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 10/21/20 – 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 10/15/20 – 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 10/14/20 – Hanging in the Balance

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From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The island of Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands.  As such, it has a long history.  Some of the history is beautiful and amazing, but it also has its dark moments. 

Before Kauai became part of King Kamehameha’s unified Hawaiian island kingdom, Kauai had its own kings who lived high up in the mountains in the center of the island.  The kingship would be passed from father to son as was typical in most monarchies.  When it came time for the wife of the king to give birth, she would come down from the mountain to a heiau (a holy place of worship) where she would give birth.  If the child that was born was a daughter, the baby would be automatically welcomed into the royal family.  If, however, the baby was a boy, a test was required to determine if the child was worthy to be a successor to the king.  After the child was born, the umbilical cord of the baby boy was wrapped in ti leaves and placed outside of the enclosure where the mother and baby boy would spend the night.  If the rats came during the night and ate the umbilical cord, it was believed that the boy was not worthy to be an heir to the kingdom and he would be put to death.  The boy would survive only if the umbilical cord was still intact and hadn’t been eaten by rats during the night.

As I heard about this practice of the ancient residents of Kauai, I couldn’t help but draw a contrast between this chance-laden, horrendous practice and how God deals with us.  The writer of the letter to the Romans describes our relationship with the King: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. – Romans 8:17

Are any of us worthy to be joint heirs with Jesus?  Absolutely not!  Does God leave us outside the door to see what chance may play into our future?  No.  Does He accept us only if we pass some test?  Yes, and no.  The test is a simple one: will you put your faith in My Son?  That’s it.  It’s not left to some rat to determine our fate, nor is it even up to Satan to determine our fate.  God leaves it to us, in a way, to make the choice that will allow us to be accepted as His sons and daughters. 

Have you chosen yet?  Eternity is hanging in the balance.

PRAYER: How thankful we are that You have a heart that is willing and eager to adopt us as Your children, to give us, along with Jesus, all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/12/20 – The Man Without Breath

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From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The Hawaiians have a name for those of us from the mainland who are of Caucasian descent.  They call us haoles (pronounced “how-lees”).  I never knew the meaning of that name until two weeks ago. 

In 1778, Captain Cook became the first European to visit the Hawaiian islands, then known as the Sandwich Islands.  The Hawaiians had never seen a Caucasian before, and were stunned at his pallor.  They called him a haole, which means a person “without breath.”  In other words, because he was so pale, they thought he was dead – a walking ghost perhaps, or possibly a god. 

As I heard this story, I couldn’t help but recall the Biblical account of creation: how man came to live only when God breathed into him the “breath of life.”  Our life originally found its origin in the very breath of God.  “And man became a living soul.”  It didn’t take us very long, however, before we found a way to “kill” ourselves – through our rebellion and sin.  And, once again, we were dead – spiritually, we were haoles, without life.  God wasn’t content to leave things that way however, and in writing to the Colossians, Paul said: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. –  Colossians 2:13-14

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we find an interesting note in the text: As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:20-22  How did Jesus give us life again?  By breathing into them (and us!) His Holy Spirit!

We are not people without breath.  We are a people who have been given the very breath of God.  Let’s not look and act like we’re dead to anything – except to sin! 

PRAYER: For physical life, we give You our thanks.  For reviving our dead souls through Your sacrifice and Spirit, we rejoice!  May we look and act as those who have been revived and raised from the deadness of our sin!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 10/09/20 – 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. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/05/20 – Being Carried

It was so long ago but I will never forget how precious it was to carry my children! I even have vague memories of being carried by my father’s strong arms when I was little. There is nothing quite as sweet as when a little child wraps their arms around your neck, puts their head on your shoulder and snuggles in.

There were times after our second and third children came along that I’d be carrying a couple of them while my wife carried another. I must confess that by that time they were getting older…and heavier!…and that at times it was hard to carry them for a long time.

A little child has no conception of the fact that they are making your arm muscles burn until they hurt! They don’t think about the reality that the parent is carrying their full weight. All they know is that they are being held, and carried, and they feel safe.

We are told that we have a Father that carries us (Ps. 68.19, NLT2): Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. But here’s a key difference between how God carries us and how I carried my children (Dt. 33.27a, NLT2): The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.

You see, my arms got weary and tired, but God’s almighty and everlasting arms will never tire of carrying us! He won’t have to put a single one of us down to regain his strength. And many have been the times when he was carrying us and we were unaware of how he bore our weight and did all the work for us.

There is also a commonality between my carrying of our kids and God’s carrying of us: it is a delight to the father to carry his kids!

Are you weary? Struggling to even stand let alone move forward? Run to God, let him pick you up, feel his massive almighty and everlasting arms underneath and around you, rest your head on his shoulder…and find peace!

PRAYER: Thank you for carrying us and holding us close to your heart, inviting us to run to you for peace! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/01/20 – Rag Tags and Ne’er Do Wells

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You are undoubtedly aware of “Who’s Who” lists that tout exceptional people. We may look up to them, may envy them and see them as the movers and shakers who change the world. What a waste – at least in God’s economy! Consider those rag tags and ne’er do wells that God chooses:

The father of the Jewish nation was an inveterate liar who twice said his wife wasn’t his wife. He traded his integrity for his own skin without a thought to what it would mean for Sarah. Where was his faith? Does that sound like a man who “believed God’s promises”? Who chose him to change the world and eternity as the ancestor of the Messiah? God.

A man 80 years old who looked like he’d live his life as a prince but who is now an outlaw – a murderer, in fact. On the run, hiding in sheep pens in the desert. Who would think of asking a killer to carry the Ten Commandments? God.

A shepherd boy who is sitting on a throne let his lust get the best of him. He got a woman pregnant and killed her husband in an attempt to cover things up. And then he went about his everyday life as if nothing wrong has taken place. Who would dare to say he was a man after God’s own heart? God.

A reluctant prophet is giving his calling but runs the opposite way, gets swallowed up by a fish and barfed out in the surf. Who would think he would be a good candidate to preach repentance to the enemies of his people? God.

Jacob was a shifty as they come. Gomer was a prostitute. Sarah laughed at God. Jesus’ ancestors were adulteresses, prostitutes and a woman who took baths in all the wrong places. Who would include such people in the ancestral line of the Son of God? God.

And you know, when I come to think of it, we’ve all traded our integrity for safety, hidden things we’re ashamed of, failed to act in faith, let our lust take over when it should have been put down.

What’s the point here? It’s not about the horrible those people did and not even about the horrible things I’ve done, but it is that God uses regular, ordinary, everyday people to change the world. Not superheroes. Why? Because whatever we lack in terms of perfection or righteousness, God makes up for it with his love.

You may long for God to use you but you block him because of your past (or present). Don’t give up on God because he won’t give up on you! Let him use you to change the world one encounter at a time.

PRAYER: I am comforted, Lord, knowing that you can still use a sinner like me to do your work. For those who doubt that you can use them, give them reassurance that they can be used just as they are to change the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>