DayBreaks for 10/16/18 – God’s Scalpel

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DayBreaks for 10/16/18: God’s Scalpel

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/10/2008:

One of the books that has most profoundly touched my life was written by C. S. Lewis after the death of his wife, Joy. He had been a single man for nearly all of his life when he met Joy Davidson, an American, and fell in love. She died, tragically after just four years, of cancer. The book is titled, A Grief Observed, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It is at one and the same time one of the most unnerving, yet triumphant messages of faith you’ll ever read. In it, Lewis grapples with death and his feelings towards himself, his dead wife, and his feelings towards God. He is brutally honest, and as time passes (the book was written over some period of time to capture the range of his emotions and thinking) he moves in his writing from great anger and bitterness towards God to where his faith in God’s goodness comes crashing to the forefront.

While in the midst of his anguish, he wrote these very insightful words describing the experience of pain in our lives: “The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed – might grow tired of his vile sport – might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.” (I warned you he was brutally honest, didn’t I?!)

Personally, I don’t believe the Bible teaches that the pain and suffering we experience in this world is God-inflicted. I believe it is a result of the struggle between good and evil, God and the powers of darkness, and sometimes it comes about as a direct consequence of sin in our own life. God wants to overcome all the pain and suffering, and He someday will, when the last enemy is defeated (1 Cor. 15:23-26). Until then, God uses even painful things in our lives to make us whole. And if He stopped before the process was complete, we’d never be well.

Can you trust God with the pain in your life? You can. Can you survive the anguish you may face? I believe you can, though I’ve not walked in your shoes. Because through them, as well as through the joys of life, God is only doing what 2 Cor. 3:18 says: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

PRAYER: Jesus, we plead with you to be as tender with us as possible – but to do the work that must be done in us. In Your name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 10/4/18 – The Problem Wasn’t Him

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DayBreaks for 10/04/18: The Problem Wasn’t Him

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Get the scene: Jesus has been crucified and buried and has raised from the dead.  He’d met with his 11 remaining disciples in the upper room and they’d seen him, and at least Thomas had also touched him.  He’d met them on the shore of the lake and fixed a fish breakfast – and restored Peter.  And now, the time has come for him to return to the Father. 

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) – Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

You’d think that after all the time they’d spent with Jesus and all that they’d witnessed, they’d have it down by this time, but as verse 17 says, “some doubted.”  (Mercifully, the names of those “some” are not revealed to us, or we’d probably criticize them severely.)  There were still some who doubted and wondered and were fearful.  And so, Jesus has a message for them, a message about God having given him ALL authority in heaven and on earth. 

What was it that Jesus wanted them to understand?  That they needn’t fear even one single thing (or any thing) for one simple reason: He has all authority – and control.  He has healed the sick, given sight to the blind, strengthened feeble legs so that they could walk, filled the ears of the deaf with the song of birds and laughter, brought the dead to life and even rose from the dead himself.  And yet, they still doubted – they still feared.  You see, their doubting problem wasn’t caused by some failure in Jesus and how he’d prepared them – it was humanity’s problem of believing what they’d seen and heard him do and not accepting that all authority resides in him.  There is no need to fear anybody on earth or in heaven.  Why?  Because He has all authority!

Are you a doubter?  Are you fearful?  The problem isn’t his – it’s yours – and mine – for not remembering His authority! 

PRAYER: Lord, quell our fears and doubts, and help us to believe in the full authority of Your Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/25/18 – Yet Even Now

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DayBreaks for 9/25/08Yet Even Now

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

What an interesting mess our country is in!  If anyone had asked at the beginning of the year if such giants as Merrill-Lynch, Lehman Brothers and others would be bankrupt and out of business by this time, people would have laughed at them.  The big 3 American car manufacturers are all teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.  Even the huge AIG corporation had to be bailed out.  It’s enough to make you discouraged.

