DayBreaks for 3/15/18 – Out of My League

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DayBreaks for 3/15/18: Out of My League

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I don’t know how it happened.  But I’m glad it did.  It happened a long time ago – 38 years in August, to be precise.  Somehow, don’t ask me how, but the girl I loved agreed to marry me and we were married on an August day in 1970.  Why she agreed to it I don’t think I’ll ever know.  As the saying goes, “She’s out of my league.”  My wife is smarter than I am, more spiritually attuned to things, a deeper thinker than I am, a much better communicator of many things, she’s filled with a mother’s love and compassion – and she’s far better looking than I am.  Now, can you tell me why she married me?!?!?!  I can’t.

At the recent National Pastor’s Conference, John Ortberg was one of the main speakers (I could listen to him speak all day and night!)  Apparently, he feels that same about his wife as I do.  It seems that we both married over our heads and out of our league.  (If truth be told, I think that’s the case with most of us men…women seem to be far better as a general rule!)  It’s hard to believe that I have had such great “luck” as to have my wife as my partner and friend for nearly 38 years now. 

Can’t the same thing be said about Jesus?  If my wife is out of my league, how about Jesus?  He’s so far out of my league that you can’t even see him from here!  And yet, and yet…if the Bible says anything at all, it says this: “Jesus loves me.” 

My wife is lovely and the most beautiful woman in the world to me, but if I were married to a supermodel, do you know how I’d feel?  I’d be scared out of my mind.  Look at the lives of supermodels or the super-actresses and actors – the “beautiful people”, if you will (as far as the world is concerned).  It seems that if they’re not in rehab, they’re hopping from one lover to the next, from one set of marriage vows to another.  If I were married to a supermodel, I’d always be fearful that she’d find someone more in her league than I am, and that perhaps any love she had for me would grow cold and would be withdrawn. 

Can the same happen with Jesus?  No.  Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) –  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Is Jesus out of my league?  Absolutely.  (He’s out of yours, too, by the way.)  Is his love for me real?  Look at the nail prints in his hands and feet.  Will his love for me ever be withdrawn or given to someone else with me being left in the cold?  Never! 

PRAYER: The depth of your love is amazing, Jesus!  Thank you for the words of encouraging reminder that Romans records for us – letting us know that you will never turn your back on us, that you will always love us.  May we always see your love engraved on your hands and feet when we are tempted to doubt and become fearful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 3/14/18 – The Trinity of False Identity

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DayBreaks for 3/14/18: The Trinity of False Identity

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

It is distressing to me to see how many Christians struggle with who and what they are in Christ.  It seems that for some, it’s nearly impossible to accept that we are beloved children (yes, even in our present condition), that we could be described as God’s poetry (because we certainly don’t feel like poetry), that we will someday shine like the stars in the universe (because our souls are so full of darkness inside), and that our sin has been taken away and paid for by the blood of Christ (which we seem to fear may have lost its power to deal with sin over the centuries – especially my sin). 

I was at a recent conference where Mark Yaconelli spoke about the trinity of false identity.  In one sentence, here it is: “I am what I do and how well I do it.”

What do you think of that?  Does it seem to ring true for you?

We live in a performance-oriented world.  The race almost always seems to go to the swiftest, the victory to the strongest, the adulation to the most beautiful or power-laden.  It begins in our earliest days when we receive praise for doing good things – and doing them well (except for our childhood drawings which were really all atrocious at best – but mom always swooned over them anyway).  It happens in school.  It happens at our work.  Performance.  Peak performance, to be precise, is what is recognized and rewarded.

But is it that way in God’s eyes?  No, I don’t think so.  That would lead to the conclusion of performance-based salvation, performance-based love.  God loves us precisely in spite of our performance.  If you think God loves you more if you are more obedient than anyone around you – you’re wrong.  Does He appreciate your obedience?  Absolutely!  Does He want our obedience!  Of course.  But does He love you more for it?  No.  Why?  He can’t. 

We need to get over our performance-based obsession and to see and define ourselves as God sees and defines our worth.  “I am God’s child, I am working for Him, and I will give Him my best and be at peace.”

Isaiah 43:4 (NIV) – Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. 

PRAYER: Free us from our self-imposed falsehoods and protect us from the deceptions and frustrations that the enemy would imprint on our minds!  Give us the faith to believe Your words and the joy that comes with being beloved by You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/8/18 – The Perils of a Cold Heart

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DayBreaks for 3/08/18: The Perils of a Cold Heart

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive,  March 2008:

An early candidate for 1998’s “Darwin Award” (an annual “award” given to the stupidest thing that someone did during the year – usually awarded posthumously), from Remy, France: “Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide.  He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck.  He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock.  He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes.  He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment.  He jumped and fired the pistol.  The bullet missed him completely and cut through the rope above him.  Free of the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea.  The sudden dunking extinguished the flames and made him vomit the poison.  He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman and was taken to a hospital, where he died of hypothermia.”

