DayBreaks for 3/25/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea, #5: Joy Is Wiser Than Sorrow

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DayBreaks for 3/25/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #5 – Joy is Wiser than Sorrow

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/24/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to this selection from Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons , with Mari Samuelsen on violin. You’ll forgive the quality of the recording when you see the quality of the performance. Listen to Richter’s original album here.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Romans 8:31–32

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

Day 5. 398,107 confirmed cases, 17,454 deaths globally.

Is it premature to talk about joy? Countless people are suffering. Fear haunts our houses. Our cities are desolate, our schools shuttered, our hospitals overwhelmed. Fathers and mothers wonder how they will feed their children.

We mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. These are devastating times. It is not wrong to grieve, or lament, or cry out.

And yet joy is like a gem, most valuable when it is most rare. When the world can find no reason for joy, that Christians do find reason is a powerful testimony.

Christian joy is more profound than simple happiness. There is nothing shallow or glib or naive about it. Christian joy, in the face of suffering, is a hard, rugged, and defiant thing.

The apostle Paul was acquainted with suffering. He was persecuted and beaten and shipwrecked. Yet he knew that this life is filled with the opportunity to discover and to follow Jesus Christ and in the next life we will be with him. What greater cause for joy could there be? Paul knows that the same God who gave the greatest gift will not fail to give us lesser gifts. So even when we are embattled, even when we are beset with suffering, we have cause for an undefeated joy. Our sorrow is rooted in our circumstances, but circumstances are fleeting. Our joy is rooted in the love of God, and the love of God lasts forever…

Click this link to read the rest of this meditation. 

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: facebook.com/CTMagazine

PRAYER: Lord, though the night may be dark, let us look to the morning when joy will come in all its fullness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

 

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/02/20 – A Different Attitude

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DayBreaks for 3/2/20: A Different Attitude

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

I am not lucky when it comes to contests.  I am told (mostly by my wife and also my good friend, Ken) that I am a pretty competitive individual.  I don’t see it, but I guess that they do.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but I’m certain it could be either – or both – depending on what it is that I might be competitive about!  I don’t like to lose.  And sometimes, if I don’t think that I’ve really got a reasonable chance of success, I won’t even compete because I dislike losing that much. 

How we feel about winning and losing probably says a lot more about us than we want to admit.  I know those who lose and then they sulk about it for days or weeks.  And that’s especially true, it seems, the closer they came to victory.  Consider running the 100-meter dash in the Olympics.  Such an event draws the fastest men and women in the world – people who literally can run like the wind.  In such a short race, with such a high caliber of competitors, the difference between winning and losing is often measured in hundredths of a second – faster than the blink of an eye. 

Can you imagine what it would be like to have trained for year after year after year – perhaps a decade or more – only to lose the Olympic 100-meter dash by .01 second?  It would be crushing.

A fascinating study done by Professor Vicki Medvec reveals the relative importance of subjective attitudes over and above objective circumstances. In her study, she studied Olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were quantifiably happier than silver medalists. Here’s why: Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren’t satisfied with silver; bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all, so they were just happy to be on the medal stand. 

Again, in the case of an Olympic race, the difference between 2nd place and 3rd place (silver or bronze medal) may be only .01 second (or less).  I find it very telling that the third place finishers didn’t feel worse, and in fact felt better, than the second place competitors. 

What does this say about us?  Perhaps it is a lesson in thankfulness and grace: none of us can run the race that Jesus ran – He is the hand’s down winner and no one is even close to Him in terms of holiness.  I suspect that the Pharisees, to the extent that they allowed the truth of their sin to come to the surface, beat themselves up incessantly about their sin, thinking things like, “I was sooooo close to being as holy as God wants me to be!”  Balderdash.  Not one of us can say that. 

