DayBreaks for 4/24/19 – The Magic Princess and the King

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DayBreaks for 4/24/19: The Magic Princess and the King

From the DayBreaks archives, April 2009:

The great castle at Disneyland looms over the landscape and causes little girls and boys alike to squeal in delight.  If you’re lucky, Cinderella…gorgeous, every hair in place, flawless skin, a beaming smile…will appear.  In one true story told by Max Lucado, it happened just that way, and all the children rushed to her, drawn like steel to a magnet.  Each wanted to touch the beautiful Princess and be touched by her.  All the children ran to her…all, that is, except one.

Alone, on the other side of the castle, was a solitary boy – 7 or 8 years old.  It was hard to tell his age because his body was so twisted and disfigured.  He was very small and fragile, yet he stood watching quietly and wistfully, holding his older brother’s hand. 

You know what he wanted…he wanted to be with all the rest of the children, to be able to run and be in the middle of the group reaching out to Cinderella – calling out her name, seeking her attention.  But you can also feel his fear – the fear of yet another rejection, of being taunted, made fun of, being shoved aside by those who were bigger, stronger…who weren’t disfigured.  Don’t you wish Cinderella would go to him?  Well, that’s exactly what she did.

Looking over the heads of the adoring little children, she noticed the little boy and immediately began walking in his direction.  Politely, but firmly, she inched her way through the adoring crowd of children, and finally broke free.  She walked quickly across the floor, knelt down at eye level with the stunned little boy and placed a kiss on his face.

This is like another story – about another royal figure.  The names are different, but aren’t the stories almost the same?  Rather than a princess of Disney, this other story is about the King of Kings.  Rather than being about a disfigured boy in a castle, this story is about you and me.  In both cases, a wonderful gift was given.  In both cases, love was shared.  In both cases, the lovely one performed a gesture beyond words for the disfigured and cast aside one.

But Jesus did much more than Cinderella.  Cinderella gave only a kiss.  When she stood to leave, she took her beauty with her.  The boy was still deformed.  What if Cinderella had done what Jesus did?  What if she’d assumed his state?  What if she had somehow given him her beauty and taken on his disfigurement?  That’s what Jesus did.

He took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us…He was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did.  The punishment, which made us well, was given to him, and we are healed because of his wounds. (Is. 53:4-5)

Make no mistake:

  • Jesus gave more than a kiss – he gave his beauty.
  • He paid more than a visit – he paid for our mistakes.
  • He took more than a visit – he paid for our mistakes.
  • He took more than a minute – he took away our sin.

Prayer: Lord, all we can do is stand in our brokenness and hope that You will notice us and come to us with a sign of Your favor.  We give You praise for seeing our disfigurement and having compassion on us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 1/22/19 – The Lesson of the Maggies

Magdalene laundries

DayBreaks for 01/22/2019: The Lesson of the Maggies

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

“A film made in 2002, The Magdalene Sisters, told the sad story of the “maggies” of Ireland. They got that nickname from Mary Magdalene, a revealing story in itself. The gospels mention only one fact of Mary Magdalene’s past, that Jesus had driven seven demons from her. Nevertheless, a tradition grew that Mary Magdalene must have been the same woman as the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. Hence when a strict order of nuns agreed to take in young women who had become pregnant out of wedlock, they labeled the fallen girls “maggies.”

“The maggies came to public attention in the 1990s when the order sold its convent, bringing to light the existence of the graves of 133 maggies who had spent their lives working as virtual slaves in the convent laundry. The media soon scouted out a dozen such “Magdalen laundries” across Ireland—the last one closed in 1996—and soon relatives and survivors were spilling accounts of the slave-labor conditions inside. Thousands of young women spent time in the laundries, some put away just for being “temptresses,” forced to work unpaid and in silence as a form of atonement for their sins. The nuns took away illegitimate children born to these women to be raised in other religious institutions.

“A public outcry erupted, and eventually campaigners raised money for a memorial, a bench in St. Stephen’s Green, a park in downtown Dublin. I determined to visit the memorial on a trip to Ireland. It was a typical gray day in Dublin, with a sharp September wind and the threat of rain in the air. I asked a policeman and a park guide about the memorial to the maggies, and they both looked at me quizzically. “Dunno that one. Sorry.”

“One by one, my wife and I examined the bronze statues and impressive fountains, mostly honoring fighters for Irish independence. Only by accident did we stumble across a modest bench beside a magnolia tree. A couple was sitting on it, but behind their backs we could see brass-colored lettering. We asked if they would mind moving aside for a moment so we could read the inscription. The plaque reads, “To the women who worked in the Magdalen laundry institutions and to the children born to some members of those communities—reflect here upon their lives.”

