.

What is so fascinating is how this “simple” appearance changed history. A rag-tag uneducated group of nobodies from backwater villages throughout Israel received a commission to tell the world what they’d witnessed. And you know what? They did exactly that! Not only did they tell the world, they died for the privilege of carrying that message.

What changed? Had they simple re-read the prophets and gained insight? No. They stood within inches of God. Sure, they’d stood next to Jesus, talked to him, walked with him, watched him before. But he hadn’t been dead during those encounters. And when he appears this time, he had been dead, really truly dead. But there he was! That’s something only God can do. It changed them and the world forever.

Imagine how you would feel and how you might be changed if your dead mother or father, brother or sister, friend or enemy who had died was to suddenly appear next to you!

Those eleven, plus others, went throughout the world because they could all say, “All I know is he was dead and now he is alive!”

They changed the world. Some say it would be impossible to replicate what they accomplished – that the world is just too big, complicated and evil for it to happen again.

But is it? After all, if God can die and then miraculously appear alive in the middle of a room once, couldn’t he move us all to change the world yet again?

After all, if one has stood within inches of God nothing can ever be the same again.

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to see you standing in our midst, sending us out to tell the world that though you were dead, yet you are alive forevermore! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/21/20 – Of Rifles and Expectations

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Who was the first person you ever let down, besides God? Chances are it was your parents. But can you remember the pain of letting down the first person you loved that lead to a break-up and the resulting excruciating pain?

Expectations are killers. Max Lucado says they’re like rifles – when used the right way and in the right circumstances – they are valuable and necessary. The problem is that far too often we often use they the wrong way and at the wrong time. The result is we shoot those we love with a bullet of expectation.

Examples might be a father who presses a child to be the great athlete he fancied himself to be, or a parent pushing for a doctor or lawyer. A spouse pressing the other spouse because they can’t afford the house or things that one of them wants. The boss who tells the employee that though they’ve earned vacation time, those who want to get ahead must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the firm (and what is sacrificed is family relationships!)

Lucado says that expectations create conditional love: “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…’  The latter part may go unspoken, but its definitely implied.

Is it right to have expectations of others? Sure! We should encourage each other toward excellence. But as Lucado again says, “…it was Christ on the cross who taught us how to use expectations. Does he demand a lot? You better believe it. Does he expect much? Only our best. Does he have expectations? Just that we leave everything, deny all, and follow him.

“The difference? Jesus couched his expectations with two important companions. Forgiveness and acceptance.” – No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, by Max Lucado

Here it is in a nutshell: Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), not after we’d lived up to his high expectations. And he never says, “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…”. His love has no strings attached, no dependencies on excellent performance in denying self and sin. His “I love you” is unqualified because it is married to his forgiveness and acceptance.

Can we not do the same for one another, especially those you claim to love?

PRAYER: Lord, keep me from firing the rifle of expectations today unjustly. And if I am let down today, let me emulate Jesus in his forgiveness and acceptance that he extends to me every single day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/16/20 – The Scariest Verse in the Bible

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What do you think is the most frightening, scariest and terrifying verse in the Bible?  It could be about the fate that awaits liars, cheats and others: the lake of fire. That would be a good candidate because we all know we are liars, cheats, etc. It could be one about the very existence of hell itself. I suppose there are many possible candidates.

Perhaps, though, it is this one: Genesis 6:6 (ESV) – And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  

Think about that for a minute. Here’s a God who made man who is now wishing he hadn’t. The implications of that are frightening. With the kind of power God wields, he could do anything he chooses that doesn’t contradict his nature. And there – in those last five words is our only hope!

God’s nature was perhaps best said by the apostle John with three simple words: God is love. God cannot act against his love. It was his love that caused the hands to fashion the cross and then send his son there in our place. Rather than undoing the creation of man he chose to redeem mankind instead.

Perhaps there’s also a bit more to this verse than meets the eye: …the greatest of these is love. In context, it speaks of faith, hope and love…with love being the greatest. Is God’s justice greater than his love? I don’t think it can be or his justice would prevail and we’d all get what we deserve – eternal damnation. He is a God of justice – but found a different way to act against evil than obliterating us: he sacrificed himself because his love wouldn’t let him do the unthinkable to us. Bottom line: the scariest verse in scripture is more than tamed by those three words from John: God is love.

PRAYER: Father, I’m so grateful for your love and that love is what defines you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/09/20 – What About the 99?

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(Prompted by a conversation with a friend of mine – Valerie – thank you!)

Luke 15:3-5 (NLT2) – So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.