I don’t know about you, but when the heavenly dawn breaks for me, I will be thrilled to be on the victory stand and look up at the One who won the race not only for me, but for everyone who puts their trust in Him.  I know I will have no right to be there…I would be more than content to be the stable boy for Jesus’ great white war horse for eternity.  But God won’t permit that.  He has made us His beloved children, He will give us the crown of life, and we will be so eternally thankful that we won’t worry, as did the disciples on the night that Jesus was betrayed, about who is “the greatest.”  It will be perfectly clear Who the Greatest will be!

PRAYER: Help us to have attitudes of thankfulness for what you have done for us, for our destiny and for the joy that awaits us and not to be envious or jealous of those who we might be tempted to look up to in this life.  Let us lift our eyes to see only Jesus and to praise Him for all eternity!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/20 – An Unending Honeymoon

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DayBreaks for 2/27/20: An Unending Honeymoon

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/26/20 – The Tireless Pursuit

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DayBreaks for 2/26/20: The Tireless Pursuit

DayBreaks for 2/26/20: The Tireless Pursuit

Tedd Kidd was five years older than Janet.  He finished college before her and started to work in a city hundreds of miles from where Janet lived.  They always seemed to be at different places and going in different directions in their lives. But they had been dating for seven years. 

Every Valentine’s Day for seven years, Tedd proposed to her.  Every Valentine’s Day for seven years, Janet would say, “No, not yet.”

Finally, when they were both living in Dallas, Texas, Tedd reached the end of his patience.  He bought a ring, took Janet to a romantic restaurant, and was prepared to reinforce his proposal with the diamond.  Another “No”, he’d decided, would mean he had to get on with his life without her, even though he’d be broken hearted.

After the salad, entree, and dessert, it was time.  Tedd summoned up all his courage for this one last attempt.  Knowing that Janet had a gift for him, however, he decided to wait.  “What did you bring me?” he asked.  She handed him a box the size of a book.  He opened the package and slowly peeled away the tissue paper.  It was a cross-stitch that Janet had lovingly made herself that simply said, “Yes.”

Yes: it is the word that God, in his tireless pursuit of the sinner, longs to hear.  It is the word that He loves to hear from us in response to: “Do you love me?”  “Will you accept my Son as your Lord?”  “Will you let me change you to become like Jesus?” 

For how many years did God pursue you?  I know stories of people who have been prayed over for 50 years who have finally said, “Yes” to God’s proposal. 

Thank God for His tireless pursuit of our hearts!

PRAYER: Let the praises ring, O Lord Most High, for your unending love and pursuit that always holds out hope for us to say “Yes!” to Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/31/20 – Standing Before God

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DayBreaks for 1/31/20: Standing Before God

My faith roots come from a very legalistic background. A common question posed to keep us in fear regarding salvation was, “If you sin and are run over by a truck and killed before you can ask for forgiveness, will you be saved?” The answer they wanted to hear was “No” because it was only fear that could keep us young people in line. We were taught (and this part is true) that God was always watching and we might be able to fool people but never God – and that some day the books would be balanced and we’d find ourselves in the most serious trouble imaginable. And so we cried and literally shook with fear for our sinfulness. 

But flip that argument around: are we any better if God is kind, but also safe and controllable? I think not. If God were kind, safe and controllable we have an entirely different problem: he wouldn’t be God at all.

You see, small gods do small things – because that’s all they can do. I like how Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom: “If you have never stood before God and felt afraid, then probably you have never stood before God. (Heb. 10:31) You have stood before an idol of your own making. Worse, your life will remain silly and superficial because you worship a silly and superficial God.”

At the same time, Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. How can he say that? Because as Aquinas said, the cross didn’t secure the love of God, but the love of God secured the cross. All who believe have been adopted. Not only have we been reconciled to that great and mighty and totally holy God by Christ’s sacrifice, but something else happened: we received Jesus’ righteousness – and not just a part of it, but all of it…ALL the goodness of Christ was credited to your account and mine.

