DayBreaks for 6/25/20 – The Gift of a World

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DayBreaks for 6/25/20: The Gift of a World

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

One year just before Christmas, a Christian by the name of Halford Luccock asked his two young granddaughters what they would like for Christmas.  “Give us a world!” they responded with childish enthusiasm.  It took Luccock a while to understand what they wanted but eventually he concluded that what they wanted was a globe.  He was happy to get it for them, so he went shopping for a nice, big globe that would spin and which would also be an attractive addition to the room the girls shared. 

Christmas morning arrived and he waited to see their excitement and joy as they opened their gift from him.  Yet, somehow when the present was opened, he sensed they were a bit disappointed. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “I thought this is what you wanted.” “Well, yes,” said one of them, “but we were kind of hoping for a lighted world.”  Immediately he understood that what they wanted was a globe with a light inside.

“I can fix that,” he said. “Let me take it back and exchange it for a lighted one.” Unfortunately, the store where he bought the globe did not sell lighted ones. So, he got his money back and set out to find a lighted world rather than a darkened one. Finally, he located a globe with a light in it, bought it and presented it to his granddaughters, who were absolutely thrilled with it.  Later, when telling a colleague about this episode, he was asked if he’d learned anything from this experience.  “Yes,” he said, “I learned one thing.  I learned that a lighted world costs more.”

A lighted world does cost more.  It cost God His Son.  If we are serious about letting our light shine in today’s world, it will cost us as well.

PRAYER: Thank You for the Light of the World that has turned our darkness into day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/19/20 – To DO or to BE – That is the Question

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DayBreaks for 6/19/20: To Do or To Be – That is the Question

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

“To be, or not to be, that is the question” is a phrase spoken by Prince Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1. Hamlet is contemplating life, death and suicide, overwhelmed by life’s pain while also wondering if death is even worse than life. It is one of the most quoted lines in English literature.

This DayBreaks isn’t about suicide or death or life per se, so I hope you’ll continue reading.

The preacher said something this past Sunday that prompted the title of this DayBreaks.  When you think about it, which is more important as a Christian – doing the right things or being the right thing?  I grew up in a denomination where doing the right things was stressed – you had to do certain things and not do others if you were a “good” Christian. Some would say that’s works-based religion and I suppose they’d be right.

But if we asked Jesus which he’d prefer, I suspect he’d want us to be more than to do. He’d want us to be people of justice, mercy, compassion, to be a disciple, a lover of our fellow man. Sure, there’s a link between the being and doing – but if you are not being who you truly are, the works will die out soon enough.

And what are we to be? Well, someone said that “Sanctification is the process of becoming who we already are in Christ.” You see, in Christ we are already viewed as perfect – because we are IN him and his righteousness covers us fully and completely. But we know in our souls we are not perfect – hence the above saying about sanctification is spot on.

I am to be one who loves God above anything else in heaven or on earth. I am supposed to be honest, fair, loving, a healer of hurts, a righter of wrongs, forgiving, a walking, breathing imitator of Jesus. That’s what Jesus desires from us the most – to be like him. To do, or to be…the answer should be fairly clear to us all. Now, it were only that easy.

PRAYER: Jesus, don’t let us get distracted with busyness doing for you that we neglect who are to be in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/15/20 – Contradicting Culture

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DayBreaks for 6/15/20: Contradicting Culture

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

The following is from a sermon by Tim Keller, author of The Reason for God, and I thought it was worth sharing.  Many today think that Christians are busy-bodies who do nothing more than rail against the culture of their time.  And, let’s face it, perhaps at times we have deserved such criticism.  Here’s that Tim had to say, I urge you to contemplate it seriously. I think he makes an excellent point:

“Many of us read a certain passage of Scripture and say, “That’s so regressive, so offensive.” But we ought to entertain the idea that maybe we feel that way because in our particular culture that text is a problem. In other cultures that passage might not come across as regressive or offensive.

