DayBreaks for 2/21/20 – The Other Side, Part 2

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DayBreaks for 2/21/20: The Other Side – Part 2

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In Mark 6, Jesus feeds the 5000 on the western, Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.  They are in a remote place – no Burger King’s or McDonald’s in sight.  Not even stores with enough food to feed such a crowd are within miles and miles.  But the people don’t seem to mind – they’re listening to Jesus preach.  And he preaches all day.  At the end of the day, the disciples are moved with compassion on their Jewish friends and neighbors and they approach Jesus with the problem: what are we going to feed them?  Jesus, as you know, miraculously solves the problem.

Switch to Mark 8 and Jesus is back on “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee again – in pagan territory.  The last time he and his disciples had landed here, they had a welcoming committee of one: Legion.  But now it seems that the Man Formerly Known As Legion has been busy telling his story and a great crowd has gathered to welcome Jesus – to hear him and have their infirmities healed.  Jesus doesn’t disappoint them on either score.  He heals many, and he preaches.  And preach he does!  Day one and at the end of the day the crowd is still there – and the disciples say nothing.  Day two comes and goes and still the disciples have said nothing about the fact the crowd hasn’t been fed.  Day three is all that Jesus can bear – and at the end of the day, he tells the disciples (apparently seeing that they weren’t going to say or do anything about the crowd’s hunger) that he has compassion on them and wants them to feed the crowd. 

Do you see what happened here?  The disciples had plenty of compassion on those who were like them – on those who shared their religious and political positions, but not on the people from “the other side.”  Jesus, however, after watching his disciples fail this compassion test, shows them that he has compassion and that something must be done.  He’s setting the example for them for their eventual mission to the world – to take the gospel everywhere to every tribe, and people and language. 

But it moves me to wonder: who am I so prejudiced against that I don’t even feel compassion for them?  Who is the church so dead set against that we can’t be moved with mercy towards them?  Are we so judgmental that we condemn those with open, bleeding sores and diseases because we think they brought their problems on themselves with their wicked decisions?  Are we so blind that we can’t see this message in the contrasts of the feeding of the Jewish 5000 and the pagan 4000?  In the first case, 12 baskets of food were left over – the same number as the tribes of Israel.  Jesus was saying, “I’ve not forgotten my people.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.”  When he was done feeding the 4000, there were 7 baskets of food left over.  This wasn’t a co-incidence – it wasn’t 7 instead of 12 because Jesus had realized he’d overdone it the first time.  There were 7 baskets because there were 7 nation groups that lived in the Decapolis, in “the other side”…the very same nations that God had driven out of Palestine when Joshua took the land (Joshua 3:10; Acts 13:19).  What was Jesus saying with the leftover 7 baskets?  “I’ve not forgotten that these are my people, too.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.” 

On the cross, Jesus tore down all that separated “our side” from “the other side.”  They all now belong to Jesus, and it is time we started treating those on the “other side” as Jesus treated them!

PRAYER: Be merciful to us, Lord, and fill us with the heart of compassion that beat within your breast for all of mankind.  Forgive us our prejudices and our sinful tendency to think of our side and “our kind” as better than others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/23/20 – Indiscriminate Compassion

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DayBreaks for 1/23/20: Indiscriminate Compassion

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

In the past 10 days our television screens have been filled with images of incomprehensible devastation in the nation of Haiti.  Just today, one of the headlines is stating that the government of Haiti is claiming that 150,000 bodies have already been buried – and who knows how many have yet to be found and buried?  Stories of children who have lost their parents, parents who have lost children, elderly individuals who have essentially been left to die because no one could get water or food to them in time.  Photos and videos of people shrieking in anguish as they’ve been informed of the death of a loved one, or when they recognized their crushed bodies in the makeshift morgues prior to burial.  It would take a truly hard-hearted person to not be filled with compassion at times like this.  I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched by this unparalleled disaster in the western hemisphere. 

