DayBreaks for 11/15/19 – Hidden Blessings

Image result for hidden blessings

DayBreaks for 11/15/19: Hidden Blessings

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Franklin and Phileda Nelson went to Burma as missionaries in the 1940s. They served there eight and a half years before the government closed the country to further missionary work. They returned to the United States where Franklin served several churches in various pastoral roles.

While in Burma they worked among remote tribes, and Franklin found his sense of gratitude for God’s providence rekindled. When reflecting on his missions work, he said: “In the Burmese hill country, the only way to get to remote villages was by “shank mare.” (That’s walking, in case you’ve never heard the phrase.) It was not at all uncommon for me to walk twenty miles a day in the dry season. When I got back to the States and worked as a pastor and church leader, I rarely walked a mile a day; the telephone and car made walking unnecessary.

“In Burma, if one of us got sick, the nearest hospital was ten days away. In the States, medical care is minutes away. In Burma, we’d go months without bread. Once we asked our daughter Karen to say grace before a meal, and she said, “Why do I have to pray for my daily bread when I don’t ever get any?” I have often coveted that experience for our youngest daughter who never had to wonder where her food came from. It’s hard to have that sense of helplessness and humility so vital to prayer when you sit down to your daily bread and don’t even think about how you got it.   

“I don’t in any way blame people here for not knowing what God can do. We’re victims of our prosperity. But I sometimes wish we had a few more hard times so people could experience firsthand how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God.

Those last six words haunt me.  I know that I should trust God completely.  I know intellectually that I am totally dependent on God.  But I don’t live as if it’s true. The very statement “…how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God” – how does that make you feel? 

Our feelings, of course, change nothing in regard to the veracity of the statement.  We are – like it or not – totally dependent on Him.  TOTALLY.  Might we not be far better off if we just simply acknowledge that and live in that knowledge constantly?  Our strivings would cease, our worry lines would diminish, and we would find some of the blessings that Franklin and Phileda found in their hardships – a greater trust in Him in all things.

PRAYER: Help us to not thank you only for the good, but to search for the hidden blessings in suffering and hardship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/06/19 – Come to Me or Die

Image result for ocean riptide

DayBreaks for 11/06/19: Come to Me or Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

John Ortberg told this story in one of his sermons: “My friend, Jimmy, and his son, Davey, were playing in the ocean down in Mexico, while his family—his wife, daughters, parents, and a cousin—were on the beach. Suddenly, a rogue riptide swept Davey out to the sea. Immediately Jimmy started to do whatever he could to help Davey get back to the shore, but he, too, was soon swept away in the tide. He knew that in a few minutes, both he and Davey would drown. He tried to scream, but his family couldn’t hear him.

“Jimmy’s a strong guy—an Olympic Decathlete—but he was powerless in this situation. As he was carried along by the water, he had a single, chilling thought: My wife and my daughters are going to have to have a double funeral.

“Meanwhile, his cousin, who understood something about the ocean, saw what was happening. He walked out into the water where he knew there was a sandbar. He had learned that if you try to fight a riptide, you will die. So, he walked to the sandbar, stood as close as he could get to Jimmy and Davey, and then he just lifted his hand up and said, “You come to me. You come to me.”  (To escape a riptide, rather than swimming directly toward the shore it is necessary to swim parallel to the beach until one is out of the riptide current. – GCD)

“If you try to go the way your gut tells you to go—the shortest distance into shore—you will die. If you think for yourself, you will die. God says, ‘If you come to me, you will live.’  That’s it—death or life.”

Galen’s Thoughts: in Mark’s gospel, I’ve been struck by the differences between those who belief and those who don’t.  We are seldom, if ever, given reasons for why people choose not to believe, but they certainly do choose to not believe.  In chapter 16, it twice says that Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe the resurrection stories.  While that may seem incredulous to us, I think it makes perfect sense.  Which is harder to believe – that a person has risen from the dead or that they’ve been cured of some disease that may not even have been visible on the outside?  The resurrection has almost always been one of the greatest stumbling-blocks for unbelievers.  It’s not that people don’t want to believe in life after death – it’s just that no one that I know of who is alive today has seen a person walking and talking who was dead for 3 days. 