I think we all love this story because at some point in our faith walk it describes every single one of us – we were all the sheep that was lost. We should rejoice in this story because it gives us insight into how precious a single lamb is to the Lord. It is good to know we are precious to someone and even more so as that someone is God Almighty.

But what of the 99? The story is set in the wilderness where the sheepfold would be at best a pile of rocks on nearly four sides. The shepherd brought the sheep into the fold at night and then lay down across the opening – becoming the gate to the sheepfold so that none of the sheep could wander without his knowledge.

I’d always assumed the rest of the sheep – the 99 – were in the sheepfold when the shepherd goes looking for the lost one. But the story doesn’t say that. It just says they are in the wilderness.

Now we might assume they were in the sheepfold and that another shepherd kept an eye on them, but the story doesn’t say that, either. So, did the shepherd just walk off and leave the 99 to the ravenous predations of the wolves or lions? I don’t think so – especially since the shepherd is Jesus!

While this story doesn’t say it, I think something much more amazing was to take place given this passage: John 10:27 (NLT2) – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Do you see it? The sheep wouldn’t have stayed behind. They would have followed the shepherd in his desperate and love-fueled search for the one that was lost. And isn’t that what we are all supposed to do – join the Good Shepherd in the pursuit of the lost ones?

When all the lost ones have been found, he will carry us all safely to our eternal destiny.

He won’t ever leave us stranded and alone and we should never stay behind when the Shepherd is on the move!

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/07/20 – Where God Walks

We just returned 10 days ago from a glorious trip through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. We visited three national parks: Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier. While they are all spectacular in their own way, Glacier stands out in my mind.

I shot the first picture accompanying this article one day as we were driving to the top of Glacer on Going to the Sun Highway. It was glorious – the fog/low clouds in the valleys below and then a layer of sun and then scatter clouds higher up along the peaks.

As I looked at the scene, I couldn’t help but think that God must enjoy walking through that place. The majesty of the mountains is as close as I can come personally to imagining God’s magnificence!

Then the thought struck me that God must enjoy walking through places like Glacier more than Mud Fort Slum in India (the second picture in this article is one I shot in Mud Fort Slum a number of years back). I mean, who wouldn’t? He must be like me in that regard, I am tempted to think.  

But I was taken aback by what came to mind next. It was almost as if I could hear God saying, “Sure, I love the beauty of my mountains, but I love walking through the slum even more. You see, my mountains wear down and crumble away, but the people in the slums have eternal souls and they are made in my own image. Besides, I’m omnipresent – I’m in both places simultaneously. While you may choose to tune out the suffering in Mud Fort Slum, I never can and never will. People are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever created.”

I was stunned and humbled how little of the heart of God that dwells within me. I’d far rather be in Glacier than one of the world’s slums. But there’s no doubt in my heart where Jesus would be if he were walking the earth today.

Mud Fort Slum, by Galen C. Dalrymple, 2012. All rights reserved.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/06/20 – Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross

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Matthew 27:35-36 (NLT2) – After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.

The day started like any other for the Roman soldiers. Another day, another execution. So they went to the hill called Calvary, nailed the offender to the cross and then got down to the serious business of gambling – right at the foot of the cross.

There were items to be divvied up – a cloak, an inner garment and some sandals to be sure. So they bet on who would get what and a few walked away with the spoils from the Nazarene.

Have you thought about how that scene must have looked to Jesus as he looked down at them? It must have been mind-blowing! Here they were, mere feet away from the most important and earthshattering event ever – and they were oblivious to the simple fact that it was God on the tree. At least they all seem to have been oblivious except one who eventually started paying attention and made his own startling declaration about who they were killing.

Oh, it’s so easy to be shocked by their behavior and games they were playing at the foot of the cross! But let’s not miss this: we aren’t that different than those soldiers – even those of us who bear the name of the Crucified One!

Consider: churches fight over a finite population of potential members. We dole out condemnation and judgments. We are seeking our own personal gain (a sandal here, a cloak there) to get ahead, get something for free.

We hold rallies celebrating how righteous my cause is and how unrighteous you are if you differ from my views. We write books about what other believers are doing wrong. We major in telling tales about the “others” and take joy in unveiling weaknesses – not for the purpose of restoration – but to take them down! We argue over points of “doctrine”, about other denominations and whether or not they are “of the Lord”.

And Jesus must look down at us in stunned disbelief.

As Max Lucado put it: “We, too, play games at the foot of the cross…So close to the timber yet so far from the blood…we are so close to the world’s most uncommon event but we act like common crapshooters huddled in bickering groups and fighting over silly opinions.

