DayBreaks for 11/01/19 – A Lesson from the Darkness

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DayBreaks for 11/01/19: A Lesson from the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

I’ve recently been working my way through the gospel of Mark.  As I’ve wandered those pathways, I’ve come across lots of things that I’d not noticed, or which now puzzle me for some reason but which I’d never considered before.  One such incident is found in the 14th chapter and the 51st verse (in the ESV): And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body.  And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

I knew that this verse was there, but I’d never really pondered why it was included in Holy Writ.  We don’t know who this man was.  There are those who believe it was Mark himself and that because of his shame, he didn’t include his name as part of the narrative.  I’ve also heard suggestions that it was John, but that doesn’t seem too likely because later on we find John entering the courtyard where the trials were being held (he had “connections” we are told).  So, while we won’t know for certain until we get to heaven who it was, I will probably just assume for now that it was Mark.  I wouldn’t especially want to include my name if this had happened to me, not only because of the shame involved of running away naked, but mostly because of the shame of why he ran.

I’ve always considered that it was fear that made the young man run and nothing has caused me to change that opinion.  What struck me this time, though, was how quickly believers (including myself) run from opposition.  I mean, Jesus was right there physically in the presence of this young man, and the approaching gang of soldiers were not Satan himself.  They were just people of the “opposition” so to speak. 

And so I ask myself (as I hope you ask yourself) the question: “Just how much opposition does it take for me to cut and run – even at the risk of losing my dignity in an effort to escape?”  I know this much: it doesn’t take the spectre of Satan himself to send me scurrying into the night.  Far too often all it takes is for the opposition to just “show up” – like in this story from Mark. 

Perhaps God put this story in the Word precisely for us to ask ourselves this very question and to ponder our response.  All I know for certain is that we imagine ourselves as strong and brave and courageous – who doesn’t want to at least think that about themselves? – and to imagine how we’d react in a threatening situation – only to find that when such a situation really happens, we’re scared witless and run off into the darkness like the young man in Mark.

What if we start practicing not running for 10 minutes at a time, an hour at a time, then a day at a time – then an entire week at a time – regardless of whether or not the opposition shows up?  And, of course, we can’t ever afford to overlook the fact that is the opposition Jesus commands us to love.  Of all people, they are the ones who most need to hear from our lips that One has come to love them and set them free from the darkness in their hearts, even as He has set us free from that same darkness! 

PRAYER: In the darkness of confrontation, give us courage to stand our ground and love for the opposition rather than condemnation!  Help us to be compassionate and loving enough to not run and hide!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/17/19 – Alaska Lessons #1 – Beauty

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Photo by Galen C. Dalrymple, September 2019

DayBreaks for 9/17/19: Alaska Lessons #1 – Beauty

My wife and I were recently able to cross an item off our bucket list: a trip to Alaska. It was all we’d every dreamed of and more!

The vastness and wildness of Alaska stirred a variety of thoughts within me and I wanted to share some with you.

The beauty of Alaska is stunning. It is what I can only imagine the world may have looked like when it was fresh from the Father’s hand and heart. I could hardly keep my eyes off the mountains and streams, glaciers and tundra as I drove along. And I found myself thinking about how God loves beautiful things. I’m quite sure that there are parts of Alaska where man has yet to set foot, yet they are beautiful and God created them that way. Why? Can there be any other explanation other than he did it for his own enjoyment since no one else was going to see it for millenia? 

And that got me to thinking about what God finds truly beautiful. While he loves mountains and oceans, raging streams and quiet woods, there are things he loves even more.

God loves the righteous: Ps. 146:7-8 (ESV) – …who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. He loves justice (Ps. 33:5), he desires honesty and truthfulness from us. He loves the humble heart.

As much as God loves nature’s beauty, he loves us more when he sees us acting like the King’s children.

PRAYER: Let us live in such a way that you see beauty in us and in what we do for you and our fellow man. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/09/19 – Handmade in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 9/09/19: Handmade in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

You’ve read the labels before: “Handmade in Italy.”  “Made by hand in Ireland.”  “Handmade in China.”  Do all three of those statements give you the same feeling?  For many years, “handmade in China” would not stir one to think all that highly of the product, unless it was some special type of pottery or other work of art.  For a long time, “Made in Japan” and “Made in China” had reputations of suggesting poor quality.  To some extent, that has change in more recent times, but problems with toxic paints on toys and other manufacturing issues have once again made us skeptical of things made in places such as China.

On the other hand, “Handmade in Italy” probably would cause one to think that the product is worth something extra.  There is a higher reputation for things made in Italy (for example) versus China.  And the “handmade” part of the label leads one to suspect that an artisan made that particular product. 