Discouragement comes from many different venues.  By the bountiful hand of God, I do have some funds tucked away in a large investment company, but each day I watch them dwindle in value.  The value of our home here in California has taken a huge hit – I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly sell and come out on the right side of things.  But discouragement also comes from moral failings (otherwise known as sin) – and once again, I’m in the same boat with everyone else on that score.  In fact, every human being is in that boat – just look around at your fellow passengers and you’ll see everyone you know there!

Discouragement…it’s easy to come, but hard to make it go away.  Andree Seu wrote in the August 23-30 issue of WORLD magazine about this phenomenon: “Sometimes I give in to the discouragement because I have been round this block so often that God can’t possibly forgive and reinstate me again – at least not until I show Him a good two weeks of being properly miserable.  If this is your problem, too, I have a verse for us: Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart.  (Joel 2:12)  I often rest my whole life on that “yet even now.”…There are no larger battles than the private internal ones…And the corollary is that there is no Christian life except the moment-by-moment kind – more pointedly, the moment-by-moment choice to believe in God.  The Christian life is not lived on the level of doctrine, or our various observances, or our political action, though these are all required.  And what that moment-by-moment faith in God looks like is a brawl.  If there is no constant battle, there is probably no authentic life.  The battle can be joyful, but it is a battle.  And it comes with a promise: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him. (Jas. 1:12)

Discouraged?  Someone sent me this just this past week, and it was too good to keep to myself:

TOP TEN PREDICTIONS FOR 2008
1. The Bible will still have all the answers.

  1. Prayer will still work.
    3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
    4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.
    5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
    6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
    7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
    8. There will still be room at the Cross.
    9. Jesus will still love you.
    10. Jesus will still save the lost.
    ISN’T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS STILL IN CONTROL?!
    The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! Lamentations 3:22.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that we don’t have to control events – that we can leave them in Your perfectly capable hands.  Help us to remember that no matter what happens to the markets or the elections or the war or with disease or anything else, some things never change because You have decreed them from ages past.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/18/18 – Saints Among the Killing Fields

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DayBreaks for 9/18/18: Saints Among the Killing Fields

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

There’s a man in Croatia named Bosada.  One day, his Serbian neighbor came to him and handed him the keys to his home and said, “Would you look after my house for me and my pigs and my cattle and sheep?” Bosada said, “Sure. You’re my neighbor.  You’re my friend.  Our families have lived together here for 500 years.”  What the neighbor didn’t tell Bosada was something that every Serb knew, but the Croats didn’t: every Serb in that Croatian village was doing the same thing that very day.  They had been forewarned by the Serbian army to get out; the army was coming to blast the Croats and their homes to kingdom come the next day.

The next day, the tanks did indeed roll in and they blasted all the houses, leaving just ruins.  Only two houses out of 39 were left standing: half of Bosada’s home and a house across the street (which was then used as a prison to torture people).  Then a peace accord was signed—an uneasy peace, if it could even be called that.  When the United Nations peacekeepers came, this little village with Serb houses sitting up on the hillside began to be repopulated by Croatians headed by Bosada.

Bosada, who was a Christian and pastor of the local church, said, “We must show the way.  We must go back and rebuild the church.” And he did, taking his daughter with him.  Even though the UN peacekeepers were there, Serbian soldiers came out of the forest and took both Bosada and his 17-year-old daughter up among the trees.  They took his daughter away and raped and tortured her.  They took a bayonet and thrust it through Bosada seven times, but he didn’t die.  “Well, old man,” they finally said, “we’re fed up beating you.  I think what we’ll do is let your own people kill you.”  So they brought the daughter back and said, “Now off you go home through the minefield.  If you make it, your own militia people will kill you at the other end because it’s after curfew.”

Bosada took his daughter’s hand and set off through the minefield.  While he was being tortured, he’d said to his torturers, “You can kill our bodies, but you cannot kill our souls. This is the wrong thing you’re doing. I will go to heaven, but where will you go? I know that my Redeemer lives. Why don’t you turn to my Redeemer?”

