DayBreaks for 8/09/18 – The Confession Hotline

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DayBreaks for 8/09/18: The Confession Hotline

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Some time back, Time magazine carried a story about a new phone service that was being offered.  It was an “apology sound off line,” and people could call up at any hour of the day or night in order to get things off their chest.  The line, at the time, would receive up to 200 phone calls per day.

They also created a second number, which charged a higher price for their services, that people could call and pay to have someone listen to their confessions.  That line received as many as 10,000 calls per day.

The first line makes sense to me in a way because it’s better to vent into a telephone mouthpiece than to become violent or abusive towards someone who is present.  The second service – the confession hotline – was more intriguing.

Why would someone call a confession hot line and pay to have someone hear them confess the deepest and darkest secrets in their lives?  I am not sure, but I think it probably has something to do with the human heart and how hard it is for the heart to bear up indefinitely under the weight of our hidden sin and shame. 

But there is another reason that has been suggested, too: it is the one place where people could turn and know that they go to vent out their guilt and be guaranteed that no one would judge them for their evil.  There seems to be some craving in us and at some level, we know the truth does, indeed, set us free.

There was something about Jesus that seems to have made him a safe person so it was easy to confess to him.  Why is it not that way with other people?  Probably there is a plethora of things that enter into an answer for that question: we don’t trust them to keep it a secret, we are too ashamed of what we’ve done to have another human know, we’re afraid that they will think less of us, or that they’ll react with utter disgust and disdain – and that when we see them again, we’ll always have those dirty feelings hanging over our head.  No one wants to be in the presence of those who think you’re dirt or scum.

That’s a shame.  Jesus doesn’t feel that way about us when we confess to him.  Look at how he dealt with all those in Scripture who confessed their shame and sin – not one went away feeling like dirt.  Not one seems to have departed concerned that Jesus somehow thought less of them and would always think less of them.  Not one seems to have been of the opinion that Jesus wouldn’t ever want anything to do with them again.  And if anyone was ever in a position to judge them, it was the Son of God.

When will we learn that confession is important and that when someone confesses to us, it’s not our job to judge them or set them straight?  They’re already aware it’s wrong or they wouldn’t be confessing to start with.  They already feel the shame – they are confessing to be set free from that pit.  Let’s not throw dirt on top of them as they’re trying to dig out.

Jesus offers us the greatest confessional hotline of all time.  Let’s use it more often!  It’s free!

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to become like you so that when others confess to us, we are tender, gentle and restorative rather than judgmental and condemning!  We confess to you now that we are sinners – and we welcome your promised forgiveness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 8/08/18 – The Signature of His Presence

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DayBreaks for 8/08/18: The Signature of His Presence

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

It seems like America is fascinated with forensics.  There’s CSI spin-offs, NCIS spin-offs, and other mystery/detective shows that talk a lot about forensics. Much of the gist of those shows is trying to figure out who was the murderer, and that means that they’ve got to place the killer in the room or woods or on the boat with the victim at the time the murder was committed.  Often, the way that they make that link is through DNA evidence: a piece of hair, some bodily fluid that was left at the scene or on a cup that was left in the room.  It can be other small things, too, like dirt from a shoe, a tire tread left in the mud, some little bit of evidence that would be overlooked entirely if you weren’t looking for such details.

Perhaps you’ve known someone who wore a distinctive fragrance (or maybe they just had a strange smell, period).  If they’d just left the room, you could probably tell that they’d been there because of the scent in the air.  We leave clues everywhere we go.

What was the signature of Jesus’ presence?  If a forensic scientist were looking for clues to indicate if Jesus really had come to earth, where might they look, and what might they look for? 

Some might start looking at the temple in Jerusalem – after all, Jesus was Jewish, and that was the supreme place of worship for the Jews.  Some might want to look in the king’s palace.  But if they did that, they’d not find what they were looking for.  In his book, Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg suggests: “His raggedness became the very signature of his presence.  ‘And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’”  (Luke 2:12)

Jesus wasn’t afraid of raggedness.  To become like us, he had to become ragged, indeed.  We’re so full of concerns about how we look, how we’re perceived, what people think of us and what they might say about us behind our backs that we try to hide all the raggedness that surrounds us.  We want to appear properly groomed and turned out for the occasion.  We’re more concerned about appearances than substance.  Jesus wasn’t.  We shouldn’t be, either.