“May they all be one,” Jesus prayed.

“One, not one in groups of two thousand. But one in One. One church. One faith. One Lord. Not Baptist, not Methodist, not Adventist. Just Christians. No denominations. No hierarchies. No traditions. Just Christ.”

What can we do to stop playing games at the foot of the cross? Build bridges, toss a rope to someone struggling to keep their head above the swelling tide, pray for unity. Choose to “be the soldier who snaps to his senses, jumps to his feet, and reminds the rest of us, ‘Hey, that’s God on that cross!”

There are far too many games being played at the foot of the cross. Let’s refuse to play those petty games any more!

PRAYER: Jesus, take mercy on us! Turn us from game playing to Kingdom building! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/21/20 – To Create or Not to Create

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

Have you ever given serious thought to how you would describe the love of God to someone who has never, ever heard of the Christ?  How do you describe something so wonderful that it is virtually beyond belief?  There is a song, Indescribable, that talks about the wonder of this God that we adore and follow.  It is a great song and I love it.

The love of God, just like His power, is indescribable but an old Jewish legend does a pretty good job. It describes what happened when God created man. The legend says that God took into His confidence the Angels that stood about his throne and told them of His plan to create creatures in His likeness. The Angel of Justice said, ‘Create him not … for if you do he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow man; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.’ The Angel of Truth said, ‘Create him not … for he will be false and deceitful to his brother and even to Thee.’ The Angel of Holiness stood and said, ‘Create him not … he will follow that which is impure in your sight, and dishonor you to your face.’

Then stepped forward the Angel of Mercy, God’s most beloved angel, who said; ‘Create him, our Heavenly Father, for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to you.’

Of course this is just a legend…and the Jewish Rabbis either didn’t know, or believe, in the Messiah.  It was Jesus – the very Son of God and God of Gods – who extended the nail scarred hand to all who turn from the path of right and truth and holiness to lead us back to the Father. 

PRAYER: For the Son of Mercy, we shout ‘Halleljuah!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/17/20 – I Knew Who They Were

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

Barbara Brown Taylor, in Christian Century, created a word picture of Jesus at a feast.  Sometimes we have a hard time identifying with Biblical stories because they occurred in a time and place that is quite remote and distant to us.  The cultures were different, customs were different.  And it makes it hard for us to really grasp the dynamics of what was taking place.  So, I appreciated this prose picture that forced me to see the story of Jesus at this feast in a new and more modern light:

“So if I were putting together a sinners table at the Huddle House, it might include an abortion doctor, a child molester, an arms dealer, a garbage collector, a young man with AIDS, a Laotian chicken plucker, a teenage crack addict, and an unmarried woman on welfare with five children by three different fathers. Did I miss anyone? Don’t forget to put Jesus at the head of the table, asking the young man to hand him a roll, please, and offering the doctor a second cup of coffee before she goes back to work.

“If that offends you even a little, then you are almost ready for what happens next. Because what happens next is that the local ministerial association comes into the restaurant and sits down at a large table across from the sinners. The religious authorities all have good teeth and there is no dirt under their fingernails. When their food comes, they hold hands to pray. They are all perfectly nice people, but they can hardly eat their hamburger steaks for staring at the strange crowd in the far booth.

“The chicken plucker is still wearing her white hair net, and the garbage collector smells like spoiled meat. The addict cannot seem to find his mouth with his spoon. But none of those is the heartbreaker. The heartbreaker is Jesus, sitting there as if everything were just fine. Doesn’t he know what kind of message he is sending? Who is going to believe he speaks for God if he does not keep better company than that? I saw them eating and I knew who they were.”

Galen’s Thoughts: the people at that table were you and I.  We are all like those who sat at the table with Jesus.  And like them, we need His mercy and grace just as much, if not more.  I can’t help but wonder at which table we would have chosen to sit – with Jesus and the outcasts, or with the local ministerial association across the room.

PRAYER: Help your word to come alive to us today so we can see ourselves in every page and learn what it is that you want us to become!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/14/20 – The Prayer of God

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

When is the last time you spend the night in prayer?  Have you ever spent an entire night in prayer?  In Luke chapter 6, Jesus is described as going off to a mountain where he prayed all night to the Father.  One might wonder: why did Jesus pray at all?  Who was He praying to?  (If Jesus and the Father are One, who was there to listen?)  What did Jesus say to the Father?  Did He need to pray, or just want to? 

