DayBreaks for 11/21/18 – An Other-worldly King

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DayBreaks for 11/21/18: An Other-worldly King

Perhaps you have heard this story. It’s a great story: Many years ago, when Hitler’s forces occupied Denmark, the order came that all Jews in Denmark were to identify themselves by wearing armbands with yellow stars of David. The Danes had seen the extermination of Jews in other countries and guessed that this was the first step in that process in their countries. The King did not defy the orders. He had every Jew wear the star and he himself wore the Star of David. He told his people that he expected every loyal Dane to do the same. The King said, “We are all Danes. One Danish person is the same as the next.” He wore his yellow star when going into Copenhagen every day in order to encourage his people. The King of Denmark identified with his people, even to the point of putting his own life on the line.

It’s a wonderful story with a powerful point. The only problem is it isn’t true. It’s an urban legend. It’s been around for a long time and told thousands of times over. And now with the internet we are getting a lot of these legendary stories retold. Too bad! What an image for a king, identifying with his people.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked. “Is that your idea,” Jesus said to him, “or did others talk to you about me?” That’s how these legends get started. Other people talking about what other people have said. Jesus was essentially crucified on gossip and rumor. An urban legend had developed around his ministry that he was going to lead a revolt against Rome.

In his conversation with Pilate, Jesus finally does imply that he is a king. “My kingdom,” he explains, “is not of this world.” Not of this world. That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to find a King who identifies with his people. A King of heaven, a King of kings from some place other than this world.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being a King who can identify with the common man and with our common struggles. Let that thought bring us comfort this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/19/18 – Of Flowers and Birds

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DayBreaks for 11/19/18: On Flowers and Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Perhaps life wasn’t all that different in Jesus’ day.  Of course, I know that then they didn’t have planes, trains and automobiles, nor x-rays or space shuttles or many of the things which are part of the modern world.  But those things aren’t life and they shouldn’t be confused with it.  Life is about getting up and facing each day and doing the best you can – and about all the millions of things that happen each day emotionally, spiritually and physically.  That’s what I mean when I say I don’t think life was that different in Jesus’ day. 

There’s been a world (literally) of worry lately.  Global economic collapse, wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters, fires, people fretting over the future because of the recent election – yep, there’s plenty of worry.  Many of my friends and congregants are retirees who had their retirement funds socked away in stocks and bonds, IRA’s and 401K’s.  Now, the retirement that they’d longed for and hoped for is either gone or mostly gone.  It’s enough to make anyone worry about the future.

It seems that there was plenty of worry to go around in Jesus’ day, too.   And believe it or not, they worried about the same things we do.  Just listen to these words from the sermon on the mount (Mt. 6:25-33, NIV):  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

You see?  They were worried about life, drink, food, clothing – the stuff of everyday life for all of humanity since the beginning of time.  Jesus’ prescription is simple, but not what you might expect.  He doesn’t say, “You should have put your money in temple bonds and stocks.  Take what you’ve got left and move it into temple securities.”  Instead, he says: “Go spend some time looking at and thinking about birds and flowers.  See what that tells you about God and life.”  He tells us that we don’t need to worry (it’s more like a command, “So do not worry…”) because the pagans run after the “stuff” that daily life demands….and our FATHER knows that we need those things, too.  And being the kind of Father that He is, He won’t fail us.  But there is a requirement: seeking His kingdom and righteousness first – and then all those other things will be given to us.

Are you fearful of a job loss/termination?  Wondering if you’ll ever be able to recover your funds in time to retire as you’d hoped?  Worried if your house will ever be worth more on it again than you currently owe?  Are you worrying about ANYTHING?

If so, stop.  If you can, go outside right now and look at some flowers or birds (if you live in the frozen tundra somewhere, look at the trees instead of flowers!)  Look good, look hard, and look long.  All of those plants and birds are sustained by the Father’s hand.  And you are of much greater worth, and are far more precious to Him, than all the trees of the field.

PRAYER: Teach us how to stop worrying, Lord.  Help us to trust our Father for all things needed for real life and true life, and keep us from confusing “stuff” such as possessions and retirement accounts for life itself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/14/18 – Is There No Hope?