PRAYER: May we put away foolish notions of appearance and strive for true beauty in the inner soul.  May we not only accept our own raggedness, but revel in the raggedness of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/17/18 – With Unveiled Faces

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DayBreaks for 7/17/18: With Unveiled Faces

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV) – Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

My dad’s last surviving brother passed away on Sunday, July 6.  Out of my dad’s entire family (there were 8 brothers and sisters who survived into adulthood) only 2 of the sisters remain.  Somehow, with the passing of my final “blood” uncle, I sense that a connection with my dad has been lost, and that is sad.  Out of the Grover Dalrymple line of the Dalrymples, I am now the oldest male bearing the surname Dalrymple.  It doesn’t seem possible.

As I contemplated what to share at my uncle’s “home-going celebration” in Oregon this past week, I was drawn to the passage above from 2 Corinthians, and I saw in it some things that I’d never seen or contemplated before.  When we become believers, the “veil” is removed and we can reflect the Lord’s glory. 

But wait – there’s still a challenge here, isn’t there?  How well do you think you reflect the Lord’s glory?  Somehow, I doubt that I am the only one who fails to always (often?) reflect His glory.  In fact, there are probably more times that I fail to reflect the glory like I should than the times when I do reflect it properly.  Why is it that I fail to reflect his image very well?  Could it be because I am still in the flesh?  The flesh is a veil of sorts, and as along as we are in the flesh, we’ll struggle to reflect Jesus’ glory. 

We are given the great privilege and challenge of letting the glory of the Light shine through us, even while bound up in the veil of flesh.  I think that when the flesh is laid aside, as it was by my uncle Dale, we finally, with an unveiled face, can really begin to show the glory of the Lord.  I suspect that if I were able to see my uncle now, that I’d be amazed at how the glory of the Lord, Whom he has now beheld face to face, is reflected by uncle Dale.  It didn’t take much for Moses’ face to shine as a result of being in the presence of the Lord.  How much more for those who have been welcomed into His home?  This is our destiny!

PRAYER:  It is hard to believe that you call us to reflect your glory, that you give us the privilege of bearing your image and showing your Light to the world.  Thank you for the great privilege of helping to make you visible to the world, and even as our faces are still veiled by the flesh, we pray that you will bring yourself glory through your children.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/12/18 – Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 7/12/18: Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

The world watched with baited breath as a small army of divers and rescue personnel descended into a treacherous and deadly cave in an effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” – a soccer team and their coach, who had become trapped when monsoon rains flooded parts of the cave system. For a period approaching 10-12 days, the boys and their coach were in the cave with very little food. They drank water that dripped from the cave ceiling. And they were in darkness…total, utter darkness. I read that one of the boys in particular was terrified of darkness but he went with his teammates in an effort to overcome his fear. 

Fortunately, seemingly miraculously, all twelve boys and their coach made it out alive thanks to the sacrifices of their rescuers. Tragically, on Thai navy SEAL diver died during the effort to rescue these boys.

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

If you want to know what the kingdom of darkness looks like, just ask those boys. They know what darkness means. You can’t see. It is a place of fear. It is a place of want. It is uncomfortable and threatening. You long for light. It gnaws at you and causes you to give up hope and despair of rescue.

If you want to know what gratitude feels like, just ask those boys. Can you begin to imagine how their hearts leaped when the British divers with a headlight on their foreheads first popped up in the darkness and found the boys? Can you imagine how hope must have been reborn in that instant that they first saw light again? Can you try to imagine how each boy felt when at long last they exited the mouth of the cave that had held them captive and threatened them with certain death unless a miracle happened?

I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how dark was the kingdom that held us in its clutches. We don’t often see it as darkness because it is a darkness of the spirit brought about by the blackness of sin. The enemy of our souls makes it appear as light – he’s such a good liar – and we fall for it over and over again. For a sense of what it was like inside the caves, see this (and that was the easy part – try imagining even that without flashlights in passages as small as 15 inches wide!)

