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 10/09/20 – What About the 99?

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(Prompted by a conversation with a friend of mine – Valerie – thank you!)

Luke 15:3-5 (NLT2) – So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.

I think we all love this story because at some point in our faith walk it describes every single one of us – we were all the sheep that was lost. We should rejoice in this story because it gives us insight into how precious a single lamb is to the Lord. It is good to know we are precious to someone and even more so as that someone is God Almighty.

But what of the 99? The story is set in the wilderness where the sheepfold would be at best a pile of rocks on nearly four sides. The shepherd brought the sheep into the fold at night and then lay down across the opening – becoming the gate to the sheepfold so that none of the sheep could wander without his knowledge.

I’d always assumed the rest of the sheep – the 99 – were in the sheepfold when the shepherd goes looking for the lost one. But the story doesn’t say that. It just says they are in the wilderness.

Now we might assume they were in the sheepfold and that another shepherd kept an eye on them, but the story doesn’t say that, either. So, did the shepherd just walk off and leave the 99 to the ravenous predations of the wolves or lions? I don’t think so – especially since the shepherd is Jesus!

While this story doesn’t say it, I think something much more amazing was to take place given this passage: John 10:27 (NLT2) – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Do you see it? The sheep wouldn’t have stayed behind. They would have followed the shepherd in his desperate and love-fueled search for the one that was lost. And isn’t that what we are all supposed to do – join the Good Shepherd in the pursuit of the lost ones?

When all the lost ones have been found, he will carry us all safely to our eternal destiny.

He won’t ever leave us stranded and alone and we should never stay behind when the Shepherd is on the move!

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 10/07/20 – Where God Walks

We just returned 10 days ago from a glorious trip through Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. We visited three national parks: Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier. While they are all spectacular in their own way, Glacier stands out in my mind.

I shot the first picture accompanying this article one day as we were driving to the top of Glacer on Going to the Sun Highway. It was glorious – the fog/low clouds in the valleys below and then a layer of sun and then scatter clouds higher up along the peaks.

As I looked at the scene, I couldn’t help but think that God must enjoy walking through that place. The majesty of the mountains is as close as I can come personally to imagining God’s magnificence!

Then the thought struck me that God must enjoy walking through places like Glacier more than Mud Fort Slum in India (the second picture in this article is one I shot in Mud Fort Slum a number of years back). I mean, who wouldn’t? He must be like me in that regard, I am tempted to think.  

But I was taken aback by what came to mind next. It was almost as if I could hear God saying, “Sure, I love the beauty of my mountains, but I love walking through the slum even more. You see, my mountains wear down and crumble away, but the people in the slums have eternal souls and they are made in my own image. Besides, I’m omnipresent – I’m in both places simultaneously. While you may choose to tune out the suffering in Mud Fort Slum, I never can and never will. People are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever created.”

I was stunned and humbled how little of the heart of God that dwells within me. I’d far rather be in Glacier than one of the world’s slums. But there’s no doubt in my heart where Jesus would be if he were walking the earth today.

Mud Fort Slum, by Galen C. Dalrymple, 2012. All rights reserved.

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 10/01/20 – Rag Tags and Ne’er Do Wells

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You are undoubtedly aware of “Who’s Who” lists that tout exceptional people. We may look up to them, may envy them and see them as the movers and shakers who change the world. What a waste – at least in God’s economy! Consider those rag tags and ne’er do wells that God chooses:

The father of the Jewish nation was an inveterate liar who twice said his wife wasn’t his wife. He traded his integrity for his own skin without a thought to what it would mean for Sarah. Where was his faith? Does that sound like a man who “believed God’s promises”? Who chose him to change the world and eternity as the ancestor of the Messiah? God.

A man 80 years old who looked like he’d live his life as a prince but who is now an outlaw – a murderer, in fact. On the run, hiding in sheep pens in the desert. Who would think of asking a killer to carry the Ten Commandments? God.

A shepherd boy who is sitting on a throne let his lust get the best of him. He got a woman pregnant and killed her husband in an attempt to cover things up. And then he went about his everyday life as if nothing wrong has taken place. Who would dare to say he was a man after God’s own heart? God.

A reluctant prophet is giving his calling but runs the opposite way, gets swallowed up by a fish and barfed out in the surf. Who would think he would be a good candidate to preach repentance to the enemies of his people? God.

Jacob was a shifty as they come. Gomer was a prostitute. Sarah laughed at God. Jesus’ ancestors were adulteresses, prostitutes and a woman who took baths in all the wrong places. Who would include such people in the ancestral line of the Son of God? God.

And you know, when I come to think of it, we’ve all traded our integrity for safety, hidden things we’re ashamed of, failed to act in faith, let our lust take over when it should have been put down.

What’s the point here? It’s not about the horrible those people did and not even about the horrible things I’ve done, but it is that God uses regular, ordinary, everyday people to change the world. Not superheroes. Why? Because whatever we lack in terms of perfection or righteousness, God makes up for it with his love.

