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 11/14/18 – 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 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 11/07/18 – The Easy Road

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DayBreaks for 11/07/18: The Easy Road

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone in Africa saying, “Some people would like to join you. What’s the easiest road to get to where you are?” Livingstone replied, “If they’re looking for the easiest road, tell them to stay in England. I want people who will come, even if there is no road at all!”

Isn’t it just like human nature to look for the easiest way to get somewhere? Seldom do we want to put in the hard work to blaze new trails. So we look for the easiest way. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that in some matters, but when you start talking about spiritual things, it gets really risky.

Satan specializes in “the easy way” – the path of least resistance. Think about this example: why did Jesus come to the earth? To save mankind and regain that which was lost for God’s cause, right? So how did Satan tempt Jesus in Luke 4:5-8? He offered Jesus the “easy way” to get what he wanted. After showing him all the kingdoms of the world, he offered them to Jesus if he would “…worship me, it will all be yours.” It would have been the easy way to get the “kingdoms of the world”, their “authority and splendor” – much easier than going to the cross and dying! But Jesus knew that even though it may be the easy way, it wasn’t the right way.

In the case of Dr. Livingstone, he understood the same thing that Jesus did: those who seek the easy way aren’t made out of very tough stuff. They have a tendency to quit when things get hard and the heat gets turned up in the kitchen.

God wants people who will come to Him no matter what the cost. He’s made the road available through Calvary. When there was no road in the past, he parted the Red Sea and His children walked through on dry ground.

Where is God sending you? The road may not be easy – in fact, you can bet that it probably won’t be easy. Maybe you can’t even see a road to get there. Don’t worry – He’ll make one just for you!

Whenever you are tempted to take the easy road – think twice and make sure you know where it will lead before you start walking!

PRAYER: Lord, give us the fortitude to choose your pathway no matter how difficult rather than taking the easy route to nowhere. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/24/18 – The Last Word

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DayBreaks for 10/24/18: The Last Word

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Last things.  A final word.  A last goodbye.  A condemned man’s last meal.  A final hug of a pet or loved one.  Last things stick in our minds and it should be so.  Last things are important.  Maybe more important than first things, and as such they deserve our attention.

As humans, we are conditioned to think of last things as being the end, the swan song.  We are conditioned to think in terms of time and space, possibilities and impossibilities, probabilities and improbabilities.  In this, as in all other things, we need to have our minds reshaped by the power of the Spirit to see things that our human minds cannot perceive on their own.

Enter Revelation – that book that is revered and feared, loved and hated, and sadly, all too often ignored by believer and unbeliever alike.  Revelation is the last book of the Bible and the last one which was written – another of those “last things.”  And as such, it deserves our attention.

Revelation is not about prediction: Jeanne Dixon and Nostradamus were into prediction.  Predictions may or may not come to pass.  Revelation is not a book of prediction, but of eschatology.  Most think of eschatology as being about “last things” and rightly so, for that is what the word itself means – the study of last things.  But if Revelation is eschatological, it is only eschatological in the worldly sense, for in the great book of John, the key eschatological message is that as the last breath of the earth is gasped out, the heavenly reality is that the future is breaking in upon us. 

In Reversed Thunder, Eugene Peterson (note: Eugene passed to glory on 10/22/18, with his last words reportedly being, “Let’s go!”) noted: Eschatology involves the belief that the resurrection appearances of Christ are not complete.  This belief permeating the Revelation makes life good, for when we are expecting a resurrection appearance we can accept our whole present and find joy not only in its joy but also in its sorrow, happiness not only in its happiness but also in its pain.  We travel on through either happiness or pain because in the promises of God we see possibilities for the transient, the dying and the dead.

How are your expectations today?  Are you living in great expectation of another post-resurrection appearance of the Christ, or have you resignedly condemned yourself to a life of mundane trivialities?  The expectation of his appearing and of the infinite possibilities his coming hints at are worthy of our meditation and great expectation that this day, as likely as any other day, can be changed from an ordinary day into a day and lifetime of endless anticipation.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to expect not just Your power through the Spirit, but the appearing of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Let this expectation transform us from victims into victors, from depressed creatures buffeted by life into glorified saints full of joyful exuberance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/24/18 – The Mayor of Waterford

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DayBreaks for 9/24/18: The Mayor of Waterford      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

In his book, Rumors of Another World, Philip Yancey tells of a visit he made in the town of Waterford, Ireland.  He went there to see the famous tomb craving on the stone marking the final resting place of Mayor Rice.  “Considered one of the finest monuments in Ireland, the stone carving portrays the devout Mayor Rice’s decomposing body being gnawed and devoured by toads, vermin, and insects.  The mayor died at a time when the shadow of the Black Death shrouded all of Europe.  ‘Whoever you are that pass by, stand, read, weep,’ says the mayor’s inscription.  ‘I am what you will be and I was what you are.’ 

“The physical world, no matter how attractive, has its limits.” 

It isn’t often that you visit a gravesite to see a picture of the person resting therein being consumed by vermin.  We would rather not think of such things – we’d rather think of the deceased as they looked when they were happy and full of life.  We would rather believe that all is well – even below the surface of the ground where our eyes cannot penetrate the murky darkness.  

But, such is not reality.  “From dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return,” the Lord has decreed.  But that’s not us – it’s just the shroud we wore in life.  Still, the sentiments on the Mayor’s gravestone and the pictures carved there are a good reminder to us: we are mortal.  We are finite.  We are not destined to live in this world forever and ever, hallelujah and amen.  It will, certainly, come to an end, and we shall be like Mayor Rice.

Let us remember that, and remember that the allure of this world is a deadly siren song to divert us from the pathway to eternal life.

PRAYER: Give us perspective, Lord, that we may live wisely, redeeming the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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