DayBreaks for 8/19/19 – Who Signed Me Up for This?

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DayBreaks for 08/19/19: Who Signed Me Up for This?

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

A woman named Linda is a teacher in Texas and she told the following story about one of her interactions with a first-grade student in her class on the first day of school.  “Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class.  I asked him what he was doing. “I’m going home,” he replied.  I tried to explain that now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. “You’ll go eat lunch now,” I said, “and then you’ll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home.” Ryan looked up at me in disbelief, hoping I was kidding.  Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

Haven’t you felt a little bit like Ryan at times?  We had a comfortable old life before coming to Christ.  By that I mean that we were on familiar ground, we didn’t feel very guilty because we may not have believed in such a thing as sin, we felt we were in control, and we may have even thought we were happy.  Then we became Christians and we find that life changed – not just in small, subtle ways, but in BIG ways.  The requirements are daunting—”Surely the Lord doesn’t expect me to forgive seventy times seven;” “Surely he doesn’t want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me;” “What does he mean, ‘take up my cross’?” “What’s this bit about I must be holy even as God is holy?  How can I possibly achieve that?!?!”

It isn’t long before you want to say, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”  Stop and think about it.  In a way, no one signed you up.  In another way, your parents signed you up without your permission.  In order to get a proper perspective on this, though, I think we must reflect back on Ryan and his consternation for being signed up for a more rigorous schooling challenge.  Would it have really been to Ryan’s advantage to have remained in kindergarten the rest of his life, to have never gone on to higher demands and higher lessons learned?  Of course not. 

God could have said that when we came to Him, we could stay in kindergarten, as it were…and not have to grow or change or stop acting like little spoiled children.  Jesus never misled anyone about the cost of following him.  The cost is high: your own life put on your own cross.  Not literally (most likely) but your life is to be sacrificed to him.  Some may spend their entire Christian lives complaining to God about how hard the Walk is and how unfair it seems. 

Isn’t it about time we stopped complaining about what we signed up for and get on with living it out? 

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you that you have enrolled us in the school of the abundant life.  Help us not to complain about the lessons, but to accept them in faith knowing that they help us to grow into Your likeness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/3/19 – The Great Bailout

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DayBreaks for 07/03/19: The Great Bailout

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

There has been a lot of talk about bailouts lately.  Banks, investment firms, big companies, car manufacturers…maybe even your next door neighbor have received a bailout.  Not being very smart economically, I don’t know if these were the right thing or not, but I certainly have my opinions on the matter!

But that’s not the kind of bailout that I want to talk about today.  I want to talk about people who bail out when things get tough.  This past week, we had Vacation Bible Camp at our church and I observed lots of behavior from the campers, helpers and teachers.  Most of it was all very good, but even VBC campers and workers are humans, and during the course of a hectic week, you are bound to see all kinds of human behavior.  Including some teens who were helping who received some needed correction from an adult – but who then didn’t show up the next day.  They’d made a commitment to help for the week.  But they broke their commitment.  They bailed out.

Commitment seems to be a dirty word, or at the very least, a word which has lost its meaning in our day and age.  We wonder why kids aren’t committed to anything.  In many cases, all we have to do is look at their home life to find out.  Many are not living with their biological mom and dad…their parents divorced (maybe more than once) and the children learned a lesson about “commitment.”  Their parents perhaps bounced from job to job when they grew frustrated or got angry…and instead of working it through and sticking it out for the benefit of the family, dad quits his job and can’t find another one.  And the children learned another lesson about “commitment.”  They have heard mom and dad say things such as, “Sure, I’ll take you to the zoo this weekend,” only to find that when the weekend rolls around, mom and dad are too busy or too tired.  And the children learn another lesson about commitment.

So many children lack commitment to anything these days (or so it seems to me).  To find the reason why, we have to look no further than our own mirror. 

Jesus knows about commitment and he modeled the importance of it to us.  He committed himself to death on a cross in order to redeem us from a fate that we rightfully earned – eternal damnation.  When your kids want to know about commitment – tell them about Jesus.  And then live a life of commitment for them to see and emulate.

PRAYER: We are weak and tempted to run when the heat is turned up on us, Lord.  Help us to be people who keep their commitments and teach our children to do likewise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 01/02/19 – Commitment

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DayBreaks for 01/02/2019: Commitment

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

Commitment.  How committed are you? “Well,” you might say, “that depends on what you’re asking about.” Fair enough. How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus?

What is commitment? We think of it as “stick-to-itiveness”. Or we think of it in terms of dedication to a purpose or determination to reach a goal. Those aren’t bad, but there’s another aspect of commitment that really shows whether or not we are “committed”. It came in a devotion from Bob Gass Ministries. Here’s what he had to say: “If I could pick one word to describe commitment, I’d pick the word – alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Paul said, “…all men forsook me…” (2 Tim. 4:16).