“Let’s look at just one example. In individualistic, Western societies, we read the Bible, and we have a problem with what it says about sex. But then we read what the Bible says about forgiveness—”forgive your enemy;” “forgive your brother seventy times seven;” “turn the other cheek;” “when your enemy asks for your shirt, give him your cloak as well”—and we say, “How wonderful!” It’s because we are driven by a culture of guilt. But if you were to go to the Middle East, they would think that what the Bible has to say about sex is pretty good. (Actually, they might feel it’s not strict enough!) But when they would read what the Bible says about forgiving your enemies, it would strike them as absolutely crazy. It’s because their culture is not an individualistic society like ours. It’s more of a shame culture than a guilt culture.

“Let me ask you a question: If you’re offended by something in the Bible, why should your cultural sensibilities trump everybody else’s? Why should we get rid of the Bible because it offends your culture? Let’s do a thought experiment for a second. If the Bible really was the revelation of God, and therefore it wasn’t the product of any one culture, wouldn’t it contradict every culture at some point? Therefore, if it’s really from God, wouldn’t it have to offend your cultural sensibilities at some point? Therefore, when you read the Bible, and you find some part of it outrageous and offensive, that’s proof that it’s probably true, that it’s probably from God. It’s not a reason to say the Bible isn’t God’s Word; it’s a reason to say it is. What makes you think that because this part or that part of God’s Word is offensive, you can forget Christianity altogether?”

How arrogant that people (including us) think that our judgments and pronouncements about what is good and bad in culture are always true and right!  In fact, if we find ourselves in constant and strong alignment with our culture, chances are good that we need to open again the Word and see what it has to say about it!

PRAYER: Let us have more of Your wisdom, O Lord, and learn to apply Your Word to the life situations we face and the culture that surrounds us.  We want to be strong disciples, Lord, and help us to take the stands that You would like for us to take – and to do so with compassion and grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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

DayBreaks for 6/3/20 – A Plea to Reverse Babel

Genesis 11:9 (CSBBible) – Therefore it is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

Our nation is torn and bleeding…literally. A man, made in the very image of God, killed by those who are charged with upholding and enforcing the law and the rights of every human being. As a result of that, countless thousands protesting peacefully, while others (I won’t call them protestors, for the aren’t protesting, but rioting and looting) destroy the life work of fellow citizens and violently attack humans in the streets, businesses, and even trying to force their way into homes to wreak havoc and harm. Flames and smoke ascend to the heavens.

A long time ago in a place far, far away, a people thought too highly of themselves and tried to ascend into heaven. In response to their hubris, God confused their language and they scattered over the face of the earth. And it seems we have been scattered ever since.

Right now in America, we have people who speak the same literal language, but who are in no way unified. And sadly, through much of the life of the country and especially in the last week, it seems that the church as been all too silent. Should not the church be a voice crying in the wilderness for peace and unity, dialog and reason, that calls us to love one another regardless of whether the person next to you is red, white, black, brown, green, purple, polka-dotted or striped?

We should all be speaking to each other, hearing one another’s pain and fear and understanding what each human longs for and desires.

On the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, tongues of fire descended from heaven to earth and Peter spoke in a language that everyone heard – and understood in their own tongue – a universal language if you will. That’s how the church started. Where is that universal language in the church today? At this moment, tongues of fire ascend in the opposite direction as the flames of burning cities lick the heavenly sky. With one united voice, the church needs to be speaking against what God hates – racism, abuse, hatred, falsehood, misogyny, abuse of power – and to speak and bring his love to all humanity even as God does.

As always, it starts with me. And with you. For we are the church. Let us raise a common language for reconciliation and for healing and ask forgiveness for our own blindness.

PRAYER: Almighty God, where once you confused the language or mankind, we pray now that your Spirit will enable the church to speak with one voice of the preciousness of every human on the face of the earth. We ask you now to restore a common language filled with love and compassion, not hatred and rage. Search our hearts to reveal to us our own prejudices and forgive us for our hardness of heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/14/20: Dead Mummies or Living Disciples?

Hear the voice of an ancient Egyptian mummy, thanks to British ...

DayBreaks for 4/14/20: Dead Mummies or Living Disciples?

NOTE: The Hallway Through the Sea will return as more become available.  

I’ve always been fascinated by mummies. Having just come out of the time when we remember the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, it seems a bit of a timely topic though the stories of mummies coming alive are pure fantasy.

