DayBreaks for 4/20/17 – Almost Home

DayBreaks for 4/20/17: Almost Home

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The little town of Franklin, TN, was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  In the space of only 5 hours, 7000 men were killed and thousands of others wounded.  In that short amount of time, northern troops alone used up 100 wagon loads of ammunition.  Accounts written at the time described bodies being stacked six or seven deep for more than a mile along the Columbia Pike.  No one had ever seen anything like it.  The state of Tennessee didn’t have enough money to turn the entire area into a state park to commemorate the battle, but in the battleground stands the Carter house that now serves as a museum and memorial to this bloody battle. 

As terrible as the battle itself, there was one person who died on that day over 140 years ago that is arguably more tragic than the other 6999.  As the battle of Franklin raged, the Carters’ youngest son, Todd, was outside.  He was running for the shelter of home when he was struck down and died, virtually in the shadow of the house.  He was taken into the home dead.  Even today, more is probably written about that young boy who died in the battle than about any of the others who died. 

Several things about this story that struck me: 

First of all is the power of the death of the innocent.  It just doesn’t seem right when a young child is struck down because of the violence of adults.  Yet it happens.  And when the innocent die, people take notice.  An absolutely perfectly innocent person was struck down by our violence and sin.  And similar to Todd Carter, much has been written and said about him.  Jesus Christ, the innocent, was killed by us and for us.  He was almost home when he was “hit”, but he died willingly as a sacrifice – not running in terror. 

Secondly, I thought about how close we can come sometimes to being “home free” only to fail to actually arrive there.  We can’t control the people and events around us.  We know our intent – to get home safely – but sometimes things interfere with our well-laid plans, and in the shadow of the rooftop we fall.   I am very thankful that God is the One who will get us home.  I rejoice that He recognizes that I can’t make it on my own, that I alone would surely be cut down by Satan’s bullets.  He is able to handle our eternal destinies (2 Tim. 1:12).  We need to finish the race well, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, and not die in the home stretch.

The saddest thing, though, is to hear about those who are almost on the porch of the house and ready to enter, but who Satan snatches at the last moment.  The story of Paul’s defense before Agrippa is heart-wrenching, from Acts 26:28-29a: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am….”  There is no evidence Agrippa “made it home”.  How tragic and sad.

There are those today who are almost home but who aren’t quite there yet.  What a tragedy if we let them languish so close to heaven’s door. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the innocent Christ who died for us.  Help us to understand that we don’t control the events that swirl around our lives, but that in You, we are safe forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/30/17 – Who Do You Really Want?

DayBreaks for 3/30/17: Who Do You Really Want?

John 18:3-4 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

Of course, Jesus knew the answer to the question he asked, but as he always seemed to do, the question was not to gain knowledge for himself, but to cause those who had come to arrest him to consider their actions and what they were doing.  They had the right answer: “Jesus of Nazareth.”  They wanted Jesus, all right, but not for the right reasons.  They didn’t want him as Lord or even as a rabbi.  They wanted him as a captive – a prisoner.

The question is very valid nearly 2000 years later, and it is still Jesus who asks it: “Who is it you want?”

Let’s not be too quick to chime in, as did the soldiers: “Jesus of Nazareth.”  That’s the obvious Christian answer, the expected response that upholds our status as believers.  But do we want Jesus as a captive who we would put in a box and call him forth to perform for us on demand?  Do we want a Jesus of Nazareth that is a construction of our own mind and wishes, or are we willing to accept the Jesus of Nazareth that calls us to carry our cross daily, to die to ourselves, to be poured out for others even as He was poured out? 

I fear that far too many of us, indeed all of us, have distorted visions of Jesus.  American culture has made him a warm, fuzzy creature, a best buddy.  And there is some truth to that, but American culture doesn’t want much, if anything, to do with the other part of Jesus: a Lord that confronts us with demands. 

Who is it that you want?  Why do you want him?  He refuses to be a magic genie or talisman that we can pull out when we want him.  We must surrender to him.  Are we really willing to do that?

