DayBreaks for 5/18/18 – No Turning Back

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DayBreaks for 5/18/18: No Turning Back

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

One more analogy from the Space Center: the shuttle is nearing the end of its lifespan, and in just a few more years, it’ll be retired in favor of the Constellation program – a program designed to put men back on the moon (by 2012, I think), and to go to even further places.  The shuttle will be no more, and the space program will return to the kind of rockets and space craft that were used previously.

The shuttle is a very complex piece of equipment.  It is not as complicated as a complete Apollo/Lunar Lander/Saturn V (which had 2 million separate systems – the most complicated piece of engineering ever made), but it is still an amazing piece of machinery. 

There is, as you know, a large central fuel tank, and two slender, white solid rocket boosters, one on each side.  They are called solid rocket boosters because their fuel is “solid”, not liquid.  Here’s the tricky thing about that kind of rocket booster: unlike the liquid fuel contained on the Apollo/Saturn 5, once you light if off a solid rocket booster, there’s no shutting it down until it has totally expended itself.  In other words, you’d better be sure you’re ready to go because you’ll be going somewhere …and going there very fast!

We are familiar with the passage that talks about how futile it is to put our “hand to the plow” and then look backwards. There is to be no going back, not even looking back for a glance, once we’ve embarked on the Christian pathway. There is only to be forward motion.

Another thought: we were all launched into this world at birth.  We will live our lives until we’ve expended all the seconds that God has allotted to us.  We can’t go back into the womb (as Nicodemus wondered when told by Jesus that we must be born again).  Once launched, we must take the journey that lies before us…and complete the course. 

May we choose the right trajectory that leads back to the Father’s house.  You are going somewhere – your engine has been lit by God Himself.  Where will you wind up?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the gift of life and the adventure of living.  Help us to keep on moving in the right direction until we arrive safely at home.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/07/18 – Drowning Rats and Hope

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DayBreaks for 5/07/18: Drowning Rats and Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: “A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.”

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here by some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and has lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER: Thank you that you not only didn’t leave us hopeless, but gave us the greatest reason for hope ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/26/18 – Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

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DayBreaks for 4/26/18: Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

When is the last time that you heard the word “sin” actually spoken outside of a church – other than in a sneering derisive way?  I don’t know if I can honestly recall.  In fact, one wonders if perhaps the word is spoken very often inside churches these days.  Why is that?  No less than 50 years ago, the word could be heard at least every once in a while from politicians, businessmen, teachers, professors and certainly in churches.  Why no more?

It has to do with the shift in our thinking from the realm of spiritual things being relegated to nothing more than personal belief without anything to recommend it to a serious thinker or scholar as being more than just superstition.  When the Bible as God’s special revelation was thrown out, and when the real historical Jesus was made into a farce by the “Historical Jesus movement”, and when universities began teaching that anything the wasn’t scientifically provable should be thrown on the dust heap as so much gibberish, then there was to sin anymore, no mark that we would be missing.  Because, you see, God can’t be scientifically proven, therefore He must not exist. 

So, if you ask most people in our culture what, if anything, they think of sin, Don Everts in The Smell of Sin suggests it would be like asking them what they think of unicorns.  (In fact, I suspect that some might give more credence to the existence of unicorns – perhaps even if only in the past – than they do to the existence of God, although there’s far more evidence for the latter!)  Still, most people know that unicorns are a myth.  As Everts says, “So the debate is: is it a cute myth or a silly myth or a destructive one?  Sin really has joined the ranks of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in our culture: something that you once believed in as a child but have since grown out of…So, what does sin smell like to most of our neighbors?  Nothing.  Air.”

Has sin vanished from your vocabulary?  Have you relegated it to something other than what it is?  Have you developed cute names for it (“goof-up”, “mistake”, “slip of the tongue”, “mis-step”, “an oops”)?  God calls it sin.  And He reminds us very clearly: (Ezekiel 18:4, NIV) – For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son–both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

PRAYER:  Father, keep us from believing fairy tales and give us the wisdom to believe You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/11/18 – Preferring the 99

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DayBreaks for 4/11/18: Preferring the 99

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) – What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

This is a painful passage for me. Sadly, while I think it should also be a challenging and painful passage for the church, I think in many cases we read it and fly right past it.

This passage gets to the very core of God’s heart. Who is it that owns the sheep in the passage? It is God, certainly. And while he has a sheep-fold full of sheep, he isn’t content with that. He knows there is still one out there that hasn’t come home with him, that is lost and in grave danger.

So what does he do? He goes out looking for it. There is no guarantee that he will be able to bring it home…for the passage says And if he finds it…. Some sheep don’t want to be found, and perhaps even more sadly, some perish before they are found.

Pay attention to the last sentence. He is not willing that ANY of these little ones should be lost. It’s not that he’s content if just a handful are lost…he’s not willing for even a single one to perish.

Which brings me to the painful part. Why does my heart not beat with the same passion for the lost sheep?

I fear that the church as a whole (I know there are many exceptions) prefers the ninety-nine. We prefer the comfort of the sheep-fold and seldom, if ever, venture out. We like to hang with other Christians (at least, I hope we do!) But if we lose sight of the heart of God from this passage, we may have missed God entirely. This is precisely why Jesus came: not to celebrate with the 99 but to “go out”. Does Jesus like it when Christians enjoy each other? Of course. But he will quickly leave us behind to find a single lost one.

