DayBreaks for 11/27/17 – An Unpredictable Future?

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DayBreaks for 11/27/17: An Unpredictable Future?

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How would you describe the future?  You might describe certain things that you want or hope to have happen in the future, but my guess is that at some point you’d couch your description in terms like, “If I could, I would…”.  I am always amazed at how many of the supermarket tabloids have covers that relate to some prediction of the future by people like Nostradamus, or some modern-day “psychic”.  There is something in us that would like (we think) to be able to predict or know what the future holds.  I think that we’re actually far better off not knowing myself.

When I speak of an unpredictable future, I am not talking about one that is unstable…just one that can’t be very well predicted by human experience.  As humans, we just don’t have the requisite knowledge or skill to be able to predict with any degree of certainty what will take place.  And that’s especially true because to some extent, our “possible” futures are based on our past and present experiences.  But what happens when something totally out of the realm of human experience intervenes?

In his book, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann mused on the topic of the future and what God’s promises mean related to the future: “A promise is a declaration which announces the coming of a reality that does not yet exist.  Thus promise sets man’s heart on a future history in which the fulfilling of the promise is to be expected.  If it is a case of a divine promise, then that indicates that the expected future does not have to develop within the framework of the possibilities inherent in the present, but arises from that which is possible to the God of the promise.  This can also be something which by the standard of present experience appears impossible.”

The future towards which we move cannot be predicted by any human, no matter how wise he or she may be.  It takes One who is not only all-wise, but all-powerful, to control the events so that the future finds it’s fulfillment for which it was planned.  Certainly, in Genesis when God makes his initial promises to humanity, he was declaring a reality that, at least in time, did not yet exist.  The future is not dependent on the experiences of your life, or of all our lives put together.  It is dependent only on the God who made and formed the promise and who shapes the future to His liking. 

What does the future hold?  I can’t predict it…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t predictable.  With God, all things are possible.  We think of Him interacting with the world as we know and experience it, but that is at least limited, if not false, theology. 

You don’t need to consult actuarial tables to know what the future holds.  They can’t tell you.  God can.  And He does tell us another thing about the future: we don’t have to worry about it because it’s in His perfectly capable hands!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord God Almighty, that you hold not only the future of the universe and the world but of each and every one of us who have put our trust in Christ, in your hands.  May we sleep well tonight knowing You are in control!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) 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.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/15/17 – Disappointments

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DayBreaks for 11/15/17: Disappointments

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

From The Culture Shift, Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro, 2005: 

“The great missionary explorer, David Livingstone, served in Africa from 1840 until his death in 1873.  Pastors Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro tell of an incident from Livingstone’s life that illustrates why we need to be thankful in all things.

“David Livingstone was eager to travel into the uncharted lands of Central Africa to preach the gospel. On one occasion, the famous nineteenth-century missionary and explorer arrived at the edge of a large territory that was ruled by a tribal chieftain. According to tradition, the chief would come out to meet him there; Livingstone could go forward only after an exchange was made. The chief would choose any item of Livingstone’s personal property that caught his fancy and keep it for himself, while giving the missionary something of his own in return.

“Livingstone had few possessions with him, but at their encounter he obediently spread them all out on the ground—his clothes, his books, his watch, and even the goat that provided him with milk (since chronic stomach problems kept him from drinking the local water). To his dismay, the chief took this goat. In return, the chief gave him a carved stick, shaped like a walking stick.

“Livingstone was most disappointed. He began to gripe to God about what he viewed as a stupid walking cane. What could it do for him compared to the goat that kept him well? Then one of the local men explained, “That’s not a walking cane. It’s the king’s very own scepter, and with it you will find entrance to every village in our country. The king has honored you greatly.”

“The man was right. God opened Central Africa to Livingstone, and as successive evangelists followed him wave after wave of conversions occurred.  Sometimes, in our disappointment over what we don’t have, we fail to appreciate the significance of what God has given us.”

