DayBreaks for 1/17/19 – There Is No Other Stream

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DayBreaks for 01/17/2019: There Is No Other Stream

There’s a story in The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis about a girl named Jill Pole, and Aslan, the great Christ-figure lion in the story.  Jill has grown thirsty in the forest, and she hears the sound of the stream in the distance.  Her thirst drives her to find the stream so she can drink.  She knows that a great lion is afoot, so she’s cautious.  Finally, she sees the stream, but is terrified by what she sees.  Her thirst is like a fire, but sitting by the stream of water is Aslan, the huge lion, very much alive, though sitting very still.  She waits until she’s nearly crazed from thirst, hoping he’ll go away, but he doesn’t budge.

Suddenly, he spoke: “If you are thirsty, you may drink.”  Jill is startled and holds back.  “Are you not thirsty?, said the Lion.

“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the lion.

“May I..could I..would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.  The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl.  And just as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.  The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her near frantic.

“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I come?”

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.  Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.  It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry.  It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh, dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.  “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

I’ve been thirsty before – what I considered (at the time) as desperately thirsty, although I’m sure it was nothing compared to what some have endured.  I like this story from The Silver Chair because it describes the decision that we must all make: the God of Scripture is a wild, untamed God who has crushed empires literally overnight.  He is a God who does as He pleases, for the reasons that suit His purposes, for His glory – and not for ours.  He is a God who makes no excuses (and because He is God and Sovereign) and who needs no excuses to be made for Him or offered up for Him.  He simply is God – God Almighty and no one can thwart Him in anything He decides to do.  He is alternately terrifying and the tender One who holds little children on His lap and blesses them.  He is everywhere at all times and at times disturbingly silent and seemingly absent.  He is a God who is not content to have just created – but a God who chooses to insert Himself into His creation when and if it pleases Him – but who at other times is maddeningly distant.

What will happen if we come to the river to drink?  This God is frightening – just ask Jill Pole.  But there is no other stream – there is no fountain of youth and there is no other fountain of Life than that which flowed from the veins and mercy of Christ.  Come to the stream – drink – be refreshed and know that He remains God – and you are not He.

John 4:10 (NIV)Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.

John 4:13-14 (NIV)Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

PRAYER: You are high and lifted up, Lord God Almighty.  We tremble in fear of Your great power and come timidly before You where we are encouraged by Your welcome and invitation to drink – and find not death, but Life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/14/19 – Maybe His Greatest Mercy

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DayBreaks for 01/14/2019: Maybe His Greatest Mercy

Mercy. It’s somewhat defined as not getting what you deserve, for example, when a judge is merciful from the bench instead of jailing a woman who stole a loaf of bread to feed her starving children. When thinking of mercy and the human condition, we are talking about God in his mercy not destroying us all because of our sin. That’s his mercy in action. So that is without a doubt his greatest mercy. But let’s take that mercy off the table for the purposes of our thinking for now. What would the next greatest mercy of God toward us be?

Every week at church there is a video of someone giving a testimony of their life. It is wonderful to hear the testimonies of what God has done in the lives of the men and women who share their stories. But this Sunday, the man who shared his story said something that really struck me so I wrote it down. He asked the question: “Could it be that His greatest mercy is that he never gives me what I think I want?”

What is it that I want? Do I want his rule in my life or self-rule? That answer is pretty obvious isn’t it? We rebel against his rule and each “go our own way.” We want what we want, whether that is money, fame, a new spouse, prestige, pleasure, escape or just fun times. And we demonstrate that with our sinful choices.

What if God gave us all that we think we want? What would the effect be on our homes and families? If God gave us endless pleasure because that’s what we’re pursuing, would we even bother to seek him out and to long for a better world in which people live?  Why would we every think to pray, “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”? Would we be so content that anything to do with heaven and righteousness would be wiped from our minds forever? And why would we even both to seek the purpose in our existence if everything I want is obtainable here? I don’t think I would.

And so God demonstrates his mercy to me by not giving me what I think I want. And I need him to change my heart to be happy and content with what He wants for me.