What is the practical application of this wondrous truth? Here it is: if you are a Christian, it means that God will never be angry with you again. He has turned his wrath away from you because he credited ALL of Christ’s righteousness to your account. And here it is in a nutshell: how can God be angry at perfection?

It is a truth too good to be true – but it is true. Find freedom because Christ died to give it to you!

PRAYER: God, I can hardly believe you see me as holy and righteous as Christ because you’ve given me his righteousness as my inheritance as your child! No words can ever express enough gratitude for what you’ve done! Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/27/20 – The Truly Great Emancipator

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DayBreaks for 1/27/20: The Truly Great Emancipator

There is a story, true or not, about Abraham Lincoln and a time he went to a slave market. There he noticed a lovely, young African American woman being auctioned to the highest bidder. He bid on her and won. He could see the fiery anger in the young woman’s eyes and could imagine what she was thinking. Another white man who will buy me, use me, and then discard me.

As Lincoln walked off with is “property”, he turned to the woman and said, “You’re free.”

“Yeah. What does that mean?” she replied.

“It means that you’re free.”

“Does that mean I can say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes,” replied Lincoln, smiling, “it means you can say whatever you want to say.”

“Does it mean,” she asked incredulously, “that I can be whatever I want to be?”

“Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”

“Does it mean,” the young woman said hesitantly, “that I can go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes, it means you are free and can go wherever you want to go.”

“Then,” said the young woman with tears welling up in her eyes, “I think I shall go with you.”

This is a story of what God has done for us – and what the Christian faith is all about. We’ve been bought with a price. We have a new master, one who, once he paid the price, set us free. Who wouldn’t want to go with such a master?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that when you set us free, we are free indeed forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/3/20 – All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

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DayBreaks for 1/03/20: All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

It may appear that humans are uniquely equipped to offer praise to God.  We know, of course, that angels praise him.  We know that part of the reason we were created was to bring Him glory and proclaim His greatness.  We may even acknowledge that living things praise Him – the bird crying in apparent joy as she soars in freedom above the created world, the dolphin that leaps deliriously as it tears through the water at breakneck speed and sings its strange chirping song.  Who is to say that they are not praising their Creator?

Inanimate things praise Him…the heavens declare His glory and the heavenly bodies day after day and night after night pour forth their speech and stun us into humbled silence at His power and evident majesty.  Who is to say that the sounds that radio telescopes pick up from the depths of the universe’s vast array are not some form of heavenly praise that we cannot understand or interpret? The Psalmist put it well in Psalm 145:10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

Things visible and things invisible declare His wisdom.  Consider again the atom.  Everything that exists in the physical realm is made up of atoms.  But did you realize that atoms are mostly empty space?  There are those who have spent their life studying the atomic and subatomic world of creation who hold that when two objects come together in the physical realm (like two billiard balls) they don’t really hit one another.  Instead, says Timothy Ferris, “..the negatively charged fields of the two balls repel each other…were it not for their electrical charges they could, like galaxies, pass right through each other unscathed.”  When you sit in a chair, did you know you aren’t actually sitting on the chair, but because of the power in the electrons of your body and clothing and the electrons in the chair that repel one another that you are actually levitating about the height of one angstrom (1 hundred millionth of a centimeter)?

Neutrons and protons make up the nucleus of an atom.  The nucleus is very, very tiny – only one millionth of one billionth of the full volume of the atom, but it is extremely dense, packed tight with tiny particles.  In fact, if an atom was expanded to fill the size of a large cathedral, the nucleus would be about the size of a fly, but that fly would be many thousands of times heavier than all the rest of the cathedral combined. 

All of this was designed by the hand of the Almighty.  It is invisible to us, but somehow, I suspect that if we could hear the “voice” of the atom, it, too, would be singing His praise. 

May your new year and your very life be filled with praise to Him and may you join your voice with that of the sun, moon and stars in exalting His name! How will you praise Him today?

PRAYER: How marvelous is Your creation, O Great God!  We are humbled before You and Your unsearchable wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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