Jesus (and God) seem perfectly willing to leave it up to us to choose whether or not to believe for our own reasons.  On the one hand, a centurion watches him die (probably the first time he’d seen or heard Jesus) and concludes he was the son of God.  On the other, the disciples who’d seen him and heard him many times, didn’t reach that conclusion for some time.  Jesus was taunted on the cross to “come down” and show everyone that he was who he claimed to be.  He didn’t do it – not because He couldn’t have – but because He shouldn’t have.  Belief must come to us as individuals as the conviction of the heart. If it had been me or any other human being that I’ve ever met who had been taunted as Jesus was, I’d have come down and proved my point – so strong is our desire for affirmation.  Jesus wouldn’t have any part of that – no forcing of faith. 

God is so gentle with us.  We’d break otherwise.  So we must come to Jesus because we hear his call, as Jimmy heard the call of his friend on the beach: “Come to me.  Come to me and live.”  We can’t force faith any more than we can swim against a riptide.  It is a work of God’s Spirit. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for sending someone to stand on the shore of this earth and call to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…come to me, and find rest for your souls!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/05/19 – Job and His Complaint

Image result for courtroom

DayBreaks for 11/05/19: Job and His Complaint

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

If you have been accused (especially wrongly) of something, you want to face your accusers and try to clear your name, don’t you?  This is one of the key rights we have as individuals in America.  It’s not a new idea that came up only when America was founded, it’s been around for years and years.  Witness Job’s complaint from eons past: Job 9:32 – God is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.

Job’s friends had accused him of great and terrible sin.  To their way of thinking, there could be no other explanation for why Job was in such a pickle.  In spite of all that they’d known of Job and observed in his life, they now were convinced that he’d been secretly involved in massive deception and sin.  Who wouldn’t want to face such accusers?  But Job realizes that for them to really know the truth, God would have to be called to the witness stand.  They certainly weren’t going to take Job’s word for it – not when they suspected him of being such a sinner to start with.  (How quickly the good opinion others may have of us can deteriorate if they suspect we’re sinning!) 

So it is that Job issues his complaint about God.  If God were a human like Job (or you or me), we might be able to compel Him to come to the court so we could confront him and clear our name.  Sadly, it is a case we would lose but for the blood of Jesus – and Job knew nothing about Jesus or his future sacrifice. 

Let us not miss the irony that is so heavy in Job’s statement: what Job was longing for became reality when Jesus (God) became a man like me and was put in the court dock.  As Mike Mason wrote, “…in Jesus Christ the Almighty God has become ‘a man like me,’ and moreover a man who by standing before Pontius Pilate and the Sanhedrin has confronted every one of us in court – and yet not, as we may have expected, in His rightful capacity as Judge, but rather as the accused, the prisoner in the dock.  Through this reversal of roles He meant to show us that it is mankind who first condemned God, not the other way around, and that only by faith in Jesus can this condemnation be lifted so that we can be set free.

We “condemned” God first in the garden when mankind decided pleasure was to be preferred over obedience and we’ve been “condemning” God ever since through every act of rebellion that suggests other things are to be preferred over His will. 

So, millennia later, Job’s statement about God was resolved by Jesus’ incarnation.  Humanity put Jesus on trial then to determine if He was who He said He was.  Many concluded he was not who He claimed to be.  But others had the vision to recognize, as did the centurion who watched him die, that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” 

Here’s what may be a scary thought: as a believer, Jesus is on display through your life and actions and words.  What do people see and conclude about Him because of you?

PRAYER: Thank you for becoming a “man” like us so that we could see, hear, touch and thank you that you have made it possible for us to ask you questions through prayer!  Thank you that we do not stand in the court with you as our accuser, but as our friend, defender and Judge!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/04/19 – Cheap Guilt

Image result for guilt

DayBreaks for 11/04/19: Cheap Guilt

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

It was, I believe, Deitrich Bonhoeffer who originated the phrase “cheap grace” to describe the attitude of the heart that cheapens what was necessary for us to receive forgiveness and salvation.  There were some who would say, even in Biblical times, that we should “sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1).  Such are purveyors of the doctrine of cheap grace.  We are reminded that we were saved not with the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood of the very Son of God (1 Pet. 1:19).  There’s nothing cheap about that, nor about the sheer volume of grace that flows through Calvary from the throne of God!