You may long for God to use you but you block him because of your past (or present). Don’t give up on God because he won’t give up on you! Let him use you to change the world one encounter at a time.

PRAYER: I am comforted, Lord, knowing that you can still use a sinner like me to do your work. For those who doubt that you can use them, give them reassurance that they can be used just as they are to change the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/21/20 – To Create or Not to Create

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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:

Have you ever given serious thought to how you would describe the love of God to someone who has never, ever heard of the Christ?  How do you describe something so wonderful that it is virtually beyond belief?  There is a song, Indescribable, that talks about the wonder of this God that we adore and follow.  It is a great song and I love it.

The love of God, just like His power, is indescribable but an old Jewish legend does a pretty good job. It describes what happened when God created man. The legend says that God took into His confidence the Angels that stood about his throne and told them of His plan to create creatures in His likeness. The Angel of Justice said, ‘Create him not … for if you do he will commit all kinds of wickedness against his fellow man; he will be hard and cruel and dishonest and unrighteous.’ The Angel of Truth said, ‘Create him not … for he will be false and deceitful to his brother and even to Thee.’ The Angel of Holiness stood and said, ‘Create him not … he will follow that which is impure in your sight, and dishonor you to your face.’

Then stepped forward the Angel of Mercy, God’s most beloved angel, who said; ‘Create him, our Heavenly Father, for when he sins and turns from the path of right and truth and holiness I will take him tenderly by the hand, and speak loving words to him, and then lead him back to you.’

Of course this is just a legend…and the Jewish Rabbis either didn’t know, or believe, in the Messiah.  It was Jesus – the very Son of God and God of Gods – who extended the nail scarred hand to all who turn from the path of right and truth and holiness to lead us back to the Father. 

PRAYER: For the Son of Mercy, we shout ‘Halleljuah!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/17/20 – I Knew Who They Were

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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:

Barbara Brown Taylor, in Christian Century, created a word picture of Jesus at a feast.  Sometimes we have a hard time identifying with Biblical stories because they occurred in a time and place that is quite remote and distant to us.  The cultures were different, customs were different.  And it makes it hard for us to really grasp the dynamics of what was taking place.  So, I appreciated this prose picture that forced me to see the story of Jesus at this feast in a new and more modern light:

“So if I were putting together a sinners table at the Huddle House, it might include an abortion doctor, a child molester, an arms dealer, a garbage collector, a young man with AIDS, a Laotian chicken plucker, a teenage crack addict, and an unmarried woman on welfare with five children by three different fathers. Did I miss anyone? Don’t forget to put Jesus at the head of the table, asking the young man to hand him a roll, please, and offering the doctor a second cup of coffee before she goes back to work.

“If that offends you even a little, then you are almost ready for what happens next. Because what happens next is that the local ministerial association comes into the restaurant and sits down at a large table across from the sinners. The religious authorities all have good teeth and there is no dirt under their fingernails. When their food comes, they hold hands to pray. They are all perfectly nice people, but they can hardly eat their hamburger steaks for staring at the strange crowd in the far booth.

“The chicken plucker is still wearing her white hair net, and the garbage collector smells like spoiled meat. The addict cannot seem to find his mouth with his spoon. But none of those is the heartbreaker. The heartbreaker is Jesus, sitting there as if everything were just fine. Doesn’t he know what kind of message he is sending? Who is going to believe he speaks for God if he does not keep better company than that? I saw them eating and I knew who they were.”

Galen’s Thoughts: the people at that table were you and I.  We are all like those who sat at the table with Jesus.  And like them, we need His mercy and grace just as much, if not more.  I can’t help but wonder at which table we would have chosen to sit – with Jesus and the outcasts, or with the local ministerial association across the room.

PRAYER: Help your word to come alive to us today so we can see ourselves in every page and learn what it is that you want us to become!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 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 8/17/20 – The Boxer in the Clearing

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Perhaps my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song is The Boxer. It is a story of a poor boy who goes to New York city in hope but finds life tougher than he anticipated. Finally, he comes to a point where he’s thinking of “going home” but sees a boxer standing in a clearing. The boxer bears the scars from his many fights but the youth realizes that the boxer “remains”, i.e., he didn’t give up.

Much could be said about this short utterance from the cross: It is finished. What was on Jesus’ mind when he said these words? Max Lucado points out that it could have been many things: the millenia long plan and task of redeeming mankind was done. God’s message to man was done. The work that God has assigned to Jesus to accomplish was finished. The choosing and training of the twelve was finished. The love song of God has been sung and finished. The blood spilled. The Lamb had been sacrificed.

