DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/15/17 – What We Grab, Grabs Us

DayBreaks for 3/15/17: What We Grab, Grabs Us

There is a story that is told about a mighty eagle that hovered over a lake and suddenly swooped down and caught a two-foot long fish in its talons. Slowly, the bird rose with its ten pound catch, but when it reached about 1,000 feet, it began to descend, until it splashed into the water. Later, both the bird and fish were found dead. Apparently the fish was too heavy for the eagle, but it could not let go, for its talons were embedded in the flesh of the fish.

There is a very real truth illustrated in this story – one that we are loathe to admit when we are in the throes of temptation. The truth is simply this: what we grab, grabs us.

It doesn’t matter what the cause may be, but when we are in a difficult situation, perhaps when we are overly tired, lonely, depressed, frustrated we often reach out for things that the hope will help us cope with the situation or at the very least take some of the pain away for a while. And so, some grab a bottle only to find themselves later on to be alcoholics. Others grab drugs in order to escape, thinking to themselves that “I can handle this”, but of course, they can’t. Any time we start a sentence with “I can…” we are bound to be in trouble because we forget that we can’t do anything good without the power of the Spirit. Still others reach out for companionship, for someone who will listen to their tale of woe and injustice about their spouse and how the spouse isn’t meeting their needs for closeness. They may find themselves in the arms of another person before long only to realize too late that those arms are pulling them down to a broken marriage, family, shame, guilt and a lifetime of pain worse than they could have imagined.

Nearly anyone observing the eagle in the story could have told the eagle that it shouldn’t try to carry such a big fish. But the eagle believed it could handle what it has grabbed. That untruth led to the eagle’s demise.

Sin, no matter the shape or form, no matter the “reason” behind the temptation, takes hold of us after we’ve dabbled in it and if left uncleansed will kill us.

Beware what you grab hold of today. It could kill you tomorrow!

We have a higher purpose, a higher calling as His children: 1 Peter 2:9 (MSG)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you…

If we are going to grab on to something, let us grab on to this: 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV) – Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

PRAYER: Lord, our grasping is often brought about by a desperate condition in our life and so we grab for those things that we believe may help us stay sane and survive. Give us the wisdom to be careful about what we grab hold of and what we need to run away from. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/25/16 – The Problem is on the Inside

DayBreaks for 10/25/16 – The Problem is on the Inside

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

I was downtown at our local newspaper just this past week, dropping off some articles about an upcoming community wide seminar that we’ll be hosting at church in November.  It was just slightly after 2 in the afternoon, and I walked up to the door and found it locked, even though there were people inside.  The owner/editor of the paper saw me and came running to the door and unlocked it.  It seems that they were having problems with their burglar alarm and the repair man was there to work on it.  It reminded me of a story that I read by Max Lucado that I’d like to share with you.  In When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado writes:

“I rolled out of bed early—real early. I’d been on vacation for a couple of weeks, and I was rested. My energy level was high, so I dressed to go to the church office. My wife, Denalyn, tried to convince me not to go.

“It’s the middle of the night,” she mumbled. “What if a burglar tries to break in?”

“There had been an attempted break-in at the office a few weeks previously.  Ignoring my wife’s concern, I drove to the church, entered the office complex, disarmed the alarm, and then re-armed it.

“A few seconds later the sirens screamed. Somebody is trying to break in! I raced down the hall, turned off the alarm, ran back to my office, and dialed 911. After I hung up, it occurred to me that the thieves could get in before the police arrived. I dashed back down the hall and re-armed the system.

“They won’t get me,” I mumbled defiantly as I punched in the code.

“As I turned, the sirens blared again. I disarmed the alarm and reset it. I walked to a window to look for the police. The alarm sounded a third time. Once again I disarmed it and reset it.

“Walking back to my office, the alarm sounded again. I disarmed it. Wait a minute; this alarm system must be fouled up. I called the alarm company.

“Our alarm system keeps going off,” I told the fellow who answered. “We’ve either got some determined thieves or a malfunction.”

“There could be one other option,” he said. “Did you know that your building is equipped with a motion detector?”

“Then the police arrived. “I think the problem is on the inside, not the outside,” I told them, embarrassed that I was the culprit setting of the alarm.

“Am I the only one to blame an inside problem on an outside source?

“Alarms sound in your world as well. Heaven knows you don’t silence life’s alarm by pretending they aren’t screaming. But heaven also knows it’s wise to look in the mirror before you peek out the window.”

Let’s face it: there’s lots of temptation all around us, but that’s all it is: temptation.  The sin is inside our imaginations, minds and hearts.  When we sin, it is a problem that comes from inside us, and it will continue to be a problem until we learn not to blame everything and everyone else – and begin to confess our need to the One who can give us new hearts and minds that are hungry to please Him. 

