DayBreaks for 9/23/19 – Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

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DayBreaks for 9/23/19: Alaska Lessons #5 – The End of the Road

On our last full day in Denali National Park, we were driven to Kantishna, Alaska which is only 2.5 miles up the road from where we had been staying. It’s the end of the road…literally…92.5 miles into Denali National Park. It was strange to stand at the signpost that marked the end of the road and it made me think.

During our time in Denali we’d seen grizzlies, moose, caribou, ruffled grouse, golden eagles, ptarmigan, otters, seal lions, beluga whales, magnificent foliage, spectacular lakes and ponds left by glacial melt, looming mountains, massive glaciers, glorious sunrises and sunsets. If you have never been to Alaska you cannot possibly understand what I’m trying to describe. It is breathtaking.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the wonderment of it all, to be swept off you feet and to forget things that should not be forgotten. The end of the road sign reminded me of that.

At the end of my road, what will my story be? In the end it isn’t about grizzlies or moose, mountains or lakes. It’s all about people – creatures far more magnificent than the mightiest grizzly or the hugest moose. They are more magnificent because they are made in God’s image, and though we hope the animals we have loved will be part of the afterlife, we don’t know for sure. But the people we have loved – and hated – do have an eternal destiny. At the end of the road, God won’t ask what I thought of the wonder of Alaska. He’ll ask if I put my faith in Jesus. He’ll ask if I fulfilled the two greatest commandments: 1) loving him with all I have within me, and 2) loving my neighbor as myself. Part of that last command is to tell them about Jesus. When I’m at the end of the road, how many will I have brought to the cross to find the love and forgiveness to be found there? That’s what will matter.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CSBBible) – When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.

PRAYER: I am prone, Lord, to get too caught up in the things that surround me in life rather than the people who surround me. Give me greater boldness to introduce friends and loved ones to you so that at the end of the road I shall not be ashamed and found before you empty-handed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19 – Imposing and Proposing

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DayBreaks for 9/05/19: Imposing and Proposing

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I don’t think that there are many who would disagree that our culture has become very contentious.  It is clear in how the opposite sides of the political spectrum have labeled their opponents in the last election and in the current health care debate.  What has happened that Americans are now calling others “idiots”, “racists”, or insinuating that they are Nazi’s or worse because they don’t agree with the position and thinking of their opponents.  What has happened to civilized discourse, where women and men of conviction could respectfully and honestly disagree with one another without resorting to name-calling?  Have we become so immature as this would suggest? 

It isn’t just happening in the political world, either.  It happens to Christians – and sadly, sometimes Christians are not just the recipients, but the dispensers of such vitriol as well.  The balance of the world looks at Christians and labels us: ignorant, superstitious, old-fashioned, stupid, duped and the like.  Reminds me of Jesus’ words to us telling us to expect persecution because the persecuted him and the prophets before him.  And, he elsewhere told us that we’re blessed if we are persecuted for His name’s sake.

But is that persecution always without cause?  One of the most common complaints about Christians is that “You’re always trying to impose you views, beliefs and values on others!”  I fear that in some cases, that may be an honest and accurate description of how some Christians go about trying to Christianize the world.  And, I don’t believe, that’s Jesus’ model for evangelism.  Are we to share the gospel, and the Biblical worldview with others?  Absolutely!  It is not called the “Great Commission” for no good reason!  It is one, if not our greatest calling in this lifetime, to love others so much that we’d share truth with them about how they can be saved.  But that’s different than imposing one’s views.

Consider: how would you feel if you lived in a fundamentalist Islamic country, or in India where Hinduism is so strong, and you lived under a government that imposed those beliefs upon you as a Christian?  Simply put: we can’t impose our beliefs on others.  People must come to Christ freely – not by imposition nor by sword. 

So, what are we to do?  We are to propose a better way, not try to impose our viewpoint.  Jesus didn’t impose His view on the Pharisee or the apostle – He simply invited people to come and follow him and see if his way wasn’t better than what they had known all their lives.  In short, he proposed a better way.  We are to invite them to the marriage feast of the Lamb…not to put them in straight-jackets, truss them up like prisoners and force them to come.  It is “whosoever WILL…” that can come, not “whosoever is forced to come” that will find life.

As Rick Warren put it, as Christians (especially in our sharply divided culture in America today), we tend to see others as the enemy rather than as the mission field.  People are not our enemy – falsehood and Satan are the enemy.  People are simply lost…or found.  Let us be about the business of proposing a better solution.  We have nothing to fear from the honest exchange of ideas, for truth, handled rightly, will be seen for what it is.

PRAYER: Examine our hearts, Father, and reveal to us the attitude we have towards those who are not members of Your family.  Teach us to propose the truth and not to impose.  May Your Spirit give wings to the truth that we share!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/08/19 – Settling for Lesser Things

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DayBreaks for 5/08/19: Settling for Lesser Things

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

We have all at one time or another had to “settle” for less than we wanted or hoped for. As a child, it may have been settling for a cookie instead of a full-blown banana split.  As a teenager, it might be something like settling for an iPod Nano instead of a full-blown iPod.  As an adult, perhaps you’ve had to settle for a two bedroom apartment instead of a 10 bedroom, 5 bath, 3 car garage home with a pool and built in bowling alley. We all have had to settle for lesser things. 

And even though we’re had to do it many times, it doesn’t mean we like it.  We still have the desire for more and bigger and better.  But we seldom get all that we’d really like to have. 

Consider this story, told by Skye Jethani in his book, The Divine Commodity, (copyright 2009, pg. 113), about a trip he took to India with his father. While walking the streets of New Delhi, a little boy approached them. He was “skinny as a rail, and naked but for tattered blue shorts. His legs were stiff and contorted, like a wire hanger twisted upon itself.” Because of his condition, the little boy could only waddle along on his calloused knees. He made his way toward Skye and his father and cried out, “One rupee, please! One rupee!” Skye describes what happened when his father eventually responded to the boy’s persistent begging:

“What do you want?” [my father asked].

