DayBreaks for 7/17/17 – Getting Close Enough

DayBreaks for 7/17/17: Getting Close Enough

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Preachers face some interesting dilemmas.  It isn’t uncommon for us to visit the sick in the hospital.  And as you know, hospitals are rife with all sorts of disease and infections.  In some ways, it’s amazing that anyone comes out of a hospital alive.  Recent stories about drug-resistant staph infections are scary, aren’t they?  Yet, when someone is sick, you go, hoping and trusting that you won’t get infected.  After all, you may have to get up in the pulpit the next day and preach!!!  And, what if you’re too sick to be there?  I know things would always work out.  But it’s one of the crazy things that go through a minister’s head from time to time. 

Of course, the closer you get to someone who is sick, the greater the chance of infection and the spread of disease.  As I write this, my wife is winging her way to India where she’ll work at an orphanage for two weeks.  She’s got anti-malaria pills to take every day while she’s there, other things to fight dengue fever, special spray to put on her clothes in advance (that will survive 6 washings!!) to hold the mosquitoes in abeyance, and other stuff to protect her from diseases.  We Americans don’t have good immunity to numerous other diseases that are common in other parts of the world.  Proximity to Indian mosquitoes, for example, certainly increases your risk of getting those diseases. 

Proximity to other humans increases our chance of getting diseases they may have.  Sneezing, coughing, vomiting.  The tiny aerosols that spew from our mouths when we sneeze spread disease.  Other diseases are spread though bodily fluids, including sweat from a fever.  Getting close is dangerous.

How close should we get to others?  In Luke chapter 5, Jesus heals a leper.  Sometimes when Jesus healed people of disease or illness, he just spoke the word and the healing was accomplished!  He could heal at a distance – we know that from the healing of the Roman centurion’s son.  But in this case, Jesus specifically chose not to heal at a distance.  He touched the leper.

John Ortberg put it well when he noted that “…only when you get close enough to catch their hurt will they be close enough to catch your love.”  Jesus got plenty close to catch our hurt.  He felt it in his own flesh.  He experienced it in his own heart.  And he got close enough to catch our disease.  Instead, he healed our disease, discounting the risk, so we could catch his love. 

Will we get close enough to others so we can feel and catch their hurt so we can give them His love?

PRAYER:  Thank you, Jesus, for not being afraid to touch us.  Thank you for being willing to feel our hurt.  Thank you for the love you’ve given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/14/17 – A Sight to Behold

Glacier Natl Park 027Mod

Photo of Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, 2006. Galen C. Dalrymple

DayBreaks for 7/14/17: A Sight to Behold

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?  It’s a tough question, isn’t it?  My first reaction would be to reflect on a high mountain meadow in the Sierra Nevada’s that I saw while hiking with my best friend, Ken.  Or, a sunset on evening as we were out in our little boat returning from a fishing trip in the San Joaquin delta when the water was as smooth as glass but as colorful as an artist’s palette.  Possibly, it would be Hidden Lake at the top of the continental divide in Glacier National Park – a spot you can’t see from the road, but you have to hike back to it over about a mile or two of snow, up past the shoulders of towering granite uprisings. 

I hope that I will never forget the beauty of those things.  I remember at the time, thinking that I wanted to remember them forever.  And I still can, but if I’m to be totally honest about it, the memories do fade a bit over time.  The colors in my imagination aren’t quite as bright as they were in reality.  I guess memory is like color film – it fades over time. 

So, those were my first inclinations in regard to the opening question.  However, as I thought about it more, perhaps the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is my children, or my grandchildren, as they sleep.  It might seem strange to some to say that the most beautiful thing I’ve seen is people.  People who are near and dear to me.  People that I’d gladly give my life for.

Try to imagine the blind man that Jesus healed.  He’s been blind since birth.  He’s never seen a bird, a flower, a sunrise or sunset.  He’s never seen his mother’s face, he can’t understand the concept of color in the sky or reflected off the water.  He has no point of reference, no sense of visual depth perception.  He’s never seen…anything.  And then one day, along comes Jesus of Nazareth, a man who has been reputed to give sight to the blind and to make the lame walk and the deaf hear.  The man’s mind must have been running at full tilt: could this be the day when he, too, would receive sight?

