DayBreaks for 10/22/20 – Standing Within Inches of God

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It really happened, you know. The ten apostles (Judas was dead and Thomas was MIA) were huddled in a locked room, fearful for their lives. After all, if the one they’d hoped was the Messiah was killed, what was to stop them – mere followers – from being killed themselves? I can identify with fear – can’t you?

Then, incredulously, in the middle of the room Jesus appeared. Some might take it that he was a hallucination of fevered, grieving minds. That’s why his next appearance with Thomas added to the ten is so important – they touched him and you can’t do that with hallucinations.

What is so fascinating is how this “simple” appearance changed history. A rag-tag uneducated group of nobodies from backwater villages throughout Israel received a commission to tell the world what they’d witnessed. And you know what? They did exactly that! Not only did they tell the world, they died for the privilege of carrying that message.

What changed? Had they simple re-read the prophets and gained insight? No. They stood within inches of God. Sure, they’d stood next to Jesus, talked to him, walked with him, watched him before. But he hadn’t been dead during those encounters. And when he appears this time, he had been dead, really truly dead. But there he was! That’s something only God can do. It changed them and the world forever.

Imagine how you would feel and how you might be changed if your dead mother or father, brother or sister, friend or enemy who had died was to suddenly appear next to you!

Those eleven, plus others, went throughout the world because they could all say, “All I know is he was dead and now he is alive!”

They changed the world. Some say it would be impossible to replicate what they accomplished – that the world is just too big, complicated and evil for it to happen again.

But is it? After all, if God can die and then miraculously appear alive in the middle of a room once, couldn’t he move us all to change the world yet again?

After all, if one has stood within inches of God nothing can ever be the same again.

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to see you standing in our midst, sending us out to tell the world that though you were dead, yet you are alive forevermore! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/20/20 – How to NOT Get Blown Up

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So, what have you already had to decide today that you’d not anticipated? If you haven’t done that yet, just wait – you will! They happen to us day in and day out. Some are simple, some have bigger consequences.

There is a story of a fisherman and a game warden. It seemed that every day this fisherman would come back with stringers full of fish while everyone else managed just one or two. So, the game warden wanted to learn his secret.

They set out early one morning together, got to the middle of the lake and stopped. Watching, the game warden saw the fisherman pull out a stick of dynamite, light it and toss it into the air. The concussion from the explosion stunned the fish and the fisherman just scooped them up in his net.

The game warden was incensed! “You can’t do that!” he yelled at the fisherman. In response, the fisherman pulled out another stick of dynamite, lit it, and tossed it into the hands of the game warden, then asked, “Are you going to just sit there or are you going to fish?”

All of a sudden, the game warden was faced with an unexpected decision – and it was an explosive one! And some of our decisions can be explosive, too.

Consider the youth who must decide if he’ll snort some coke just to be friends with someone. Consider the girl facing improper sexual pressure by her boyfriend. Or the employee who has a chance to syphon off a little cash here or there. The taxpayer taking a few “shortcuts” on their taxes. The housewife being pressured to tell some juicy tidbits about someone else.

You see, all those have explosive consequences. What can we do about it?

Jesus’ experience with his disciples in the garden is instructive. First, he tells them to “Watch…” – always a good idea. “Be alert”, “keep your eyes peeled”, etc.

How does that relate? You know your weaknesses, don’t you? It could be alcohol, sex, drugs, power, money. What Jesus is saying is to watch out for those places and situations which will put you with a lit stick of dynamite in your hands! When you see such a situation developing, scram!  But if you aren’t watching, you will soon be in a dangerous situation.

Secondly, Jesus tells them to “pray”. It’s not that you’ll tell him something he doesn’t already know. Prayer is inviting him to walk the pathway ahead of you and warn you through his Spirit of the pitfalls and dangers ahead of you so you can avoid them (that’s the watch…(and listen! part), and then to have your back as you move forward.

Watch. Pray. It can spell the difference between winding up with dynamite in your lap or a quiet ride on the water.

PRAYER: Jesus, help our first inclination be to watch and pray rather than to run ahead into dangerous waters! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/14/20 – Hanging in the Balance

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From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The island of Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands.  As such, it has a long history.  Some of the history is beautiful and amazing, but it also has its dark moments. 

Before Kauai became part of King Kamehameha’s unified Hawaiian island kingdom, Kauai had its own kings who lived high up in the mountains in the center of the island.  The kingship would be passed from father to son as was typical in most monarchies.  When it came time for the wife of the king to give birth, she would come down from the mountain to a heiau (a holy place of worship) where she would give birth.  If the child that was born was a daughter, the baby would be automatically welcomed into the royal family.  If, however, the baby was a boy, a test was required to determine if the child was worthy to be a successor to the king.  After the child was born, the umbilical cord of the baby boy was wrapped in ti leaves and placed outside of the enclosure where the mother and baby boy would spend the night.  If the rats came during the night and ate the umbilical cord, it was believed that the boy was not worthy to be an heir to the kingdom and he would be put to death.  The boy would survive only if the umbilical cord was still intact and hadn’t been eaten by rats during the night.