Bosada and his daughter did make it through the mine field and survived, but what is inspiring is the message he gave to his torturers.  Did any respond, did it have any kind of impact on the future actions of his tormentors?  I do not know.  I only know I wish I had the courage of my brother in the Lord, Bosada.

We may never walk through literal minefields.  We will hopefully never be tortured because of our faith.  Yet, we still walk through minefields strewn with deadly devices planted by our enemy and the prevailing spirit of this fallen world.  May we walk it with the grace of a saint in deadly places.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the faith of those like Bosada, whom we will most likely never meet on this earth.  Thank You for preserving both he and his daughter.  Thank You for preserving us.  Give us the courage and grace to act like our brother in the face of great evil and danger.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/17/18 – Resignation and Acceptance

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DayBreaks for 9/17/18: Resignation and Acceptance

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

I recently read an article by Jill Briscoe that dealt with struggling and troubles in this world.  We often think we have troubles – they seem real enough to us and I don’t mean to disparage any hardship that anyone is going through.  But, by and large, we Americans know very little of trouble compared to the rest of the world.  Sure, we worry about how to make our house payments, but there are countless millions (billions?) in this world who don’t have a house at all.  Our health issues are troubles – no mistake about that.  But at least, we have “modern medicine” available to us while many people must either suffer through their illness alone in order to get well – or they die. 

How do (or should) we deal with difficulties?  Should we just resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll have trouble (just like Jesus said we would)?  Should we accept it, and if so, how?

Resignation and acceptance are two different things.  Some religions are resigned to fate: Hinduism, Buddhism for example.  The Christian, alternatively I believe, is to accept suffering and use it for a greater purpose.  “Resignation is surrender to fate; acceptance is surrender to God,” said Elisabeth Elliot. “Resignation lies down quietly in an empty universe. Acceptance rises up to meet the God who fills that universe with purpose and destiny.…Resignation says, ‘It’s all over for me.’ Acceptance asks, ‘Now that I’m here, Lord, what’s next?’ Resignation says, ‘What a waste.’ Acceptance says, ‘In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord?'”

Who is Elisabeth Elliot?  You probably know: she’s a woman whose husband lay flat on his face, dead in a river with an arrow in his back—martyred for Jesus. What did Elisabeth do? She said, “In what redemptive way can you use this mess, Lord? I know that my Redeemer lives. He died to make me fit for heaven; he lives to make me fit for earth. Now, what are you going to redeem, buy back, out of this situation?”

Elisabeth Elliot took the hand of her 6-year-old daughter, and Marge Saint, the wife of another martyred missionary, and they walked to that tribe that had killed their husbands.  When they arrived at the jungle village, they weren’t killed; they were accepted. They proceeded to translate the Bible into the language of the tribe, and the whole tribe came to Christ.

At age 17, Marge Saint’s little girl, Kathy, told the story of that day and more. She said, “I remember at 15, I stood in the river where my father had died, and I was baptized by the man who killed him. That man is now the pastor of that tribe.” 

Would the Elliot’s and Saint’s have asked for the troubles that life brought their way?  Absolutely not.  Yet they did accept it – they didn’t give up in resignation and say, “Oh, well.  I guess this wasn’t meant to be.”  In the loss and turmoil, they sought some way that God would turn their tragedy into something purposeful. 

When we are faced with difficulties, don’t just resign yourself to the hardship.  Seek to see and understand how God can use it in a redemptive way and create something beautiful and eternal out of it. 

PRAYER: Father, we don’t understand all that happens to us here, and we don’t like much of what happens.  Keep us from bitterness.  Open our hearts to Your divine redemptive purposes in what takes place and show us Your glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/07/18 – The Miracle of Stone Soup

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DayBreaks for 9/07/18: The Miracle of Stone Soup

I love the story of a Christian missionary hiking the high Andean trails to a remote village in Peru. He found a rock along the road, a curious geode, and put it in his backpack as a souvenir. That evening he strode into the village to a very unfriendly welcome. No one offered him a bed. No one asked him to sit by their fire. He learned that a famine had plagued the Indians for over a month. And the people were starving. Each was simply afraid to share amidst so much deprivation.