Compassion at such times is relatively easy to come by.  There are other times, however, when we struggle to find a compassionate bone in our bodies.  We tend to look at people who have as much as we do (or more) and when they are faced with disaster, we tend to not be as compassionate as we are for the Haitians. 

Perhaps we would be well advised to consider the nature of Jesus’ compassion.  How did Jesus evaluate who was worthy of compassion and who wasn’t worthy?  I don’t see that he ever discriminated when confronted with suffering or need.  Brennan Manning made it pretty clear in Abba’s Child when he wrote: “What is indiscriminate compassion?  ‘Take a look at a rose.  Is it possible for the rose to say, ‘I’ll offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people’?  Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light?  It could do that only by ceasing to be a lamp.  And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature – even to the one who seeks to cut it down.  This is the first quality of compassion – its indiscriminate character.”

Have you thought about the compassion that Jesus has shown you?  Did you deserve it by your exemplary behavior?  Do you feel that Jesus was obligated to be compassionate to you?  Jesus isn’t obligated to do anything for us, but he is compassionate toward all of us because he can’t help being compassionate to all. He would no longer be Jesus if he stopped being compassionate. As His children, we should be the most compassionate people on earth. But I wonder: are we?

PRAYER: Jesus, teach us to follow in harmony with your compassionate heart that we may be more like you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 11/01/19 – A Lesson from the Darkness

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DayBreaks for 11/01/19: A Lesson from the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

I’ve recently been working my way through the gospel of Mark.  As I’ve wandered those pathways, I’ve come across lots of things that I’d not noticed, or which now puzzle me for some reason but which I’d never considered before.  One such incident is found in the 14th chapter and the 51st verse (in the ESV): And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body.  And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

I knew that this verse was there, but I’d never really pondered why it was included in Holy Writ.  We don’t know who this man was.  There are those who believe it was Mark himself and that because of his shame, he didn’t include his name as part of the narrative.  I’ve also heard suggestions that it was John, but that doesn’t seem too likely because later on we find John entering the courtyard where the trials were being held (he had “connections” we are told).  So, while we won’t know for certain until we get to heaven who it was, I will probably just assume for now that it was Mark.  I wouldn’t especially want to include my name if this had happened to me, not only because of the shame involved of running away naked, but mostly because of the shame of why he ran.

I’ve always considered that it was fear that made the young man run and nothing has caused me to change that opinion.  What struck me this time, though, was how quickly believers (including myself) run from opposition.  I mean, Jesus was right there physically in the presence of this young man, and the approaching gang of soldiers were not Satan himself.  They were just people of the “opposition” so to speak. 

And so I ask myself (as I hope you ask yourself) the question: “Just how much opposition does it take for me to cut and run – even at the risk of losing my dignity in an effort to escape?”  I know this much: it doesn’t take the spectre of Satan himself to send me scurrying into the night.  Far too often all it takes is for the opposition to just “show up” – like in this story from Mark. 

Perhaps God put this story in the Word precisely for us to ask ourselves this very question and to ponder our response.  All I know for certain is that we imagine ourselves as strong and brave and courageous – who doesn’t want to at least think that about themselves? – and to imagine how we’d react in a threatening situation – only to find that when such a situation really happens, we’re scared witless and run off into the darkness like the young man in Mark.

What if we start practicing not running for 10 minutes at a time, an hour at a time, then a day at a time – then an entire week at a time – regardless of whether or not the opposition shows up?  And, of course, we can’t ever afford to overlook the fact that is the opposition Jesus commands us to love.  Of all people, they are the ones who most need to hear from our lips that One has come to love them and set them free from the darkness in their hearts, even as He has set us free from that same darkness! 

PRAYER: In the darkness of confrontation, give us courage to stand our ground and love for the opposition rather than condemnation!  Help us to be compassionate and loving enough to not run and hide!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>

 

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

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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.  ><}}}”>