As I heard about this practice of the ancient residents of Kauai, I couldn’t help but draw a contrast between this chance-laden, horrendous practice and how God deals with us.  The writer of the letter to the Romans describes our relationship with the King: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. – Romans 8:17

Are any of us worthy to be joint heirs with Jesus?  Absolutely not!  Does God leave us outside the door to see what chance may play into our future?  No.  Does He accept us only if we pass some test?  Yes, and no.  The test is a simple one: will you put your faith in My Son?  That’s it.  It’s not left to some rat to determine our fate, nor is it even up to Satan to determine our fate.  God leaves it to us, in a way, to make the choice that will allow us to be accepted as His sons and daughters. 

Have you chosen yet?  Eternity is hanging in the balance.

PRAYER: How thankful we are that You have a heart that is willing and eager to adopt us as Your children, to give us, along with Jesus, all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/12/20 – The Man Without Breath

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From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The Hawaiians have a name for those of us from the mainland who are of Caucasian descent.  They call us haoles (pronounced “how-lees”).  I never knew the meaning of that name until two weeks ago. 

In 1778, Captain Cook became the first European to visit the Hawaiian islands, then known as the Sandwich Islands.  The Hawaiians had never seen a Caucasian before, and were stunned at his pallor.  They called him a haole, which means a person “without breath.”  In other words, because he was so pale, they thought he was dead – a walking ghost perhaps, or possibly a god. 

As I heard this story, I couldn’t help but recall the Biblical account of creation: how man came to live only when God breathed into him the “breath of life.”  Our life originally found its origin in the very breath of God.  “And man became a living soul.”  It didn’t take us very long, however, before we found a way to “kill” ourselves – through our rebellion and sin.  And, once again, we were dead – spiritually, we were haoles, without life.  God wasn’t content to leave things that way however, and in writing to the Colossians, Paul said: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. –  Colossians 2:13-14

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we find an interesting note in the text: As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:20-22  How did Jesus give us life again?  By breathing into them (and us!) His Holy Spirit!

We are not people without breath.  We are a people who have been given the very breath of God.  Let’s not look and act like we’re dead to anything – except to sin! 

PRAYER: For physical life, we give You our thanks.  For reviving our dead souls through Your sacrifice and Spirit, we rejoice!  May we look and act as those who have been revived and raised from the deadness of our sin!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/06/20 – Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross

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Matthew 27:35-36 (NLT2) – After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.

The day started like any other for the Roman soldiers. Another day, another execution. So they went to the hill called Calvary, nailed the offender to the cross and then got down to the serious business of gambling – right at the foot of the cross.

There were items to be divvied up – a cloak, an inner garment and some sandals to be sure. So they bet on who would get what and a few walked away with the spoils from the Nazarene.

Have you thought about how that scene must have looked to Jesus as he looked down at them? It must have been mind-blowing! Here they were, mere feet away from the most important and earthshattering event ever – and they were oblivious to the simple fact that it was God on the tree. At least they all seem to have been oblivious except one who eventually started paying attention and made his own startling declaration about who they were killing.

Oh, it’s so easy to be shocked by their behavior and games they were playing at the foot of the cross! But let’s not miss this: we aren’t that different than those soldiers – even those of us who bear the name of the Crucified One!

Consider: churches fight over a finite population of potential members. We dole out condemnation and judgments. We are seeking our own personal gain (a sandal here, a cloak there) to get ahead, get something for free.

We hold rallies celebrating how righteous my cause is and how unrighteous you are if you differ from my views. We write books about what other believers are doing wrong. We major in telling tales about the “others” and take joy in unveiling weaknesses – not for the purpose of restoration – but to take them down! We argue over points of “doctrine”, about other denominations and whether or not they are “of the Lord”.

And Jesus must look down at us in stunned disbelief.

As Max Lucado put it: “We, too, play games at the foot of the cross…So close to the timber yet so far from the blood…we are so close to the world’s most uncommon event but we act like common crapshooters huddled in bickering groups and fighting over silly opinions.

“May they all be one,” Jesus prayed.

“One, not one in groups of two thousand. But one in One. One church. One faith. One Lord. Not Baptist, not Methodist, not Adventist. Just Christians. No denominations. No hierarchies. No traditions. Just Christ.”

What can we do to stop playing games at the foot of the cross? Build bridges, toss a rope to someone struggling to keep their head above the swelling tide, pray for unity. Choose to “be the soldier who snaps to his senses, jumps to his feet, and reminds the rest of us, ‘Hey, that’s God on that cross!”