As it turns out, it was his “lucky” day.  And what to his wondering eyes should appear?  No, it wasn’t a sleigh full of toys and small reindeer.  It was Jesus.  Can you imagine the very first thing you ever see being the face of God?  Would anything ever again live up to that moment, to that sight?  This, truly, is a sight to behold.  It is the sight we all long to behold, if we are His. 

We will have to wait until God decides it is time for you and I to see Him.  Waiting…seeing now only by faith, but not by sight…it can be a long and difficult wait.  But it will be worth it ten thousand times over.  And nothing we will ever see again, not even the streets of gold in heaven itself, will equal the moment when we awaken from our dying moment only to see the Savior’s face. It will make the long, dark years of our “blindness” and waiting worth it.

PRAYER:  Lord of creation, we know You are not the creation itself, but the Maker of all.  Yet in the creation, we see glimpses, tiny flashes, of Your beauty and glory.  Thank you that we will someday see You in all Your risen glory, and that we will behold Your face throughout all of eternity.  How we long to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/13/17 – The Yoke of the Rabbi

DayBreaks for 7/13/17: The Yoke of the Rabbi

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

I remember what it was like working in the business world.  I loved the people I worked with, but I must say that I never enjoyed that work as much as what I now do.  I recall how I’d be given an assignment by the VP that I reported to and it would seem to be an impossible request.  And, if the truth be told, at times it was.  You just couldn’t get there from here.  Yet, there was an expectation on his part that somehow, like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, what it was that he desired would magically appear.  Sometimes it happened (by God’s goodness!), but at other times, the rabbit was stillborn.

Expectations.  Instructions.  They can be crushing, can’t they?  If you work or have ever worked, or even if you haven’t, you have had expectations placed upon you that at times were easy to live up to, and at other times were like a 10,000 pound load of bricks.  Such things weigh heavily on our minds, bodies and souls.

Enter a young rabbi from Nazareth.  One day, after his teaching had been rejected at Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, Jesus pronounced a woe on those cities for their failure to turn from their sin to the sinless God.  It wasn’t a pretty scene.  But then comes one of the best known of Jesus’ statements: Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT) – Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

What is the yoke that Jesus is describing?  In the Jewish culture, every rabbi had what was referred to as a “yoke of teaching.”  Simply put, a rabbi’s yoke was their teachings, his instructions.  Jesus was saying that his instructions were easy, that as opposed to the teachings of the other rabbis (especially the Pharisees with their emphasis on rules and obedience), his teachings were light. His burden was one that could be carried!

I fear that many churches have not been teaching the yoke of this Rabbi.  We make it far too hard for people to enter the kingdom.  In Matthew 23:13 Jesus takes the Pharisees to task specifically for not allowing their students to enter the kingdom.  Their concept of admittance to the kingdom was based on people being good enough to qualify, to earn God’s favor.  That is NOT the message of Jesus Christ!  This perverted view of what Christianity is about has kept many men and women from the kingdom.  And the curses that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees for laying that heavy yoke on those who sought rest will fall today on those who likewise raise barriers to admittance to the kingdom of God.

Jesus said his yoke of teaching was light, that it fits perfectly.  It doesn’t rub or chafe, resulting in ulcerated, bleeding sores.  It is comfortable, barely noticeable.  His teaching was summarized in two commandments and a statement: Love God, love your fellow man.  Believe in me and my work on your behalf.  That’s it.  He offers a relationship, not rules.  He offered grace, not impossibilities.

Are you trying to carry a back-breaking burden of teaching and rules?  Lay it down.  Pick up the yoke that Jesus would give you.  And stop bleeding.  