I’ve wondered what makes people contemplate suicide.  I understand financial stress, grief, despair, anxiety, depression, etc. – at least at some level.  I’ve never reached the point where I felt that life was so hopeless that I had no other option.  I have had friends who have committed suicide and it is heartbreaking.  I don’t know what problems were hounding Mr. LeFevrier, but he was determined to leave nothing to chance.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the noose, the poison, the fire, the pistol or the fall that took his life.  It wasn’t even really something external – but something internal.  His core body temperature fell to such a low level that his organs couldn’t do their job – his heart and brain stopped.

So it is with us.  It isn’t the things around us that will prove our undoing – it is what is within us.  Matthew 24:12 says: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… .  We can spend great amounts of energy and time to make sure the circumstances surrounding our life are just right, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts.  We can install backup system after backup system to make sure our life is planned to the smallest detail.  But you know what?  Those things don’t matter.  They are just details.  What matters is what is within.  Is your heart on fire after God, or is it cold and unfunctioning?  When Jesus once again comes crashing through the barriers of time and space with a trumpet blast and the earth and the heavens are consumed with flaming fire all the backup plans we may make prior to then will go up in smoke – literally!  But it is the heart and what is in it that will determine what happens next.

What is your core heart temperature?  What are you doing to fuel the fire of your heart towards greater love and service to God and His creation?  Mr. LeFevrier never would have guessed in his wildest dreams that he would have died of coldness.  I hope and pray that coldness doesn’t claim any of us!

PRAYER: You are a consuming fire, Your Spirit appeared as tongues of fire…light our hearts on fire that they may never grow cold, lest we die.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/21/18 – An Imitation of the Master

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DayBreaks for 2/21/18: An Imitation of the Master

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

So, how do you plan to spend your day today?  Did you create a “laundry list” of things that you need to get done or should do?  How’s it going so far?  Has the list gotten smaller or bigger as the day progressed?  How much time do you spend planning out your next day? 

It seems that no matter what I do or how meticulously I might try to plan things, it never seems to quite work out like I’d planned.  Perhaps that’s what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote in Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) – You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.  I think I’ve got my day all figured out, but NOT!  I often look at the things that come along in the course of a day as being unwelcome events…after all, I’ve got a plan and if I can just run it like clockwork, it’s the best thing, right?  Not really.  Why should I think that my well-laid plans are the best thing for me to do each day, or the best way to do them, or even that they’re the most important things to do on any given day? 

We need to learn to welcome interruptions.  Mark Buchanan says that the devil seeks to distract, but God seeks to interrupt, and how quickly we fall prey to Satan’s distractions but how we equally quickly grow oblivious to God’s interruptions.  Satan wants us to become distracted from God and godly things, but God wants to interrupt our schedules and plans with things which are more important.  Who am I to say that the interruption by the person in the next cubicle is not a portion of a God-directed plan for something greater than the accomplishment of my little plans?  Isn’t that perhaps what the writer of the Proverb was saying?

Jesus’ life was dominated by purpose – he came to offer his life as a ransom.  Reading the gospels, especially John, one gets the sense that Jesus entire life was spent moving towards Jerusalem and the cross.  And indeed, it was always his purpose.  But along the way, many things happened to him that we would consider interruptions.  It isn’t clear that Jesus kept anything like a detailed itinerary of his daily schedule.  In fact, his daily life seemed to be lived by interruption: a woman who touches his clothes and is healed, a dead son begin wept over by his mother, a dinner at a taxpayer’s house, a wedding feast in Cana, a leader of Roman soldiers who entreats him for a healing, little children who wanted to be held, storms on the sea, fishing with his buddies, questions from the scribes and Pharisees – and the list goes on virtually endlessly.  He always found time for telling stories, for people along the route to the cross who hadn’t scheduled a moment of his time. 

So what was Jesus’ secret and what dictated Jesus’ schedule?  How did he number his days aright?  Perhaps Jesus came the closest to answering that himself in Mt. 11:1-11, when he said, The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  Jesus listened and watched the Spirit – and did what the Spirit directed.

Peter, after saying Jesus is the Lord of all, describes how Jesus spent his days: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and…he went around doing good.  (Acts 10:36, 38) 

There you have it: the sum of Jesus’ earthly vocation is that he wandered and he blessed.  Jesus was a vagabond physician, the original doctor without borders.  His purpose was crystal clear – but his methods appear to be random.  Henri Nouwen observed something like this about his own life: “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered the interruptions were my work.”