What would be the most priceless artifact in history?  It might be hard to say, but I’d venture a guess that if there were a table or chair or some article made out of wood that could be verified as being handmade by Jesus that it would be the most priceless treasure ever found.  Bids would become astronomical!  Alas, no such artifact has ever been found. 

That is not to say, however, that we have nothing that was handmade by Jesus.  We do – plenty of things that were handmade by Him.  The sun, moon, stars, the oceans, mountains, animals…all were made by Him (John 1:3).  Truly, we live in a world of wonders! 

But the very best news is what John 1:3 implies: it means that you are handmade by Jesus!  Scripture speaks about this in many places, including Job 10:10-11 and Psalm 139 (my favorite Psalm).  Now what does THAT say about you?  You are priceless…far more so than a table formed under the blows and gouging planes that Jesus once held in His hands.  Jesus never died for a table or chair, though they’d be priceless today if they could be located.  But He did die for you. 

You are “Handmade by the Lord” and infinitely more precious than anything else in this world!

PRAYER: Thank You for forming us and shaping us by Your precious hands!  May we be worthy representatives of Your handiwork and bring glory to our Maker!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/21/19: Herein Is Love

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DayBreaks for 08/21/19: Herein Is Love

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Have you ever stopped to ponder the variety of ways in which God chooses to show us His love for us?  I am highly confident that the ways and means He uses to show us His love are innumerable and as infinite as the stars of the sky or the sand of the seashore.  Yet, sometimes we still wonder if He really, honestly, truly loves us. 

Flowers can speak to us of how He longs to whisper to us.  Mountain vistas that He created were made to sweep us off our feet.  The vastness of the universe on a cold, clear night speaks to us not only of His greatness, but of our importance to Him that caused the Psalmist to wonder aloud how amazing it was that He should care about and “visit” us.  The touch of a lover’s hand upon the skin excites us as does the gentleness of the breeze borne of the Spirit.  In all these things, and so many more, He speaks love to us.

Donald McDonald, in Behold Your God (1995), perhaps captured the thing that most ultimately is the proof of His love.  He said, “In the last analysis, God expresses His love for us not by putting another to suffer in our place, but by Himself taking our place.  He meets the whole cost of our forgiveness in Himself, exacting it of Himself.  He demands the ransom.  He provides the ransom.  He becomes the ransom.  Herein is love.

That God provided someone to suffer in our place is not the greatest measure of His love for us.  God could have commanded the archangel Michael to come to earth and die on a cross.  We don’t know for sure, but we must all assume that Michael, along with the balance of the heavenly host, are all without sin.  Could they not have been the sacrifice?  Why not?  Why didn’t God send one of them to suffer in our place?  To my very limited way of thinking, I have to believe that He didn’t do that because it wouldn’t speak to us of His love for us if He’d sent someone else, and secondly that it is not in keeping with His nature to not love to the “Nth” degree in a personal way. 

If a father is watching a drowning child struggle in the middle of a lake, would the loving thing be for the father to ask someone else to go an die in an effort to save the child, or to go himself?  Which would be love?  It’s obvious, isn’t it. 

God’s love isn’t shown just by Him having sent someone to die for us, but in coming to do it Himself.

Today, live with the thought that He loves you far more than you will ever know or imagine!

PRAYER:  For Your great love that is higher than the stars, deeper than the sea, and wider than eternity…Hallelujah!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/14/19 – How Can it Be?

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DayBreaks for 08/14/19: How Can It Be?

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

“O love of God, how can it be, that You my King, should die for me?”

How much has been written about the love of God?  It really doesn’t matter – even if the entire universe were filled with the writing, it wouldn’t be enough to cover the subject!  We believe in His love (most of the time), and we certainly WANT to believe in it always, but there are times when we just find it hard to believe that although John says He is love, that He loves ME. 

Why?  Why should He love you?  Why should He love me?  Is there something deep within you that requires Him to love you?  Is there something special about my character that causes Him to love me?  While we are all unique and special, is there something about us that God finds irresistible that compels or forces Him to love us? 

The question of “How could he love me?” is a common one, even when it lies unspoken on the lips.  It is also a question that I don’t think we can answer.  I know that I often don’t find myself all that lovable.  How can He find me lovable after all the things I’ve done?  Sure, we can say it’s because we’re made in His image…and it is true that we are made in His image.  But I don’t think that is sufficient to provoke love in His heart for us. 

