DayBreaks for 10/23/20 – Out of the Depths

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Image from the movie, The 33.

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. – Psalm 71:20

 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. – Psalm 95:4

This past week we were privileged to witness one of the most amazing rescues I can recall.  Thirty-three miners escaped from the depths of the earth (the story is told in the movie, The 33).  I don’t know for sure, but someone said that when they came to the surface, they were wearing shirts that had Psalm 95:4 stenciled on their back.  These 33 men endured great anguish and fear yet came through their ordeal with a perspective that is amazing. 

There are so many rich lessons for us to grasp in this event:

As Psalm 139 says, there is nowhere either above or below the earth that He cannot be found.  And one of the miners said that God was in that time and place, as was the devil, but God won.  He always does – and always will!

I thought about being “re-born” to a new and living hope.  Surely these men can now read those words with renewed appreciation. 

I thought about how God has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son…and how the miners had been in the mines for so long that they had to wear sunglasses even at night when they came up out of the mine into the light. 

The joy that they and their loves ones experienced is certainly understandable!  These men, as good as dead, were alive and could live “normal” lives.  The joy that swept the world at their survival – even the joy that filled my own heart at their rescue – was powerful and strong.  But there is an even greater miracle, an even greater reason for joy that we have as Christians: we have been saved by the grace of God!!!  Did those miners deserve being rescued, being saved?  I don’t know if “deserved” is the right word – but because they were humans, the efforts were made.  God made a far greater effort and had to span a distance far greater than 2050 feet in order to rescue us from a death that was every bit as certain (even more certain, as it turns out!) than the miners faced in the dark bowels of the earth.  Why should our joy be any less?  Why don’t we react to our salvation with the same wild abandon as those miners?

It is a question worth pondering.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t really believe we are bad enough to deserve eternal punishment.  Perhaps it’s because we have never considered ourselves as good as dead.  Maybe it’s because we haven’t begun to grasp the life that God has given us.  Maybe it’s all of the above and other reasons, too.  I’m ready to begin celebrating my salvation more than I have in the past, and I hope you will, too.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for seeing fit to spare the lives of the Chilean miners!  We rejoice in the new lease on life that they have been granted.  Help us to come to a far greater appreciation of what YOU have done for us than we have ever experienced before!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 10/21/20 – Of Rifles and Expectations

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Who was the first person you ever let down, besides God? Chances are it was your parents. But can you remember the pain of letting down the first person you loved that lead to a break-up and the resulting excruciating pain?

Expectations are killers. Max Lucado says they’re like rifles – when used the right way and in the right circumstances – they are valuable and necessary. The problem is that far too often we often use they the wrong way and at the wrong time. The result is we shoot those we love with a bullet of expectation.

Examples might be a father who presses a child to be the great athlete he fancied himself to be, or a parent pushing for a doctor or lawyer. A spouse pressing the other spouse because they can’t afford the house or things that one of them wants. The boss who tells the employee that though they’ve earned vacation time, those who want to get ahead must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the firm (and what is sacrificed is family relationships!)

Lucado says that expectations create conditional love: “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…’  The latter part may go unspoken, but its definitely implied.

Is it right to have expectations of others? Sure! We should encourage each other toward excellence. But as Lucado again says, “…it was Christ on the cross who taught us how to use expectations. Does he demand a lot? You better believe it. Does he expect much? Only our best. Does he have expectations? Just that we leave everything, deny all, and follow him.

“The difference? Jesus couched his expectations with two important companions. Forgiveness and acceptance.” – No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, by Max Lucado

Here it is in a nutshell: Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), not after we’d lived up to his high expectations. And he never says, “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…”. His love has no strings attached, no dependencies on excellent performance in denying self and sin. His “I love you” is unqualified because it is married to his forgiveness and acceptance.

Can we not do the same for one another, especially those you claim to love?

PRAYER: Lord, keep me from firing the rifle of expectations today unjustly. And if I am let down today, let me emulate Jesus in his forgiveness and acceptance that he extends to me every single day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/20/20 – How to NOT Get Blown Up

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So, what have you already had to decide today that you’d not anticipated? If you haven’t done that yet, just wait – you will! They happen to us day in and day out. Some are simple, some have bigger consequences.

There is a story of a fisherman and a game warden. It seemed that every day this fisherman would come back with stringers full of fish while everyone else managed just one or two. So, the game warden wanted to learn his secret.