PRAYER:  We confess, Lord Jesus, that there is really nothing good within us as humans.  It is only as Your Spirit lives in us that we can be freed from the power of sin.  Help us to want to do what is right, to bring you glory, to stop hurting you through what we do and think and say.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/4/16 – Scratching the Itch

DayBreaks for 8/04/16 – Scratching the Itch

When I was a kid, I sometimes got into poison ivy. The key to poison ivy, once you have it, is not to scratch. Restraining yourself is hard, for your skin itches and you want relief. But scratching only makes poison ivy worse.

Greediness works the same way. We get infected, and we want to scratch, although we know we shouldn’t do so. Possessing more and more appears to provide relief, but only makes the situation worse. We keep scratching, but it’s no solution and it certainly doesn’t solve the real problem in our souls.

Jesus issues a warning inspired by a squabble over inheritance, but one that all of us need to hear. He says: “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Clarence Jordan’s translation of this verse brings out its original earthiness. Here’s what Jesus says according to Jordan: “You all be careful and stay on your guard against all kinds of greediness. For a person’s life is not for the piling up of possessions.”

In these few words, Jesus rejects much of what keeps our society humming. He warns us against greed, avarice, the desire to possess more than we need, more than we can use, more than we want. In other words, the more we scratch the itch, rather than getting better…it just gets worse!

PRAYER: Father, you have been so generous with us, but it seems we are never satisfied and we keep on scratching the itch and wanting more. May we learn to be grateful…and content. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 2/25/15 – A Subtler Game

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DayBreaks for 2/25/15: A Subtler Game    

From the Lenten devotion of Fr. Robert Barron about the second temptation of Jesus:

“Having failed at his first attempt to tempt Jesus in a direct and relatively crude way, the devil plays a subtler game: “The devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.”

“This is the more rarefied, more refined temptation of power. Power is one of the greatest motivating factors in all of human history. Alexander the Great, Caesar, Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, Charlemagne, the Medicis, Charles V, Henry VIII, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Nixon, and Kissinger – all the way down to your boss at work. These are all people who have been seduced, at one time or another, by the siren song of power.

“We notice something very disquieting in the account of this temptation: the devil admits that all the kingdoms of the world have been given to him. He owns and controls them. That is quite a sweeping indictment of the institutions of political power. But it resonates with our sense that attaining high positions of power and not becoming corrupt is difficult to do.

“It might be useful here to recall the two great names for the devil in the Bible: ho Satanas, which means the adversary, and ho diabolos, which means the liar or the deceiver. Worldly power is based upon accusation, division, adversarial relationships, and lies. It’s the way that earthly rulers have always done their business.

“A tremendous temptation for Jesus was to use his Messianic authority to gain worldly power, to become a king. But if he had given in to this, he would not be consistently a conduit of the divine grace. He would be as remembered today as, perhaps, one of the governors of Syria or satraps of Babylon (and do you remember the first-century satrap of Babylon?)

“No, Jesus wanted to be the one through whom the divine love surged into creation, and so he said to Satan, It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.

Who are you worshiping?  Who are you serving?

PRAYER: Jesus, it is perhaps because of our lowly estate that we so hunger for power.  Thank you for demonstrating how to deal with this temptation and give us the discernment to recognize when we are being tempted in this way!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 2/16/15 – The Thing About Addicts

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DayBreaks for 2/16/15: The Thing About Addicts  

1 Corinthians 6:12 (KJV) – All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Can I be really honest with you?  You may not much care for me after reading this, but I haven’t always been very compassionate towards addicts.  I just couldn’t understand addiction.  I wondered why addicts didn’t just stop…or how they got into the position of being an addict in the first place.  I was rather, at least inside my heart and mind, “high and holy” about it all.  I viewed it as just plain sin and lack of willpower.  Period.  And though it sounds harsh, I figured that if they wanted to quit badly enough then they should just quit.  Not very nice of me, nor even very Christian.  I used to think that way, but I don’t any longer.  God have mercy on me for my lack of compassion and understanding!

You see, when I was younger, I prided myself on my will-power.  (How stupid is that!!!!)  And pride is what it was, pure and simple.  Whatever things I did struggle with in terms of sin at that time, I figured that I’d eventually “whip” and I’d be victorious over those sins or attitudes – I had that much confidence in my will-power.  It isn’t until later in life, after we’ve been beaten, whipped, kicked and knocked senseless by our continuing desire to sin that I realized how wrong I was – about addicts, about my own will-power and many, many things.

