DayBreaks for 1/24/20 – Marks of Clarity

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DayBreaks for 1/24/20: Marks of Clarity

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There are times in my walk with God when things seem very clear.  But then again, there are times when I long for even the slightest inkling of clarity.  At times my relationship with the Lord is so real and palpable that I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the wonder of it all.  But then again, there are times (if I am to be honest with God, you and myself) when it all seems very unreal and like a sham.  And I find myself pondering from time to time: which is real?  Which reflects the real me and my relationship with God?  Am I only fooling myself when I feel so close to Him that I weep? 

William Cowper was a Christian songwriter of years gone by.  He wrote some of the favorite songs of the church, including the hymns O For a Closer Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way His wonders to Perform, and There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.  For a period of time, he lived in a house with John Newton, a converted slave-trader and author of Amazing Grace.  It is interesting how little grace Cowper actually experienced.  For long years he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and was hounded by false rumors of an illicit affair.  As a result, Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown, tried several times to kill himself, and was kept for some of his life in a straightjacket in an insane asylum for his own protection.  During the last quarter of his life, he avoided church entirely.

He wrote these word: “Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I sought the Lord?  Where is the soul-refreshing dew Of Jesus and His Word?  What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!  But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.  Return, O Holy Dove, return Sweet messenger of rest!  I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.”

There are many who might consider Cowper a prime candidate for the title of Christian hypocrite for his struggles, a man who wrote beautifully and convincingly about things he found hard, if not impossible, to put into practice.  I prefer to think of his hymns as being the real marks of clarity in a very troubled life.  He was the one who wrote: “Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”  Perhaps I am naïve, but I see in Cowper’s struggle my own struggles and in his struggling faith, a reflection of my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for redeeming love that loves a wretch like me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/23/20 – Indiscriminate Compassion

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DayBreaks for 1/23/20: Indiscriminate Compassion

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

In the past 10 days our television screens have been filled with images of incomprehensible devastation in the nation of Haiti.  Just today, one of the headlines is stating that the government of Haiti is claiming that 150,000 bodies have already been buried – and who knows how many have yet to be found and buried?  Stories of children who have lost their parents, parents who have lost children, elderly individuals who have essentially been left to die because no one could get water or food to them in time.  Photos and videos of people shrieking in anguish as they’ve been informed of the death of a loved one, or when they recognized their crushed bodies in the makeshift morgues prior to burial.  It would take a truly hard-hearted person to not be filled with compassion at times like this.  I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by this unparalleled disaster in the western hemisphere. 

Compassion at such times is relatively easy to come by.  There are other times, however, when we struggle to find a compassionate bone in our bodies.  We tend to look at people who have as much as we do (or more) and when they are faced with disaster, we tend to not be as compassionate as we are for the Haitians. 

Perhaps we would be well advised to consider the nature of Jesus’ compassion.  How did Jesus evaluate who was worthy of compassion and who wasn’t worthy?  I don’t see that he ever discriminated when confronted with suffering or need.  Brennan Manning made it pretty clear in Abba’s Child when he wrote: “What is indiscriminate compassion?  ‘Take a look at a rose.  Is it possible for the rose to say, ‘I’ll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people’?  Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light?  It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp.  And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature – even to the one who seeks to cut it down.  This is the first quality of compassion – its indiscriminate character.”

Have you thought about the compassion that Jesus has shown you?  Did you deserve it by your exemplary behavior?  Do you feel that Jesus was obligated to be compassionate to you?  Jesus isn’t obligated to do anything for us, but he is compassionate toward all of us because he can’t help being compassionate to all. He would no longer be Jesus if he stopped being compassionate. As His children, we should be the most compassionate people on earth. But I wonder: are we?

PRAYER: Jesus, teach us to follow in harmony with your compassionate heart that we may be more like you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/20/20 – The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto

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DayBreaks for 1/20/20: The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

This was sent to me by a friend and I thought it worth sharing, especially if you’re a bit down:

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Criticize by creating. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself.  (Mark Batterson, author of In a Pit With a Lion On a Sunny Day)

There are so many parts of this that I find encouraging and inspiring, but perhaps the one that challenges me the most is this one: “Go after a dream that is destined to fail without Divine intervention.”

What dreams have you had in your life?  What’s become of them?  Do you still have any?  If so, what are they?  Do any of them involve God and His kingdom and your role in it? 