But cheap guilt?  Is there such a thing?  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason makes an argument for why he believes such a thing does exist: “But guilt too can become cheap.  Cheap guilt enervates and paralyzes.  Like a giant leech it latches onto the conscience and saps all the dignity and vitality out of it.  True contrition, on the other hand, purifies the conscience, bathing it as in tears even while energizing it with the vision and the power for positive change.”

If I had a nickel for every person and every time that someone said to me that they feel like giving up because of their sin and shame and guilt (suspecting that those things add up to too tall of a pile for God to deal with in His grace), I’d own the L. A. Dodgers!  I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever felt so guilty that I felt like just giving up this relationship with Christ.  That could be because I am in denial about the depth of my sin, or it could be because I understand that I’ve been washed in the blood of Christ and touched by His grace – and that God’s grace is far greater than any guilt I may carry. 

Guilt is a crushing burden to haul around on our backs.  That’s why Jesus carried all our guilt and shame on his back to the cross – so we wouldn’t have to carry it anywhere ever again.  Hebrews 10:1-2 (NLT) says: The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.  Don’t miss the point of this argument: the old law couldn’t take away sin (“provided perfect cleansing”, vs. 2), but the sacrifice of Jesus which has purified believers “once for all time” (Heb. 10:10) allows “their feelings of guilt” to disappear.  But we have to accept by faith (even if we can’t understand with our minds and hearts that it is so) that we have perfect cleansing and our feelings of guilt should have disappeared.

Have you still been toting a knapsack full of guilt on your back?  It may be because you are victim of “cheap guilt”, letting it paralyze you instead of knowing that your guilt has been removed and that you are freed from guilt for all time.  We must not confuse conviction of wrong-doing in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit with guilt.  One is positive and leads to repentance and restoration…the other leads to the pit.

PRAYER: Make us sensitive to our sin in a way that leads us to repentance, Lord, not to guilt that you died to take away from us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/31/19 – He Knows the Shepherd

Image result for shepherd and sheep

DayBreaks for 10/31/19: He Knows the Shepherd

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

I have been preaching a series on the 23rd Psalm.  I’ve come to appreciate much about this song of David that I never had seen or apprehended before.  Not only did David know about the life of a shepherd, he knew the Shepherd about whom he was singing.

There is a story told about a famous actor who at a gathering was asked to recite something for those gathered there.  The actor was somewhat taken aback about what to recite when an old preacher who was in attendance suggested the actor recite the 23rd Psalm.  The actor did a great job in his oration and when he was finished, received a long round of applause.  Then the actor turned to the old preacher and suggested that he, too, should recite the Psalm.  The old man, in a weak voice that quivered as he spoke, recited the same words the actor had just quoted.  When the old preacher was done, no one clapped.  It was quiet…except for the sound of sobs as those in the audience subtly began to wipe tears from their eyes.  The actor rose once more to his feet and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I communicated with your ears and your eyes. I know the words. But my old friend here communicated with your hearts. He knows the Shepherd.”

I find myself constantly asking myself the question: do I really know the Shepherd, or do I just think I do?  Do I really know Him, or do I just amass facts about Him?  If I knew Him better, would my witness for Him be more powerful – as were the words of the old preacher in the story?  I must admit that I don’t always like the answers to those questions.  I am convinced that if we really knew the Shepherd as did David or the old preacher man, our testimony and sharing of Him would be more powerful because He would be more powerfully present within us. 

Have you asked yourself lately if you really know the Shepherd or not?  We will never know in full about Him for He is infinite.  But at the same time, we can never know Him too much!

