DayBreaks for 1/08/18 – A Fisherman Extraordinaire

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DayBreaks for 1/08/18: A Fisherman Extraordinaire

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I’ve recently finished preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1:1-11 and I’ve really come to appreciate the apostle Peter more than I ever had before.  I have always liked John, and Paul was, without a doubt, an incredible advocate for the Christ.  Peter – well, I suppose that I remembered too many of the stories from my childhood that seemed to emphasize his flaws.  Peter didn’t write a gospel, but he almost did: most believe that the gospel of Mark was a collection of stories that Peter told about living with Jesus for 3 years.  If so (and it is quite likely true that Peter told those things to Mark who wrote them down), it is interesting how Peter presents himself, especially at the beginning:

  • A man who brashly asks to walk on the water, but who was last seen sinking and on the verge of drowning before the Lord lifted him up;
  • We’ve seen Peter pretending to be a ninja when he attacks the high priest’s servant with a sword during the arrest of Jesus – and we learn that his skills as a swordsman aren’t very good because he wasn’t swinging at the ear, but the man’s head;
  • We find him falling asleep in the prayer meeting Jesus organized in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed;
  • We see him sputtering lies and nonsense, denying his dearest friend – at precisely the moment when Jesus most needed him as a friend.

Why did Peter tell those true stories?  Because they make Peter easier to trust, to believe in.  And they give us hope, too.  That’s the irony of a humble man: the more he admits his failings, the more likely we are to throw in our lot with him – to like him.  There is, after all, no fool as dangerous as a man who doesn’t know he’s a fool.  But a fool who confesses it and learns from it – ah, there is a man or woman we can trust, for they are learning life’s lessons and gaining in wisdom.

But what Peter doesn’t tell at all is that he became the undisputed leader of the 12.  In spite of all the above, Jesus never gave up hope in Peter.  He saw things in Peter that Peter never could have imagined.  Peter had likely only ever dreamed of taking over his father’s fishing business and being able to put bread and butter on the table for his family.  And then one day, a stranger came along the sea shore and spoke words that stirred Peter’s heart, and Peter accepted the man’s invitation to learn to catch men instead of fish. 

There are many days when I look at my list of failures (and it’s certainly a longer list than Peter’s!) and think that I’ll be lucky if I can get the job as the groundskeeper outside of the pearly gates – forget about even getting inside.  There are times I’ve felt that surely God must be saving the deepest cell in hell for me and Satan.  When I begin to feel that way, I need to stop listening to Satan as he tries to fill my head and heart with discouragement and start listening to Jesus, who whispers to me that he loves me, that all my sins have already been paid for and taken away and thrown into the depths of the sea.  I need to remember that he calls me precious, beloved, his child.  In short, Jesus whispers to me, “Remember Peter?  See how he turned out?  You’ll be no different, because it wasn’t Peter that made himself change – it was me who changed him, and I’m going to do the same thing with you.”

I know that I’ll not be the second-coming of Peter.  But I don’t have to be.  I just have to be who God made me to be, and who He is changing me to become. 

Peter never would have dreamed that he’d preach the first gospel sermon on Pentecost and that 3000 would believe through the words that God gave him to speak.  After he’d denied Christ in the wee hours of Good Friday, he never dreamed he’d have the courage to go to the cross himself and give his life for Jesus (as Jesus had gone to the cross and given his life for Peter.)  By God’s grace, Peter became all that God meant for him to be.

By God’s grace, we, too, shall become what He wants us to be.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for your whispers of reassurance that you love us just as we are and that you’re constantly at work to see us become the finished work of art that you intended us to be before we were born.  Thank you for the love that refuses to let us go, no matter how great our failures!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/07/17 – Shattered Dreams

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DayBreaks for 12/07/17: Shattered Dreams

NOTE: Galen is traveling for the next few days.

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Who among us hasn’t had dreams that were destroyed by one of the twists and turns of life?  Dreams die hard, and they hurt when they die.  We must live with the knowledge and in the presence of that death for the rest of our days.  And sometimes, the ghosts of those dreams come back to haunt us.

I spoke today with a woman who recently became a Christian and who attends another church.  She told me that in her new congregation she doesn’t seem to find the power to overcome things that she once sensed in her prior church, and it has led her to wonder if God is angry at her, if He’s left her because of something foolish or accidental that she’s done.  I’m sure that we’ve all wondered where God was when life became too much to bear. 

Much of modern advertising is designed to convince us that if we have more in life that we’ll get more out of life.  Not so, says Larry Crabb, in Shattered Dreams: “Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum.  It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

When it comes to spiritual things, we are all bankrupt before the Father.  People who have true joy are God-dependant, not self-sufficient.  They yearn for a better relationship with Him through difficult times and find their joy in that relationship, not the fulfillment of their dreams. 

What gives you the greatest fulfillment in your life?  If it’s not God and His Kingdom, we need to rethink our priorities and dream different dreams.