But miraculously, someone came searching for us, found us, and led us out of that inky black place into a kingdom diametrically opposite to that which held us. He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

But just as with the twelve boys and their coach, someone gave their life to rescue us. Unlike that navy SEAL diver, though, the one who gave his life for us came back to life and now guides us through the darkness of the former kingdom to the light. He’s been through that blackness of death that would kill us and been victorious over it so that he knows the way out of the darkness. We need not fear. He will not fail us!  

We should be terrified of the darkness that surrounds us for when it is seen clearly it is terrifying. But we should never doubt our rescue or our Rescuer. 

And one more thing: our Rescuer has turned the tables on darkness. While it was dangerous for us as we were trapped there, now that we have been delivered not only do we no longer need to fear the darkness itself, but he has made us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness because now we have experienced the way out and can help others find the Light. 

It’s a dark, dark world. Let’s be brighter. 

PRAYER: Jesus, all glory to you for descending into the darkness, experiencing it, for your victory over it, so that you could lead us into your kingdom of Light and Life. May we never take the Light for granted! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/10/18 – The Longing for Belonging

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DayBreaks for 7/10/18: The Longing for Belonging

From the DayBreaks Archive, July 2008:

We all want desperately to belong to something.  It may be a bridge club, a sports team, a lover, a profession – we all want to have a place of belonging, where we are valued for who and what we are, where we find kindred hearts that beat with common interests and shared passions. 

Think about the things you’ve longed to be a part of in your life.  If you go back as far as you can in memory’s hallway,  you may find that you wanted first of all to belong to some club or team.  You wanted to be one of the kids that was liked and invited to the coolest parties or to go out on a date with someone you dared only worship from afar.  Later, you wanted to be admitted to a certain college or university, then to a company or business or organization where your interests could be matched with a need and where you belonged and could contribute.  We all want to be good for something – and wanted because of it. 

Alas, I was never allowed to be a cheerleader or pom-pom girl.  I didn’t have the right qualifications (but then I never wanted to be one either!!!!!!)  Nor was I ever admitted to medical school or the astronaut program.  I wish I had been, for both hold great fascination for me – even to this day.  All of my wishing that I’d belonged in those careers or callings cannot and will not make it so. 

Perhaps the most difficult, and possibly foolish thing, that we might try to do is to create the meaning of our own life instead of simply discovering it.  Here’s what I mean: in his book, Epic, John Eldredge observed: “Something preceded us.  Something good.  We’d much rather be included in something great than to have to create the meaning of our lives.  To know that life, ultimately, doesn’t rest on our shoulders, but invites us up into it.” 
How terrifying would it be to have to create the meaning of your own life?  What if you got it WRONG?  What if you couldn’t construct a satisfactory meaning to your own life? 

Thank God we don’t have to, nor can we, create the meaning for our own lives.  Simply put, God has created the sphere of meaning and purpose – all we have to do is to discover it.  And God has even made that easy, ultimately – His rule and kingdom is the meaning of our lives.  That means more than just saying, “Hosanna!  Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!” or “Praise God, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”  Both of those are biblical things to say – and both are true.  But for the kingdom of God to come in my heart is the purpose for which I was created and for which you were fashioned.  We cannot and will not be what we can and are meant to be, if we resist that kingdom and block it from our hearts.  If we resist the kingdom, we resist the King as well.  And we don’t even want to go there!  It is to God that I belong – and wonder of wonders, He belongs to me!  I have a place of belonging that nothing in this world can ever take away – no downturn in the economy, no loss of licensure, no failure on my part to rightly discern the mysteries that surround me, no President or law – nothing.  My belonging has nothing to do with those things – but only with His acceptance of me through Christ Jesus.

PRAYER:  Eternal Father, thank You for giving us meaning by giving us Your love and personal attention.  Thank You for giving us a place where we belong that we can always call home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/10/18 – God’s Strange “No”

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DayBreaks for 4/10/18: God’s Strange “No”

There is a fascinating story in Joshua that is easily missed. Moses has died. After waiting 40 years, Joshua is ready to take up the mantle of leadership from Moses. As they prepare to cross the Jordan and enter into the promised land, Joshua has a very strange encounter.

Joshua 5:13-15 says: When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Here’s what is fascinating (aside from the fact of the encounter itself). Joshua was going to be the military leader for the campaign (or so he thought). But he finds himself face to face with “a man”. I don’t know how impressive the man may have looked, but he certainly was mysterious. Who was this “commander of the army of the LORD”? Many believe it was Jesus in a pre-incarnate form. (Oddly enough, Jesus, or Yeshua, was Joshua’s name…so Joshua was speaking with Joshua/Yeshua, who would also be a conqueror, but of a different kind.)

