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.

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DayBreaks for 11/21/17 – A Muddy Foam

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DayBreaks for 11/21/17: A Muddy Foam

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

I like to maintain an even keel.  I think most of us do.  Sure, there are those who are into the extremes: folks who put on a kite-type suit and jump out of an airplane and ride the wind currents coming up off the face of a mountain.  And there’s the other extreme, too: folks who, for whatever reason, are so afraid to even set foot outside of their home that they live as prisoners of their own fears.  But most of us operate “normally” – we try not to get too carried away with anything, thinking that a good balance is what life is all about.  There’s something to be said for that, but I’m not really convinced that it’s all good.

Consider: how would your wife or husband feel about it if you just had neutral or luke-warm emotions towards them?  How would your children feel if you made it a goal in life not to go overboard in truly loving them?  How would your employer feel if you thought your job was okay, but didn’t make every effort to work hard for them?  Chances are you wouldn’t be employed for very long.

How does God want us to live our lives, especially our emotional lives? 

There are many passages of Scripture that relate to this: we are to live sober-mindedly, we are to live peaceful lives characterized by the joy of Christ.  We are to be wary and alert, to test the spirits to see if they’re from God or not.  Sounds rather balanced and reserved, doesn’t it? 

But, I think that there’s an area or two where God wants us to truly go overboard, to cast our caution aside and jump into the deep end of the pool, so to speak.  The first one is in the way that we love God Himself.  We are to love Him more than our very lives if it should come to that.  We are to love Him, not with part of our heart, soul and mind, but with ALL of our heart, soul and mind.  In other words, hold nothing back from this love.  There is no other love like it and there’s nothing better to reserve our love for than for loving Him.  The second one, you can probably guess: we are to love what God loves – goodness, righteousness, holiness…and yes, other people, even our enemies.  It’s far easier to say than to do. 

I like this quote, which I find expresses the feeling I have down deep in my heart about my own poor emotional condition: “I am spellbound by the intensity of Jesus’ emotions: not a twinge of pity, but heartbroken compassion; not a passing irritation, but terrifying anger; not a silent tear, but groans of anguish; not a weak smile, but ecstatic celebration.  Jesus’ emotions are like a mountain river cascading with clear water. My emotions are more like a muddy foam or a feeble trickle.”  – G. Walter Hansenin, Christianity Today

How can we have the emotional passion of Jesus for others and for the Father?  I think that there are probably many possible things that can help us, including praying that God will give us Jesus’ heart for the world, for the lost, for the hurting – to make us compassionate and also capable of true rejoicing.  We also need to learn to see through the surface appearances into the deep realities of eternal destiny and of the human heart so that we can see in others and in situations what Jesus sees in them.  It’s hard to be moved with compassion toward someone who is engaging in blatant and offensive sin, but if we could see them in an eternity without Christ, I have a hunch that we’d all be moved to be more loving and compassionate.  After all, isn’t that how Jesus saw us before we were saved? 

PRAYER:  Father, help us to have the heart that beats with the passion of Christ.  Help us to have the eyes to see past the hurts others may cause us, the offenses we may suffer at their hands, to see them as marred images of what You intended them to be, and to see the reality of their destination if they continue to live without Jesus.  Then, give us the strength to act like Christ towards them.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/07/17 – Someone is Watching

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DayBreaks for 11/07/17: Someone is Watching

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Syndicated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a keen observer of world trends, devoted a recent column to the idea that technology has made everyone a potential paparazzo.  Here’s his thinking in a nutshell: anyone we encounter could have a cell phone with a camera that could record our actions.  If we’re rude or misbehave, we could end up on the offended party’s blog or MySpace website for the whole world to see.  “We’re all public figures now,” concludes Friedman.

For support, Friedman cites the new book How by Dov Seidman.  Its thesis: in this world of new and potentially revealing technology, how we live our lives and conduct our businesses has become far more significant than what we do.  “We do not live in glass houses (houses have walls); we live on glass microscope slides…visible and exposed to all,” writes Seidman.

