DayBreaks for 3/31/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #8 – Apart is Temporary, Together Is Forever

The Military Family Advocacy Program

DayBreaks for 3/31/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #8 – Apart is Temporary, Together is Forever

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/30/20:

For today’s musical pairing, listen to “S.T.A.Y.” from Hanz Zimmer’s “Interstellar” soundtrack. Note that all the songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist here. See video below.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” – Romans 8:15

“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” – Revelation 22:20

Day 9. 775,306 confirmed cases, 37,083 deaths globally.

My youngest daughter was born on the other side of the world to a family I never met. Since her heart had not formed properly, she was left in a baby safe-house outside an orphanage and eventually found her way to people who produced the funding needed for life-saving surgery. Americans and Chinese, most of them followers of Jesus, helped her heal and grow.

She was three years old when her picture appeared on our Facebook feed. She needed a home and a “forever family.” My wife and I did not need to make a decision. We simply recognized our daughter.

Adoption is a mysterious thing. It’s not a resolution to form something new. It’s a realization that something beautiful was already formed, and we are only now beginning to realize it. My wife fought like a lioness to bring her home. “My child is stuck in another country,” she said. Our little girl called me Baba (“daddy”) when we spoke across computer screens. Although we started on opposite sides of the planet, separated by oceans and borders and languages and cultures, somehow she was a part of our family from the very beginning.

So we made our way around the world and found a little girl who was 37 inches and 39 pounds of laughter and energy and determined affection. Then we brought her home. We were apart for a little while, and now we are forever family.

You say, O Lord, we are adopted. As we watch the virus reaching swiftly across the face of the Earth, as we see it take root more firmly in our own soil, we take comfort that you have made us your children.

When you look upon us, you do not see strangers. You see your sons and daughters. You loved us before we knew you existed. You see our suffering… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – The Suffering in Suffering

From the Fiery Furnace – A Sign of Hope

DayBreaks for 3/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – The Suffering in Suffering

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/26/20:

For today’s musical pairing, Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen by Kjartan Sveinsson. See video below.

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, Your Majesty.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’” – Daniel 3:24–25

Day 7. 511,603 confirmed cases, 22,993 deaths globally.

The suffering in this present moment is not captured in tallies and numbers. Alongside the loss of life is the loss of livelihoods, the loss of innocence, the loss of a sense of security. The scent of fear is in the air, and in the midst of the pandemic our epidemic of loneliness grows deeper.

Suffering has a tendency to isolate. It can carve us away from community, set us apart from the crowd, and strip away all our distractions and illusions and consolations. No one can experience our pain for us. No one can take it away. No one can cover it over with soothing words or glittering ideas. Even when we suffer together, we suffer alone.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,” Mother Teresa wrote, “and the feeling of being unloved.” Now the pandemic has made our spiritual isolation physical. We find ourselves in an enforced solitude, where our fears and anxieties echo in the emptiness. We ache for the presence of others.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and hurled into the fiery furnace together, and they emerged unbound and unharmed. God met them in the fire. Christians are not wrong to read the story in the light of the Incarnation. Christ lowered himself into our condition. He made himself present with us. Christ entered into our sufferings and brought the love of God with him… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: Thank you, O Lord, that you are with us in our hour of need. Thank you that you have made yourself present in all the height and depth of our suffering. May we likewise enter into the sufferings of others and be bearers of your love there.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/13/20 – WHAT is Jesus to You?

Jesus icon

DayBreaks for 3/13/20: What is Jesus to You?

The title of this DayBreaks may seem strange. More often than not we would ask, “Who is Jesus?” In fact, Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying he was, and then he asked who they thought he was and Peter gave his outstanding confession of Jesus as the Son of God.

While it is vitally important to understand who Jesus is, it is also instructive to consider what  he is. The answer may vary from person to person depending on where Jesus has met them in their lives and in their need, but I love the way that Zach Williams puts it in his song, Chain Breaker. Here’s what he has to say in the chorus of the song:

“If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker.”

As with most of us, we scurry about life taking things for granted and we don’t think often enough about what others have done for us. What is Jesus to you? Take a moment now to think about what Jesus is to you and what he has done for you. Has he met you in your pain? Has he found you when you were wandering in a world of sin and despair and led you out? What has he freed your from? Once you’ve thought about it, pause for a while and give him the thanks and praise he deserves for all he’s done for you.

