DayBreaks for 10/13/17 – Living in Spite House

A Spite House in Boston, MA

DayBreaks for 10/13/17: Living in Spite House

There once was a millionaire who owned a lot in an exclusive residential area of New York City. This particular lot presented a very unusual problem. The lot was five feet wide and about a hundred feet long. He couldn’t do anything with such an odd sized lot, so he decided to sell it one of the neighbors on either side. But when he went to the neighbors, they didn’t want to give him anything for it. They basically said, “Look, you can’t build on it and you can’t sell it to anyone else. So take our offer or leave it.” The millionaire was so angered by their refusal and rebuttal that he decided to get even.

He hired an architect and a contractor, and had a house designed for that weird shaped lot. It was five feet wide and ran the entire length of the property. He moved in and set up house in this narrow house. Each room was barely wide enough for a single piece of furniture. His hatred for the people on either side of this small lot made him decide to ruin the look of the entire area.

The neighbors complained that it was a blight to the neighborhood. But the city fathers couldn’t find any code forbidding it. This millionaire moved into it, and lived there the rest of his life. The only one who was really punished was him. He moved into a long narrow little house that held only hate and discomfort. The house became known throughout the neighborhood as “Spite House.” It still stands to this day as a monument to one man’s hatred.

When I heard this story, I thought, surely this is an exaggeration. So, I did some checking and not only did I learn it was true, but what was even more shocking is the fact that there are at least twelve “Spite Houses” to be found in a simple search online.

There’s one in Carlsbad, New Mexico, built to block the Mayor’s view and annoy him. There are two in San Francisco; One at Deadman’s Point, Maine; one in Huntsville, Alabama; one in Boston, one that is supposed to be haunted and has been turned into a Bed & Breakfast in Fredrick, Maryland; and a triangle shaped “Spite House” in Montlake, Washington, a suburb of Seattle.

Isn’t that silly?

But here’s the question: are you living in a “spite house”? If so, confess it, move out and never go back again!

PRAYER: Jesus, protect us from the heart of bitterness and spite! Let us be bigger and better people than to erect houses of spite against those around us! Keep us from this ugliness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 6/28/16 – The Skeleton Is You

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DayBreaks for 6/28/16 – The Skeleton Is You

Galen is on vacation. From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

I find the concept of “deadly sins” intriguing.  I’m not poking fun at those who promote the idea of deadly sins versus what appear to be “non-deadly” ones, but I just don’t find the concept in Scripture.  In fact, quite the contrary is true – it seems to me that all sins are of the deadly variety.  Some may have wider-ranging consequences than others – either for ourselves or for others – but consequences being what they may, every sin is deadly because every sin has the power to separate us from God for eternity. 

Now I understand that when Christ died, he paid the price for our sins, and that for those who have accepted him through faith and obedience to the gospel, the penalty for our sin has been removed.  But that doesn’t mean they weren’t deadly sins.  As Jesus – they were certainly deadly to Him.

Still, I found this from Frederick Buechner to be an interesting perspective on one of the so-called “deadly sins”: “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king.

“The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” – Frederick Buechner

How true is that?!?!  Anger consumes us from the inside out until all that is left is a skeleton. 

Are you handling your anger in a Godly way, or do you need to confess that the way you’ve been dealing with it has been consuming you?   

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, we confess to you that we all harbor some anger in our hearts for the hurts and slights that we’ve suffered or perceived against us.  Help us to see how deadly anger is, not only for our own well-being, but for those against whom our anger burns.  Teach us to be like you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/07/15 – Forgiveness or Atrocity?

forgiveness

DayBreaks for 8/07/15: Forgiveness or Atrocity?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

As with most things in life, we have choices to make.  We can choose friends, choose careers, choose a spouse, choose what to eat and where to live.  But it’s interesting that when it comes to handling our emotions and how we react to things, we seem to find it very hard to make the right choices some times.  We seem to find it nearly impossible to love our enemies or to fight certain temptations.  And perhaps the most common complaint about emotional sin is the one that says, “I just can’t forgive So-and-so for what they did.”

And so, unforgiveness reigns in the heart of much of the world.  It’s why the Palestinians and Israelis continue to hate and spiral downward in ever-increasing violence and anger.  It’s why the Sunnis and Shiites can’t get along.  It’s why the Pakistanis and Indians don’t like one another, or the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.  The essayist Lance Morrow, in observing this human tendency, hit it on the head when he noted that when unforgiveness reigns, a Newtonian-like law comes into play: “For every atrocity there must be an equal and opposite atrocity.”  Theologian Romano Guardini offered this as a diagnosis of the problem of revenge: “As long as you are tangled in the wrong and revenge, blow and counterblow, aggression and defense, you will be constantly drawn into fresh wrong…Only forgiveness frees us from the injustices of others.”  And perhaps no one better described the outcome of unforgiveness and revenge better than Gandhi, who observed that if everyone followed the “eye for an eye” rule, eventually the whole world would go blind.

Someone needs to stop the cycle of viciousness that lives in the hearts of humanity.  Perhaps we are right when we say that we can’t forgive someone.  Perhaps it takes the Spirit living in us for us to be able to forgive those who have mistreated or hurt us or those we love.  Whatever it takes, we need to find the strength to stop the bitterness that keeps pouring gasoline on the fire of unforgiveness and which demands an ever greater sacrifice to satisfy our desire for revenge.