PRAYER: May we come to truly know You, the only One who has the words of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/28/19 – The Sounds of Silence

Image result for silence

DayBreaks for 10/28/19: The Sounds of Silence

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Snap.  Crunch.  Crack.  Creak.  Pop.  No, I’m not talking about the sounds that Rice Crispies make when you pour milk over them in your cereal bowl.  I’m talking about the sounds my bones and joints make when I get up in the morning.  For some of you, it may not be a timid little “snap” sound – it may be more like a thunderbolt when you move!  When Simon and Garfunkel sang about the “Sounds of Silence”, they certainly didn’t have old age in mind!  (And I even left out a few of the worse sounds, like moaning and groaning!)

Aging.  We see it as an enemy.  I’ve written before about all that we to do forestall this unwelcome intruder into our lives: we inject botox, get our faces, chins and foreheads sculpted.  We lift here, tuck a bit there to tighten up the skin and remove wrinkles (they even have creams now – and they’re not cheap!) – that claim to do as much if not more than botox injections.  We join gyms to sweat and strain in order to keep our bodies functioning a bit more like they did in the good old days when we were young (isn’t it interesting how the “good OLD days” are always referring to when we were YOUNGER!?) 

Maybe we’re missing the point.  Maybe aging isn’t as bad as we make it out to be.  After all, it seems that aging, like being birthed, is also God’s idea and not some invention of a demented human mind.  This interesting perspective is from Max Lucado who contemplated the idea that aging is one way that God keeps us “heading homeward.”  He has this to say about it: “We can’t change the process, but we can change our attitude…What if we looked at the aging body as we look at the growth of a tulip?  Do you ever seen anyone mourning over the passing of the tulip bulb?…Of course not…we don’t mourn the passing of the bulb; we celebrate it.  Tulip lovers rejoice the minute the bulb weakens.  ‘Watch that one,’ they say, ‘it’s about to blossom!”

What a great perspective to have about the aging process that takes place within us!  As each new gray hair appears, instead of trying to pull them out or cover them over with Grecian Formula 16, we should realize (and celebrate) that we are getting that much closer to reaching our full blossom!

What a wonderful perspective this brings to life!  Instead of saying, “It’s no fun growing old!”, we should be reminding ourselves and everyone else that they need to keep an eye on us because before long, we will be blossoming in a way we never could otherwise.  We are getting closer to being home – where the snap, crackle and pop will be gone forever and where the Lamb will be the Light!

PRAYER: Lord, help us to age gracefully and to blossom into full bloom in Your garden!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/24/19 – The Bridge: When Faith Comes Hard

Weaving the Bridge

DayBreaks for 10/23/19: The MBridge – When Faith Comes Hard

It isn’t easy to always have faith and even hard to act on that faith. I suspect that it grows even harder as more and more is at stake. For instance, if you are being asked to deny your faith and the life of your family is at stake if you don’t, acting on faith in that case would perhaps be at the most extreme test possible.

The education system today calls faith into question, placing it on the scales to determine if it makes sense or not. We want to reduce everything to mathematical equations and certainties. The world is uncomfortable with uncertainty and things that cannot be proved, hence faith itself is deemed foolish and those who cling to it are ridiculed and proclaimed to be idiots.

Perhaps what Dr. Paul Brand wrote sheds a bit of light on this subject: “I have stood before a bridge in South America constructed of interlocking vines that support a precariously swinging platform hundreds of feet above a river. I know that hundreds of people have trusted that bridge over the years, and as I stand at the edge of the chasm I can see people confidently crossing it. The engineer in me wants to weigh all the factors—measure the stress tolerances of the vines, test any wood for termites, survey all the bridges in the area for one that might be stronger. I could spend a lifetime determining whether this bridge is fully trustworthy. Eventually, though, if I really want to cross, I must take a step. When I put my weight on that bridge and walk across, even though my heart is pounding and my knees are shaking, I am declaring my position.

“In my Christian walk I sometimes must proceed like this, making choices which involve uncertainty. If I wait for all the possible evidence, I’ll never move.” Dr. Paul Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully

For those who have taken “the step” of faith and have found it true, we heartily assert it is not foolish. Those who have tasted the goodness of God’s love and compassion know it is real. Those who never take the step will never know, nor could we expect them to know, how solid the Bridge and Bridgebuilder is.

I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.

PRAYER: Give us the courage to believe and to act in faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>