When is the last time you brought someone to Christ – not just to church – but to saving knowledge of Christ? We should all have the urgency of Oskar Schindler who when the war was over, was heartbroken that he’d not done more, that he could have saved one more. Where is that passion in us?

Church, let us be challenged. Let us go out with the great Shepherd to find the lost so that not ANY should be lost!  

PRAYER: Jesus, I confess that it is far easier to sit in the pew than to leave the sheep-fold to find a lost lamb. I confess I have done far too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. Change us, give us your passion, fill us with your mission, let us hear your heartbeat clearly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/3/18 – The Four Saddest Words

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DayBreaks for 4/03/18: The Four Saddest Words

In the 1800s, poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote one of his most quoted poems in the English language. The poem was titled, “Maud Muller.” You’ve never heard of it? Actually, not many people remember this sorrowful poem, but generations of people have quoted two famous lines from its final stanza.

“Maud Muller” is about a young maiden who, while working the fields one day, sees a handsome young Judge riding by on horseback. She offers him a drink of cool water. Their encounter lasts only a few moments, but it makes a deep impression on both of them. Maud is greatly attracted to the Judge, and she dreams of marrying someone of his gentleness and integrity. She could leave the fields behind and live as the wife of a wealthy and powerful man.

At the same time, the Judge is attracted to Maud. He is tired of his career, and he dreams of marrying a warm, compassionate woman like Maud and settling into a simpler life in the country. But neither Maud nor the Judge acknowledges their attraction to one another. They are from different social classes—they cannot risk breaking the bonds of social conformity.

Maud later marries a man who brings her much pain and hardship. The Judge also enters into a loveless marriage. In the final stanza of the poem, Whittier offers us this warning: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

What are the “might have been’s” in your life? Recall King Agrippa, who said he was “almost” persuaded to become a Christian? There is no evidence he ever did. When he died and stood before God, he may have considered what might have been.

Have you held off from sharing the good news with someone? Or of giving a kind word and a helping hand to someone in need?

We never know what might have been if we only took that small step in faith and obedience.

PRAYER: Lord, help us to live in such a way that our “might have been’s” are few and far between. Instead, let us live boldly in your service, serving your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/02/18 – The King has One More Move

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DayBreaks for 4/02/18: The King has One More Move

A man was touring the Louvre with his friend who happened to be a chess grand master. They moved along the corridors and rooms admiring the many great paintings and works of art that were on display.

As they came to one particular painting of two people playing chess, titled “Checkmate”, the grand master paused and began looking in depth at the painting. It seemed that moment by moment he became more and more immersed in the work. His companion watched for a while, but eventually grew impatient and suggested that they move on to see more works of art, but the grand master wouldn’t budge. After quite some more time had passed, the grand master asked if he knew if the painter were still alive. His friend replied that he didn’t know. The grand master replied, “We must find the painter. They must either change the painting or change the title. You see, the king has one more move.”

And so it is that Easter 2018 is now truly past and we must move on. We quickly forget the wonder of the Resurrection, of the emotions of holy week, and get absorbed in our everyday lives. We will watch or listen to the news and hear stories that are discouraging, depressing, and yes, even terrifying. The joy of Easter Sunday yields quickly to the fears of Good Friday and the darkness of Saturday, and we start quickly to lose hope and joy.

I hope that this year, whenever you start to lose hope, to get discouraged, to be terrified, when joy begins to fade, that as you face the events of your day that you will remind yourself that the King has one more move. Nothing will stop Him from making that move for he is not just the King, but He is Almighty God and His will prevails. He rules the nations with a rod of iron.

When He makes what is truly the final move, the victorious last move, that “Easter” morning will never turn into another burdened Monday but it will last forever.

Remember: the King has one more move!

PRAYER: Jesus, we have rightly celebrated your glorious resurrection. Now we face Monday – a Monday like all the others where we will be challenged on every hand. We will be prone to disillusionment and even despair. We may even think the game is over and all is lost. Remind us, every day, every moment, that You have one more move! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(For more on the Checkmate painting, see here.)

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

DayBreaks for 4/01/18 – Easter Reminds Me…

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DayBreaks for 4/01/18: Easter Reminds Me…

I am always loathe to leave Easter in the rear view mirror. I think that maybe the new year should start on Easter rather than January 1 because of all the Easter speaks to me. I suspect that I am not the only one who needs Easter reminders.

I struggle with a mother who no longer recognizes me but says that I remind her of her son. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle with a body that is aging and clearly on the decline. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of a world that seems to have lost all sense of balance, where people from one religion cut the heads off believers of another faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why people are abused and belittled and subjected to so much injustice. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why little children get cancer and die, tearing the hearts out of their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why some people never seem to find someone who will love and cherish them as beings made in the very image of God. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why two people who promised to love each other until death parts them decide to forsake those vows. Easter reminds me that it wont’ be this way forever.

I struggle with not being able to see my father any more. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of the brutality of war and the death wrought by natural disasters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle when I think of those without enough food who die of starvation and disease. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to be fully and completely freed from my guilt and sin and the effects of the fall in this world. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I rebel at the thought of saying goodbye to those that I love, to walk into the Lord’s presence but to leave them behind. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I long for all things to be made new and for the fallen to pass. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I cannot see His face, except through a thick curtain of faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

PRAYER: God, thank you that for all the struggles and trials and pains of this life, that it will not be this way forever because of the resurrection! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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