PRAYER:  We are so grateful, Jesus, that you know and understand our weak frame.  You know that we could never carry the burden of holiness on our own shoulders, nor reach a level of obedience that would qualify us for Heaven.  Thank you for a light burden that is a perfect fit.  May we lay down the heavy load and take up the light yoke of Your teaching.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/12/17 – Busted Snakes and Clutter

DayBreaks for 7/12/17: Busted Snakes and Clutter

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Hezekiah was a man of God.  He’s not one of the better-known characters in the Scripture.  Maybe you don’t even know who he was.  Let me update you if your memory, like mine, is a bit faded these days.  Hezekiah was one of Israel’s kings, and he was a good one.  2 Kings 18:3 says that Hezekiah did what was right in the Lord’s sight.  That’s pretty high praise.  The people had been led into idolatry, but Hezekiah brought them back into God’s pathways once again.  He tore down the Asherah poles that were used in idolatrous worship.  He broke up the altars that had been used for sacrifices to false gods.  As Thom Rainer puts it in Simple Church: He took out the godless clutter that had been competing for the attention and the affection of the people.

But he did more than tear down the Asherah poles and altars.  He did something that would have been considered unthinkable by many of the Israelites.  Do you remember that during the wilderness wanderings, the Lord had sent a plague of snakes into the camp because of the people’s sin?  At that time, Moses was instructed to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that the people who had been bitten could lift their eyes in faith to the serpent on the pole and be saved from death.  It’s a fascinating story, all by itself.  What you may not have remembered or realized is that when Hezekiah got busy with his housecleaning, with removing the clutter from the spiritual life of the nation of Israel, one of the things he did was to break the bronze snake that Moses had made. 

Hezekiah didn’t pretend that he’d dropped the snake and it broke by accident.  He intentionally and purposefully broke it.  Bear in mind that this snake had been in the possession of Israel for hundreds of years.  It would have been a relic.  It had been actually touched by Moses, and it had been made at the express command of the Lord Almighty Himself. 

It took nerve for Hezekiah to bust up that snake.  Why did he do it?  Because it had become clutter.  As amazing as it was – and as fascinating as it must have been to have seen something hundreds of years old that Moses had made himself – it had become clutter because people revered it.  It had become an object of adoration.  It took the attention of people away from the True and Living God.

What’s the point?  Good things can become bad things if we pay them undue attention.  The image of the snake was never meant to be worshiped.  It was meant to be a tool to draw people to worship Jehovah.  But that which was good became bad because people worshiped the image instead.  Can you imagine how the people must have reacted to hearing that their king had destroyed the serpent made by the hand of Moses?!?!  Talk about an unpopular thing to do!

Change is hard.  Change can be very unpopular.  Yet change can also be absolutely vital. 

It’s scary how easily good things can become bad.  It calls for deep introspection.  Is there something that was once good which I have unduly exalted in my mind or heart? 

Break the snakes in your life.  Get rid of the clutter.  Let’s get back to what it’s all about.  It’s not about people’s favorite images or programs or how they think things should be done.  It’s about God and His glory and a proper worship of His Person.

PRAYER:  Open our eyes, Father, that we may see where we are either guilty of, or in danger of, taking something holy and worshipping it instead of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/11/17 – The Right Focus

DayBreaks for 7/11/17: The Right Focus

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Have you ever wondered what people say about you when they know you can’t hear them?  I know that for some people, this is a major preoccupation!  They are obsessed with what people think of them and what they might say about them.  They’ll even ask you sometimes if someone said something about them behind their back, or even something that might have been somewhat negative.  I guess it’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by it.  Everyone wants to be well thought of.

Well, almost everyone.  There was One who had a different focus on such things.  His name was Jesus. 

In Matthew 16:13 (NLT) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  You see, Jesus, too, was curious about the things people were saying, except there’s a huge difference.  Instead of asking “What are people saying about me?”, his question focused on an entirely different issue.  He didn’t care what people thought about him, but he did care WHO they thought he was.  If it had been you or I in His place, we would have wondered if they liked the last sermon we gave, if they thought we were intelligent, good looking, a nice guy or a nice gal.  But those things didn’t matter to Jesus.  Seemingly, they didn’t matter to him at all.  

What mattered to Jesus was who people thought He was.  It really didn’t matter if they thought he was a good speaker (they did – even if they didn’t like what he said!), or if they felt he was witty and entertaining.  What mattered immensely was who they believed Him to be.