I think as children we were all intrigued with the concept of a glass house.  We were too young then to think about all the downsides of such a living arrangement – we only thought about how cool it would be to be able to have 360 degrees of vision at all times. 

You’ve seen his point proven on the news nearly every night – a hidden camera captures a thief robbing a convenience store, kidnapping someone, showing the shaking caused by an earthquake.  If you look closely at the stop light poles in your town, you’ll notice lots of little cameras.  Or in department stores, they hang from the ceiling in glassed-over little orbs.  Whether you want to be or not, you’re constantly being watched.  It can be a bit unnerving if you’re aware of it – and even if you aren’t, it can be unnerving afterwards when you think, “I probably was on camera when I was doing that.”

Long before video cameras were invented, long before the first human eyes were fashioned by the fingers of God, there was a God who sees.  Hagar met this God in the wilderness as she fled from her mistress, Sarah.  And knowing that He saw her in her distress and isolation, gave her the strength she needed to return once again to her mistress. 

We should remember that the God who sees is greater than the camera that sees.  We shouldn’t alter our actions and behavior to please the camera, but to please God.  Why does God watch us?  I think He probably watches us for the main reason that I spent so much time watching our children or grandchildren: I delighted in them and wanted to protect them.  I certainly didn’t watch them mostly to catch them doing something wrong so I could punish them.  I delighted in watching them.  I’m convinced that God delights in watching His children, too, even though we will occasionally do things that cause Him grief.

PRAYER: Thank You that You are the God Who sees, and yet the God Who loves those He sees.  May we be increasingly aware each day of Your eye upon us, and rather than resent it, come to love You for caring so much about us that we are never out of Your sight!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/04/17 – As We Forgive Others

DayBreaks for 9/04/17: As We Forgive Others

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From The Scrivener, blog by Doug Dalrymple:

I know that all the Hutus who killed so calmly cannot be sincere when they beg pardon, even of the Lord. But me, I am ready to forgive. It is not a denial of the harm they did, not a betrayal of the Tutsis, not an easy way out. It is so that I will not suffer my whole life asking myself why they tried to cut me. I do not want to live in remorse and fear from being Tutsi. If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body. I really must find tranquility. I have to sweep fear far away from me, even if I do not believe their soothing words.”  The quote is from a Rwandan school teacher named Edith. She is interviewed in Jean Hatzfeld’s book, Une Saison de Machettes, reviewed here by Theodore Dalrymple.
“Edith’s sentiments are telling, I think. When we withhold forgiveness from someone who has wronged us, we often do so because we feel that to forgive that person would be to give him something beautiful, a gift he manifestly does not deserve.  I think this is an accurate instinct; forgiveness truly is a gift.  Forgiveness may, in measure, relieve the perpetrator from the burden of his crime, or the spiritual consequences of it – provided the perpetrator is, in fact, conscious of that burden or those consequences.
“But not all are conscious of their crimes or culpability.  Speaking from my own experience as a sinner, it is easy enough for a man to remain ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the hells he’s unleashed in the lives of others.  In his novel, Silence, Shusaku Endo writes that sin “is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”  But even in such cases, when we withhold forgiveness we only make ourselves victims twice over.  The perpetrator may never appreciate the gift of forgiveness, but the walls we build in our hearts against our neighbor serve also to separate us from God.  We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.  Without forgiveness, there is no peace. As Edith says, “If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body.”

Isn’t it interesting how we want to make everyone pay for the things they’ve done to hurt us?  And how little we want to pay for the hurts we’ve inflicted on others – we usually explain them away with a toss of the hand or head or some remark about how they deserved what they got because of something they’d done.  But I think Doug’s point is valid: “We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.”  Isn’t that what it means when we’re told that if we don’t love our neighbor, we can’t love God?  1 John 4:20 (NLT) – If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?

PRAYER: Jesus, your love alone is fully holy and righteous, and we have so much need to learn to love as you do!  Help us to start by learning to forgive from the heart, not just for the sake of others, but for our own sake as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/24/17 – On Rough Water, #3

DayBreaks for 8/24/17: On Rough Water #3

They say that the best way to tell if someone has learned anything is whether or not there has been a change in behavior. I’ve written twice recently about Peter and his adventures in water walking. And yesterday, I suggested that perhaps what Jesus meant when he said “O, you of little faith” to Peter wasn’t so much about Jesus power to keep Peter walking on the water (after all, Peter did cry out to a man walking on the water to save him!), but about whether Jesus might be willing to save a man who started sinking.