“One rupee, sir,” the boy said while motioning his hand to his mouth and bowing his head in deference. My father laughed.

“How about I give you five rupees?” he said. The boy’s submissive countenance suddenly became defiant. He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give up five rupees. The boy started shuffling away, mumbling curses under his breath.

“My father reached into his pocket. Hearing the coins jingle, the boy stopped and looked back over his shoulder. My father was holding out a five-rupee coin. He approached the stunned boy and placed the coin into his hand. The boy didn’t move or say a word. He just stared at the coin in his hand. We passed him and proceeded to cross the street.

“A moment later the shouting resumed, except this time the boy was yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, sir! Bless you!” He raced after us once again—but not for more money but to touch my father’s feet.

This, I imagine, is how our God sees us—as miserable creatures in desperate need of his help. But rather than asking for what we truly need, rather than desiring what he is able and willing to give, we settle for lesser things.”

Sometimes we need to learn to be content with lesser things, trusting that God in His wisdom knows what is best for us to have – and what is best for us not to have.  But we can fall into the trap of settling for too little when God wants so much for us: Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. (Ephesians 3:20, NLT) In context, Paul is talking about us being spiritual empowered.  What does that mean?  Let me put it this way: how easily do I give up when that old temptation comes a knockin’ on my door?  I’ve convinced myself that that old trickster the devil will never leave me alone, that I will never be free from that particular sin/temptation.  But God is able to give you and me power that we cannot even conceive of.  In fact, He’s already given us “all we need for life and godliness.”  He’s given us the power of the Spirit that hovered over the face of the deep and brought order out of chaos. 

If the Spirit could bring order out of the material chaos, how much more can He bring order out of the chaos of our lives…as long as we don’t settle for lesser things.

Prayer: God, teach us to be content with what You give us, but to never be content with our spiritual progress!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/04/19 – The Hidden Victory

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DayBreaks for 4/04/19: The Hidden Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. – Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

God has always had a strange way of winning.  Sometimes His victories are more spectacular than you can imagine: the great flood as a judgment on sin, crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan, the victory at Jericho, the shepherd boy with the slingshot, Gideon’s brave 300, Samson’s bringing down the roof.  All of these things must have been very spectacular to witness.  How I do hope God has instant replay in heaven so we can see them!

Sometimes, however, God’s victories don’t look so much like victory as like defeat.  In 1939, a young pastor, Helmut Thielicke, took his first pastorate in a church in Germany.  Thielicke was young and full of vigor, and he arrived with full confidence in Jesus’ words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  Thielicke told himself that Hitler was just a paper tiger, soon to be consumed by his own arrogance and greed and pomposity. 

After Thielicke arrived, he called for a Bible study.  A whopping three people showed up – two ladies who were so old that they looked like they were made of brittle parchment that could be destroyed by a tiny gust of wind, and an equally old man who had played the church organ, but who was now so old that his hands hardly worked at all.  They sat in a small group inside the church, studying the Word, while all the time they could hear the sounds of the jackboots of Hitler’s Youth Corps hammering on the streets as they marched and drilled. 

Thielicke’s confidence shattered.  Hadn’t Jesus said “ALL authority?”  What about the raging authority that Hitler wielded like a club against his opposition? 

In time, Thielicke came to understand what I hope most of us eventually come to realize: either Jesus’ words had a meaning far deeper than we have yet to grasp, or else his words were a blatant exaggeration…perhaps nothing more than the boastful bleatings of madman.  Was Jesus just a Lamb masquerading as a Lion for the sake of His disciples?

Hitler is gone – fallen in shame and disgrace.  Jesus is still on the throne.  When the last king or queen, the last President, the last dictator and prime minister has passed into the pages of history, Jesus will go on, reigning and ruling in majesty and glory such that the world has never seen.  When the last enemy, Death, has been obliterated forever, Jesus will go on.  When tears are forever banned, Jesus will rule.  When ten trillion years have passed in eternity, the celebration of His reign will only be beginning and it will never stop. 

You see, the Lion is the Lamb, and the Lamb is the Lion.  In any case, the victory that was hidden in the death on the cross will sway all of eternity.

Prayer: Hallelujah, Lord Jesus, for You reign now in glory above and You welcome us to the great celebration of victory!  May we proclaim the victory of the Lion Lamb throughout all our days on earth and in heaven above!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/11/19 – I AM #1: The Way

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DayBreaks for 2/11/2019: I AM #1: The Way

John 14:3-6 (ESV) – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

One can’t blame Thomas. Jesus had just said he was going away without saying where he was going. Bless his heart, Thomas wanted to find Jesus again once he’d gone away, so what Thomas was really asking was, “How will we find you? What path to what place must we follow?”

Jesus’ reply wasn’t what Thomas expected, I’m sure. Where was Jesus going? To death, to the tomb…and then ultimately back to pre-incarnation glory. If we want to find Jesus again after his going away, not only is he the destination, but also the way to get there.

What is a “way”? A path – like a path through the jungle or dense forest. Without pathways through such places we’d get lost and die. The irony here is that not only is Jesus the destination, and the path, but as long as we stay on the path we will not be lost for in addition to being the path, he has promised to never leave us – he walks the path with us.

Stay on the path with him and you will  find him…walking beside you all the way.

PRAYER: Lord, in our search for meaning and happiness and fulfillment we take so many detours off the path to the left and right, thinking “This time it’ll work!”, only to find that the only pathway to that which we hunger for is you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>