There is a parallel here, though. The sad truth is that many of us are like mummies – all wrapped up tightly in ourselves and we’re content that way. We don’t want to be unwrapped. In fact, we can come unwound at the thought of coming out of our safe tomb or stepping out in faith. But Jesus calls all believers out of the tomb, sets us free and calls us to move beyond ourselves into a life of faith, commitment, obedience and service.

On the old Merv Griffin Show, Merv was interviewing some body builders. As he was looking at the guys with all these muscles, he asked a powerful question: “What do you use these muscles for?”

One guy answered by flexing his muscles in one of those body builder stances. But Merv said, “No, you don’t understand. What do you USE all those muscles for?” The guy said, “I’ll show you.” And he flexed again in another stance.

Again Merv said, “No. You still don’t understand my question. Read my lips. What do you USE them FOR?” The guy posed again.

We’ve come out of Holy Week and are hopefully filled with excitement and joy and hope. That’s good, but what will we do with that excitement and energy? Jesus has called us out of the tomb, set us free and commands us to move beyond ourselves into a life of faith, commitment, obedience and service. When we just come to Church and sometimes read our Bibles and just enjoy the fellowship but nothing else, then we’re like those body building guests or like mummies, still wrapped up in ourselves.  And there’s no life there. 

What will you do to carry the blessings of Holy Week out to others, even in this time of lock-down?

PRAYER: Jesus, open our eyes to see opportunities around us even as we are sheltering in place and give us your wisdom to know how best to carry the message of hope and service and love to others at this time! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 

 

 

DayBreaks for 4/10/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #16: On the Cross and the Kingdom

Would you Still Vote for Jesus? | Connecting Dots…to God

DayBreaks for 4/10/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #16 – On the Cross and the Kingdom

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/09/20:

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, as we enter Good Friday, consider this unhurried version of the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem. 

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:3–6

Meditation 16. 1,536,979 confirmed cases, 93,425 deaths globally.
There are four passages in Isaiah often called the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The longest and most renowned is Isaiah 52:13–53:12. Jews read these passages and hear the story of Israel itself, as God redeemed the sufferings of his chosen people to bring blessing to the world. Christians, of course, hear the story of Jesus and his suffering on behalf of humankind.

Both can be true. As Holy Week makes excruciatingly clear, Jesus was “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” He was “pierced for our transgressions,” “led like a lamb to the slaughter,” and “cut off from the land of the living,” an “offering for sin.” “After he has suffered,” says verse 11, “he will see the light of life” and “will justify many.”

As we discussed in a recent meditation, Jesus seeks not only admirers but imitators. Time and again he defines following him as dying to ourselves and taking up our cross. Even as he is a Suffering Servant, he calls his church to be a fellowship of suffering servants.

In the words of Henri Nouwen, we are all called to be wounded healers. “The great illusion of leadership,” he writes in The Wounded Healer, “is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” Or, better, “The beginning and the end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others.”

The Cross is our key to the kingdom. It shows us all the truths we would rather forget. That the kingdom of God is not about power and triumph, because all the might of the world cannot heal the hearts of men… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/24/20 – Do Not Be Afraid?!?!?!!!

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DayBreaks for 2/24/20: Do Not Be Afraid!?!?!?

In every instance in Scripture where God appears to people they fall terrified to the ground! The only exceptions that I can think of (I may have missed some) are the incarnation appearances of Jesus – and in his case he looked just like a human and not God. But what I find interesting about the times God does show up and we humans cower in fear, his words to us are: “Do not be afraid”

Does that make sense to you? After all, when confronted by the One who is the Lord over all, the Creator, ultimate in power, who wouldn’t we cringe in fear and shame? At that moment there must be no doubt about the fact that he knows every single thing we have ever done, every impure, mean, angry, hateful thought we’ve ever had, every opportunity to do good that we let pass by. He knows everything about us – there is nothing that escapes His all-seeing eyes! And when confronted by the absolute judge of the universe who is totally pure and loves justice, why wouldn’t we be terror stricken!!!

Yet isn’t that precisely why he came as an incarnate human being? To show us what he is really like…to say, in essence, “See me? Touch my hands, hear my words, know my heart…and you’ll know you don’t need to be afraid. I’m on YOUR side and I love you! I won’t ever leave or forsake you.”