Disappointments are a dime-a-dozen.  I just finished teaching the story of Joseph in one of our Bible studies.  The thing that struck me about Joseph is that he had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed and discouraged at many of the things that had happened to him.  The jealousy of his own brothers seemingly knew no bounds.  He was thrown into a pit, presumably to be left for dead, but wound up being sold by his own blood into a life of slavery.  He went to prison after being falsely accused.  He was forgotten by someone he’d helped who could have gotten him out of prison.  He lived with the pressure of answering to the most powerful man in the world, and lived with the risk of failing in his mission to save the lives of the Egyptian people if his plan went awry.  He lived with the frustration of not knowing how his father and brothers were doing – or if they were even alive – for they were alienated by affection and distance.  He had plenty of opportunity to be disappointed in how his life had gone. 

Why didn’t Joseph get discouraged?  Because he knew he didn’t really answer to the most powerful man in the world – he answered to God, the very God who orchestrated all the events of his life.  I’m so impressed with his attitude in Genesis 45, realizing that God had led him through all those things for His purposes. 

If you are living a life of frustration and disappointment, I believe it is because we don’t see God’s hand in everything – turning evil to good for us – and we blame others for bad things, or even ourselves.  And seeing God’s overarching guidance and direction relieves us from the necessity of revenge, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., as we learn to trust Him and to realize that the things that others may mean for our own harm, will instead turn out to our benefit.  

Are you disappointed with something that’s been taken from you or given to you?  Don’t judge too quickly – God has already given you His scepter to give you admittance to His home!

PRAYER: May we trust in You fully, and in Your goodness to us, even in the face of great evil.  Help us to not be disappointed with the lot in life that You may have charted out for us, but to see all of our lives as opportunities to know and experience Your leading.  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 11/02/17 – Facing the Inevitable

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DayBreaks for 11/02/17: Facing the Inevitable

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/27/98:

Heb. 9:27: Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…

Death and taxes. Inevitable things. I’ve always been fascinated about how people deal with death, especially the differences between the believer and the unbeliever. Today I’d just like to share a few things I’ve found and let you draw your own conclusions.

Before his death in 1981, American writer William Saroyan (an unbeliever) telephoned in to the Associated Press this final, very Saroyan-like observation: “Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case. Now what?”

Hudson Taylor, founder of China Inland Mission, in the closing months of his life said to a friend, “I am so weak. I can’t read my Bible. I can’t even pray. I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child and trust.”

John Bacon, a famous sculptor, left this inscription on his tomb in Westminster Abbey: “What I was as an artist seemed of some importance to me while I lived; but what I was as a believer in Jesus Christ is the only thing of importance to me now.”

John Climacus, a seventh century believer urged Christians to use the reality of death to their benefit: “You cannot pass a day devoutly unless you think of it as your last,” he wrote. He called the thought of death the “most essential of all works” and a gift from God. “The man who lives daily with the thought of death is to be admired, and the man who gives himself to it by the hour is surely a saint.”

Donald Grey Barnhouse, the great Christian preacher, wrote: “I was driving with my children to my wife’s funeral where I was to preach the sermon. As we came into one small town there strode down in front of us a truck that came to a stop before a red light. It was the biggest truck I ever saw in my life, and the sun was shining on it at just the right angle that took its shadow and spread it across the snow on the field beside it. As the shadow covered that field, I said, “Look, children, at that truck, and look at its shadow. If you had to be run over, which would you rather be run over by? Would you rather be run over by the truck or by the shadow?” My youngest child said, “The shadow couldn’t hurt anybody.” “That’s right,” I continued, “and death is a truck, but the shadow is all that ever touches the Christian. The truck ran over the Lord Jesus. Only the shadow is gone over mother.”

Ecclesiastes 7:2: “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.”

PRAYER: Grant us the grace, Lord Jesus, to face life’s ultimate truths and realities.  Give us wisdom to consider the outcome of the moment we stand before You, the Lamb of God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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