DayBreaks for 2/15/17 – How Far Would He Go?

DayBreaks for 2/15/17: How Far Will He Go?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

John 13:2-5 (NIV) – The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

It was the night of Passover – the holiest night of all for the Jews.  In a small room, Jesus met with his disciples, knowing that later that night he would be betrayed by Judas and his horrific ordeal would begin.  If I were in those circumstances, I’d be doing anything but sitting down to share a meal with friends.  I’d be trying to run, to hide, to find some way out – but not Jesus.  There was work to be done, and he was committed to seeing it through, but first, there were important things to pass along to his disciples.

And so it is that Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.  No one else rose to do the job that belonged to the lowest slave/servant.  So Jesus, as always, does what no one else wanted to do.

Peter, bless his heart, is humiliated when he realizes what Jesus is doing.  He realizes that this is grossly out of place, improper and that someone else (perhaps himself?) should be the one doing the washing.  Why?  Because Peter knew that Jesus was the Holy One.  Peter’s problem is that he felt that Jesus didn’t know how to act – that Jesus was doing something inappropriate and needed to be stopped.  To wash someone’s feet, you have to kneel before them, and kneeling is a symbol of the act of worship.  Throughout all the long ages of the Jewish people, it was the worshipper who kneels before the Worshipped One, but here, now, in the upper room…Peter knows it has been reversed – and in his opinion, it was wrong. 

Peter’s problem, you see, is that he thought Jesus was “acting.”  He wasn’t.  He was totally and completely sincere.  Luke 12:37 describes perhaps the most shocking scene in Scripture when it describes the feast of the Lamb in heaven: It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

How would you have felt if you had been one of the disciples and had Jesus wash your feet?  I cannot imagine that I would have reacted any differently than Peter did – I would have wanted to stop Jesus from washing my feet.  But if I understand the passage in Luke, the day will come when Jesus will have us sit at the table and HE WILL SERVE US.  I want to cry with Peter: “Never, Lord!” 

How far Jesus was willing to go to redeem us?!?! He was willing to go as far as necessary!

PRAYER: I am humbled, Lord, that You should serve any of us – yet that is exactly what you did while here.  It is incomprehensible to think that You should wash our feet, yet you have done so – washing us not with water, but with the blood of Christ.  May we learn to serve one another in the sincere imitation of Jesus.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/01/17 – Structured in Blood

DayBreaks for 2/01/17: Structured in Blood

I Peter 4:8 – Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.

What is the very essence of the Christian faith?  One could argue, convincingly, that it is the cross of Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection.  Surely those are weighty things of great import that deserve our full and undivided attention.  God forgive us if we neglect them!  But I don’t believe that those things are the core of the Christian faith.  Those things are effects of the core cause.  The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose.  It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing.  Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.

The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose.  It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing.  Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.

In his book, The Importance of Being Foolish: Learning to Think Like Jesus, Brennan Manning wrote: “The axis of the Christian moral revolution is love (Jesus called it the sign by which the disciple would be recognized).  The danger lurks in our subtle attempts to minimize, rationalize, and justify our moderation in this regard.  Turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, offering no resistance to injury, being reconciled with one another, and forgiving seventy times seven times are not arbitrary whims of the Savior.  He did NOT preface the Sermon on the Mount with, ‘It would be nice if..’  His “new” commandment structures the new covenant in his blood.” 

Love.  When you think about it, what enabled Christ to turn the other cheek?  Love.  What enables mere humans to do the same?  Love.  Why would anyone willingly walk an extra mile out of their way carrying the burden of others if not for love?  Why would someone not respond to injury by fighting back?  Because there is something greater at stake than a battle over some event or circumstance – there is a battle for the souls of mankind, prompted by love.  What could cause reconciliation where there as been hurt?  Only love.  What enables someone to forgive their spouse or child 70 times 7?  Surely, it is only love. 

That’s why Jesus didn’t say it would be nice if we did those things, but left them optional.  They are most definitely NOT optional for His children.  For it is those very things that characterize the Father, and His children must be like Him.  How important were those things?  He wrote them in his blood.

We can also look at the flip side: what causes one not to turn the other cheek, walk the extra distance, hit back when hurt, refuse to be reconciled, refuse to forgive (as God through Christ has forgiven us)?  One thing, and one thing only: a lack of God’s love in us and through us.  Harboring smoldering resentments, sucking on the sour grape of bitterness, withholding full and complete forgiveness say as much about us as does the love that might cause us to do the opposite, and they reveal what is most cherished in our hearts – self-love, or God’s love. 

PRAYER: Father, we need so much to truly learn to let your love come alive in us and to forgive and truly experience Your love within so that we can then love others in the same way.  For all who wear Your name, but who haven’t experienced the true love that defines Your very nature, open our eyes and hearts to love as You do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/27/17 – The Ends of the Earth Have Seen His Salvation

DayBreaks for 1/27/17: The Ends of the Earth Have Seen His Salvation

Psalm 98:3 (TNIV) – He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God.