Link to Chain Breaker on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TtqFg4dzyI

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the pain in my life you’ve taken, the shame and guilt you’ve lifted and how you found me when I was lost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to YouTube video with coronavirus (COVID-19) facts, symptoms and prevention tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/12/20 – A Harder God to Believe In

Image result for hard to believe

DayBreaks for 3/12/20: A Harder God to Believe In

I don’t know who said this, but I found it resonated with my own spirit:

“What I am displeased with is my own living of life.  I feel an acute sense that I ought to have done better with the circumstances I was given.  This is one of the reasons why it cut me so deeply when people suggested that suffering is God’s discipline — because I find it so very, very easy to believe in a God who is profoundly disappointed in me. 

“It seems utterly natural to believe in the Disappointed God, because I myself am disappointed.  He must be even more disappointed, I think, because his standards are so much higher than mine.  How could he not be disappointed?  That makes complete sense to me.

“It’s the other God, the God who does not experience that kind of disappointment, the God who sees me the way that Prodigal Son’s father saw him — that is the harder God for me to believe in.  It takes work for me to believe in that God.” 

It takes me no effort whatsoever to believe in a God who is very thoroughly disappointed in me.  I am now a minister of the gospel, but it took me nearly 25 years to get to this point – 25 years of secular work.  Yes, I was serving in the church all that time, but not in what I believe I was called to do.  And even though I can see how, in His wisdom, He has used all the things I did and learned in the secular work world to be a better pastor (though I still have much to learn!), I can believe He might have been frustrated with me for not going into the ministry right away (as I considered doing.) 

And, even if I concede to myself that I was still serving God and perhaps even doing what I was supposed to be doing for those 25 years, I can still look at my life and think, “Galen – you really should be further along than you are in your faith walk with Jesus.  Your faith is still shaky.  You still struggle with some of the same old sins that have plagued you for years.  You quench the Spirit from time to time – far too often, actually.  You are not generous.  You can be envious.  You could be a much better husband than you are and a better pastor to the flock, too.”  Those thoughts come easily.  And I’m sure that similar thoughts come easily to you in your own situation.

What a change took place in my life when I learned that God was running towards me to embrace me and weep at my feeble attempts to come to Him!  Do I believe that that God is real – that He is the God I’ve sought to serve all these years?  Yes…but it is harder.  It is harder to accept grace than to live with the whip of the lash.  I feel I deserve the lash, but instead of the lash on my back, I feel the Father’s arm as He puts on the robe of righteousness that Christ wore around His shoulders.  I feel His tears against my cheek – not tears of sadness or despair, but tears of exultant joy.  He takes pleasure in me…and that’s a hard God to believe in.

PRAYER: How desperately we need reminders that You run to us, not from us, and that You rejoice in us through Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/10/20 – My Struggle With Repentance

Image result for repentance

DayBreaks for 3/10/20: My Struggle with Repentance

Repentance. I think I know what it’s supposed to look like – a turning away from sinful practices and a return to the pathway of the Anointed One, a turning away from putting myself on the throne to carrying my cross to Calvary. Scripture says that God forgives those who repent. Acts 2:38 and 3:19 seem to link repentance with forgiveness. And that’s what terrifies me.

You see, no matter how hard I’ve tried, here I am bearing down on my 68th year, still struggling with some of the same old sins. Have I cried out to God for forgiveness? Countless times. Have I begged him to take those temptations away from me, to set me free from it? Over and over and over. Has he done it? No, not entirely.

Perhaps he lets me continue to struggle with it like he did Paul (not that I’m anything like Paul!), because if I suddenly was relieved of those temptations I may grown too proud when my greater need is to be reminded of my sinfulness and dependence on the grace of One who can even save someone like me.

But this weekend a thought occurred to me and the more I’ve noodled it around, the more it makes sense to me. It’s basically this: God has had to make up for human shortcoming since the dawn of human history. He had a plan for it then and it still holds true today. It can basically be summed up in the words mercy and grace. Here’s how I think it must work regarding repentance: just as he knows my obedience will never be full and complete as long as I’m tied to the flesh, he also knows my repentance will never be full and complete. If my salvation is dependent on the “once and forever” kind of repentance that never struggles with that sin – no matter how many times I tell God I’m sorry and resolve to obey – then I’m doomed to be engulfed by fire and brimstone for all eternity.

But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it?  God knows that my human nature will never perfectly repent any more than I can perfect obey (the two are closely linked, after all), and just as he makes up for my sinfulness with his mercy and grace, counting my obedience as complete in Christ, so I think he makes up by his grace for my failure to completely, once and forever never-to-sin-that-way-again repent.