When it comes time to do something for God, do you purposely select something that you believe God wants you to do, but which you know has absolutely zero chance of becoming reality unless God shows up in mighty and powerful ways?  Or, do you tend to select things you think you could do on your own with maybe just a tiny bit of help from others (just in case God doesn’t show up)? 

It puts a whole new spin on faith, doesn’t it?

PRAYER: God, I confess that I’m often a coward and my faith isn’t predicated on the God I can’t see, but on my thoughts of what I think is possible.  Have mercy on us for our weak faith, and fill our hearts with not our dream, but Your dream!  Help us to dare great things with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/17/20 – The Great Depression

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DayBreaks for 1/17/20: The Great Depression

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There’s a movie out that you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s James Cameron’s Avatar.  If you can, you REALLY should see it in 3D (there’s both a 3D version of it and a 2D version.)  I can virtually guarantee you that you’ve never seen anything like it in terms of movie-making.  It is literally breath-taking in scope, achievement and visual effects.  You feel as if you are in the jungle on Pandora (the name of their planet). 

It is a movie that also, if one has an eye for it, packs lots of messages and evokes many responses.  Here’s one that I don’t think anyone really anticipated: 

From the Huffington Post, Tuesday, January 12, 2010: Avatar-Induced Depression

“The beautiful alien planet Pandora depicted in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ is so captivating that some audience members are becoming depressed and even suicidal when they fail to find meaning in real life after the film is over.

“Writes Jo Piazza for CNN: On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

“Here are just a few of the ways people are coping on Avatar Forums:

“I just watched avatar a few weeks ago and I’m feeling depressed and sad. It’s like I want to reach out and be in Pandora. I’d do anything to be in Pandora. I’ve tried so hard to dream about me being on Pandora but it hasn’t worked.”
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
“Because, at this point, there isn’t pretty much anything else that can be done. Until the release of DVD/BluRay. But even that won’t take away all of the depression. Because you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(“

“Whether or not these posts are for real there is reason to believe the affliction is rooted in legitimate despair.”

Let me say first, that those I know who have gone to see the movie have not had these kinds of reactions.  Why?  Because the people I’ve talked to about the movie are Christians…and perhaps, just perhaps, we aren’t “depressed and sad” because we understand what the longing is that these folks are experiencing because we’ve found the answer: Jesus. 

As awesome as the world of Pandora is in the movie, it can’t hold a candle to heaven.  As Paul said (he and John are the only humans who’ve ever seen it as far as I know for sure!), it isn’t possible (nor permissible) to discuss what it is like.  I was driving to a meeting early one morning recently as the sun was rising over the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley where we live, and I was captivated by the beauty of that sunrise.  I started talking with God about what heaven would be like.  Are there colors there?  Revelation describes things with color…so there must be.  But are they the same colors?  Will they be different, vastly richer and more beautiful?  I have to believe so.  I can’t believe anything about heaven would be nearly as dull as things on this earth.

As the sun rose, I thought about God’s glory.  He can’t help but be glorious.  It’s not like he wakes up each morning thinking, “I think I’ll be glorious today.”  He can’t help it.  Wherever He goes, His glory arrives before Him like the rays of the sun arrive before the sun is fully up.  And His glory follows after Him as the rays of the sun still light the sky once the sun has set.  As that sunrise came, I realized that the glory of heaven will far outshine anything we can dream of, hope for, long for.  And we don’t need to despair, because our inheritance is being kept for us by God Himself.  Who do you think will be able to take it away from Him?  No one!

Don’t despair.  There’s a place far better than Pandora.  It’s called heaven.

PRAYER: Let Your glory shine on us and led us unto a life lived in the glory of Your eternal day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/16/20 – Can’t Touch This

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DayBreaks for 1/16/20: Can’t Touch This

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Chrysostom, the ancient Church Father, was a beautiful example of true Christian courage. When he stood before the Roman Emperor, he was threatened with banishment if he still remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot, for the world is my Father’s house; you cannot banish me.”

“But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.

“No, but you cannot,” said the noble champion of the faith again, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away thy treasures.” “No, but you cannot,” was the retort; “in the first place, I have nothing you know anything about. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from man, and you shall have no friend left.” “No, and that you cannot,” once more said the faithful witness, “for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you shall not separate me. I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

How does an ordinary human get such courage?  It surely doesn’t come from our human nature.  It comes from the Spirit of boldness that we have as part of the indwelling of the Spirit…the very Spirit that was in Christ Jesus.  There has never been a braver, more courageous and fearless man than Jesus. 