The more I think about it, the more I think that was a key part of his coming – to take away our fear. His truest revelation of himself to us is visible in the incarnation and on the cross. Once we have seen that and accepted him, there is no need for fear for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for taking away our fear and for showing us the true nature of the Father! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/21/20 – The Other Side, Part 2

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DayBreaks for 2/21/20: The Other Side – Part 2

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In Mark 6, Jesus feeds the 5000 on the western, Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.  They are in a remote place – no Burger King’s or McDonald’s in sight.  Not even stores with enough food to feed such a crowd are within miles and miles.  But the people don’t seem to mind – they’re listening to Jesus preach.  And he preaches all day.  At the end of the day, the disciples are moved with compassion on their Jewish friends and neighbors and they approach Jesus with the problem: what are we going to feed them?  Jesus, as you know, miraculously solves the problem.

Switch to Mark 8 and Jesus is back on “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee again – in pagan territory.  The last time he and his disciples had landed here, they had a welcoming committee of one: Legion.  But now it seems that the Man Formerly Known As Legion has been busy telling his story and a great crowd has gathered to welcome Jesus – to hear him and have their infirmities healed.  Jesus doesn’t disappoint them on either score.  He heals many, and he preaches.  And preach he does!  Day one and at the end of the day the crowd is still there – and the disciples say nothing.  Day two comes and goes and still the disciples have said nothing about the fact the crowd hasn’t been fed.  Day three is all that Jesus can bear – and at the end of the day, he tells the disciples (apparently seeing that they weren’t going to say or do anything about the crowd’s hunger) that he has compassion on them and wants them to feed the crowd. 

Do you see what happened here?  The disciples had plenty of compassion on those who were like them – on those who shared their religious and political positions, but not on the people from “the other side.”  Jesus, however, after watching his disciples fail this compassion test, shows them that he has compassion and that something must be done.  He’s setting the example for them for their eventual mission to the world – to take the gospel everywhere to every tribe, and people and language. 

But it moves me to wonder: who am I so prejudiced against that I don’t even feel compassion for them?  Who is the church so dead set against that we can’t be moved with mercy towards them?  Are we so judgmental that we condemn those with open, bleeding sores and diseases because we think they brought their problems on themselves with their wicked decisions?  Are we so blind that we can’t see this message in the contrasts of the feeding of the Jewish 5000 and the pagan 4000?  In the first case, 12 baskets of food were left over – the same number as the tribes of Israel.  Jesus was saying, “I’ve not forgotten my people.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.”  When he was done feeding the 4000, there were 7 baskets of food left over.  This wasn’t a co-incidence – it wasn’t 7 instead of 12 because Jesus had realized he’d overdone it the first time.  There were 7 baskets because there were 7 nation groups that lived in the Decapolis, in “the other side”…the very same nations that God had driven out of Palestine when Joshua took the land (Joshua 3:10; Acts 13:19).  What was Jesus saying with the leftover 7 baskets?  “I’ve not forgotten that these are my people, too.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.” 

On the cross, Jesus tore down all that separated “our side” from “the other side.”  They all now belong to Jesus, and it is time we started treating those on the “other side” as Jesus treated them!

PRAYER: Be merciful to us, Lord, and fill us with the heart of compassion that beat within your breast for all of mankind.  Forgive us our prejudices and our sinful tendency to think of our side and “our kind” as better than others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/29/20 – Veterinarians and Taxidermists

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DayBreaks for 1/29/20: Veterinarians and Taxidermists

It was during the 2000 Democratic convention that someone commented that there wasn’t much difference between the views of Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush. When he heard that, Lieberman said, “That’s like saying there is no difference between a taxidermist and a veterinarian, because in both cases you get your dog back.”

This DayBreaks isn’t about politics, but about Christians, non-Christians and freedom. There are some Christians who bring light, salt and hope to the dark world while the light of other “Christians” doesn’t shine into the darkness. It is a very, very sad and tragic commentary that the world can’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. The blame for that doesn’t fall on the non-Christian, but squarely on the shoulders of Christians.

