DayBreaks for 8/08/18 – The Signature of His Presence

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DayBreaks for 8/08/18: The Signature of His Presence

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

It seems like America is fascinated with forensics.  There’s CSI spin-offs, NCIS spin-offs, and other mystery/detective shows that talk a lot about forensics. Much of the gist of those shows is trying to figure out who was the murderer, and that means that they’ve got to place the killer in the room or woods or on the boat with the victim at the time the murder was committed.  Often, the way that they make that link is through DNA evidence: a piece of hair, some bodily fluid that was left at the scene or on a cup that was left in the room.  It can be other small things, too, like dirt from a shoe, a tire tread left in the mud, some little bit of evidence that would be overlooked entirely if you weren’t looking for such details.

Perhaps you’ve known someone who wore a distinctive fragrance (or maybe they just had a strange smell, period).  If they’d just left the room, you could probably tell that they’d been there because of the scent in the air.  We leave clues everywhere we go.

What was the signature of Jesus’ presence?  If a forensic scientist were looking for clues to indicate if Jesus really had come to earth, where might they look, and what might they look for? 

Some might start looking at the temple in Jerusalem – after all, Jesus was Jewish, and that was the supreme place of worship for the Jews.  Some might want to look in the king’s palace.  But if they did that, they’d not find what they were looking for.  In his book, Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg suggests: “His raggedness became the very signature of his presence.  ‘And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’”  (Luke 2:12)

Jesus wasn’t afraid of raggedness.  To become like us, he had to become ragged, indeed.  We’re so full of concerns about how we look, how we’re perceived, what people think of us and what they might say about us behind our backs that we try to hide all the raggedness that surrounds us.  We want to appear properly groomed and turned out for the occasion.  We’re more concerned about appearances than substance.  Jesus wasn’t.  We shouldn’t be, either.

PRAYER: May we put away foolish notions of appearance and strive for true beauty in the inner soul.  May we not only accept our own raggedness, but revel in the raggedness of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/7/18 – Words Are Loaded Pistols

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DayBreaks for 8/07/18: Words Are Loaded Pistols

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Have you been described as a person of many words?  Most of us are more afflicted with the running-off-at-the-mouth disease than closed-mouth disease.  We like to hear ourselves talk, probably because we think we have something worth saying.  Sometimes that is true, but sometimes, perhaps most often, it’s a delusion. 

Did you know that on October 14, 1912, the life of outspoken and energetic presidential candidate, Theodore Roosevelt was saved by his many words? 

Roosevelt had just completed one term as our nation’s president, and was reapplying with the voters for the job.  As he left his hotel in Milwaukee on that particular day, he stuffed his thick, wordy campaign speech in his breast pocket.  He was soon confronted by a gun-toting bartender who fired at rough-and-tumble Teddy, hoping that Roosevelt would suffer the same fate as his predecessor, President McKinley, who’d been assassinated.  The bullet did crack one of Roosevelt’s ribs, but the thickness of his speech probably saved him from death as the bullet struck the large sheaf of paper that he’d put into his pocket shortly before.

While many words were life-saving in this one incident, generally the more words you spit out, the more trouble you bring on your own head.  Jean Paul Sartre once wisely observed, “Words are loaded pistols.”  Now, just in case you don’t like what Sartre had to say on the topic, your Creator dispensed this sage perspective: When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Prov. 10:19, NIV).

“Words are loaded pistols.” Indeed they are. They can protect and defend, but they can also maim and kill.

Words—choose them carefully.  Spend them carefully.  And make sure you err on the side of saying too little rather than too much.  Your life might be at stake.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV) – But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

PRAYER:  Help us Lord, to be people of few words.  May the words we speak be Your Words, not ours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/06/18 – A Painful, Unasked Question

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DayBreaks for 8/06/18: A Painful, Unasked Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

1 Peter 3:15a (NIV) – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…

I must admit that I’m troubled.  I have been forced to look more closely into the mirror lately, and I am distressed by what I see.  I’m not talking about gray hair and wrinkly skin.  I’m talking about myself – the real me that hides somewhere inside this “fleshly tent” as Scripture so aptly put it.

I like to think of myself as a fairly upbeat, hopeful, cheerful and fun-loving person.  Who doesn’t want to think of themselves in those terms?  Have you ever known anyone who had a goal in life to be downcast, hopeless about everything, sad and determined to remain miserable all their life?  I don’t know anyone who set out with those life goals and I doubt that you do either.  I know some people who seem to have many of those negative characteristics much of the time – but it was never their great desire to be that way.  Somehow, life beat the tar out of them (or so is their perception of what life has done to them) and they are just that way now.  It is really sad.