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DayBreaks for 11/14/18: Is There No Hope?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  For many, those are the most offensive words ever spoken.  While many of those who accuse Christians of being closed-minded wouldn’t say it to Jesus’ face there is no hesitation to say it to the face of one of His followers.

So much is riding on whether or not we believe what Jesus said.  If you don’t believe it, you might argue that, just as “all roads lead to Rome”, so “Many paths lead to God.”  One might argue that as long as you are sincere that’s all that matters.  Some say that there is no God, or if there is, that everything that exists is not just made by him, but a part of him – and therefore we as people are no more special than a dolphin, whale, spotted owl or snail darter.  On the other hand, if we accept what Jesus said, it leaves no room for argument. 

Suppose for a second that you go to see your doctor, and the doctor, after poking and prodding and a series of tests, comes back and tells you, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have a rare and terminal illness.”  After recovering your bearings, you ask, “Is there no hope?”  “Well, there is one thing – and without it, it’s as good as over.  But, this one thing would heal you completely.  But it is certain that without this, you will not survive.”

As Mark Buchanan points out in Things Unseen,  you wouldn’t say something like: “Well, doc.  It’s been great to see you again.  I appreciate your opinion, but my favorite team is playing on TV in 15 minutes and I’ve got to get home to watch it.  See you again next year.”  You also wouldn’t be likely to say: “Doctor, I resent very much that you’re imposing your opinion on me.  You’re entitled to your opinion, but I am entitled to mine.  I think I’m just fine the way I am and that there’s nothing wrong with me.”

What would you do?  You’d sit there and listen and learn all that you could.  You’d go home, get on the internet, find resources and more information to learn even more.  And then you’d decide to take the doctor’s advice and do the one thing that will save you.

People refuse to take the advice of the Great Physician, the only One who has seen both time and eternity, heaven and earth, paradise and hell.  Why?  Because we think we’re smarter than Jesus.  Do you think the same thing about your doctor, or lawyer?  You might, and in some cases, you might be right.  But no one has ever been smarter than the Son of God. 

He’s diagnosed you.  He’s given you the treatment that will work.  What will you do with it?

Prayer: Father, thank You for showing us our desperate condition and for diagnosing our fatal illness.  Thank You for the cure, accepting You Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross.  Humble us to accept the cure.  In Jesus’ 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 9/03/18 – The Missing Son

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DayBreaks for 9/03/18: The Missing Son

Matthew 21:28-32 (CSBBible) – What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go work in the vineyard today.’  He answered, ‘I don’t want to,’ but later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered, but he didn’t go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him. Tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; but you, when you saw it, didn’t even change your minds then and believe him.

If this passage doesn’t trouble you, you’ve missed the point. If it is just another parable to you, you’ve missed the application.

What we see here are two sons. One is outwardly rebellious, much like the prodigal son in the parable by the same name. He shows no respect for his father, is arrogant and deceitful. He flatly refuses to his father’s face to go work in the vineyard.

The second son appears respectful and says he’ll go – but it was a lie – he never gets to the vineyard to work for the father.

In context, the first son was like the tax collectors and prostitutes – they initially may refuse the invitation to work for the Lord, but when they have a change of heart they do his bidding. The second son was representative of the religious leaders (think pastors and elders of our day) who say all the right things but then don’t do them.

Why is this so disturbing? Because my guess is that we all see ourselves as having said yes to Jesus’ calling, but have we really done what we say and sing we’ll do?  “All to Jesus I surrender..”  “Lord, you are my everything, the Lord of my life!”…but then is he really? What about when saying yes to him causes us to lose the favor and respect of others? What about when saying yes will cost us financially? What about when saying yes will cost you time and energy you feel you cannot spare? How many of  us sit in services, sing the songs and pat ourselves on the back thinking our relationship with the Father is so wonderful, but when called on to demonstrate in action and word that He truly is “everything to me”, pull back? So one huge question is: which son/daughter am I REALLY?

But there is a missing son here, too. The son who says yes and then goes immediately into the father’s vineyard and gets to work no matter what it costs. If you look high and low and try to find this son between the lines, but he’s not there. But he is. That son was the one who was telling the story. He is the son who, when the Father asked him to go work in his vineyard (the world) said, “Yes!” and immediately went regardless of the cost. That is the son/daughter we want to be like who says, “Here I am, father, send me!” 