Why has our light faded? Perhaps because we’ve taken our freedom in Christ to mean we can do anything we want without repercussions. We think that’s what freedom means – being able to do anything my heart desires. If that’s what we think Christian freedom is then we’re sadly mistaken. As Steve Brown points out in A Scandalous Freedom, the real freedom Christ died to give us compared to the freedom that many Christians experience is like the difference between the vet and the taxidermist: with both you get your dog back but one collects dust while the other jumps, slobbers and barks!

There is something about freedom that scares the church and as a result many continue in bondage and that’s a real shame because Jesus went to so much trouble to really set us free.

The freedom we have been given isn’t to do anything I want without fearing consequences, it’s about being freed from the eternal consequences of my sin and from the fear of death, but even more, it’s about being free to say “no” to the things that would make it hard for my light to shine, to say “yes” to doing God’s will, not my own. If ever there was a free person, it was Jesus – and even he prayed for the Father’s will, not his own.

Are you still enslaved? You may have gotten your “dog” (life) back, but are you just gathering dust?

PRAYER: Lord, awaken us to the fact that we have misused our freedom and misunderstood it. Help us be living beings full of the joy of being freed from our own will and freed to do yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/28/20 – When Legends Die

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DayBreaks for 1/28/20: When Legends Die

I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan since I was a kid in fifth grade and we lived in southern California, so when the news broke yesterday about the death of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant (along with his 13-year old daughter and 7 other people in a helicopter crash), I was stunned and saddened. Kobe was only 41, but 4 years removed from hanging up his sneakers. Many seemed immobilized by grief. Reactions came pouring in from every walk of life and corner of the globe in this day of instant, world-wide communications. It seems like such a tragic waste.

Alexa tells me that every day there are approximately 156,021 persons who die around the globe. Most of those are the nameless, faceless masses of humanity – people we have never met or even heard of. They lived and died in obscurity.

I couldn’t help but think today about a craftsman from a small village in Israel – fewer than 500 probably lived there – who died one day in a tiny backwater of the Roman world. His life was mostly lived in obscurity and ended in obscurity to those alive at the time. Only a small handful seemed to weep at his death. When he died, there was no mass communication and if people heard of it, it was slow in spreading and few there were who found it to be of interest.

Why didn’t Jesus give his life in the 21st century so everyone could hear about him like Kobe? I’ve heard the explanations but it confounds human wisdom for Jesus to have lived and died when he did – especially if the goal is to have the world come to know him and what he did for them.

I don’t know Kobe’s eternal destiny. I don’t know if he came to believe in the craftsman who died on the cross. I can only hope he did. But I do know this: for all his fame, wealth and glory, Kobe’s death couldn’t and didn’t save even a single human soul. And his fame couldn’t keep the helicopter in the air in order to save the lives of those nine aboard.  And all his world championships, MVP’s, Olympic gold medals and the hundreds of millions of dollars he made putting a ball through a hoop don’t matter at all to God. Kobe has faced the ultimate question: Who do you believe Jesus is? I can only hope and pray he knew the answer. 

Yet, the one who died two thousand years ago saved souls by the millions through his death. And yesterday, while the news filled the airwaves with news of Kobe’s passing, I didn’t see one story on the news about the king of heaven and what he’d done. It is not God’s way to be flashy, but to be humble and work invisibly.

How many of the 156,021 who died today went to heaven because of Kobe? None. Not one. How many went because of Jesus? I don’t know, but if they didn’t, it isn’t Jesus’ fault, but it could be partly mine. You see, like most of us, I was eager yesterday and today to talk about Kobe’s passing with my friends – far more eager to talk about that than I am to tell others about Jesus’ death for them. May God have mercy on my soul. 

One more thing as I contemplate the death of a legend. One very famous man and his daughter died yesterday that I know of, but the vast bulk of the remaining 156,019 died obscure deaths as far as the news is concerned. But with God no one dies in obscurity because Jesus tells us that God even knows when a tiny sparrow dies and we are of much greater worth than a tiny bird. We are known to him, he counts the hairs on our head and knows our name and he longs for us all to be with him. And he is counting on us to tell those around us that he loves them so that the 156,021 who will die tomorrow will live in His Presence forever.

My condolences to the Bryant family.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for living and dying for us. Help us to be eager to tell the world what you’ve done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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