I don’t know the answers to those questions.  I think, however, that we can learn something from how Jesus prayed – even though the passage in Luke doesn’t record his words.  It is easy to say he spent the entire night in prayer, though it takes quite a few words in English to communicate that idea.  Not so in the Greek.  In the Greek, only one word is required: dianuktereuo, and it is a significant word.  It is a word that would be used to describe enduring at a task throughout an entire period of time.  It isn’t the kind of word that would be used to say “I slept all night,” nor would you use that Greek word if you were to say it was dark “all night”.  Those uses don’t require the sense of enduring.  The verse (6:12) essentially says that Jesus worked hard all throughout the night in his praying.  How did he work hard?  It doesn’t say, but I do find it comforting that prayer could be a struggle – for it often is for me.  If the Son of God toiled at prayer – either because he had so much to deal with, or because as a certifiable 100% human being, he struggled to concentrate and stay focused (just as I do) – I find it comforting, either way.

But that’s not all.  There’s another insight from the Greek that we can’t see in our English translations.  One English translation says He continued all night in prayer to God.  The actual Greek, however, means that He spent the whole night in the prayer of God.  Whenever He prayed, it was God’s prayer, the prayer of God. 

If we take that last thought and we then reflect on the prayers of Jesus (especially his high priestly prayer on the night of his betrayal), it is even more significant.  I’ve often reflected on Jesus praying for us.  But this puts it in a slightly different light.  It wasn’t “just” Jesus, but it was God praying for me and for you.  I don’t know exactly what that means, but this I do know: it just doesn’t get any better than knowing that God is praying for me…and you!

PRAYER: For the deep, yet simple, mysteries of Your word and for Your prayers over and for us, we give our most heartfelt thanks!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/08/20 – Fear, Part 2

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

The gospels record for us the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arises.  While the disciples are trying to save their skin from the raging storm, Jesus sleeps.  I don’t know how many of you have ever been in a serious earthquake, but it certainly gets your attention!  It would be hard to sleep through a “big one”.  The word that Matthew uses to describe the storm is one we don’t usually associate with the ocean.  He used the term seismos to describe the violence of the storm.  This is the same word we use to describe an earthquake – seismographs record the shaking of the earth.  Matthew uses this word on two other occasions, too: 1) when the earth shook at Jesus’ death; 2) when the earth shook at Jesus’ resurrection.  Clearly, this was a terrific storm to have qualified for the word seismos!  Yet one gets the sense that Jesus would and could have just kept sleeping through the entire “seismic” event.

It is instructive to see what fear does to the disciples when this storm hits them.  First, though, let’s notice that the storm came “suddenly” upon them.  It hadn’t been building for some time – it was not stormy one moment, and then the weather changed – FAST!  Some of the storms that bring fear into our lives are long, drawn out storms that we can see coming and that stay for a long time.  Others, like this storm, take us by surprise.  Either way, there are things we need to learn about what fear does to us from this story:

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO QUESTION JESUS’ CARE FOR THEM.  They asked Jesus, after waking him up, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  They immediately question Jesus’ goodness and the genuineness of His care for them.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  When storms hit many people – their first reaction is “What’s wrong with You, God?  I thought you cared about me!”  This is one of the most tragic effects of fear – even on His closest followers.

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO BECOME CONTROL FREAKS.  Implicit in their criticism that Jesus must not care for them is the unspoken demand that He should care about them and that it is about time that He demonstrates that!  Fear arises because we suddenly find things spinning out of our control, so we grab on to something that gives us at least the illusion of having control.  For some, they run to the cupboard and pull out chocolate, others will reach for the bottle or work extra hours or clean the house until it is spotless all in an effort to have some control and sense of being in control. 

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO NOT SEEK JESUS’ HELP: It is interesting that the disciples do not ask Jesus to do anything.  Instead, they accuse him, as already noted, of not caring. 

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO FORGET REASONS THEY SHOULD BELIEVE: Don’t forget that these are men who have been with Jesus for a while – they’ve seen him do amazing things such as give healing to the sick, sight to the blind, strength to shriveled and crippled limbs, turn water into wine and cast out demons.  Shouldn’t all those things have been enough to create belief?  Yes, they should…but fear does funny things to us and makes us forget prior deliverances and demonstrations of God’s power and love. 

These are all daunting problems created by fear, but the worst of all may be that when we are afraid, our safety becomes the primary thing in our life.  As Max Lucado put it, our fear-driven concern for our safety becomes our god until the storm has passed.  It was so with the disciples – even though God was riding in the boat with them.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive us for questioning your care for us, for trying to control you and our circumstances, for trying to order you around, for not seeking your assistance, for forgetting all the reasons we have to trust in your goodness and love.  Don’t let us make our own safety our god!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>