What we have is secured, not by the power of Rome or the United States, it is not kept by a refrigerator or a preservative additive, it is kept by the power of the Almighty God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – ESV, 1 Peter 1:3-5

PRAYER: Give us courage to live in the power of Your Spirit and to be fearless like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/15/19: His DNA

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DayBreaks for 1/15/20: His DNA

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Lee Eclov told this story, shared by permission of the Foote family:

“In August, 2009, we got a rather amazing email from my wife’s youngest brother, Jon. Six or seven years ago, when Jon and his wife, Lori, were working with a youth group in Nebraska, they met Amanda—a teenage girl the same age as their son, Wesley. Amanda came from a terribly abusive home and was eventually taken from her parents by the state. She has been part of Jon and Lori’s family ever since.

“After conferring with their two sons, Jon and Lori legally adopted Amanda. She is 22, and her name is now Amanda Foote. She will even get a new birth certificate! Now Jon and Lori have three legal heirs, and Amanda has two new brothers. She no longer has any legal claim upon her former parents, who disowned her—nor they upon her. The process was relatively simple.

“They had thought of Amanda as their daughter for a long time, but I asked if anything felt different after that day at the courthouse. Jon said, “Absolutely! When it was official there was a huge change in Lori and me—sort of like when you see your newborn for the first time. And for Amanda, there was a change in her, too. Now she knew she belonged. She knew we were her parents.”

“The beauty of it all made me offer a word of thanks to the way-clearing of our Elder Brother Jesus, God’s Beloved Son. God has given us a new name (his), a new legal standing (we are his responsibility and his heirs), and a new family (brothers and sisters in Christ, and God as our true Father). But God went even further. He gave us something that Jon and Lori can’t give Amanda. God gave us his Holy Spirit. In some ways it’s like God gives us his DNA. But even more than that, God implants in us his heart, his mind, his passion, his holiness—and people even look at us and say, “My how you bear a striking resemblance to your Father!”

Today in courts all over the world, DNA is used to prove relationships or identity.  When you think about it, isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is within us?  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:13-14 Our inheritance is assured because of our Paternity, and the Holy Spirit is the guarantee, the identifying method if you will, that shows we are His.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the incomparable gift of your Holy Spirit that You have placed within us.  Teach us to hear His voice and follow His leading!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/14/20 – A Suitable Household Pet

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DayBreaks for 1/14/20: A Suitable Household Pet

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

In late September, one of our dogs died.  She’d been with us for nearly 13 years.  She is missed.  Within 2 months after her passing, my wife had a new puppy scampering around the house.  Her name is Lucy, and for those who care, she’s a yellow lab.  (If my recent messages have had typos, it’s because I’m a bit sleep deprived due to the puppy getting me up at night!) 

When people pick pets, they weigh lots of things: cost, is there adequate room for this wee beastie, how will they blend in with other pets or with the family, do we want to go through the challenges of raising and housebreaking a dog again, etc.?  In short, people are trying to determine if the new prospective pet will be a suitable pet for the household.  That’s all well and good, and as it should be.  We all want calm, safe, and non-threatening pets!

Some people seem to approach Christianity and their faith in Jesus as if He were going to be some sort of household pet.  Do we think it’s important for our kids to have exposure to spiritual things?  If so, what kinds of things and does it fit with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or other religion best?  What is best in keeping with my own belief system and worldview?  There are many factors that some consider, and again, that’s not bad.  But there’s one problem with it: Jesus is not calm, safe and non-threatening. 

In Philip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew, he states: “Two words one could never think of applying to Jesus of the Gospels: boring and predictable.  How is it, then, that the church has tamed such a character – has, in Dorothy Sayers’ words, ‘very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies?’”

What kind of a Jesus are you following?  What kind of Jesus do you want?  Do you really want a Jesus who kow-tows to what you want, who is subservient and so boringly predictable that there is no mystery left in the Son of God?  I don’t want that kind of Jesus.  Thank goodness we don’t have to settle for that kind of Lord!

PRAYER: You are so far beyond our grasping, Lord!  Be the God of mystery and surprise in our lives each and every day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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