“Walking away from the humble memorial, I found myself reflecting not simply on their lives but also on the sharp contrast between how Jesus treated moral failures and how we his followers often do. Jesus appointed the Samaritan woman as his first missionary. He defended the woman who anointed him with expensive perfume: “Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” And Mary Magdalene, she of the seven demons, he honored as the very first witness of the Resurrection—a testimony at first discounted by his more prestigious followers. Where we shame, he elevates.”  – Philip Yancey, Christianity Today, 5/1/2003

Prayer:  May we learn from Your grace and be imitators of Your mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/19 – The First Miracle

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DayBreaks for 01/10/2019: The First Miracle

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2009:

One of the craziest questions that is asked (at least on television shows or movies about beauty pageants – at least in “Miss Congeliality”) relates to what the individual would do if they could have the power to change anything – but only one thing – in the world.  The right answer, according to that movie, is to say, “World peace.”  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  But what about you?  What would you do if you had the power to change any one thing in the entire world?  You might say, “Cure cancer”, “Eliminate heart disease”, “End poverty”, “Make sure no one goes to bed hungry” or any of a number of things.  And who among us wouldn’t love to have the power to be able to do something like that?

Well, Jesus did have the power.  He still does.  And so it is all the more interesting that when it came time for his first miracle, it had nothing to do with erasing wars, poverty, or disease.  It had to do with helping someone who had run out of wine at a wedding feast. 

I don’t for one minute think that Jesus chose a “low-level” nearly invisible miracle as his first one because he wasn’t sure he could pull it off – he wasn’t just “testing the water” (pun intended!) to see if he had power left over from before the Incarnation.  He chose this time and place, and this specific miracle rather than anything else that had global impact.  Why?

There are the obvious social things: it was expected that wine would be plentiful – not to encourage drunkenness, but because to the Jews, wine was a sign of joy – and what is more joyful than a long-awaited wedding?  It is true that those present would go away and tell others about what Jesus did, but wouldn’t it have been more newsworthy and would have been on more front pages if he’d started out with raising the dead?  The resurrection of Lazarus was pretty flashy, after all, and certainly got the attention of a lot of people! 

I think this was the first miracle because again, God was trying to say, “I care about you and what you care about.”  Jesus’ friend (assuming he knew the host, which he almost certainly did) was at risk of embarrassment (heavens, no!).  It wasn’t like his friend was about to die of embarrassment or be cut off from his family forever because of this faux pas.  It seems a relatively minor thing.  But to Jesus it wasn’t.  It was enough to make Jesus exert Divine power on behalf of his friend.

Jesus cares.  He really does.  He showed it by turning water into wine as his first miracle instead of ensuring world peace.  The latter would have been just as easy for him as the first.  His choice for miracle number one was very telling.  What does it tell you about your situation right now?

Prayer:  Blessed be Your name, o Mighty God, for all Your goodness and care for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/08/18 – The Stone Elephant

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DayBreaks for 11/08/18: The Stone Elephant

There is a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.

A neighbor asked, “How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?”

The man answered, “I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like an elephant!”

We have just come through another bitter election cycle in which everyone was slinging mud, patience was pushed to the breaking point, words were said that hurt and wounded. There is a lot of bitterness and anger in our country right now, no matter who your candidate was. It’s heartbreaking.

If you have anything in your life right now that doesn’t look like love, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have anything in your life that doesn’t look like compassion or mercy or empathy, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have hatred or prejudice or vengeance or envy in your heart, for God’s sake (literally!). for the other person’s sake, and for your sake, get rid of it! Let God chip everything out of your life that doesn’t look like tenderheartedness.

PRAYER: Create hearts in us that are so filled with love that we let go of grudges and the pain and frustration that we may feel – especially toward others with whom we disagree. Remind us that no matter the outcome of the election or anything else, you are still on the throne and in charge of it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/23/17 – As Jesus Was Walking

DayBreaks for 6/23/17: As Jesus Was Walking

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

John 9:1 – As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.

And so begins the story of the healing of the blind beggar in the gospel of John.  It’s a rather innocuous beginning, but it is also profound.  Jesus was out walking.  We don’t know where he was going, but he wasn’t in the temple.  It doesn’t appear that he was on his way to some ministry our counseling appointment.  We simply don’t know where he was going.  But one thing is clear: he wasn’t punched in on the ministry time clock. 

Time clocks rule our lives in many ways.  We have certain times when we are supposed to be at work and when we are to leave work, when we’re supposed to be in class at school.  Even our vacations are often dominated by glances at the clock and the sobering awareness of the passing of time – of vacation freedom coming to an end.  We are ruled by time. 

If there is one thing that can be said about Jesus, it is this: he wasn’t very mindful of the clock.  Even though he wasn’t “punched in”, as he traveled to wherever it was that he was going, he saw a man who had been blind, beside the path, begging.  The key word is “saw.”  Jesus stopped and engaged the man in his hour of need.  No one else seemed to pay any attention to this man: he’d probably been a daily sight at the same location for years.  And after that much time passes and if you see that same person every day for year after year, you tend to lose sight of him eventually, he becomes invisible.  And that’s what this man was to apparently everyone that day except for Jesus.  Jesus, on his own time, saw him. 