The first word this “man” speaks is simply “No.” In other words, “I’m not for you and I’m not for your adversaries.” What are we to make of that? I’m sure Joshua was hoping for something like “Yes, of course I’m for you!”  But he didn’t get that response. 

This “man” was for the LORD God Almighty. He wasn’t for one tribe or another. He was for God’s plan and work. It is as if he’s saying a couple things to Joshua:

FIRST: You are not the commander of God’s army. I am. You will not be fighting, you will not gain the victories. God will. How quickly we forget that in our own battles!!!

SECOND: This “man” is essentially throwing a challenge to Joshua, something like this: “You will make a choice whether or not you will be part of my judgment…will you be an agent of justice/judgment or an object of judgment? If you take the role as an agent of justice but then shirk back, you are all the more likely to become an object of judgment.” It is as if God was saying, “If you act like the inhabitants of the land, you’ll be the first to go into judgment.”

I can’t help but wonder how much I’ve become like the inhabitants of the land, how much the church has become like the inhabitants of the land/world. It is frightening to contemplate.

The day will come when we stand before the leader of God’s army. I hope we will all have chosen to be part of his campaign to bring justice and righteousness to his creation.

PRAYER: Lord, the very idea of becoming objects of judgment is terrifying. Give us the courage to choose wisely and consistently to be on your side! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/22/18 – There Was No One There

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18: There Was No One There

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Have you ever felt absolutely and totally alone?  I am not the kind of person who minds being alone – in fact, I rather enjoy it…most of the time.  But when I worked in high tech, I traveled a lot and there were many times when I’d go to a strange city (or even a strange country) and loneliness would settle over my soul like a shroud.  There are many places where loneliness raises its head and comes to sit next to you.  Once it arrives, it tends to stay.

Some of the loneliest places I’ve been read like a list of places most folks would like to visit: Ireland, Sao Paulo, London, and in America, Mississippi and Alabama.  I don’t know why I felt so alone here in the US, but when you’re in a foreign country (even one like Ireland or England that speaks my native tongue) you can feel desperately alone.  Without my family, my wife, my dogs or friends, loneliness haunts like a spectre.  The more foreign, the greater the haunting.

The story of Gethsemane is one of the most painful stories for me to read in the entire collection of Scripture, and having been there, is even more painful to me.  It appears to be the time of Jesus’ greatest loneliness, with perhaps the exception of the cry of dereliction from the cross itself.  Anticipation of agony is oft times worse than the pain we anticipate.  I wonder if it was that way for Jesus.

In his novel, More Like Not Running Away, Paul Shepherd wrote: “I’d always known, in one place in my throat, how Jesus must have cried in the garden—crying not to die, because there was no fear of death, and not to leave his friends, because he walked alone, and not to suffer, because the blood and bruises and thorns were part of his perfection—but crying because he could not find his Father’s face, because when he would suffer all that he could bear, the pain of every person, living and dead, in that dark moment, there was really nobody there.”

Jesus truly had no peers to swap celestial stories with.  He had no one on the planet who understood what he faced just in a matter of hours.  There was no one else who truly understood the weight of the world’s sin as it came and settled on him like a hot blanket on that Palestinian night.  If ever anyone was in a foreign land, it was Jesus.  If ever anyone found “there was really no one there,” surely it was He.  “We esteemed him smitten by God…” 

For all who have ever felt loneliness, for all who have ever felt that there was “no one there,” take heart in knowing that Jesus has been to that desolate place before you.  And no matter how alone he felt at the moment he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, he soon proclaimed with great confidence: “Into Your hands I commit my spirit!”  In the midst of his massively heavy aloneness, He still had confidence in the Father He knew and loved, and was supremely confident that the Father saw and loved Him and would not ultimately let His Holy One be abandoned. 

Dare we hope for the same assurance?  Absolutely, for His Father is our Father and is unchanging.

PRAYER: Fill our loneliness with the confidence of Jesus that we may, in childlike trust and faith, abandon ourselves into Your hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.