Do you think there were times Jesus, like the boy in New York city, wanted to go home? To hang up the gloves and quit? If he didn’t think that he wouldn’t have been human, would he? And he WAS human…100% God, 100% man. When might he have been tempted to quit? When he saw the lack of faith of his twelve and they squabbled over petty matters amongst themselves, wondering who would be the greatest. When Peter started to sink. When he grew weary of the constant testing and challenges of the religious leaders who should have recognized and welcomed him. When Joseph died. When he stood at Lazarus’ tomb or as his fingers buried themselves in the soil in Gethsemane when he asked if he could not finish the course laid out before him.

Yet, here he is, on the cross, marred by the scars of the battle, like the boxer in the clearing…and he remained. He didn’t give up. He persevered.

Maybe right now you’ve had all you think you can stand trying to juggle working from home and having kids around you day and night. Maybe you’re thinking of pulling the plug on a marriage that has been a struggle from the get-go. Maybe you feel you can’t fight the allure of the bottle or the needle one moment longer. Look at the boxer, fine, but look longer at Jesus. He didn’t quit. Too much was at stake to give up. Too much is at stake for you, too.

The one who finishes isn’t the person who bears no scars or wounds. Any human whose eyes have opened to see the light of day in those world bears scars from the visit here.

One final thought and we’re done. Jesus tells us that the victory doesn’t go to the one without scars or the strongest bully. It goes to those who persevere: James 1:12 (CSB) –  Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

PRAYER: Lord, there are many right now who have been in the fight a long time and are battered and scarred. Grant us healing, but more than anything, grant us the power to finish – and to finish well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/14/20 – The Great Masterpiece

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Wouldn’t you have loved to watch God create everything? I would have! I would love to see his face when he make the giraffe’s neck so long or set the eagle soaring! I can imagine that a huge smile spread from ear to ear as he painted the sunrise and decreed the vast colors of the universe. And so it appeared that his greatest creative act was saved until the last: making humanity in his image. No doubt, it was impressive to see unfallen man.

But he wasn’t done doing amazing things: he enrolled his own special effects department to make donkeys talk, have a 90-year old woman and a young virgin give birth, making the sky rain down fire or the sea part. And again, I imagine his huge smile and the applause of the angelic horde!

But he still wasn’t done. But the masterpiece wouldn’t be like the others, not at all. For this masterpiece was titled, “God on a cross.”

The cross was the pinnacle of God’s creative compassion. Yes, it was an act of love for Sarah to give birth and to part the Red Sea for the Israelites, but what happened on the cross was unparalleled. It wasn’t water that parted on the cross, it was flesh and muscle, light and darkness as the Creator died for his creation.

Max Lucado poses the thought of whether or not as the Creator hung there if his mind replayed the days of creation, or deliverance from Egypt. Did he see in his mind’s eye the face of every person who’d lived from creation until that moment and on into the future – including my face and yours? Did he remember walking up Moriah with Abraham and Isaac, or recall steering the stone from David’s sling to Goliath’s forehead?

We don’t know. But we know what he said: It is finished! His greatest masterpiece was done. His cry wasn’t a muttered, feeble utterance but a shouted proclamation. His mission was finished, the masterpiece that no one else could have created was complete and the Creator could now return home after what must have seemed much longer than 30-some years. It was God trying yet again to convince us that after all our failures forgiveness can still follow. And how we need it!

PRAYER: Jesus, you are not only the Master but the Masterpiece of creative love and compassion. We honor you for the fact that is it finished and nothing can undo your completed work! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/14/20 – Crushing Snakes

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Genesis 3:15 (NIV) – And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Crushing and killing snakes is not something to take lightly. I detest rattlesnakes – always have – but it my hatred for them grew exponentially a number of years back when one bit both of our dogs the same morning. I killed that snake 1000 times in my anger. But this passage is certainly speaking of the work of Jesus and the ultimate retribution on Satan for the serpent’s work in the garden.

If you’re at all like me, you are ready to stand up and cheer vociferously when Jesus crushes Satan’s head. Can you imagine a new world without murder, greed, abuse, injustice and the like? Won’t that be wonderful!!!!

So, how will the head of the serpent be crushed? I think that there is a “now – but not yet” aspect to it. The ultimate demise of Satan is decreed and shall come to pass, but there’s a part of it that I believe happens now. Here’s what I mean:

Every time that a believer denies temptation and chooses obedience instead, it’s a tiny wound on the head of the serpent. Every time we do an act of kindness, right a wrong, choose justice and love over injustice and indifference, we inflict wounds on the head of the serpent. Certainly, as humans, we cannot crush the head of the serpent. But as Christ lives within the believer, whenever we choose God’s ways over Satan’s ways, we are participating in the crushing the head of the serpent.

Let’s go out today and crush a few snakes and look forward with excitement and anticipation to the day when the final blow will be inflicted by the One who was foretold long ago.

PRAYER: Lord, let us not be fearful of Satan, for you are far greater than he. Let us slay snakes today in your name and for your glory through our acts of obedience and love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Crushing Snakes, a song by Crowder featuring Taya.

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