DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/16/18 – Stay In School

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DayBreaks for 11/16/18: Stay in School

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

In New York’s East Harlem is a dilapidated old school for inner-city kids.  The buildings are in horrible shape – it looks like it could fall down at any time, and for the most part, the morale had fallen to even lower levels of repair than the buildings.  This is one of those schools that statistics paints with a dark and dismal picture for the students who attend there.  Within 3 years, most of the 6th graders there would have dropped out of school and become gang-bangers, or would be actively engaged in selling drugs or selling their bodies as prostitutes.  A great many would wind up in prison.  If history were to hold true to the pattern, most of these kids didn’t stand a chance.

But one day, a millionaire by the name of Eugene Lang was asked to speak at the school.  He accepted the invitation, and as he stood before the audience of 6th graders, he knew the grim tale of the statistics.  He’d begun his talk, but suddenly stopped.  He put down his notes on the podium and looked out at his audience, his heart filled with compassion.

With his voice and heart breaking, he said, “Stay in school.  Stay in school, and I will pay the college tuition for every one of you.”

The result: over 90% of the 6th graders present that day wound up graduating from high school and went on to college.  One young boy who was present that day described that transformational power this way: “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me.  It was a golden feeling.”

Would it have been easier for the kids to drop out?  Sure.  But would it have been better?  Of course not.  Peter, Paul, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – all encourage us to stay in Christ’s school throughout our life.  There is something waiting for us far better than a college education or a career in law or medicine or business.  There is LIFE that awaits us – a glorious life far beyond anything we can conceive of.  We just need to stay in school.  Jesus has paid our tuition to heaven.  The debt has already been covered.  Will we accept it?

Prayer: Father, for Jesus and His payment on our behalf, we praise You.  For hope that keeps us afloat, we thank You.  For the promise of a better life, we exalt You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/12/18 – The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

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DayBreaks for 9/12/18: The Fallacy of Powdered Christians

You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, “On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk–you just add water, and you get milk. Then I saw powdered orange juice–you just add water, and you get orange juice. And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, “What a country!”

Smirnoff is joking but we make these assumptions about Christian Transformation-that people change instantly at salvation. Some traditions call it repentance and renewal. Some call it Sanctification of the believer. Whatever you call it most traditions expect some quick fix to sin. According to this belief, when someone gives his or her life to Christ, there is an immediate, substantive, in-depth, miraculous change in habits, attitudes, and character. We go to church as if we are going to the grocery store: Powdered Christian. Just add water and disciples are born not made.

Unfortunately, there is no such powder and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. They are slowly raised through many trials, suffering, and temptations. One might wonder if it is worth the struggle, but that won’t be a question we even contemplate once we step out of this world into the next.

PRAYER: Jesus, let us be patient with you and with ourselves in the transformation. Keep us from despair and discouragement on the journey home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/24/18 – Less or More?

 

DayBreaks for 5/24/18: Less or More?

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

How are the old bones doing these days?  Are you creaking just a bit more than you did a couple of years ago?  How’s the muscle tone?  Still got those six-pack abs that you had when you were in college?  Does that old wedding dress or tuxedo still fit you perfectly?  Is the hair as thick as it once was?  How about the color of your hair these days?  Has the old “get up and go” gotten up and gone somewhere and left no forwarding address? 

If so, you’re being Biblical!!!!  The apostle Paul aptly described our physical condition in 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV) when he wrote: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

How are you doing with Paul’s statement, “we do not lose heart”?  Paul was describing his outward condition and the sufferings he’d been placed under for his stand for the faith.  It seems to me that many (including myself from time to time) lose heart as we see our bodies failing with higher frequency and greater severity.  My medicine cabinet has been pretty full of medications since my bypass surgery at 49 years of age.  I can only look forward to it getting even more congested as time passes and other things start to go bonkers on me.  It would be easy to lose heart – if my physical body is all that constitutes “me.” 

But Paul goes on to point out that though we are physically wasting away, inwardly we are not.  Inwardly we can be renewed day by day.  Eugene Peterson in Run With the Horses said it very well: “One of the supreme tasks of the faith community is to announce to us early and clearly the kind of life into which we can grow, to help us set our sights on what it means to be a human being complete.  Not one of us, at this moment, is complete.  In another hour, another day, we will have changed.  We are in process of becoming either less or more.  There are a million chemical and electrical interchanges going on in each of us this very moment.  There are intricate moral decisions and spiritual transactions taking place.  What are we becoming?  Less or more?”

In response to his own question, Peterson notes that 1 John 3:2 gives us the answer: Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  We are children; we will be adults.  We can see what we are now; we are children of God.  We don’t yet see the results of what we are becoming, but we know the goal, to be like Christ, or in Paul’s words, to arrive at mature manhood, to the measure of the statue of the fullness of Christ.  (Eph. 4:13)

“We do not deteriorate.  We do not disintegrate.  We become.” – Eugene Peterson

How’s your “becoming”?