PRAYER: Jesus, we often don’t really mean it completely when we say that we want you.  We want you as our Savior, but not necessarily as our Lord.  Help us to learn that your greatest blessings are reserved for those who obey you and submit themselves to you.  Give us submissive hearts that want you just because of who you are in all your fullness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 2/07/17 – Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

DayBreaks for 2/07/17: Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

From the blog of Doug Dalrymple (my son!), dated 12/4/06 about his son (my grandson!):

You expect your children to see angels. Fresh and innocent as they are, how could they not see angels, right? You expect them, once sufficiently articulate, to spout forth little bon mots of ageless toddler wisdom that somehow suddenly make clear the ways of God and illumine the labyrinth of the human heart. But, no, children do not leap from their mother’s wombs straight into the full flush of sainthood. In my experience, children are just as likely to misapprehend the faith of their parents as to utter unsolicited spiritual profundities.
I have been equally charmed and horrified by what comes out of the mouth of my three year old son when he decides to talk theology. For instance, while considering a picture of the Crucifixion (with Mary and John standing to either side of Christ), my 3-yeard old son once explained to me that it was St. John himself, and no one else, who had taken up the hammer to nail Jesus’ hands and feet to the wood. A ghastly thought! I gently corrected him and changed the subject lest he say something even worse.
But every now and then something charming does pop out of his curious little mind. Not long ago we were out for a hike with his mother and sister, visiting a little farm tucked away into the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains. We approached a spot where he’d seen a dead lizard the week before. “Papa!” he said, “look – there’s a lizard over here – and it’s dead!” He ran ahead in his excitement, pointing the way. I followed and helped him to scan the ground for the unfortunate reptile. It was gone. “He’s not here anymore – where did he go?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe another animal ate him up,” I suggested. “No…” the boy answered, “but maybe God raised him from the dead!”
“Well…” I hesitated. “I don’t know…but, maybe He did.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We are all to quick to deny God’s miracles.  If we don’t see it, we think it didn’t or couldn’t have happened.  For all we know, God, when no one else was looking, raised that little lizard from the dead.  After all, that’s how He raised His own Son – in the dark of the tomb while no human eyes were watching.  Oh, for the faith of a little child once again!

PRAYER:  Thank you Father for giving to the little ones the eyes to see your wonders and to believe in your miracles.  Give us those kind of eyes, and faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/2/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

DayBreaks for 2/02/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

John 12:27-28 (NLT) – Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name…”

Wow. Just WOW! To place this verse in context, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover. He has just foretold his coming death. He has also just said that his disciples must be where he is. Where would he be? He would soon be in the garden, on trial, on the cross and in the tomb. This is a sobering reminder that if our Master didn’t escape a troubled heart or a troubled life, we should not expect to, either. As David Platt said recently, we tend to think as believers we are guaranteed a safe life. We are not. In fact, if anything, we are guaranteed a troubled life if we are to inhabit all the spaces Jesus did not only physically, but also if we journey with him spiritually and emotionally – and he want to some very foreboding places in his heart.

It is interesting that Jesus shares his thoughts out loud here. Should he pray to be saved from this hour?, he asks. In matter of fact, he did make that very request some mere days or hours later in the garden. Yet, in spite of his deeply troubled heart, even here he resolves himself with the knowledge that God had a purpose for his coming, for this very hour. He came not to be delivered, but to deliver, not to be spared, but to spare others.

How do I view my own life in that regard? Do I have even an inkling of the call God has put upon my life? How often do I pray to be delivered from “this hour” when in fact, it may be that my struggle, even my death, may be the thing that will bring the most glory to the Father. My first inclination is to pray for my own preservation rather than to see my “hour” as an opportunity for his glory.

Jesus refused to pray for deliverance. Maybe I should pray less for deliverance and be more concerned about how God can use my situation and my obedience in that dark hour for His glory.

PRAYER: Lord, I am very self-centered and as I read this verse, it becomes clearer to me. Thank you for the power of your word to show us not just your love and goodness, but our weaknesses and failures, too. Use those hard times and difficult hours in our lives to bring you glory. May we be more like our Master and seek your glory and your purposes above all else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/11/17 – Hearing the Hard Words

DayBreaks for 1/11/17: Hearing the Hard Words

Proverbs 27:6 (AMP) –  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.

We love to hear about ourselves – all the good things we’ve done, how bright we are. We love to have our exploits recounted and to have other people brag on us. Even the most humble among us secretly find delight in it.

Very few people like to hear the truth about themselves. It’s hard enough when we open the Word and learn some hard truths: 1) there is none that is righteous; 2) there is none that is good except for God; 3) our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags. Now, don’t those things make you feel really good?