“The place of commitment is the place where God intervenes on your behalf. When the three Hebrew children of God made the commitment, God brought them out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he said, ‘…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ (Dan. 3:29) That’s what the world is waiting for, somebody who’ll put everything on the line, get into the fiery furnace and let the world see God’s power.”

Commitment….alone. Perhaps that is the true measure of our commitment, don’t you think? Am I willing to stand for God all alone? Am I willing to stand alone for my marriage? Am I willing to stand alone for God in a workplace that is overwhelmed with darkness and that is openly hostile to Christ? The Hebrew children had God, and each other. What if they’d been alone?

I see in this concept the power of fellowship, but also the demand for commitment even if we, like Daniel, have to stand alone. It’s easy to say we’re committed when we sit in a pew on Sunday morning, but the real test of our commitment comes outside the walls of the church building when we are alone in the world.

Let me ask again: How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus? What you do when you are alone will tell you the answer to these questions – and reveal the depth of your true commitment!

Prayer: Teach us the kind of commitment that you have shown to us, Lord, even as you endured the loneliness of this world, this life, and the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/29/17 – The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water

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DayBreaks for 11/29/17: The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Have you ever competed in any kind of sports?  When I was in high school, I played basketball, tennis, football and ran a little track.  I found the competition very exciting.  I loved basketball above all other sports.  I remember one game, I was fouled with 2 seconds to play.  We were behind by 1 point so I had a chance to win the game.  The opposing coach called a timeout, intent on “icing” me – making me think about whether or not I’d be able to make the shots or whether I’d miss.  We were playing in the opposing team’s home gym.  The crowd was pressed all around the court and they were yelling.  The official blew the whistle and we walked back onto the court and I took my position at the free-throw line.  I missed the first shot, and then I missed the second shot.  I had failed.  I felt awful – like I’d let my teammates down, my coach down, my school down.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand and never come up again.

The next week, we were playing a different team, this time in our home gym.  Can anyone say “Déjà vu?”  Unbelievably, the scenario was repeated.  Down by 1 with just a few ticks of the clock, and I was fouled while shooting.  Once again, the opposing team coach called timeout.  My mind was spinning with the irony of it all – and the horror at what had happened the previous week.  After the timeout, I went to the free-throw line and made the first free-throw.  At least now the game was tied and at worst, we’d go into overtime.  The second free-throw also went through and I was a hero for the rest of the day. 

What made the difference between the first game and the second?  Hard to say.  But one thing I know: in the intervening time, I made a determined effort to shoot a LOT of free throws at every practice.  After practice, I’d go home and shoot free throws at the hoop on the back patio.  I can’t begin to guess how many free throws I shot between the first and second game.  To this day I don’t know if that’s why I made the shots during the second game, or if it was just God’s blessing.  And frankly, at the time, I didn’t care too much why – I was just relieved.

Kim Linehan held the world record in the Women’s 1500-meter freestyle.  According to her coach at the time, Paul Bergen, said his 18-year old was the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world.  She would exercise endlessly, swimming 7 to 12 miles a day.  Someone once asked her what was the hardest part of her regimen.  She replied: “Getting in the water.”

It is difficult to make strong beginnings.  It is difficult, day after day to get in the water, to step up to the free throw line and practice.  It is difficult, day after day to step up to the plate and take swings at being a Christ-like man or woman.  It would be so much easier to just stay in bed, to skip the practice, to circumvent the discipline.  But one thing is sure if we do that: we’ll never know or experience victory.  All we’ll know is defeat. 

Maybe this morning you feel as if you’ve just about had it.  You’re ready to surrender to that temptation that just keeps nagging you.  You’re ready to throw in the towel on your marriage.  You’re sick and tired of working so hard and getting so little recognition for it. 

Get in the water.  Once you do, good things start to happen.  Practice the spiritual disciplines that will equip you to win when hard times come, that hone your responses to a fine, shining point.  And never forget that it isn’t really you that gains any victory, it’s Jesus!

PRAYER:  When we are weary, God, tempted to not make the effort to be what you want us to be and to do what you want us to do, change our hearts and charge us with new fire from above.  Help us to do our part and get in the water and leave it up to you whether we walk on the surface or swim!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/02/17 – Never Going Back

 

DayBreaks for 5/02/17: Never Going Back

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Remember the story in John 21 where Jesus appears on the shore and the disciples are out fishing?  This is the third time Jesus has appeared to his disciples (the first two were apparently in the sealed room).  It was still dark – early morning – for the best time to fish on the Sea of Galilee is night time.  The disciples have worked all night and caught nothing (as Michael Card noted in Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ, it was perhaps a good thing that Jesus called them away from fishing since they didn’t seem to be very good at it).  Jesus gives them directions and a miraculous catch of fish results.  At that point, John 21:7 tells us what happened: Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

Why did Peter jump into the water?  By reading the rest of the chapter it is clear that he swam towards the shore.  Why not just stay in the boat and get there with the rest of the disciples?  Perhaps he felt he needed time alone with Christ to sort out his guilt and shame over having denied Jesus thrice.  Peter hadn’t had a chance to be alone with him (as John noted, it was his third appearance and both other times were in crowded groups that weren’t conducive to the intimate conversation that Peter needed to have with the Lord).  Peter wasn’t going to let a little cold water stand between him and getting things straightened out with Christ.  As Michael Card also noted, it is interesting that Peter didn’t swim the other way.  I think I would have been tempted to do so.  I wouldn’t have wanted to stand before the one I’d denied.  But Peter knew Jesus better than I do and he knew that Jesus would accept him.