PRAYER: God, thank you for your mercy in not giving us what we think we want, or many times not giving us what we ask for! Change our hearts so that what you desire for us is our greatest desire. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/28/18 – The Power of Hope

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DayBreaks for 12/28/18: The Power of Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2008: A school system in a large city decided to start a program to help hospitalized kids stay caught up in their studies. One day, a teacher who worked with the program was called to the school and given the assignment to help a young hospitalized boy stay caught up with his adverbs and nouns. The teacher arrived at the hospital and was shocked to learn the boy had been horribly burned and was in great pain. She managed to say, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” She then delivered her lesson and left, feeling as if she’d accomplished very little. When she came back the next day, a nurse approached her in the hallway and asked, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and started to apologize. “Oh, no!” said the nurse, “you don’t know what I mean! We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.” Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization, which he expressed this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

Galen’s Thoughts: Hope is so important. Perhaps you know someone right now who is struggling, ready to give up on life, on a marriage, on their kids. Maybe it is someone who has been fighting a battle with drugs, alcohol or cancer. What message of hope can you give them today? Perhaps all they need is a reassurance that you care – that God cares – for them and about them. Who do you need to call or talk to today so that you can share hope?

On the other hand, maybe you are the one who needs hope. Perhaps you feel like your life is hopeless and you’re ready to give up. You may have even been thinking about taking your own life. Try to understand what the boy came to realize: the teacher wouldn’t have come to him if the school and doctors thought he was hopeless and was just going to die. In the same way, the Teacher has come to you! God doesn’t send His Son/Spirit to us if we’re just destined to die! No, God has great plans for you and great things in store for you. Maybe you won’t see them on this site of eternity – but that doesn’t make them any less real or any less marvelous. And it certainly doesn’t make them less worth waiting for. Hope – it comes from knowing there are better things to come. For us Christians, hope should beat strong in our hearts!

Rom. 5:5: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the hope that keeps us moving ahead.  For those who are in despair and feeling hopeless as they face this near year, renew their hope through Your indwelling Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/26/18: Not Like the World Gives

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From my friend, Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets:

Christmas Day, 1863. America’s poet laureate, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, found himself in a deep state of depression. America was embroiled in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history. A devout abolitionist, his heart was broken by the terrible war. But even worse, his personal grief was overwhelming.  A month earlier, his oldest son was critically wounded in battle. Two years prior, his wife Fannie burned to death right in front of him, when her clothes caught fire. Longfellow was severely injured in an effort to extinguish her, and carried severe scars for the rest of his days. 

Looking out his window in Cambridge, Mass, in intense despair, he ruminated on the angel’s words to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. He scoffed, “There is no peace on earth. These tragic events mock God’s promise of peace.”  

But then, a Christmas miracle occurred. In an instant, everything changed, and Longfellow penned these words: 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day. 

Their old familiar carols play. 

And wild and sweet, the words repeat 

of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Through the church bells, God reminded Longfellow of the big picture; the TRUE peace that the baby in the manger brings to earth. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. He hasn’t abandoned us. The Prince of Peace still triumphs, even in the midst of war and personal tragedy, bringing peace that passes understanding: peace with God.  

Face it, if Jesus came to rid the world of war and suffering, he did a pretty lousy job! But what if…he brought something greater? What if, he did more than anyone ever dared imagine? What if he delivered a unique kind of peace, a peace so great, it transcends external circumstances? That’s the peace that inspired Longfellow to compose this cherished Christmas poem. Jesus promised, “The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Our world and lives today abound with conflict and turmoil. Like Longfellow, we have a choice: cave in to despair, or embrace the peace Jesus offers. Longfellow “heard the bells on Christmas day” and his life was changed forever.

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but one more thing about the peace that Jesus gives: it is a lasting peace and it can fill your heart for the rest of your life. Embrace it!

PRAYER: Lord, we are nearly at the new year and we pray that we will know your special peace throughout the year no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/14/18 – Aiming Past Life

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DayBreaks for 12/14/18: Aiming Past Life

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/9/98:

Okay, let’s see how many of you have tried this: have you ever put a board (even just one – and maybe a thin one at that) between two bricks and tried to break the board with your hand?  I’ve tried it – on more than one occasion.  I’ve seen it done in person (in fact, my oldest granddaughter can do it!) – but not just with one board, but with many boards, with cement blocks or blocks of solid ice.  I can only say that if you tried it, I hope you were more successful than I.  And I hope you didn’t hurt yourself, either!

It isn’t just big, hulking guys who do this kind of stuff.  I’ve seen little folk do it – men and women.  So the key to the ability to smash stuff like that with your bare hands can’t be based on brute strength. 