PRAYER:  What wonderful news, Father, that we don’t deteriorate spiritually – but that we are becoming mature persons in Christ!  Shelter us safe as we grow and get strong in You, even as our bodies get weak and fail.  Help us to remember that we are not destined for deterioration, but for becoming!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/05/17 – Rend Your Heart

DayBreaks for 10/05/17: Rend Your Heart

Joel 2:12-14 (NIV) – Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing — grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.”

One of the things that I find hardest to understand about God is how patient He is with us.  Seemingly countless times in the Old Testament, Israel, the people that He Himself chose to be His own special people, walked off and left Him behind.  And for every one of those times, He pleaded with them to return to Him.  For every time that I’ve chosen against God, He has pleaded with me to return.  Remember, this is the God who is so great that He that creates with words alone, pleading with His creation.  It defies comprehension. 

The passage above from Joel shows us what it is that the Lord wants from us at times like that.  Israel got to be very good at crying out to God for help – but less good at crying out to Him for forgiveness.  They would go through religious reformation many times – putting on a good outward show, but they seldom participated in true spiritual renewal, from the inside out. 

The ancient Jews had a habit of tearing their clothing when they were bereft or distraught.  It was a sign of the depth of their anguish or sorrow.  In the passage from Joel, God puts it about as clearly as it could be said: “Don’t tear your robes.  I want your heart to be torn.”  Why?  Because His own heart had been torn.  It’s not that God wanted them to suffer as much, or even in like fashion, as He was suffering, but because He wanted their actions to proceed from their hearts.  It’s easy to appear broken on the outside.  It’s also much more painful to have your heart torn – as God’s heart was when His people turn their backs on Him.  But outward change doesn’t penetrate to the heart and result in heart-change.  Heart-change, on the other hand, will become apparent in outward actions. 

God is wise enough to know when our outward actions are merely for show or when they’re for real.  We can fairly easily fool one another by how we act when we’re surrounded by Christians or when we’re in church.  We can never, ever, fool God.  Not even when I pray to him and tell Him I’m sorry for something when deep down inside, I know my heart is not in agreement with my lips. 

We need to learn to pray that our hearts are rent and torn by our sin – and return to Him, “for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Who knows?  He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing…”

PRAYER: Jesus, we are masters at deceiving ourselves and others.  Give us hearts that break over our sin and then the lips to confess it.  Remove pretense far from us and turn our hearts back to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/16/16 – The Answer is in the Heart

DayBreaks for 6/16/16 – The Answer is in the Heart

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Fort Hood. San Bernadino. Aurora. Oklahoma City. Orlando.

Unfortunately, I don’t have to explain to the reference to each of the above locales. They are infamous enough because of events that took place there.

I don’t want to get political about this…that’s not the point. I don’t care what you do or don’t think about things like gun control…that’s entirely up to you. I have my opinions but right now those are beside the point. I only bring that up to make this point: you won’t solve the problem by making guns illegal any more than making drugs illegal has caused them to be eliminated from our culture.

So what is to be done? Why is this happening in our country and in places around the world?

I believe it is because we have lost our bearings because we have totally abandoned the only thing that can really change people: the indwelling Spirit and Word of God.

Most people of my generation grew up going to church. Our parents went to church…and took us with them. But then in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, there was a backlash against any kind of authority, any kind of control. My generation was a part of that, too. When truth became relative and defined by the individual instead of One who truly has Authority, all things became possible.

Parents (including those of my generation) began to turn away from church, from the 10 Commandments, from the teaching of the Word…and we made our own truth.

So, if gun laws and drug laws won’t solve the problem, where is the answer to be found? It is in changed hearts…change from the inside out. If only we could go back to when values like truth, integrity, respect for others regardless of their level of authority, the Golden Rule and morality were taught to our little ones, I believe the future could look different.

But it won’t happen by passing laws. Ask Israel how the Old Law worked for them.  Even Paul says it: laws only provoke sin – they don’t stop it or cure it. He is quite clear: law leads to greater sin and death. Why? Because the heart resents law and defies it with a shouted “I will show you – I will do what I want to do! If you tell me I can’t do something, that is precisely what I WILL do!” The answer is in the heart – a heart overcome by the love of Christ and His Spirit living in us and teaching us how to love others as He has loved us.

Parents: teach your children God’s ways. Parenting isn’t about being a friend to your children – it is hard work, it is meant to be hard work because it is the most serious work you’ll ever do. Grandparents: teach your grandchildren God’s ways. And let’s live God’s way ourselves so the little ones can see that it works and is the best way to live life! Will you rise to the challenge? 

PRAYER: How desperately we need individual and collective transformation of our hearts, Lord! Please, we need you to change us before we destroy one another! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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