How would our lives be different if our focus wasn’t on WHAT people said about us, but on who we are?  If we spent one tenth of the time on letting our Christian identity be known as we spend on trying to impress others, wouldn’t the world be much better served?  It might be an interesting exercise to ask some people who know you at work (or even at church or in your family), “Who do people say I am?” 

PRAYER:  We get focused on all the wrong things about ourselves, Lord!  Help us to know and understand that who we are in Christ Jesus is much more important than our cleverness or popularity.  May we live so that others will see clearly who our Lord really is!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/10/17 – Writing Checks You Cannot Cash

DayBreaks for 7/10/17: Writing Checks You Cannot Cash

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:You may have heard the phrase, “You’re writing checks your body cannot cash.”  More often than not, it applies to either an athlete or some famous person who is demanding more of their body than they can reasonably do.  Sometimes it might be some ingénue or party guy who stays out until the wee hours of the morning partying, drinking…and then has to get up and go to work the next morning – and the scenario is repeated over and over again, each and every day.  Sooner or later, as another saying goes: the chickens come home to roost.  The Holy Word puts it a bit differently: You will reap what you sow.Thanh Nhat Le, 51, was arrested in Dorchester, Mass., in April, when he tried to cash a check he wrote to himself for $7,550 on his account at a Sovereign Bank.  He had opened the account two weeks earlier, handing over $171 in small bills.  He was certain that he had plenty of money in his account, though, because in the interim, he had also mailed the bank three checks for deposit:  one for $250,000; one for $2 million; and one for $4 billion.We laugh at Mr. Le, knowing how silly and foolish his actions (and apparently his thought processes!) were.  Now, if Mr. Le were Bill Gates, he might have been able to cash that check for $7,550, but alas, he was just Mr. Le.  Yet, how the question begs to be asked: are you thinking that you’ve been making deposits of good deeds into an invisible heavenly account, thinking that the day will come when you will meet your Maker and that you’ll cash them in so that you can gain admittance to heaven?  It won’t work.  The price of admittance to heaven is too steep of a price for any of us to pay – not even Bill Gates can pay it!  It’s foolish to think that we can build up enough good deeds to please God.  Does that mean that God doesn’t like it when we do good things?  No, he loves it.  But, good deeds won’t get you any further than $4,002,250,171 of “deposits” got Mr. Le.  With our most righteous acts being like nothing more than filthy rags, our hope of heaven must rest on something else.  Jesus wrote the check and paid the bill that was as far beyond our ability to pay than the heavens are above the earth.  May we with humility and gratitude accept the gift He has given us!

PRAYER: Lord, may we bow before you as foolish children, yet grateful for what You have done.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us hope!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/07/17 – Give Me Those Eyes!

DayBreaks for 7/07/17: Give Me Those Eyes

Matthew 17 records the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. It only takes eight verses to give us the details, but also to capture our imaginations. I’ve heard this story a bazillion times, read it not quite that many, but when Michael Card recently share it in his The Card Community email newsletter, something struck me that I’d not noticed before. Here’s what the text says: Matthew 17:7-8 (NLT) – Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked, they saw only Jesus.

Moments before the disciples (verse 5) were terrified and fell face down to the ground for at least three reasons: 1) Jesus was shining like the sun, 2) they witnessed “dead” men standing and talking (sorta like Sixth Sense) in Moses and Elijah, and 3) they’d heard the voice of God which always (well, more often than not) struck fear into mortals. Is it any wonder they went face down!?!?!

But verse 7 tells us that as soon as that happened, Jesus went over to them, touched them and told them to not be afraid. That’s when the disciples looked up and when they did, what did they see? Only Jesus.

Gone were Elijah and Moses, gone was the terrifying glow and thundering voice. All that was left was Jesus.

Oh, how I hope that every time I look up, every time that I lift my eyes, I will see only Jesus! My eyes are prone to wander and try to take in everything, but only one thing is really important – and that is to see and look constantly and steadfastly at him!

When I’m afraid, I need to see him. When I’m joyful, I need to see him. When I’m confused, let me see him. When I’m tempted, let me fasten my eyes on him. In short, may the only thing we see be Him!

PRAYER: God, give me those eyes that see only Jesus and not the things that frighten or terrify! Let my fears be put to rest as I look up to see my Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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