PRAYER: May we discern Your interruptions, Lord, and may we go with You to do what You want us to do together.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/30/18 – Gambling at the Cross

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DayBreaks for 1/30/18: Gambling at the Cross

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

John 19.23-24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

Out of all the people who bore guilt at Jesus’ death, the soldiers were probably the most innocent of all.  The religious leaders had put Christ on the cross through their insistence and hatred.  Pilate put him there because he was a coward and was more afraid of Tiberius than of a God he didn’t know or couldn’t see.  We all were party to the event because of our sin.  But as far as the soldiers were concerned, they were just doing their job.  The Romans assigned a quaternion (4) of soldiers to carry out executions.   The Jew typically wore 5 articles of clothing: sandals, a turban, a belt (girdle), an inner garment and an outer coat.  The execution squad was customarily given possession of the clothes and personal effects of the man being crucified.  In Jesus’ case it was no different.  Four soldiers – five pieces of clothing.  When they got to the last piece, rather than tear it into four pieces (which might have been handy only as a dust rag for their wives), they decided to throw dice (cast lots) to see who would get the fifth article.

There, at the foot of the cross, are four soldiers gambling away the time while the Son of God dies mere feet away from where they were.  They were oblivious to what was happening.  Perhaps nothing in the entire bible show clearly shows the indifference of the world to Christ as this.  Jesus is dying in agony and the soldiers are playing games.  As if what was happening didn’t matter. 

As William Barclay put it: “The tragedy is not the hostility of the world to Christ – the tragedy is the world’s indifference which treats the love of God as if it did not matter.”  Indeed, though the world may be hostile to Christianity, it is indifferent to God’s love.  The world seeks to find love in the arms of some man or woman, in the philosophy of being kinder and gentler, in the lyrics of a song.  Do you want to know where to find love?  You can find it in the nails that are in Jesus’ feet and hands.  You can find it in the crown of thorns.  You can find it in the spear-pierced side. 

How are you treating and responding to God’s love?  Through our sin, we are like the soldiers gambling at the foot of the cross.  Every time we sin we are showing God that Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t mean anything to us. 

I suppose the world will go on gambling at the foot of the cross as long as the world exists.  I hope that you and I don’t join them.  Don’t let the words of Lamentations 1.12 be said of us: Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

PRAYER: At the cross may we see and begin to grasp Your unfailing love for us and not be found guilty of being indifferent to what happened there for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

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DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

From They Were Strangers blog, by my friend, Ryan McElvey, January 18, 2018:

He heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, a choice had to be made: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

The year was 1569 and Dirk was being held for “rebelling” against the authority of the Dutch government by rejecting his own infant baptism and becoming re-baptized. He was locked in a residential palace prison which was surrounded by a moat and under guard. Dirk had been in prison so long that he had lost weight. He kept tightening his belt, but if a verdict wasn’t reached soon, he would eventually face a death of starvation.

As time wore on in captivity he began planning his escape by taking cloth rags and secretly knotting them together into a rope. Eventually he was able to make his rope long enough to suspend from the window of his prison onto the moat below. Dirk waited until a day when the moat was frozen, and then he lowered himself out of the window and onto its glassy surface. He shuffled across the icy moat away from the palace as quickly and quietly as he could.

But before he was even out of sight of the palace he heard a shout of alarm from the bulwarks. His escape had been discovered. Looking back he soon saw one of the guards running after him. Dirk continued to run, but he felt like his legs couldn’t move fast enough, and he realized that the meager food rations and sedentary life in prison had taken its toll on his body. With the guard gaining on him Dirk set out across the ice of Hondegat pond, hoping to gain some distance by shuffling over its slippery surface.

Then he heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, he was faced with a choice: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

Had the Lord delivered Dirk from his enemy? Had Dirk now gained his freedom because the Lord had allowed the guard to fall through the ice to his death?


Was the Lord giving Dirk the chance to love his enemy in radical obedience by going back to save him?

Dirk knew what he had to do. He turned around and went back. There in the icy hole his pursuer was bobbing in the water, crying out and desperately grasping at the air. In full Christ-like imitation Dirk laid down on the ice, stretched out his arms, reaching out to save his enemy.

But upon saving his enemy’s life, Dirk was immediately taken back into custody and held prisoner in a church tower, from which there was no way escape. Only four days after his recapture Dirk Willems was given the death sentence to be burned at the stake. The story goes that the wind was blowing that day, and because he wasn’t inhaling the smoke, it prolonged his death. His screams were heard from a great distance, but unlike the screams of the guard on Hondegat pond, no one came to Dirk’s rescue.

  1. . .  it seems so long ago, and yet the story echoes across history and we can still hear the cries from the broken ice. Do I love my enemy, or do I see his misfortune as “God’s judgement” on him and as an excuse to leave him behind?