In his book, The God I Don’t Understand, Christopher J. H. Wright said, “We will never understand why God has chosen to love us, other than the revealed truth that God is love.  It is simply and essentially God’s character and nature to love.  That states the truth, but it doesn’t explain it. … The love of God is generated and motivated within God’s own being, just as the light and warmth of the sun that we feel on planet Earth is generated within the sun itself and owes nothing to anything the earth or its inhabitants can do – other than to be orbiting within reach.”

It is probably just that simple: God loves us because He is God.  Period, over and out.  And if He is truly love, as John proclaimed, it should not be a surprise that He can love even one like me!

PRAYER:  Of all the things that You could have been, how grateful I am that in Your deepest nature, You are love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/24/19 – Under His Wings

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DayBreaks for 06/24/09: Under His Wings

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge. – (Ps. 91:4)

You may have seen this, but the story is worth repeating. National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings by describing a forest fire in Yellowstone. After the fire, rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their mother’s wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had herded her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, perhaps instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her little ones. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother remained steadfast.

The obvious lesson from this story is how the mother was willing to give her life to protect her precious little ones. As long as they stayed under the refuge of her wings, close to her beating heart, they were safe. But if they had ventured out, death would have been certain. As long as we stay close to God (under His protection), we are safe. But the moment we leave His loving embrace, we are fair game for all the terror that is in the world.

I couldn’t help but think of Luke 13:34 when I read this story: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Jesus probably spoke these words from the road through Gethsemane as he approached Jerusalem for the crucial event in his life: the crucifixion.

His words are poignant for several reasons:

FIRST: God’s heart is on display. We must never forget the pain that God feels over humanity gone wrong and how it touches and evokes His love. Rather than shrug His shoulders and turn away, God’s reaction is to reach out to save us!

SECOND: Jesus described Jerusalem as the place where prophets were killed. He wasn’t crying out about the righteous in the city and inviting them to run to him for shelter. He was seeking the losers, the killers, the murderers of prophets and even those who were to soon scourge, beat, spit upon and crucify himself. In his love, he wanted to save even them.

What is your response to this one who offers you the safety of His protection? If you understand what He has done for you, it MUST make a difference in your life. Has it?

Prayer: For Your protection this day, we plead.  Hold us close to Your sheltering wings in safety and peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 6/21/19 – The Certain Reality of Love

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DayBreaks for 06/21/09: The Certain Reality of Love

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

They say that only death and taxes are certain.  Well, there is some truth to that, but it’s not the whole truth.  There are other things that are certain, too, whether everyone wants to admit them or not: God’s Word is sure and certain, Judgment Day is real and will certainly happen, God’s promises are certain.  I’m sure that there are other things that are certain (they all have to do with God in some way or form – except for taxes, that is!)  What has struck me recently (probably given the episode with Casper that I described in yesterday’s DayBreaks) is the certainty that if you love something, love will break your heart.

As I held Casper and watched him go limp in my arms and his eyes dilate, my heart was breaking.  Why?  This was only a dog, after all.  But I love this scamp of a dog with all my heart.  And it hurt to think I was going to hold him as he died and that he would be gone.  I pleaded with him to come back, to not go away.  Perhaps the reason he came back wasn’t because of my CPR, but because God heard my desperate plea not to take Casper away while he’s still such a young dog.

If you love another human, you better believe there will be hurt and pain and heartbreak.  Vast loads of it.  Cascading mountains of it.  Not because we set out to hurt those we love – we just do it anyway through our thoughtlessness, our selfishness, our busted human nature.  On the day I promised Laurel that I would love, honor and cherish her until death do us part, do you think for one moment that I ever intended to cause her so much pain in the years we’ve been married?  Never!  But the truth remains that I’ve caused her pain, my children pain, my friends pain, my co-workers pain…and my God pain.

I have sometimes wondered why God created love knowing it would be so painful.  Eventually I came to the point of view that God didn’t actually create love because love existed before He created anything.  It existed in His very own nature, and in the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  So God didn’t have to create love – it always has been because He always has been.  Perhaps that is also true of faith and hope, given the fact that Paul said that long after tongues and other things have passed away, three things will remain: faith, hope and love – with love being the greatest.  All of those things, I believe, are as eternal as God Himself because they find their Source in Him.  He is faithful, He hopes for His creation (including us), and He loves all He has made. 

Nonetheless, as I contemplated the certainty of a broken heart because of love, I was drawn once more to the cross and the broken heart of God over our waywardness.  If we feel pain so much over the possible loss of a dog, how much more does God feel pain as a result of things we, the objects of His love, do?  Perhaps His pain over our sin is as infinite as His love.

Prayer: Lord, I am so sorry for all the pain I have caused You – the One who loves me more than anyone or anything else could possibly love me.  Forgive me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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