We, like all of humanity before us, have tried our best to make God in our image, and when we read certain passages of Scripture, we can misconstrue them with great ease.  For example, when we read the first 3 words of Psalm 98:3 (TNIV), we would be tempted to think that the implication is that for a while, God forgot his love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.  Such is not the case.  God doesn’t forget anything.  When Scripture says that God forgives and forgets our sin, never to remember them against us again – it means that God will never bring them up against us again.  He still knows our sin – past, present and future.  He wouldn’t be Infinite if he were truly forgetful – even of things like sin.  And, with each lash of the whip, with each blow of the hammer upon the nails, our sins were embedded into the back, hands and feet of Christ.  It appears, based on Revelation 5:6, that even in heaven, the scars caused by our sins are visible upon the Lamb.  We talk about not being able to take things with us when we die, but Christ apparently took these “souvenirs” of his time on earth to heaven with him, perhaps to remind us throughout all eternity of the love that drove him to the cross.

But, what’s important in the passage above isn’t that God forgot our sins, but that he never forgets his love and faithfulness to his people.  How far does it extend?  To the ends of the earth.  What does that mean?  I think it may mean two things:

FIRST: physically, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, has reached to all the ends of the earth.  North, south, east, west – all four points of the compass have heard of the glory of God, if by nothing other than the glory of the creation (Romans 1).  From the beginning, there has been a moral sense in mankind wherever he is found. 

SECOND: I can’t help but wonder if this verse isn’t speaking with the certainty of completed prophecy: God has decreed that at the time of the “ends of the earth” when the dead will rise and the great judgment scene takes place, the earth (mankind) will see the salvation of God for his beloved children.  All the wicked and hateful angels and people from all ages will stand in the judgment and see the salvation of God poured out upon those who through faith have accepted Christ, trusting in God for their deliverance.  What a scene that will be!  And we will all live to see it!

PRAYER:  Lord, we long for the day when You vindicate Your righteous ones, made perfect through the Lamb!  And our prayer, Lord, is that before that great and terrible day arrives, that whose who are lost at this moment will turn to Jesus in faith.  And on that day, may we be numbered with the faithful and fully see Your great salvation!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/03/17 – Moving Into the Ward

DayBreaks for 1/03/17: Moving Into the Ward

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist in New York City, is well known for his work with catatonic schizophrenics. Normally doctors remain separate and aloof from their patients. Dr. Rosen moves into the ward with them. He places his bed among their beds. He lives the life they must live. Day-to-day, he shares it. He loves them. If they don’t talk, he doesn’t talk either. It is as if he understands what is happening. His being there, being with them, communicates something that they haven’t experienced in years – somebody understands.

But then he does something else. He puts his arms around them and hugs them. He holds these unattractive, unlovable, sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life. Often, the first words they speak are simply, “Thank you.”

Christmas is now over, yet this is what the Christ did for us at Christmas. He moved into the ward with us. He placed his bed among our beds. Those who were there, those who saw him, touched him and were in turn touched by him and restored to life. The first word they had to say was “thank you.” And Christmas is one time when we say “Thank you” to him.

But now that Christmas is over, the questions before us are these:

  1. Will I continue to be thankful throughout this new year, and:
  2. Will I emulate Christ and “move into the ward” for others if called to do so by the Lord?

PRAYER: Lord, only you know what this year will hold, but I pray that we will be thankful all year regardless of what it holds for us, and that we will be willing to live and look like you and move into the ward so we can better love those who need to know love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/14/16 – Deformed Feet

DayBreaks for 12/14/16: Deformed Feet

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Isaiah 52:7 – How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!

There are some people who capture the minds and hearts of the world.  Some do it because they have beauty (they even have pedicures or plastic surgery to make their feet pretty!) and others envy them for their looks or fame or wealth or grace.  Can you explain to me why else someone would find Donald Trump interesting???  Princess Diana captured the hearts of many while she was alive for a combination of things: she was something of a fairy-tale come true, beautiful, graceful, yet seemingly vulnerable all at the same time.  And when she died, the world was stunned, and wept. 

But then there are others who have also captured the hearts of many in the world.  They aren’t built the same way as the beautiful, statuesque Diana, or George Clooney.  They weren’t rich in this world like Donald Trump or Richard Branson.  Nor did they found a company like Bill Gates and become quite likely the richest man in history.  These run-of-the-mill people who have captured the world’s imaginations are the ones that I find to be far more fascinating than the rich, famous or beautiful.  Mother Theresa was such a person.  I think very few people envied her living conditions, her extreme poverty, the endless weight of the hungry, starving and sick of the back streets and roads of India. 