Obviously, loving my enemy doesn’t always have the drama that Dirk Willems experienced, but is my spirit the same as his? What about the co-worker who takes advantage of me? The business that didn’t give me the product or service I paid for? The driver who cut me off? The backstabbing brother in Christ? Do I love in all these situations? Doing good in return for his bad, blessing in return for his curse, praying for those who mistreat me, giving freely to those who take from me?

Why did Dirk Willems go back and save his enemy, only to die for his act of mercy? And why should I love those who do me wrong?

Jesus tells me to love my enemies, because Jesus loves His enemies, even enough to die for them. . . to die for me. To Jesus, I am the guard struggling in Hondegat pond, and He reaches out to save me, only to die Himself.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. . . When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”     (1 Peter 2:21, 23)

PRAYER: Jesus, even though you commanded us to love our enemies, we find it often too much of a challenge to even love our friends as you have loved us. Give us hearts that love as yours does – even for our enemies, that we might be willing to die for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/08/18 – A Fisherman Extraordinaire

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DayBreaks for 1/08/18: A Fisherman Extraordinaire

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I’ve recently finished preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1:1-11 and I’ve really come to appreciate the apostle Peter more than I ever had before.  I have always liked John, and Paul was, without a doubt, an incredible advocate for the Christ.  Peter – well, I suppose that I remembered too many of the stories from my childhood that seemed to emphasize his flaws.  Peter didn’t write a gospel, but he almost did: most believe that the gospel of Mark was a collection of stories that Peter told about living with Jesus for 3 years.  If so (and it is quite likely true that Peter told those things to Mark who wrote them down), it is interesting how Peter presents himself, especially at the beginning:

  • A man who brashly asks to walk on the water, but who was last seen sinking and on the verge of drowning before the Lord lifted him up;
  • We’ve seen Peter pretending to be a ninja when he attacks the high priest’s servant with a sword during the arrest of Jesus – and we learn that his skills as a swordsman aren’t very good because he wasn’t swinging at the ear, but the man’s head;
  • We find him falling asleep in the prayer meeting Jesus organized in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed;
  • We see him sputtering lies and nonsense, denying his dearest friend – at precisely the moment when Jesus most needed him as a friend.

Why did Peter tell those true stories?  Because they make Peter easier to trust, to believe in.  And they give us hope, too.  That’s the irony of a humble man: the more he admits his failings, the more likely we are to throw in our lot with him – to like him.  There is, after all, no fool as dangerous as a man who doesn’t know he’s a fool.  But a fool who confesses it and learns from it – ah, there is a man or woman we can trust, for they are learning life’s lessons and gaining in wisdom.

But what Peter doesn’t tell at all is that he became the undisputed leader of the 12.  In spite of all the above, Jesus never gave up hope in Peter.  He saw things in Peter that Peter never could have imagined.  Peter had likely only ever dreamed of taking over his father’s fishing business and being able to put bread and butter on the table for his family.  And then one day, a stranger came along the sea shore and spoke words that stirred Peter’s heart, and Peter accepted the man’s invitation to learn to catch men instead of fish. 

There are many days when I look at my list of failures (and it’s certainly a longer list than Peter’s!) and think that I’ll be lucky if I can get the job as the groundskeeper outside of the pearly gates – forget about even getting inside.  There are times I’ve felt that surely God must be saving the deepest cell in hell for me and Satan.  When I begin to feel that way, I need to stop listening to Satan as he tries to fill my head and heart with discouragement and start listening to Jesus, who whispers to me that he loves me, that all my sins have already been paid for and taken away and thrown into the depths of the sea.  I need to remember that he calls me precious, beloved, his child.  In short, Jesus whispers to me, “Remember Peter?  See how he turned out?  You’ll be no different, because it wasn’t Peter that made himself change – it was me who changed him, and I’m going to do the same thing with you.”

I know that I’ll not be the second-coming of Peter.  But I don’t have to be.  I just have to be who God made me to be, and who He is changing me to become. 

Peter never would have dreamed that he’d preach the first gospel sermon on Pentecost and that 3000 would believe through the words that God gave him to speak.  After he’d denied Christ in the wee hours of Good Friday, he never dreamed he’d have the courage to go to the cross himself and give his life for Jesus (as Jesus had gone to the cross and given his life for Peter.)  By God’s grace, Peter became all that God meant for him to be.

By God’s grace, we, too, shall become what He wants us to be.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for your whispers of reassurance that you love us just as we are and that you’re constantly at work to see us become the finished work of art that you intended us to be before we were born.  Thank you for the love that refuses to let us go, no matter how great our failures!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.