So, did Peter learn from this episode? I think he did. Consider:

FIRST: remember that Peter was the one who asked the Lord to invite him to walk on the water in the first place. Perhaps the last instance where Peter and Jesus interacted at the lake was after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, after the denial. Peter and the disciples had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee as Jesus had instructed them…and they then went fishing. Early one morning as they were out on their boats, they witnessed someone walking on the shore who tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they take in a huge haul of fish. Jesus, we’re told, was on the shore cooking fish. As soon as Peter recognized it was Jesus, he didn’t shout out to Jesus to invite him to walk on the water to the shore. I think that this is a sign that he had learned some things about himself and his weaknesses.

SECOND: in the instance during the storm, Peter asked Jesus to invite him to come to him on the water. Not this time, however. Peter jumped right in and swam to shore. What that tells me is that Peter had learned something about the love that Jesus had for him…and he couldn’t wait to get to Jesus. Peter got wet the second time, but he was so eager to get to Jesus that he got wet of his own volition the second time.

Why did Peter now trust in the Lord’s love? After all, the denial had been sandwiched in between the walking on the water and jumping in to swim to Jesus. You’d think that if Peter had doubted Jesus’ love the first time, he’d surely doubt it after the denial. But he doesn’t appear to doubted at all. Why? What had changed? The crucifixion…the crucifixion changed everything. No one who stood there that day who had the slightest inkling of what was going on could ever doubt God’s love.

We who are alive today couldn’t stand on Golgotha the day Jesus died so we could see with our eyes the length and breadth of Jesus love. We can only see it through eyes of faith. Even though he stood far off, Peter saw it firsthand. And he never doubted Jesus’ love again. Neither should we.

PRAYER: Jesus, I wonder how much more we’d understand your love if we’d stood on Calvary’s hill as you died. Help us to see it with the eyes of our souls so we will leap into the water and swim to you rather than fear rejection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/26/17 – A Proof of the Truth of Love

DayBreaks for 5/26/17: A Proof of the Truth of Love

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Tears.  Sorrow.  Grief.  Three words that we hope don’t come anywhere near us, for when they do they are always unwelcome visitors.  Would that life were always full of joy, happiness and laughter!  That is, after all, how God intended for life to be, and how it will someday again be for those who love Him! 

In the meantime, we are awaiting that revealing and dawning.  And as the ocean is full of water, so our lives are full of tears.  It doesn’t take much for me to cry.  I am sometimes embarrassed by my readiness to cry, wishing that I were more stoic, that perhaps things didn’t affect me as much.  Those are usually times when I am in a public situation, sometimes in the pulpit, or at the beside of a person in great pain and facing death. 

What can you say to someone who is crushed, broken hearted by loss or some great sorrow?  I know I struggle to find words.  They do, too.  They may be crying, and yet they still seem to be able to say, “I’m sorry for crying.”  I usually am quick to assure them that tears are not bad.  Jesus cried.  And I tell them that tears are a part of the language of love, for if we did not love, we would not weep with loss.

I found it interesting that my oldest son, Doug, was reflecting on this the other day in his blog, when he wrote: “Perhaps sorrow like this can be a kind of gift, too.  It is at least proof of the truth of love, and hope is never far from love.” (Doug Dalrymple, 5/10/07, The Scrivener)

The sorrow that produces weeping is a gift, for it reveals what is in our hearts, and if nothing else, surely it must be proof of the truth of a love that may have even gone unexpressed in happier times. 

Let your tears flow when you need to cry.  They are part of God’s heart, too.

PRAYER:  Lord, may we join in the weeping that comes from your heart for this broken and bloody world of darkness and loss.  May we weep unashamedly because of the love that you put into our hearts for You and those around us.  And may we also weep for our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.