This man was used to being ignored, to being treated as if he were invisible.  What did it mean to him that day that Jesus saw him and healed him?  It meant that, perhaps for the very first time in his life, he knew that God saw him.  In fact, God had seen every quivering of the man’s chin as he began to cry in his frustration and degradation.  God has seen every person that the man had not seen who had chosen to cross to the far side of the roadway to avoid having to come face to face with this needy may.  But God didn’t pass him by, God came to him that day and saw him, and he saw God. 

And it all happened “as Jesus was walking.”  Today, we’ll take lots of steps – you may even have a watch or phone that will count them for you – we’ll go lots of places and we will almost certainly see lots of people.  But will we “see” them as did?  And even if we see them as we go along our way, will we take time to give them encouragement, a blessing of some kind – spiritual, emotional or physical?  There is to be no time that God’s love and mercy through His children is not in full employ.  As you go on your way today, make it your goal to see people with Jesus’ eyes and to let Him minister to them through your hands and feet.

PRAYER: Lord, we’ve got lots of things on our minds today, many things to do and many places to go.  Open our eyes to see people today as Jesus sees them…we ask You to see them through our physical vision and then to move our physical hands and feet to act as Jesus would in each instance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/14/16 – Trophies of Grace

 

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DayBreaks for 9/14/16 – Trophies of Grace

What comes to your mind when you hear the words, “Salvation Army”?  Do you think of Christmas bell-ringers?  Do you think of dark uniforms and people who are working with drunks and homeless?  Do you have a good impression, a positive image? 

The man who started the Salvation Army was named William Booth.  He decided to form a church in the East London area, a down-and-out section of the city.  There were few, if any churches in that area, and what churches were there didn’t accept the kind of people who lived in that part of the city.  William Booth called those people “trophies of grace.”  When he looked at the people of East London, he wasn’t repulsed, but moved with compassion, motivated by Jesus’ love. 

When you think about the trophies of grace, you might be tempted to think of Billy Graham, mother Theresa, the apostles, or the pastors of mega-churches who write best-selling books.  And that would be correct – they are trophies of grace.  But let me suggest that they are no more “trophies of grace” than the dying beggars that mother Theresa ministered to who accepted Christ.  Every one who comes to believe in Jesus is a trophy of grace.

William Booth understood something that very few people in history have understood: God’s grace, like a stream of living water, flows downhill to the lowest place it can find.  There will be few of the great and mighty men and women of history who will someday stand before the throne and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  They never considered themselves servants of anyone – they never bent the knee before Christ.  But the waiting room of heaven will be filled with the poor, the destitute, the outcasts of the world who were not too proud to bow.

Everyone that we meet in heaven will be there because they are one thing, and one thing only: trophies of God’s grace.

PRAYER:  Help us, Father, to learn to be grace-filled people.  Thank you for your grace that abounds to us, that you’ve poured out upon us.  We are amazed that you love us and think of us as treasures worthy of the price of the blood of your Son.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Jesus, I want my life to be something that attracts people to you because they see something irresistible inside of me that they, too, will want. Let it never be about me, though, but always about you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

This is probably the first verse that most of us ever memorized. Why? Because it was short and easy. But short and easy can make it more likely that we’ll miss the incredible power of God’s word to tell us something important in just 9 letters combined into two words.

I have often wondered why Jesus wept. I’ve heard many different interpretations, but the most common are that 1) he was moved by the grief of his friends; 2) he was grieving himself over the loss of Lazarus; 3) he was agonizing over the effects of the fall on humanity – and death was included as part of that fall. I don’t know for sure why he wept, but I rather doubt it was the second one – after all, Jesus knew perfectly well what he was going to do in Bethany that day. But whatever we do, we shouldn’t let our not knowing why Jesus wept distract us from the fact that he did weep.

The shortest verse in the Bible is probably also one of the most poignant and important verses of all time. Some ancients believed that the gods lacked emotions. Their reasoning was that if the gods had emotions then they could be swayed by people and events and that they would no longer be gods. So, they held that the gods must be stoic and untouched emotionally from human affairs. Jesus destroys that notion. Jesus shows us a God who weeps. This is important for at least two reasons: 1) it gives me hope that my prayers can move God, just as God was moved by the requests of Moses and David and many others throughout history; 2) it comforts me to know that Jesus understands heartbreak caused by living in the human condition. It makes me able to go to him and know he “gets it”. And it gives me hope that when I weep, he weeps with me, even as he wept with his friends in that cemetery in Bethany.

You may need someone to weep with you, to share your sorrow and grief. Jesus is that Person you need. He is “the man of sorrows”, “acquainted with grief.” Scripture doesn’t tell us those things just to be telling us facts about Jesus, but to know he sympathizes with us to the point of sitting beside us and crying himself.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring John to record that Jesus wept. May all who weep today find comfort in His Presence beside them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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