They set out early one morning together, got to the middle of the lake and stopped. Watching, the game warden saw the fisherman pull out a stick of dynamite, light it and toss it into the air. The concussion from the explosion stunned the fish and the fisherman just scooped them up in his net.

The game warden was incensed! “You can’t do that!” he yelled at the fisherman. In response, the fisherman pulled out another stick of dynamite, lit it, and tossed it into the hands of the game warden, then asked, “Are you going to just sit there or are you going to fish?”

All of a sudden, the game warden was faced with an unexpected decision – and it was an explosive one! And some of our decisions can be explosive, too.

Consider the youth who must decide if he’ll snort some coke just to be friends with someone. Consider the girl facing improper sexual pressure by her boyfriend. Or the employee who has a chance to syphon off a little cash here or there. The taxpayer taking a few “shortcuts” on their taxes. The housewife being pressured to tell some juicy tidbits about someone else.

You see, all those have explosive consequences. What can we do about it?

Jesus’ experience with his disciples in the garden is instructive. First, he tells them to “Watch…” – always a good idea. “Be alert”, “keep your eyes peeled”, etc.

How does that relate? You know your weaknesses, don’t you? It could be alcohol, sex, drugs, power, money. What Jesus is saying is to watch out for those places and situations which will put you with a lit stick of dynamite in your hands! When you see such a situation developing, scram!  But if you aren’t watching, you will soon be in a dangerous situation.

Secondly, Jesus tells them to “pray”. It’s not that you’ll tell him something he doesn’t already know. Prayer is inviting him to walk the pathway ahead of you and warn you through his Spirit of the pitfalls and dangers ahead of you so you can avoid them (that’s the watch…(and listen! part), and then to have your back as you move forward.

Watch. Pray. It can spell the difference between winding up with dynamite in your lap or a quiet ride on the water.

PRAYER: Jesus, help our first inclination be to watch and pray rather than to run ahead into dangerous waters! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/19/20 – The Miracles Surround You

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I find it interesting that the educated of this world, by and large, struggle to believe in God. The university professors, the scientists, Wall Street kingpins, the leaders of nations and industry – at least here in the United States – struggle to believe there is a God. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising because they seldom have the time to slow down long enough to consider his daily miracles.

Farmers see them daily as the seed they planted is warmed by the sun on the soil, watered by the rain and pushes its way out of a dead seed into new life, or they view the rainbow as they plow their field.

Fishermen rejoice in the harvest of fish that they didn’t create but which renews itself year after year.

It seems that those who live in rural areas have more time to see the everyday miracles of God in person.

The great Jonathan Edwards put it this way: “Nature is God’s greatest evangelist.”

The apostle Paul said, “Faith does not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

King David wrote, “God’s testimony makes wise the simple.”

How long has it been since you stepped out of your cubicle or home (especially in this time of COVID) to walk barefoot in the grass, to chase down a beautiful butterfly, to listen to the birds or collect seashells on a beach? There are miracles around us constantly. They may not seem to match the miracle of an empty tomb, but they beg for us to notice them for they point us to God.

Max Lucado wrote: “…there is a certain understanding of God on the cross that comes only with witnessing his daily testimony.”

Now, go take a walk and look at the miracles all around you!

Psalm 19:1-4 (ESV) – The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world…

PRAYER: God Almighty, slow us down to see your glory in a falling autumn leaf, the crispness of the fall air, the twinkling stars at night so that we can better understand your majesty and what the cross means. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/16/20 – The Scariest Verse in the Bible

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What do you think is the most frightening, scariest and terrifying verse in the Bible?  It could be about the fate that awaits liars, cheats and others: the lake of fire. That would be a good candidate because we all know we are liars, cheats, etc. It could be one about the very existence of hell itself. I suppose there are many possible candidates.

Perhaps, though, it is this one: Genesis 6:6 (ESV) – And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  

Think about that for a minute. Here’s a God who made man who is now wishing he hadn’t. The implications of that are frightening. With the kind of power God wields, he could do anything he chooses that doesn’t contradict his nature. And there – in those last five words is our only hope!

God’s nature was perhaps best said by the apostle John with three simple words: God is love. God cannot act against his love. It was his love that caused the hands to fashion the cross and then send his son there in our place. Rather than undoing the creation of man he chose to redeem mankind instead.