The truth is that the Truth isn’t necessarily designed to make us feel good. Oh, it makes us feel good when we understand that on the other side of the “bad news” about who we are and the things we’ve done lies the truth of forgiveness and grace. Guilt is part of the grace of God because on the other side of the guilt lies the understanding of grace. No, the purpose of the truth about us is so we will realize our need for a Savior.

There’s another truth we need to hear and take to heart, but it’s a much more difficult on in some ways. It’s one thing when God, who is perfect and sinless, tells us about our shortcomings, but it’s another thing entirely when others tell us about our faults. How often have you asked others to totally level with you…to tell you the unvarnished truth about how they see your and your life? I like how John Ortbeg put is: Trying to grow spiritually without hearing the truth about yourself from somebody else is like trying to do brain surgery on yourself without a mirror. – John Ortberg sermon, “Loving Enough to Speak the Truth”

Who can you ask to “level” with you? How long has it been since you’ve done it (if ever)?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for telling us the truth about ourselves. May we be that kind of friend to others – and give us friends who will do the same for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/22/16 – If I Had Been There

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Church of the Nativity, January 2016, by Galen Dalrymple

DayBreaks for 12/22/16: If I Had Been There

Not quite a year ago, I stood in Bethlehem. Across from the church of the Nativity the bright, colored lights were still lit in celebration of what had occurred in that little village nearly 2000 years ago. As I stood there, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would have heard had I been there that night when Jesus was born. It is a question that haunts me. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of barnyard animals shifting around? Would I have seen the star in the sky that night or simply two poor and very frightened kids? Would I have understood the hushed silence of the divine presence, or simply the chill of a cold east wind? Would I have understood the message of Emmanuel, God with us, or would the cosmic implications of that evening have passed me by as it so often does even today?

I am convinced that had any two people been there that night in Bethlehem it is quite possible that they could have heard and seen two entirely different scenes. I believe this because all of life seems to be that way. God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are forced to believe. We are always left with an option, for that is God’s way. Thus, one person can say “It’s a miracle, while another says “It’s coincidence.”

Certainly very few people in Palestine saw and heard and understood what took place that night. The choirs of angels singing were, for many, drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem bazaar. There was a bright star in the sky but the only ones apparently to pay any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance to a very pregnant woman and the man who accompanied her.

Even now, what do I see when I see little children act out the story? Do I just see a cute play with cute children, or do I see the unveiling of the greatest story ever? When I hear the carols, do I just hear pretty music, or do I hear the whisper of God in my ear and my heart?

Christmas is getting so close. Am I letting Christ get close to me this year? Will I recognize him when he arrives? Will I hear him when he speaks? Can I hear the angels still singing his praise and pouring honor on him? The time is almost here, people. Let us look for the star and be led into wondrous worship for the One who came to earth.

PRAYER: Jesus, I want to see you this Christmas as I never have before. I want to hear you and worship you deep in my heart! Please don’t let this Christmas be like every other Christmas – let this Christmas be a time when it becomes more real to us than ever before! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/25/16 – The Games People Play

DayBreaks for 11/25/16: The Games People Play

The 1960’s pop singer Joe South wrote a song that had these words:

Oh the games people play now

Every night and every day now

Never meaning what they say now

Never saying what they mean

And they wile away the hours

In their ivory towers

Till they’re covered up with flowers

In the back of a black limousine

Games…we love to play games. Board games, sports games, mind games, video games, computer games, word games, mathematical…the list goes on and on. As human beings we are fascinated by our games. Games are good-for games can and do provide physical exercise and mental stimulation as well as develop coping skills, management skills-not to mention providing a respite from the pressures of everyday life. Yes, we all love games-some of us too much. It has been said of Americans that we “play at our work and work at our play.” Yes, there are times when even the best of us take our games too seriously.

There are also games we play that we should not play. These are the games that we use to avoid life, to avoid dealing with the harsh realities that life can bring us. Back in the sixties Eric Berne wrote Games People Play–an analysis of the ways in which people relate to each other and why we do so. His basic thesis is that “games are substitutes for the real living of real life.” We play games because we do not want to get down to the real human business of honest to God interaction. We would rather live at a superficial level of societal games than to talk about who we are and what we feel.

What games are you playing that may be detrimental to your family, your work, your friends, your health? What games are you playing that weaken your walk with Christ? Don’t you think it may be time to stop playing some of those games and get real?

PRAYER: Father, may we take time to play – but give us the wisdom to know when to play and when to be serious! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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