There are far too many games being played at the foot of the cross. Let’s refuse to play those petty games any more!

PRAYER: Jesus, take mercy on us! Turn us from game playing to Kingdom building! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/11/20 – No Matter the Prognosis

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

In his book If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, Randy Alcorn recalls his friend, writer Ethel Herr, who had a double mastectomy. Two months later doctors discovered that the cancer had spread. One of Herr’s friends, shocked and fumbling for words, asked her, “And how do you feel about God now?” Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:

“As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me. God has been preparing me for this moment. He has undergirded me in ways I’ve never known before. He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me. He has given to me joy such as I’ve never known before—and I’ve no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears. He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey. And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe … God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither. The key to knowing God is good is simply knowing him.” 

Isn’t it good to have a traveling companion like Jesus, who will go with you on every step of your journey?  He has chosen the journey for each of us.  He could have chosen it and patted us on the back and said, “Good luck!  I hope to see you when it’s all over!”  But he didn’t.  He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  I have a hunch he emphasized the word “never” when he said that.  He wanted us to be sure.

I don’t know where your journey has already led you.  I don’t know where your journey will take you.  I don’t even know where my journey will take me.  We have this assurance, though: it isn’t really the journey that leads us, is it He Who leads us, and no matter the prognosis, we can safely complete the journey with Him at our side!

PRAYER: Thank You for choosing the journey that is perfect for each one of us, and for promising to travel with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/07/20 – An Empire of Ruins

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

John Koessler wrote the following in his blog, and I thought it was worth sharing: “In Christ and the Meaning of Life, German theologian Helmut Thielicke tells the story of a young [soldier] who reached out to pick a bouquet of lilacs and uncovered the half-decayed body of [another] soldier beneath the bush: ‘He drew back in horror, not because he had never seen a dead man before—he drew back because of the screaming contradiction between the dead man and the flowering bush.’”

“Thielicke notes that the soldier’s reaction would have been different if the man had come upon a dead and faded lilac bush instead: ‘A blooming lilac bush will one day become a withered lilac bush—this is really nothing more than the operation of the rhythm of life—but that a man should be lying there in a decayed condition, this was something that simply did not fit, and that’s why he winced at the sight of it.’”

“We can only understand the mystery of death if we see it through the lens of Adam’s rebellion against God. We are pilgrims who traverse an “empire of ruins” with death as our fellow traveler. Unable to rid ourselves of this cheerless companion, we attempt to rehabilitate it instead, treating death as if it were a neighbor and not a trespasser.

“We clothe it in our best dress and apply make-up to its waxen features. Laid out before us in stiff repose, death looks as if it were merely asleep and if we do not look too carefully, we can almost convince ourselves that it has a beating heart within its breast and warm blood pulsing through its veins. We whisper to ourselves that it is not as alien as it first appeared. But this fool’s dream vanishes the minute we attempt to embrace death, finding that it repays our kiss with only sorrow and loss.

“Death is not a natural stage in the cycle of human development. Death is a curse. The presence of death is an intrusion. It is “natural” only to the extent that nature itself suffers from the stroke that fell upon Adam as a consequence for his sin. Nature endures death but not willingly. It groans in protest, loathing the bondage to decay which death has brought upon it and yearning for the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21). Death is “the last enemy,” a tyrant who acts on sin’s behalf and whose sway over us was finally broken at the cross but will only be fully realized at the resurrection (Romans 5:21; 1 Corinthians 15:26).

“Death is our enemy but, like the law, it is also a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. Death’s hard lesson exposes the true nature of sin. Indeed, the law and death are strange allies in this mysterious work. In the hands of God both act as a goad, puncturing our denial and prodding us to turn to Christ for relief from death’s sting.”

PRAYER: Teach us to number our days, Lord, and learn the lessons we should from our mortal lives so we are more prepared for our home in heaven with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/02/20 – Two Trees, Two Hills

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Jesus trudged up the hill of Calvary where he would be killed on pieces of a dead tree, accompanied by a crowd. Judas walked to another hill, another tree where he would die by a noose by himself.

Both had a purpose: one to grant forgiveness and pay for sin, the other to end his suffering because of his guilt and shame at what he’d done.

You and I will never walk up Calvary for the reasons Jesus did, but we have all walked in Judas’ footsteps, haven’t we? We don’t know why he betrayed Jesus – was it greed or disillusionment with the Messiah he’d hoped for? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Judas couldn’t forgive himself for what he’d done.

We have all walked there: we’ve betrayed those we love, we have betrayed Jesus by promising him on Sunday that “I will never do that again!” and on Monday we’re back to wallowing in the mire. And we feel like Judas must have felt as we walk up our own hill of regret. We groan, we weep, we try to forget but the Spirit and our conscience won’t let us. As Paul said, Who will rescue me from this body of death?