Shane Claiborne, who spent a summer in the slums of Calcutta with Mother Teresa, wrote the following about one of his experiences there:

“People often ask me what Mother Teresa was like.  Sometimes it’s like they wonder if she glowed in the dark or had a halo.  She was short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little ornery—like a beautiful, wise old granny.  But there is one thing I will never forget—her feet.  Her feet were deformed.  Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them.  I wondered if she had contracted leprosy.  But I wasn’t going to ask, of course.  “Hey Mother, what’s wrong with your feet?”

“One day a sister said to us, ‘Have you noticed her feet?’  We nodded, curious.  She said: ‘Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them.  And years of doing that have deformed her feet.’  Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet.

“This is the kind of fasting that creates the divine longing for justice, where our feet become deformed by a love that places our neighbors above ourselves.”

What is your tendency when you have a lot of things to choose from?  Would you look for the best pair of shoes for yourself and give the left-overs to others?  Or, would you do like Mother Theresa and find the worst pair, take those for your own, and give the best to someone else?  I can hear my own mind rationalizing a decision to find the best for myself: “You know, you could minister better to people if your feet didn’t hurt and you could walk around more and get to more places without so much pain.” 

How are your feet looking these days?  Are they, like mine, too pretty?  Not deformed enough? 

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, help us to be servants like You were a servant.  Help us to surrender our rationalizing and self-interest to walk in the path that you walked, for the benefit of others.  May we learn to put their interests ahead of our own that you may be glorified in them.  Give us deformed feet, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/01/16 – Like a Kid with Ice Cream


DayBreaks for 12/01/16 – Like a Kid with Ice Cream

John 13:34 (KJV) – A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

If you study the life and words and parables and sermons and actions of Jesus, you will find an eternity’s worth of things you should do. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, swamped and rather hopeless.  Just look at the incredibly high standards set in the Beatitudes if you are tempted to disagree!  But there was precisely just one thing which was so vital that Jesus actually went so far as to phrase it as a command, and that was to love each other. We are to love one another, cherish one another, even lay down our lives for one another if need be, and it is all an extension of being a branch on Jesus the true vine.

Apparently Jesus knew that if we could do just this one commandment, everything else would follow. If you bring a child to an ice cream parlor, you won’t need to start issuing rules which insist that the child order a cone, eat it, enjoy it, find it delicious, and so just generally have fun! Once the child gets to the parlor, the rest follows. So also with love: if we can’t do this, nothing else will work, either. If we can, the rest follows.

PRAYER: Teach us to love one another as You have loved us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/22/16 -The Language of Violence

DayBreaks for 11/22/16: The Language of Violence

We in America have just concluded the most rancorous election that those of us who are alive can recall. Though the election was nearly two weeks ago, people are still marching in the streets, calling one another by horrific names, ascribing the worst possible motives to why people voted as they did. People have called for assassinations because things didn’t turn out the way they wanted. It has been, in word, ungodly, to say the least.

Claude Brown, who wrote Manchild in the Promised Land, in an article, said that people under forty in our society have never lived in America where movie language was not liberally laced with obscenities. He said that profanity is rapidly replacing English as the language of the American people. Then he added this. He said, “Most people don’t know it, but profanity is the language of violence.”

People say, words can’t hurt you. We know better, don’t we? They can hurt you. Words can and do dehumanize. That’s why in war the enemy is always described in language that is dehumanizing. You will never hear the military referring to the enemy as “brothers and sisters,” or as “children of God.” They couldn’t kill them if they referred to them that way. You use language that describes the enemy as less than human, designed to make us think of the “enemy” as ungodly in the sense of “not being made in His image.” Somehow, it’s easier to attack, demonize and devalue others if we can find a way to not see them as being made in God’s image – no matter how well or poorly they reflect that image.

That is precisely the language that is being used in our cities today. The language that is used in our society now is the language that has been coined in warfare. There are words that dehumanize. There are words that make life cheap and ugly. There are words that hurt people. There are words that profane what is sacred and holy about human life. You use them and they will affect your life, and the life of those around you. And they will affect how you think of others.

But there are words that heal. There are words that build. There are words that create. There are words that unite. There are words that can redeem. There are words that can reconcile you to someone from whom you are estranged. There are words that lead to peace. Who will be the people in this society who speak the words of peace? Should it not first and foremost those who claim His image?

Jesus gave us an example of the power of healing words when He said to the thief on the cross: “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

You and I have a choice to speak words of peace and healing, or words that dehumanize those we don’t agree with. I hope we choose the path of healing!

PRAYER: Father, there is much frustration in our land and in our hearts and we try to make ourselves feel better by attacking those who don’t think or act in the same way we do. Let us never forget that even our bitterest enemy on this earth was made in Your image and can be redeemed by words that heal. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.