Praying to Jesus how to help them, he got an idea. Calling the Indians around a campfire he preached God’s loving care in Christ. Then he said, “I’m going to feed you by making some stone soup. Yummm! It’s tasty! I grew up on it! And you’ll like it just fine!” Then he opened his backpack and produced the rock he’d found that morning.

The Indians scoffed, “Stone soup! Why that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“Trust me,” the missionary assured them. “See! I’ve brought the stone. But I’m going to need a pot to put it in.” An Indian woman quickly volunteered her pot.

“And I’ll need about two large buckets of water to boil the stone in.” A man, shaking his head, brought the water. So, in went the stone, in went the water, and over the fire the pot was suspended. Curious now, the villagers began to gather around the pot, peering into its contents. The missionary began to stir the pot and drool. “You know, stone soup sure is good with carrots!” To which an Indian said, “I’ve got six carrots!” He quickly fetched them and they were cut up into the pot. Then the missionary smelled deeply of the bubbly broth and sighed, “Some potatoes sure would add to the flavor.” From pockets and other hiding places came dozens of spuds. They were quickly added to the soup. Soon people were bringing onions, celery, and bits of meat to top off the pot of stone soup. And within the hour a community was formed around that stew pot. All ate. And all were filled and they heard the story of Jesus Christ.

Believe John 6:1-14 as a miracle of Jesus in multiplying the bread and fish, if you will, or believe Jesus’ miracle in the selfish human heart causing the multitudes to share. But above all, remember this: The next time you see a need or feel inadequate, don’t look at the hillside, look in the basket. Don’t count the difficulties presented. Look at the resources possessed. Don’t measure your problems. Measure God’s power!

PRAYER: We have been too concerned about our adequacy and resources, Lord. Help us to trust in the One who has no limits and then to act in His name! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/05/18 – For Some Prospect of Hope

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DayBreaks for 9/05/18: For Some Prospect of Hope

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

Right now as I write this, I have friends in Florida who are hoping that Gustav will bypass them.  Unfortunately, that will mean that it strikes somewhere else…almost with a certainty, barring a miracle or the Lord’s return.  Hope.  It fuels us with the vital energy we need to face the future – a future that is mostly unknown to us.

There are those who have reasonable hopes – and then there are those who have crazy hopes.  Just look at how many people buy lottery tickets each day.  That’s an example of crazy hope if there ever was one. 

Let me say, before proceeding, that God is the God of hope.  It is clear: nothing is impossible with God.  God could extinguish Gustav as simply as a child blows out a birthday cake candle.  Will He?  That’s another matter that at this point in time, only He can answer.  But as humans, we often are so desperate for hope that we put our hope in things that aren’t worthy of our hope.  We like to put our hope in things we can see, hear, touch or count.  Somehow, those things have a solidity to them that gives them gravitas – seemingly more weight than the things which are unseen.  But that can be very, very dangerous.  Listen to these words from the pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be.  It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God.  Here alone lies the promise of God’s faithfulness and help.  It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.”

I’m afraid we’re prone to deviate from the truth sometimes in our pursuit of some prospect of hope.  Instead of placing our hope in the Truth, we place our hope in our ability to figure out some answer that we believe will give us hope.  But is a hope born of our own wisdom and therefore a hope that is built on very shaky premises.  It doesn’t take much of a deviation from the truth for the deviation to become a tool of the Destroyer. 

1 Peter 1:3-5 (NIV) – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  According to verse 3, there is a hope that is described as “living hope.”  That implies to me that there is a hope that is a dead hope.   If we’re putting our hope in our judgment, analysis and reason, in a political system or politician, in an earthly king or the courts or anything on this earth – may heaven have mercy on us all.

PRAYER: Keep us, Lord Jesus, from putting our hope in our own ways and our own thoughts.  Reward our hopes that rest on you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.