Matthew 5:3 Matthew 5:3 (KJV) – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PRAYER:  We humans have a hard time with contentment, Lord.  We want and do not have, and we don’t especially want the things that are best for us, like some medicine that might taste bad.  Help us learn to trust in Your wisdom for our lives and for what will bring us true joy and meaning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/25/17 – What We Are

DayBreaks for 10/25/17: What We Are

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

What are we?  Ask that question to a variety of “experts” and you’ll get different answers:

A biochemist would probably say that a human is composed of 65% oxygen, 18% carbon, 10% hydrogen – and then goes into a myriad of other atomic components in various trace amounts.  99% is made up of those three, plus nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus.  Whoopee!

One philosopher’s definition follows: “I believe a human being is a creation containing two unique parts, equally important for our ability to interact with everything that surrounds us along an endless mysterious path known as time. One part is crystal clear; it is the physical and material matter occupying space, known as the body. This form of matter has size, shape, and dimensions and can be experienced empirically. The other part of the human being is harder to understand since it has no shape, size, or dimensions and cannot be experienced by empirical knowledge, it is the mind.”

A theologian might say: “The psalmist would say that the riddle of ben-‘adam is hidden in the mystery of God. Only faith can envision the point of convergence. Humankind recognizes itself fully only in the recognition of the Being from whom all reality arises.  The claim of the psalm is that we can say “human being” only after we have learned to say “God.”

Here’s another one that I won’t even venture to try to classify, other than to say it sounds very new-agey: “Human being may be defined as the humantrue life of the individual, lived according to her or his own supraconsciousness of fulfilled intellect, so that the co-operative being of humanity is this undeniable humantrue awareness on the part of, and between, each and every individual, with no authority, meaning or faith above or beyond that. The human individual is a mind and body of the human species, led by the mind. Human being is being fully and truly human.  The second and most important objective is to point out that true human being is to be defined by supraconsciousness – that when both our thinking and activity submits to the guidance of the postconscious which is also embodied in the structure of our society, then will we be wholly fulfilled, i.e., humantrue.”

Yuck.  Drives me nuts.  It appears that there is great confusion about what it is to be human.  We focus on our humanity a lot, but is that the right thing to do? 

I like (very much) this view of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, quoted in Philip Yancey’s Rumors of Another World: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.  We are so focused on our flesh and bone that we neglect the spirit and soul.  We think we are humans who, every once in a while, have spiritual insights or spiritual encounters with God, Jesus and the Spirit.  They may be wonderful moments of ecstasy and inspiration…but they are not as present and real to us as the flesh, muscle, blood and sinew that courses through our veins. 

De Chardin would have us remember our origin, and our true definition: that we are spiritual, formed in the image of the One who was and is and is to be, and that we are destined to return to Him and to live as spirits (albeit with some form of incorruptible body, it would appear) eternally.  It is our humanness that is fleeting, it is our humanness that is nothing more than a cloak that hides the spirit.  We would do well to remember our true nature and to concentrate our efforts, attention and affections accordingly.

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 (NIV) Remember him–before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

PRAYER: In spite of all appearances, Lord, help us to live wisely in our temporary coats of flesh, so that our spirits, the real us, may live with You forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/19/17 – The Marriage Simulator

DayBreaks for 10/19/17: The Marriage Simulator

Do you know how pilots and astronauts train? They have simulators that seek to create various scenarios that could come up during a flight/mission so that they know how to counter any bad things that might happen.

You may have played with a flight simulator game on your computer or even been fortunate enough to sit in a real flight simulator and “play”. For those of us who aren’t pilots and who will never be astronauts, it may be great fun, but for real pilots and astronauts, there are those who say that the simulators are perhaps the most stressful part of their job. Why? Because they are committed to their careers as pilots and astronauts. They know that if they crash and burn in a simulation that it could happen in real life. For me, if I crash in a simulation game, I simply shrug it off and start the game over. To me, it’s just mindless entertainment without consequences. Not so for real pilots. I can see why it would be stressful for them!

I read a great blog post today about those who think that co-habitation before marriage can prevent a divorce. On the surface, it seems to make some sense, doesn’t it? Isn’t it like being in a “marriage simulator”? After all, you’re living with the person just as if you were married!

Except it’s not just like you’re married. Not at all. Why? Because those who cohabit don’t have the commitment to a marriage – just like I don’t have a commitment to a flight simulator. Instead of trying to figure out what they must do or change in order to be able to stay, those who simply live together before marriage are much more likely to think, “What can I do to get out?” when things get tough, as they inevitably will.

The average cohabitation is 18 months. Sadly, during that time, many have children as if they were married. Those kids are more likely to have their parents break up before they are 5 years of age than those who are in a committed marriage relationship.

Marriage isn’t a simulation or game, and cohabitation isn’t likely to last without that commitment. And one more thing: couples who never go to church are twice as likely to divorce as those who attend regularly. You see, it’s about commitment, folks: commitment to your spouse and to your faith. And that is the glue that holds people together.

(Here’s the link to the blog which also has a list of 16 key questions that co-habitors versus marrieds are likely to answer differently.)

PRAYER: Lord, in our foolishness we have come to believe things that sound exciting and fun instead of true. Help us discern truth about our marriages and our relationships! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/12/17 – Take This Poor Indian, Too!