But here’s what’s really bothering me: Peter seems to suggest that people will ask me (and you if you are a believer) about the hope that they see and observe in us, in our lives.  Here’s the painful question-that-never-is-asked: Why has no one asked me about the hope in me?  When is the last time someone actually came up to you and said, “Wow.  I don’t know what it is that makes you so positive, hopeful and upbeat.  What is it?  Can you tell me?”  Have you EVER had anyone ask you that question?  I don’t know that I have – and that really bothers me because it is contrary to the image I want to hold of myself. 

Could it be that we don’t know what it is to have hope?  Have we as believers surrendered our hope to the malaise and discontent and despair that flows through our world like a mighty ocean?  Or, if we do have hope, why is it not visible, why is it not causing people to ask the question that Peter alluded to?  Somehow, I believe Peter WAS asked that question, and I’ll bet he had the answer ready.

Will you join me in a pact to be more hopeful?  To let your hope show like brilliant rays of sunlight through the tall trees of despair?  It’s time that people asked us the question: “Why are you so hopeful?”

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord, I am deeply distressed that no one asks me the question!  Reveal to us, Lord, where our hearts and hope needs to change so that people feel that they can’t NOT ask us about our hope.  Fill us with undying hope for we have an undying future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/03/18 – To Live in the Present

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DayBreaks for 8/03/18: To Live in the Present

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

I love to think about heaven – about what it will be like, about what we/I will do there.  I can hardly wait to hear the myriads of angels and the four living creatures singing at the top of their “lungs” to the praise of the One on the throne.  I can hardly wait to talk with Daniel, that great warrior/prophet who faced down kings and the powerful men of the earth.  I want to talk with Moses, I want to ask Abraham about the “sacrifice” of Isaac and what he told Sarah and when and how he felt throughout that experience. 

Likewise, I can find myself being drawn to living in the past.  Sometimes at night I dream about past friendships and experiences.  I love to reminisce and tell stories of our children and family.  I love to think about great times I’ve had with friends camping and backpacking in the high Sierra’s, or to talk about the sights of Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon – or even the sights, sounds and smells of St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. 

It is easy to get caught in living either in the future or in the past.  As Walker Percy put it, “To live in the past and future is easy.  To live in the present is like threading a needle.”  I don’t know about you, but at my age and with my vision, threading a needle isn’t the easiest task any more.  It’s a challenge.

Why is living in the present so difficult?  Because we love the escape that living in either the past or future provides.  It’s also why we sit so many hours in front of our television or playing a videogame or attending some form of entertainment.  It seems that we in America can hardly stand to live in the present.  We’re always looking for some manner of escape – either backward, or forward, in time. 

Jesus understood our tendency to worry about today and to try to escape from it.  In Matthew 6:34 (KJV), Jesus said that we should Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Jesus is suggesting to us that we need to stay focused on today – to live in this day, in the present.  One day at a time is all we can handle!

PRAYER:  Jesus, help our minds not to wander from the serious business of living in the present and the challenge of serving You moment by moment.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/2/18 – For the Love off the World

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DayBreaks for 8/02/18: For the Love of the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Can I tell you something?  In many ways, I love this world.  What do I mean?  I don’t mean that I love the “world” in the sense of fallen behaviors, sin, diseases, disasters and the like.  I am sick and tired of such things. So please understand that when I say that I love the world, I mean that I’m fascinated by the beauty of creation: the starry canopy above, the roaring power of the ocean, the sheer majesty of mountains, the gurgling of the brook, the touch of the wind.  There are so many places I’d like to see: the pyramids (this has been a life-long dream that may or may not ever come true), the African wildlife, the grandeur of Alaska and the Himalayas.  I’d love to watch kangaroos hopping around in Australia, to see the fjords of Sweden and Norway, to watch the cold waters of the North Sea crash against the coastline of Scotland.  I’d love to visit Machu Piccu in Peru and see the part of New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed.  I would like to see the Great Wall – and I’d like to see Antarctica up close and personal.  Will I ever see all those places?  I’m sure I won’t – and in fact, I’m fairly resigned to not seeing very many, if any, of them at all. 

I love the world.  It is my Father’s world, after all.  He made it – and may I say, He did a pretty spectacular job of it. 

Why do we love this world so much?  As was true of so many things, I think C. S. Lewis was right on top of it when he wrote at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia: It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling.  He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: ‘I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.

There is it: …the old Narnia…sometimes looked a little like this.  The very finest things and places in this world enchant us so because they remind us of our real home…the real Narnia, where Aslan/Christ lives and rules and where sin has not touched even the tiniest blade of grass – nor will it ever do so.  My love of the things I’ve listed above is a reassurance to me that I will love what is in the Heavenly Kingdom that is still ahead of me. 

Can’t you hear the siren call in your soul to such places?  Let that pull you forward, out of the muck and mire of this world and lead us to be heavenly-minded children of the Great King.