Why did Peter put on his cloak before jumping in the water?  Let me ask you: how many of you put on your heavy coats before you jump into the pool?  We usually take clothes OFF before we jump into the pool – we don’t want to be weighed down with anything when we get in the water for fear we might become entangled or weary and drown.  Not so with Peter.  I don’t know for sure why he did this, but I have a hunch.  Here it is: I think at that instant in time, Peter (who just shortly before said, “I’m going fishing!” – perhaps indicating that he didn’t feel up to the challenge of being a fisherman of men), had made an irrevocable decision.  He’d decided that he was going to follow Jesus and that he was never, ever again going back to the boat.  That’s why he didn’t leave his cloak behind but took it with him.  By taking it with him, he had no reason to ever return to the boat.  But if he had left it in the boat, it would have been an excuse to “go back” and be tempted once again to forsake the call.

Like Peter, have you decided to not let cold water or past history stand between you and Jesus?  Have you cast yourself overboard into water that is over your head and swam to Jesus?  Have you taken everything with you so that you have no reason to turn back?  The things we leave behind may sing a siren song to lure us back to our old haunts and old ways of life.  Commit your future totally to him as Peter did, making sure that there is nothing to call you back to your old life!

PRAYER:  How cleverly we try to deceive you Lord.  We promise you over and over that we won’t do “that” sin anymore, but we cling to scraps and shards of it so that we have it nearby just in case we decide to go backwards.  Forgive us.  Empower us through your Spirit, let us leave the past behind us forever and move onward into a joyous eternity with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 1/13/17 – The Man Who Drove the Nails

DayBreaks for 1/13/17: The Man Who Drove the Nails

FROM THE DAYBREAKS ARCHIVE, January, 2007:

The Bible doesn’t tell us the name of the man (almost certainly a Roman soldier) who drove the nails into the wrists and feet of Jesus.  The Bible tells us the name of the man who betrayed him, but not of the man who actually crucified him.  It isn’t likely that it was the centurion who stated, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” because centurions typically stood around and directed activities and left the work to the private or corporal.  I wonder, though, what the man must have thought as the afternoon wore on and the skies darkened, the earth shook and Jesus died.  I wonder if I’d have been able to sleep that night.  If my wife asked me, “What did you do today, honey?”, what would I have told her?

As I was browsing a book today in the Christian bookstore (it looked real good but I didn’t buy it yet – you know, cash flow!), I was captivated by a thought in one of the books I read.  The name of the book was When God Weeps (I think that was it), written by Joni Earickson Tada and Steve Estes.  At one point in the book, they were reflecting on the crucifixion of Christ and God’s willingness to endure suffering like one of us rather than to distance Himself from what we have to experience. 

Christ had all power – for in him dwelt the fullness of God.  He could have called legions of angels at any time to do his bidding, for how could one of his angels not have obeyed his command?  But what I’d never quite pictured or thought about was this: Colossians 1.16b-17 tells us that everything that exists was created by Christ.  That includes the mountains, lakes, skies, earth, you, me, our dog, and yes, even the person who pounded the nails into his hands was created by the Crucified One.  But Colossians 1.17 also tells us that “…and in him all things hold together.”  I think that means exactly what it says.  At a subatomic level, what is it that makes all the particles of an atom hold together?  Christ’s power.  What is it that makes atoms bond together to form molecules, compounds and chemicals?  Christ’s power.  What is it that holds people together?  Christ.  What holds the universe in control so the moon doesn’t go spinning off into space, or the earth go spinning into the sun?  Science would say gravity – I would say Christ. 

But here’s the thought that I read that struck me: not only did God have to be willing to suffer as a man for man’s sake, but the same God who was suffering as the nails pierced his flesh was holding together the atoms of the man’s body that was doing the crucifying.  With just one thought, Christ could have willed the man’s atoms to dissociate from one another and the man wielding the hammer would have disintegrated and been no more.  According to Colossians 1.17, Christ was the one who held the man together, who willed the man to stay together, to finish the task that he had begun with the first swing of the mallet.

Commitment to purpose.  Commitment to mankind.  Commitment to obedience.  Commitment to love, no matter what the cost.  “Be imitators therefore of Christ…”

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the commitment of Christ to see the job through, to not just start the ball rolling for our salvation, but to drink the cup to the dregs.  Teach us to be more committed to you and self-controlled.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.