DayBreaks for 9/12/17: Take This Poor Indian, Too

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

When you go to the grocery store (or sporting goods store!) the next time, if you buy something, you have to give something in exchange to get it.  It may be currency that you hand over, it may be a debit or credit card – but one way or another, in order to get what you want, you have to give up something.  It is at that moment that you make a decision about the value of what you want.  Is it worth $10?  $20?  Are you willing to part with the price that is demanded to get what you want? 

We’re used to having to pay for things.  In fact, most of us who are Baby Boomers grew up really struggling to receive anything as a gift.  There’s a pride in us that blocks our being able to be gracious recipients of anything that we haven’t had to pay for.  We often talk about having to “swallow our pride” in order to take a handout.  Sad, but true, I fear. 

And so it is that when it comes to Christianity, perhaps this is the biggest stumbling block of all.  We want to pay for our salvation.  We just can’t get it through our heads that we can’t do that.  That salvation has to come to us as a gift, freely given, to be freely received. 

An incident is related of a missionary who came into contact with a proud and powerful Indian chief.  The chief, trembling under conviction of his sin, approached the missionary and offered his belt of wampum as atonement.  “No!” said the missionary, “Christ cannot accept a sacrifice like that.”  The Indian departed, but soon returned offering his valuable rifle and the most beautiful skins he had taken in hunting.  “No!” was the reply, “Christ cannot accept those either.”  Again the Indian went away, only to return with a conscience more troubled than ever.  This time he offered his wigwam, together with his wife and child—everything for peace and pardon.  “No,” was the reply even to this, “Christ cannot accept such a sacrifice.”  At this the chief seemed utterly oppressed; but suddenly he somehow sensed the deficiency, for, lifting up tearful eyes, he cried out, “Here, Lord, take this poor Indian too!”

The chief in the story had to weigh values and what he was willing to part with.  He began with a simple wampum belt, escalated to a rifle and skins, only to be rebuffed.  At the next encounter, the chief thought he was giving all he had – his home, wife and child – truly a costly thing.  But even that wasn’t enough.  What God wanted was the man himself.  And when the chief finally understood that all God wanted was “him”, salvation came to that man. 

We’re often willing to part with things that aren’t all that important to us.  Thank goodness God didn’t feel that way.

PRAYER:  I fear, Lord, that I’m not very generous when it comes to giving up my own life and ways.  We’ve grown comfortable in our skins.  We’re willing to pay some price, but often we’re not willing to pay the full price to follow you.  I thank you that salvation cannot be earned, for our striving would become cause for pride.  Help us to open our hands to receive the gift of your life, and in gratitude to give you the gift of ours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/24/17 – On Rough Water, #3

DayBreaks for 8/24/17: On Rough Water #3

They say that the best way to tell if someone has learned anything is whether or not there has been a change in behavior. I’ve written twice recently about Peter and his adventures in water walking. And yesterday, I suggested that perhaps what Jesus meant when he said “O, you of little faith” to Peter wasn’t so much about Jesus power to keep Peter walking on the water (after all, Peter did cry out to a man walking on the water to save him!), but about whether Jesus might be willing to save a man who started sinking.

So, did Peter learn from this episode? I think he did. Consider:

FIRST: remember that Peter was the one who asked the Lord to invite him to walk on the water in the first place. Perhaps the last instance where Peter and Jesus interacted at the lake was after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, after the denial. Peter and the disciples had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee as Jesus had instructed them…and they then went fishing. Early one morning as they were out on their boats, they witnessed someone walking on the shore who tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they take in a huge haul of fish. Jesus, we’re told, was on the shore cooking fish. As soon as Peter recognized it was Jesus, he didn’t shout out to Jesus to invite him to walk on the water to the shore. I think that this is a sign that he had learned some things about himself and his weaknesses.

SECOND: in the instance during the storm, Peter asked Jesus to invite him to come to him on the water. Not this time, however. Peter jumped right in and swam to shore. What that tells me is that Peter had learned something about the love that Jesus had for him…and he couldn’t wait to get to Jesus. Peter got wet the second time, but he was so eager to get to Jesus that he got wet of his own volition the second time.

Why did Peter now trust in the Lord’s love? After all, the denial had been sandwiched in between the walking on the water and jumping in to swim to Jesus. You’d think that if Peter had doubted Jesus’ love the first time, he’d surely doubt it after the denial. But he doesn’t appear to doubted at all. Why? What had changed? The crucifixion…the crucifixion changed everything. No one who stood there that day who had the slightest inkling of what was going on could ever doubt God’s love.

We who are alive today couldn’t stand on Golgotha the day Jesus died so we could see with our eyes the length and breadth of Jesus love. We can only see it through eyes of faith. Even though he stood far off, Peter saw it firsthand. And he never doubted Jesus’ love again. Neither should we.

PRAYER: Jesus, I wonder how much more we’d understand your love if we’d stood on Calvary’s hill as you died. Help us to see it with the eyes of our souls so we will leap into the water and swim to you rather than fear rejection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>