Revenge is a hungry monster that is never sated.  That’s why it must be killed.  How much room are you giving revenge in your heart?  Who do you need to forgive so that you can be like your Father in heaven?

PRAYER: Keep us from deluding ourselves into thinking we have forgiven when perhaps all we have done is avoided the truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 6/17/15 – God, I Forgive You

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DayBreaks for 6/17/15: God, I Forgive You

A minister once relayed a conversation he had one day with a female medical assistant in a doctor’s office, as he was waiting to see the doctor. The woman recognized him because she had occasionally attended his church, though she was a member of another church.

“I want to tell you about my experience,” she said. “I got saved in the Assemblies of God Church … I gave my life to God … and guess what? … Life tumbled in! I developed a heart problem. My husband lost his executive job … and he recently died of cancer.”

The minister says he tried to mumble a few theological sounding explanatory words about God’s mysterious ways, thinking that was what the woman wanted. But she went right on with her story, indicating that she had repeatedly asked God, “Why me?” “And what do you think God told me?” she continued. “‘Why not you?’ That’s what God said. ‘Why should you be spared all the crises of life that everyone else must go through?'” Then she wound up her story saying, “One day I said to God, ‘Lord, you’ve forgiven me. Now I forgive you.'”

It might seem the height of arrogance to say that we are “forgiving” God for anything, but in my way of thinking, this woman was on to something.  I think her faith is great and that it is not just a series of theological propositions, it was far more: is a relationship, and as in all relationships, it is one that changes and can tolerate challenges. It is vital because it is honest.  After all, we’ve all been angry at God many times for things that happen to us or those we love.  We can choose to fume over those things, or accept that fact that God knows better than we do and that we can full trust Him for one thing: that He will only and always do what is best for us.  Even then, we may need to “forgive” Him rather than let our anger and bitterness consume and destroy us.

PRAYER: While we know that we really have nothing to forgive You for, I am thankful that You understand and can handle our disappointment in Your decisions from time to time.  Keep us from the anger and bitterness that would keep us from relationship with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 2/12/14 – The Skeleton at the Feast

DayBreaks for 2/12/14 – The Skeleton at the Feast

Romans 12:17-18 (NLT) Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” What does that mean? Simply this: vengeance is more satisfying when exacted in cold blood.

Who among us has not at some time or another longed for, if not actively sought, revenge on another? It seems to be part of the human malady caused by sin. We are hurt – and we want to hurt back. We are injured and we want to injure in return. Quid pro quo as the Romans would have said. 

We know, deep inside of us, that it should not be this way. We know, somewhere down in the bottom of our hearts, that revenge isn’t right, but oh, how we long for it when the wound is raw!!!! 

But, revenge is not all it is cracked up to be. It carries its own poison. Consider these words from Frederick Beuchner: Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

Let’s be done with revenge. Let’s live honorably!

PRAYER: Lord, if we are angry with others today, keep us from striking out and seeking revenge! May we, as you did on the cross, pray for those who pound nails and mock us. May we live honorably, as you did! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/17/11 – Internal Concentration Camp

DayBreaks for 06/17/11 – The Internal Concentration Camp

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

I’m sure that you remember the story of Jacob and Esau and how Jacob tricked his father into blessing him instead of the rightful firstborn heir, Esau.  How would you have felt if you had been Jacob?  I have often wondered if it was partly his guilty conscience that led him to flee from Esau, or if it was just pure fear.  How do you think you would have reacted if you found yourself in Esau’s shoes?  Have you ever felt that your brother or sister cheated you out of something to which you were entitled?  It is tragic the way that some siblings turn on one another when the last of their parents dies and the inheritance is to be divided up.  It is one of the saddest things in the world when this happens.

We don’t really have to wonder how Esau felt, because Gen. 27:41 tells us what was going on in Esau’s heart – “Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’”  People hold grudges, don’t they?  It seems that the longer they are held, the worse they get.  They aren’t like a sore muscle that gets better over time – they grow and take on a life of their own.  What may have originally been a small slight (intentional or not) can grow into a wall that divides people for a lifetime.

Eph. 4:31-32 makes no bones about it – “31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you…”  We have no ground left on which to stand – we are told to get rid of ALL bitterness in our lives.  And it isn’t a suggestion, it is something Paul puts very strongly (can you say “command”?)  When we read those two verses, we are quick to latch onto the last verse and say that we are commanded to be kind and compassionate, but not taking the first verse seriously – the part about getting rid of our bitterness.  Chuck Swindol had this to say: “We who refuse to forgive – we who live in the gall of bitterness – will become victims of torture.  If we nurture feelings of bitterness we are little better than inmates of an internal concentration camp.  For your sake, let me urge you to put away all bitterness now.  The escape route is clearly marked.  It leads to the cross…where the only One who had a right to be bitter wasn’t.

Look deeply into your heart today.  Are you holding a grudge against someone because of something they did – or didn’t do – either recently or long ago?  Not sure?  Let me ask it another way: is there someone that you’d be very uncomfortable around because of something they did to you in the past?  If so, it is possible that you still hold a grudge, that you are living in bitterness – a veritable concentration camp of your own making.

The most miserable people I know are those who hold grudges and who are filled with bitterness.  Do some people have a right to be bitter or hold a grudge?  From a human standpoint I would have to say, “Yes!”  I know some people who have had horrible life experiences – seemingly one right after another.  But God says that we don’t have such a “right”.  All we have is the responsibility to get rid of bitterness from our life.  Are you ready to begin?

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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