PRAYER: Help us be true sons and daughters who say yes and then go into the world just as the One who told this story long ago. In Jesus’ name, Amen

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

DayBreaks for 8/21/18 – Against All the World

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18: Against All the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

A man by the name of Athanasius, an early bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed the heretical teachings of Arius, who had declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. After suffering 5 exiles, Athanasius was finally brought before the Roman emperor Theodosius, who demanded that Athanasius stop his outspoken opposition to Arius’ teachings. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius is said to have quickly responded, “Then I am against all the world.”

Most of you who read DayBreaks work in the secular world (or are students or home-makers). It’s difficult working in the world and trying to be a Christian. I know what it’s like – I worked in the secular workplace for years. I’ve seen how companies frown on employees exercising their right to express their faith. I’ve seen how something as innocent as a group of employees gathering together for breakfast before Christmas to sing Christmas carols can lead to protests from employees who are of other faiths. Those kind of things make it hard to express your faith in ways that are noticeable. So, we feel all alone – surrounded by disinterested (at best) co-workers or overtly hostile ones.

I imagine Peter felt that way when he denied the Lord. Where were the remainder of the apostles? Nowhere to be seen – but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. They just didn’t “stick” together – they scattered and their faith was individually tested. I’d be willing to bet that you probably aren’t all alone – there are probably other believers who may be feeling just as isolated as you. (Remember how Elijah thought he was all alone, too, after fighting with the prophets of Baal? God reassured him that there were others who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.) More often than not, it is our fear of letting our light shine that keeps us feeling alone. And it is much easier to stand strong if we stand together instead of scattering like the apostles did at the crucifixion.

The need to take a stand is crucial. If we can’t do it now, what will happen when the day comes that you are truly alone? How will you fare then? Would you have the courage of Athanasius? Would I? Until then, find a brother or sister and start a workplace bible study at your lunch break once a week. You might find other brothers and sisters you didn’t know you had, and who knows, you might even have the privilege of leading a few others to Christ!

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage that makes us able to stand against “all the world”, whether it is before Presidents, kings or emperors.  As Your body in this world, may we draw strength from one another and stand strong for You and truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/2/18 – For the Love off the World

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DayBreaks for 8/02/18: For the Love of the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Can I tell you something?  In many ways, I love this world.  What do I mean?  I don’t mean that I love the “world” in the sense of fallen behaviors, sin, diseases, disasters and the like.  I am sick and tired of such things. So please understand that when I say that I love the world, I mean that I’m fascinated by the beauty of creation: the starry canopy above, the roaring power of the ocean, the sheer majesty of mountains, the gurgling of the brook, the touch of the wind.  There are so many places I’d like to see: the pyramids (this has been a life-long dream that may or may not ever come true), the African wildlife, the grandeur of Alaska and the Himalayas.  I’d love to watch kangaroos hopping around in Australia, to see the fjords of Sweden and Norway, to watch the cold waters of the North Sea crash against the coastline of Scotland.  I’d love to visit Machu Piccu in Peru and see the part of New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed.  I would like to see the Great Wall – and I’d like to see Antarctica up close and personal.  Will I ever see all those places?  I’m sure I won’t – and in fact, I’m fairly resigned to not seeing very many, if any, of them at all. 

I love the world.  It is my Father’s world, after all.  He made it – and may I say, He did a pretty spectacular job of it. 

Why do we love this world so much?  As was true of so many things, I think C. S. Lewis was right on top of it when he wrote at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia: It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling.  He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: ‘I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.

There is it: …the old Narnia…sometimes looked a little like this.  The very finest things and places in this world enchant us so because they remind us of our real home…the real Narnia, where Aslan/Christ lives and rules and where sin has not touched even the tiniest blade of grass – nor will it ever do so.  My love of the things I’ve listed above is a reassurance to me that I will love what is in the Heavenly Kingdom that is still ahead of me. 

Can’t you hear the siren call in your soul to such places?  Let that pull you forward, out of the muck and mire of this world and lead us to be heavenly-minded children of the Great King.

2 Peter 3:13 (NASB) – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

PRAYER:  Thank you, mighty God, for giving us a creation filled with such delights!  Thank you for the echoes of eternity you have placed in our hearts that call us home to you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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