Perhaps there’s also a bit more to this verse than meets the eye: …the greatest of these is love. In context, it speaks of faith, hope and love…with love being the greatest. Is God’s justice greater than his love? I don’t think it can be or his justice would prevail and we’d all get what we deserve – eternal damnation. He is a God of justice – but found a different way to act against evil than obliterating us: he sacrificed himself because his love wouldn’t let him do the unthinkable to us. Bottom line: the scariest verse in scripture is more than tamed by those three words from John: God is love.

PRAYER: Father, I’m so grateful for your love and that love is what defines you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/15/20 – The Street Orphan and God

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In No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado tells the story of a time when he was a missionary in Brazil. It was very common for young children – some no doubt orphans – to beg for something to eat. One day, while on his way to teach a class, a small boy tapped Max on the hand and asked, “Pao, Senhor?” (Bread, sir?)

Max had grown familiar with this sort of request and always tried to help when he could. He told the young boy to come with him and they went into a shop where Max always bought his coffee. He told the young boy to go and choose a pastry and the little fellow excitedly ran to the counter to make his selection.

Max took his coffee to the end of the counter where people would sit to drink their coffee, but the boy was not in sight. Looking around, he saw the boy outside, face pressed against the window, looking into the café.

When the boy saw Max, he scampered in to Max and looking up at him from about belt-buckle level, said “Obrigato.” He paused for a second and said, “Muito obrigato!”, or “Thank you very much!”

Max’s response was wonderful. He said that those two words in Portuguese stirred his heart to the point that he wanted to buy the entire stock of pastries for the young boy because of the gratitude that he’d shown for such a simple gift!

In reflecting on the encounter, Max made such a simple, yet profound observation: if he was so moved by those two words from the little boy expressing such gratitude for a piece of pastry, how must God feel when we take the time to thank him, really, really thank him, for saving our souls?

When is the last time you did that?

PRAYER: Thank you, God, thank you!  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 10/06/20 – Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross

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Matthew 27:35-36 (NLT2) – After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.

The day started like any other for the Roman soldiers. Another day, another execution. So they went to the hill called Calvary, nailed the offender to the cross and then got down to the serious business of gambling – right at the foot of the cross.

There were items to be divvied up – a cloak, an inner garment and some sandals to be sure. So they bet on who would get what and a few walked away with the spoils from the Nazarene.

Have you thought about how that scene must have looked to Jesus as he looked down at them? It must have been mind-blowing! Here they were, mere feet away from the most important and earthshattering event ever – and they were oblivious to the simple fact that it was God on the tree. At least they all seem to have been oblivious except one who eventually started paying attention and made his own startling declaration about who they were killing.

Oh, it’s so easy to be shocked by their behavior and games they were playing at the foot of the cross! But let’s not miss this: we aren’t that different than those soldiers – even those of us who bear the name of the Crucified One!

Consider: churches fight over a finite population of potential members. We dole out condemnation and judgments. We are seeking our own personal gain (a sandal here, a cloak there) to get ahead, get something for free.

We hold rallies celebrating how righteous my cause is and how unrighteous you are if you differ from my views. We write books about what other believers are doing wrong. We major in telling tales about the “others” and take joy in unveiling weaknesses – not for the purpose of restoration – but to take them down! We argue over points of “doctrine”, about other denominations and whether or not they are “of the Lord”.

And Jesus must look down at us in stunned disbelief.

As Max Lucado put it: “We, too, play games at the foot of the cross…So close to the timber yet so far from the blood…we are so close to the world’s most uncommon event but we act like common crapshooters huddled in bickering groups and fighting over silly opinions.

“May they all be one,” Jesus prayed.

“One, not one in groups of two thousand. But one in One. One church. One faith. One Lord. Not Baptist, not Methodist, not Adventist. Just Christians. No denominations. No hierarchies. No traditions. Just Christ.”

What can we do to stop playing games at the foot of the cross? Build bridges, toss a rope to someone struggling to keep their head above the swelling tide, pray for unity. Choose to “be the soldier who snaps to his senses, jumps to his feet, and reminds the rest of us, ‘Hey, that’s God on that cross!”

There are far too many games being played at the foot of the cross. Let’s refuse to play those petty games any more!

PRAYER: Jesus, take mercy on us! Turn us from game playing to Kingdom building! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>