Does God want me to give in to those sins again? Of course not! But he knows I’m frail and weak and seemingly just not able to completely and forever repent.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

PRAYER: God, I truly am sorry for my sinfulness. And I say yet again to you, “I repent” and I mean that. But if I fail, I am grateful for the amazing grace that you have surrounded me with and that you’ll still love and welcome me as your child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/05/20 – Job and the Worst Day Ever

Image result for job and his friends

DayBreaks for 3/5/20: Job and the Worst Day Ever

I have always admired Job. Perhaps it’s because of how much God admired him and bragged on him. It’s hard not to admire someone about whom God is prone to boast.

You know the story: a messenger comes and tells him that some of his flocks and servants were killed in a Sabean raid. In rapid succession another messenger comes and tells him that the “fire of God” fell from the sky and killed the sheep and more servants. The third messenger proclaims the death of more servants and the camels at the hands of the Chaldeans. In short order, Job has gone from wealth to being totally bereft of any wealth or business.

Job’s response? Apparently nothing. Perhaps he realized that all those things had been given by God and he was merely the caretaker. Perhaps he reasoned that it was just “stuff” and could be replaced. We aren’t told.

But then one more messenger arrives with the worst news of all: a wind struck the home where all of his children were celebrating and every single one is dead.

Has there ever been anyone who had a worse day than Job, who lost more in such a short time? In his March 4, 2020 devotion, Michael Card reflected on this catastrophe and wrote:

“It is vitally important to really hear the first two words of chapter 1, verse 20.  They say it all.  “At this,” it reads, Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head.  These were the prescribed, cultural things he knew and could do without thinking in his numbed state.  They would have been expected of his by his community.  For the lack of a better term, Job made the motions of entering into mourning.
What he does next, however, is totally unexpected, even unimaginable.  Until this moment nothing remotely like it has happened in the Bible.  Till now Job has responded as he should have, as he was expected to respond, as you and I would probably respond.  What he does next seems unthinkable, almost impossible.
“Then he fell to the ground in worship.”

What would my reaction have been to such an event? I will never be as rich as Job or have as many children, but I get a hint at my reaction when little “disasters” hit me. Is my first reaction to fall on the ground in worship? No, not even close.

We will all have bad days but I doubt any of them will be worse than Job’s worst day ever. How will we react to them?

PRAYER: God, help us to keep perspective and remember that You deserve to be worshipped at all times, but that perhaps we need to turn to you in worship the most when our times are the hardest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/20 – An Unending Honeymoon

Image result for honeymoon

DayBreaks for 2/27/20: An Unending Honeymoon

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

If you are married, think back to your honeymoon.  I would certainly hope that it was a time of great joy for you and your beloved.  Honeymoon’s are supposed to be that way – a time when you can simply focus on one another and the delight that fills the heart and put away all other concerns.  It’s great while it lasts, isn’t it?

In his book The Pleasures of God, John Piper shares why God’s love is superior to any love we will find here on earth:

“Sometimes we joke and say about marriage, “The honeymoon is over.” But that’s because we are finite. We can’t sustain a honeymoon level of intensity and affection. We can’t foresee the irritations that come with long-term familiarity. We can’t stay as fit and handsome as we were then. We can’t come up with enough new things to keep the relationship that fresh. But God says his joy over his people is like a bridegroom over a bride. He is talking about honeymoon intensity and honeymoon pleasures and honeymoon energy and excitement and enthusiasm and enjoyment. He is trying to get into our hearts what he means when he says he rejoices over us with all his heart.

“And add to this, that with God the honeymoon never ends. He is infinite in power and wisdom and creativity and love. And so he has no trouble sustaining a honeymoon level of intensity; he can foresee all the future quirks of our personality and has decided he will keep what’s good for us and change what isn’t; he will always be as handsome as he ever was, and will see to it that we get more and more beautiful forever; and he infinitely creative to think of new things to do together so that there will be no boredom for the next trillion ages of millenniums.” – John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 2000), p. 188

I wish I could be on a honeymoon with my bride forever and never have to worry again about the cost of eyeglasses or dental work or mortgage payments or the rising price of everything else.  I wish I could be creative enough to find new ways to express my delight in her each and every moment for as long as I live.  Alas, as she’ll tell you, I’m not that creative.  But God is.  The honeymoon love of God for us will never end nor will we ever tire of it, for our love for Him will be perfected, too.

Long ago when I first married my wife, I couldn’t conceive of a love that would get more and more beautiful as time passed.  Now, from the perspective of a few years, I can understand that such a thing can be true.  But I still can’t conceive of a love that gets “more and more beautiful forever” – yet that is precisely what we will find in Him!

PRAYER: How we long to fully experience your creative, unending, exciting, joyful, beautiful love forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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