There are actually two things that are necessary, according to those who bust stuff with their bare hands, if one is to break boards, ice or cement blocks with nothing more than the edge of a hand.  Here they are: 1) focused concentration, and 2) aiming at a point just beyond the board.  In other words, it is important to not get distracted by things around you as you focus on hitting a point in your mind that is just beyond the visible board.  Of course, the “point” you aim at isn’t visible because the board blocks it from view, so that’s where the focus also comes into play.

Life is often somewhat like that board.  It’s hard and unyielding.  We bump up against it over and over and bruises are usually the result.  Life doesn’t bend, as a general rule.  If we are to break through the frustration of living in this world, we must be focused, and we must aim at something beyond this life – something that is just on the other side of what is visible.  And then we must drive with all our force to that “something” that is just beyond our sight. 

For Christians, we take note of what the Word says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  What is seen is like the board – it’s not really the goal – the goals is unseen, just on the “other side”.  And again, Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) instructs us: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  We are to focus all our energy, our vision, on Jesus.  And where is he?  Seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He’s in the realm of the unseen, and he awaits us just beyond what is visible.

Another way to think of this is that death is the board – a door, if you will – that prevents us from seeing what is not unseen.  But it will not always be so.  And what will we see when we break through?  Jesus.

PRAYER: We pray that You will sharpen our focus and help us to remember that we are not to aim at things in this life that would distract us from what is presently unseen.  Strengthen us to look beyond this life to see the Risen Son seated in glory, awaiting our arrival!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/06/18 – God and the GPS

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DayBreaks for 12/06/18: God and the GPS

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

From a sermon (“Choices”) by John Ortberg:

“I can’t live Jesus’ life and Jesus knows that, but he says: You can ask me to come and live my life in you.

“I’ll give you a picture of this. Nancy and I were in a part of the country we had never been before. We were going to be driving on obscure back roads, so we got a rental car, and the guy at the counter said to me, ‘Along with this car, if you want, you can also get a GPS system.’ Have you ever used a GPS system? You plug it in and punch in your destination. A woman’s voice will tell you how to get wherever it is you are going. Well, when the guy at the counter asked if I wanted one, my immediate response was, ‘No. That is going to cost something. I don’t need that. I can find where I’m going without that.’ Anybody want to guess what my wife weighed in with? ‘Get the GPS.’ So, we got the GPS.

“Here’s the deal: You can get the box. You can have the lady in the car, but that doesn’t mean you trust her. If you trust her, what do you do? You do what she says. You go where she tells you to go. She says, ‘Turn left,’ you turn left. If she says, ‘Turn left,’ and in your heart you think, ‘But I want to turn right,’  and then you remember, ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is death.’ Okay?

“To follow Jesus means I will do what he says. I will mess up a lot. I’m going to need his power. I know that, but I form the intention. I say to him, ‘God, with your help, as best I can, I will do what you say. I will give you my life, my time, my obedience.’

“Here is the thing: If that is not your settled intent, then it is best to be honest about it. If that is not your settled intent, then whatever else you might be, you are not a follower of Jesus. An admirer, maybe. But he is looking for followers. He is looking for somebody who will say, ‘All right, God.’

“There is something else you need to know about him—something that is also true when dealing with a GPS system. At one point when we were driving in this car, I was quite sure the lady was wrong. She said to go left, and I didn’t go left. I went right, because I knew she was wrong. Then as an interesting response, she said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’ I knew she was wrong, so I unplugged her. That’s the beauty of that little box. You can unplug her.

“I got lost as a goose. My wife enjoyed that immensely.

“So we plugged that lady back in, and you know what she said? ‘I told you so, you little idiot.’ She said, ‘You think I’m going to help you now? You rejected me. You just find your way home by yourself.’ No—she didn’t say that. She said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’

“Now see, that’s grace. As soon as you’re ready to listen, as soon as you’re ready to surrender, God will say, ‘Here is the way home. Execute a U-turn.’ That’s repentance. ‘I’ll bring you home.’ That is grace. That’s Jesus. He is the only one with authoritative wisdom about how to live. He is the only one who brings about the possibility of forgiveness for your sin and mine. He is the only one to give any kind of realistic hope of conquering death, of life beyond the grave.

“Why would you not give your full devotion to Jesus? He does not present himself as a good, spiritual teacher to be admired from a distance. He presents himself as Master, as Lord, as the one to be followed and served and obeyed and worshiped. There is no other way. He is it.”

PRAYER: For grace and mercy we thank You, Almighty and Eternal God.  Thank You for giving us direction.  Give us the wisdom to follow it faithfully!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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