The two trees 2000 years ago weren’t all that far apart. If only Judas had walked to the other tree where guilt and shame were paid for instead of to the hanging tree.

Yet I can’t be too hard on Judas, can you? I can’t criticize him too hard for the tree he chose. As Max Lucado said in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, “To think that Jesus would really unburden our shoulders and unshackle our legs after all we’ve done to him is not easy to believe. In fact, it takes just as much faith to believe that Jesus can look past my betrayals as it does to believe that he rose from the dead.  Both are just as miraculous.”

Life, for Judas and us, is so close to the tree of hope.

Choose the tree you walk toward carefully and one will set you free and the other is full of regret.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us look to the tree where our shame dies and not focus with regret on our sins that you have already forgiven and paid for. In Your name I pray, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/27/20 – 2020: The Year of the Lord’s Favor

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This will be a strange DayBreaks. I may be castigated by some for what I write today but please know that I mean no offense to anyone and I truly hurt for those who have been impacted by COVID-19, hurricanes, derechos, tornados, fires and the like. I would never minimize the pain and heartache involved in those events.

Today I attended a webinar about how the church around the world has responded to the pandemic. It was inspiring! Someone mentioned this verse from Luke 4:18-19 and Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

As I listened, speaker after speaker (these were leaders of some of the largest faith-based organizations in the world such as World Vision, IJM, Compassion International, Young Life and the like) talked about how the church globally was heroically responding to the pandemic, it struck me that rather than this being a year of terrible calamity and loss that we could see it as the year the Lord’s favor has been poured out globally. Hard is always hard, but it’s not always bad.

Strange, you say? Yes, I suppose in a way it is. But they told of incredible things the church is doing, of hugely increased interest in spiritual things globally, about people witnessing the love of Christ at work to help them and care for the sick and dying. They spoke of how God has had to push the church into new wineskin types of thinking to see and seize new opportunities on how to share the gospel with the world that make more people reachable with the Good News and love of Christ than ever before.

Someone relayed this Chinese proverb: “Not all storms come to disrupt out lives. Some stores come to clear our paths.” God is constantly trying to channel the church (that’s us, folks!) into his purposes and he’ll move heaven and earth to do it.

What might God be asking you to do in this crisis? How might you need to change your thinking to see increased opportunities around you?

Instead of being consumed with thinking of it as a disastrous year, we may need to change our thinking to see it as the year of the Lord’s favor when humanity is drawn to him through these extraordinary events. Although he cares about all aspects of our lives, his ultimate goal is to see heaven populated with people from every tribe, tongue and nation.

PRAYER: Lord, your ways are not ours. Your thoughts are not ours. Your purposes are beyond our comprehension. We feel somewhat adrift in this maelstrom but help us see your hand in the storm as you open doors of opportunity for your church and us as individuals to serve the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/25/20 – Barabbas and Humanity

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We only encounter Barabbas in the story of the crucifixion – other than that he’s an enigma. From what little is said about him (Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19) it appears he was a robber and also a murderer – perhaps in an insurrection as he was being put to death by the Romans. He was not a good man if there be such a thing.

Yet, one morning, perhaps on the very day he was to be executed, the jailer shows up keys in hand and unlocks his cell and says, “You’re free to go.” I would imagine Barabbas was shocked. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been any “Why? I am about to get what I deserve. Thanks, but no thanks!”

I think there’s a valuable contrast here between Barabbas and the rest of us humans. He is a representative of a prisoner who was freed because someone else took his place.

How did Barabbas deal with his unexpected, but welcome, freedom? We don’t know. We don’t know if he changed his ways or not. What we do know is that he accepted the words of the jailer and skedaddled out of the prison complex. Someone has given him a get out of jail free card and he grabbed it with a tight fist and took off. He accepted the gift.

That’s where the contrast comes into play. We, too, were offered a gift of life and pardon but we spend our time trying to earn it or to pay for it through some self-denial or other heroic action rather than just saying, “Thank you!” and grabbing it like the lifeline it is.

I like what Max Lucado said, “…one of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace. There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift. We have some weird compulsion to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift.

“Why do we do that? The only reason I can figure is pride. To accept grace means to accept it’s necessity, and most folks don’t like to do that. To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.”No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado.

I don’t know about you (well, that’s not true – I DO know about you because you’re human like me) but I need that same Get Out of Jail Free card and I will grab it with both hands. I never thought I’d say this, but I want to be like Barabbas in that regard. I’ve tried the rules and systems and self-recrimination and found that they just don’t work. They drove me in desperation to the doctrine of grace and it set me free.

Be like Barabbas – accept the gift – and you’ll have freedom!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for standing in for us and giving  us a way out of our desperation and death. Thank you for your grace that gives us a freedom most precious! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>