2 Peter 3:13 (NASB) – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

PRAYER:  Thank you, mighty God, for giving us a creation filled with such delights!  Thank you for the echoes of eternity you have placed in our hearts that call us home to you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/01/18 – The Hope of a New Beginning

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The Raising of Lazarus, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

DayBreaks for 8/01/18: The Hope of a New Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

“Yellow is not my favorite color. But now that I know the story of Vincent van Gogh, I have come to value yellow differently. This famous Dutch painter, sadly, tossed away the truth imparted him in his Christian home and sank into depression and destruction. By the grace of God, as he later began to embrace the truth again, his life took on hope, and he gave that hope color.

“The best-kept secret of van Gogh’s life is that the truth he was discovering is seen in the gradual increase of the presence of the color yellow in his paintings. Yellow evoked (for him) the hope and warmth of the truth of God’s love. In one of his depressive periods, seen in his famous The Starry Night, one finds a yellow sun and yellow swirling stars, because van Gogh thought truth was present only in nature. Tragically, the church, which stands tall in this painting and should be the house of truth, is about the only item in the painting showing no traces of yellow. But by the time he painted The Raising of Lazarus, his life was on the mend as he began to face the truth about himself. The entire picture is (blindingly) bathed in yellow. In fact, van Gogh put his own face on Lazarus to express his own hope in the Resurrection.

“Yellow tells the whole story: life can begin all over again because of the truth of God’s love. Each of us, whether with actual yellows or metaphorical yellows, can begin to paint our lives with the fresh hope of a new beginning.” – Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed, Paraclete Press, 2004

Galen’s Thoughts: One of my very favorite verses in Scripture is in Revelation, where Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.”  We like “new”, don’t we?  Whether we’re talking about a car, a new recipe, a new friend, a new home.  We like new things.  In the English the word “new” is deceptive.  The Greeks had 2 different words for new: chronos (new in time) and kairos (new in kind).  In the Revelation passage, Jesus uses “kairos”, as if he’s saying, “I will be making everything new – like nothing you’ve seen before.”  Jesus gives us new beginnings – a beginning like we’ve never had, one with a different outcome than our first “beginning.”  

When will it happen and we obtain the new beginning?  At two different times, actually.  We receive some of it now when we accept Christ, but we receive it in full when the “new world” that Jesus makes come to pass.  It’s when Matthew 25:34 (NIV) becomes a reality: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Don’t miss that last phrase: “…the kingdom PREPARED FOR YOU since the creation of the world.”  God’s kingdom is to be our kingdom…it has been prepared for us.  We normally think of the kingdom as being God’s…but as His children, we inherit all things along with Christ. 

Are you ready for the new kingdom?  Are you ready for a new beginning, as Van Gogh found?  Paint your world with hope and joy, for the kingdom awaits you!

Luke 12:31-32 (NLT) – He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.’”

PRAYER:  How can we get our minds around what You have done for us?  That You should choose to give us the kingdom that rightly belongs to You is incomprehensible.  Thank you for new beginnings, for new worlds and new heavens in which righteousness, and we, will dwell!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/31/18 – Living an Accidental Life

DayBreaks for 7/31/18: Living an Accidental Life

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

From one day to the next, we form plans only to find that the day seldom goes as we’d planned.  Some things that we set out to do actually get done more or less as we’d planned them, but if your day is like mine, there are more unplanned things that happen in my life every day than I could ever anticipate.  There are interruptions that are totally unexpected – phone calls, drop-in visits, unforeseen actions by others that totally change the trajectory of my day.  It will happen to you today – bet on it.

There are many who live life this way on purpose, I believe – whose lives seem to careen from one accident to another.  And, if you buy the current thinking, I suppose it makes perfect sense.  As Neil Postman said about the scientific view of life and origins, in Science and the Story That We Need to Tell: “In the end, science does not provide the answers most of us require.  Its story of our origins and our end is, to say the least, unsatisfactory.  To the question, ‘How did it all begin’, science answers, ‘Probably by an accident.’  To the question, ‘How will it all end?’, science answers ‘Probably by an accident.’  And to many people, the accidental life is not worth living.”

Are you content thinking that your existence here on earth is purely accidental?  That when this world is all done with, that it will have all been an accident?  That your children happen to be yours by accident?  That whatever you achieve in life isn’t really an accomplishment, but an accident?  Where is there any hope or meaning in living an accidental life?

God has a much different view.  We are not accidents – God knew us before we were born.  The universe is not an accident, your mind is not an accident, your family and children are not accidents. 

Yes, we make our plans, and our days are full of what seem to be accidental encounters and events.  We can believe that if we choose.  But I, for one, cannot find any meaning in that, nor comfort.  I choose not to life an accidental life – or at the very least, to believe that my life – and yours, are not accidents, but rather generated in the thoughts and purposes of God.

PRAYER:  With each person that we meet and each event that crosses our pathway, may we seek Your purpose and wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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