I suppose that there are all sorts of things we can be addicted to: alcohol, cocaine, heroin, crack, pornography, uppers, downers, cigarettes – all the usual suspects.  But today as I was reading the bulletin insert, this line jumped out at me: Now, you may not be addicted.  Maybe there’s nothing that “controls” you to the point in which it impacts every aspect of your life, unless we want to talk about sin, which of course applies to us all.

Ouch.  When I read that, I thought, “Wow!  I’m an addict…because my failures prove to me how much I am addicted to sin!”  And I know, having been a sinner now for well over half a century, that I do not have the will power, strength, determination – whatever word you wish to use – to overcome my addiction to sin.  I’m an addict, after all.  And so are you.

You may say, “Wait a minute!  I’m not addicted to any of the things you listed.”  Maybe not.  But, are you addicted to shopping and spending money you shouldn’t?  Is it compulsive?  How about eating?  Chocolate, anyone?  Anger, bitterness, a critical spirit, an unforgiving heart that you just can’t seem to get a handle on?  Let me say that you are an addict, just as much as the crack addict or bum on skid row with a bottle in a bag whose breath reeks of alcohol. 

Check out this passage from Titus – and note who is writing it.  It is none less than the apostle Paul who says, Titus 3:3 (NIV) At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…

Did you catch it?  Notice what Paul says enslaved us…”all kinds of passions and pleasure.”  That, my friends, is addiction.  And though the price for all our sins has been paid, we’re still addicts…we can’t ever, not in this world, kick the habit of sin.  Paul doesn’t say that Jesus saved us and we quit doing all that stuff – in fact he makes the opposite point – “not because of righteous things we had done…”.  He saved us as sinners and until we die, he will continue saving us as sinners!

Which brings me to the final point: one of the most successful things in helping addicts overcome their addictions is accountability groups, such as AA or NA.  And that’s why we need the fellowship of others in the church.  That’s what the church is, in a sense: an accountability group for those who are addicts to sin.  It should be the one place where we can be honest about our addictions and find help – not criticism and condemnation.  One thing the church surely isn’t: a collection of sinless folk.  The longer we pretend that is what it is, the longer we will hinder the gospel.

PRAYER: God, my name is Galen, and I am an addict to sin.  Thank You, Jesus, for paying for all my sin and your patience with me as I struggle through this world.  How I long to walk the streets of the heavenly city, no longer an addict!  Forgive me for my pride in the past and even now.  I plead your grace and mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 1/30/15 – Especially in the Wilderness

DayBreaks for 01/30/15 – Especially in the Wilderness

From the DayBreaks archive, January, 2005:

 

Matthew 22:36-38 (NLT) – “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”  Jesus replied, ” ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Think of all that Israel went through in the Old Testament.  Although we tend to think that their lives were always hard, they did have good seasons, especially during the reigns of David and Solomon and a few of the other godly kings.  And I would imagine that at the time the greatest commandment was given in the Law of Moses, it was a pretty good time, too.  And if not, at least I’m convinced that Israel found it much easier to love God above anything else in all existence when things were going well for them as individuals and as a nation.  Why do I believe that to be true?  Simply because it’s that way in my own life.

But things aren’t always great, are they?  There were plenty of times that Israel found themselves besieged by the enemy at the gates, being carted off to captivity because of their indiscretions, and punished severely.  Did they find it easy to love God at those times?  Not if they were like us, they didn’t.  At least not to start with.  They railed against Him, beat upon Him with their fists and words, assailed Him in their hearts and minds – and loved Him little, if at all, during those times.  But over time, their tune changed and they repented and fell in love again. 

Frederich Buechner wrote: To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken.  But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless.  Even in the wilderness – especially in the wilderness – you shall love Him.

I’ve got a good friend right now who is in the wilderness.  His father recently died – very unexpectedly.  Just shortly before that, they’ve learned that one of their children may have a very, very serious disease, and that the future for her may be uncertain.  Within the past year he also lost his job, moved twice, changed churches due to the move, left their friends behind in their old town.  In short, just about every major life change has happened to them in the past 12 months.  They are living in the wilderness.  The wilderness is dry, dusty and windblown.  It’s full of strange sounds, sights and creepy things that make your skin crawl.  Yet, through it all, they are loving God and trusting Him.  They have understood the great commandment – and kept it, even in the wilderness.

It’s easy to love God in the Land that Flows with Milk and Honey.  It’s hard in the wilderness – and this is where we meet our truest test, where we learn the most about ourselves, but more importantly, about our God.

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Lord, we don’t like the wilderness and we don’t like struggle and hardship.  Teach us the lessons of the wilderness that You need us to learn that we might learn and grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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