DayBreaks for 7/30/18 – The Ride Home

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DayBreaks for 7/30/18: The Ride Home

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

“A pastor had been on a long flight between church conferences.  The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on:  Fasten Your Seat Belts.

“Then, after a while, a calm voice said, “We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence.  Please be sure your seat belt is fastened.”“As the pastor looked around the aircraft, it was obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive.  Later, the voice on the intercom said, “We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time.  The turbulence is still ahead of us.” And then the storm broke . . .

“They heard the ominous cracks of thunder above the roar of the engines.  Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean.  One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash.

“The pastor confessed that he shared the fear and discomfort of those around him.  He said, “As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying.  The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.

“Then, I saw a little girl.  She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly.

“Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world.

“When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid.”  The minister could hardly believe his eyes.

“It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time.  Having commented about the storm and the behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.

“The child replied, ‘cause my Daddy’s the pilot, and he’s taking me home.’”

“There are many kinds of storms that buffet us. Physical, mental, financial, domestic, and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into apparently uncontrollable movement.  We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.

“Let us remember: Our Father is the Pilot.  He is in control and taking us home. Don’t worry!”

PRAYER:  Lord, it is a comfort to know that You are taking us home, and that You will see to it that we arrive safely!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18 – Without a Doubt

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18: Without a Doubt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

How strange are the mysteries of God!  To paraphrase: “If you want to find your life, you must lose it.”  Or, “He that is the greatest shall be the least among you.”  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Certainly, perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of the universe was when God declared, My ways are not your ways, nor my thought like your thoughts.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. 

It seems strange that in dying, death was defeated.  Christ took death in both of his arms and pulled it into his mortal body, and in doing so, defeated it.  Through the resurrection, death and its power were forever broken and we need not fear the moment of our physical death for one second longer.  This is the peace that Christ has bought us: that we have been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.  All that previously stood between us has been removed, torn down, ripped asunder like the veil in the temple. 

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion.  Where is death?  Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.  O life, O death of death!  Be of good heart; it will die in us also.  What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt.” – Augustine, Sermon 233

It is one thing to stand at the gravesite and hope for resurrection.  It is another, as Augustine put it, to “believe and concerning which we have no doubt.”  It is through a life of close fellowship with God that such confidence comes.  The resurrection was the first fruit of Christ’s victory – a victory that he is eager to share with each of his children!

PRAYER: Lord, it is difficult for us to believe and accept that death holds no power as we see people dying all around us.  May we, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, clearly understand that it is our victory, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/10/17 – Confidence Builders

DayBreaks for 10/10/17: Confidence Builders

From the DayBreaks archive:

Patrick O’Boyle once recalled the late-1940s Hyde Park “Speakers’ Corner” appearances of Frank Sheed, a Catholic author and publisher, with these words:

“Sheed could be devastating with hecklers.  Once, after Sheed had described the extraordinary order and design to be seen in the universe, a persistent challenger retorted by pointing to all the world’s ills, and ended shouting, “I could make a better universe than your God!”

“I won’t ask you to make a universe,” Sheed replied. “But would you make a rabbit—just to establish confidence?”

I suppose much of the human problem stems from the crazy idea that we could do things better than God.  We think we would make a world where there was no evil, no pain, no suffering; a universe where there are no hurricanes or stars that go super-nova – in short, we just think we could do better than God in just about everything. 

Have you ever really stopped to think how stupid such a thought is?  We who are as finite as a speck of sand in the entire universe are so proud and pretentious as to think we actually know better than God.  Hogwash! 

But when it comes to my own life, I’m really prone to think such things.  “God, having me suffer deprivation isn’t good for me.”  “God, there no good reason for what just happened to me!”  “God, I’m a faithful child of Yours, and things like this just aren’t right!” 

Maybe, when we have learned enough from life that we can see the interaction and inner-connectedness of every human thought and every human action on every other human, we would begin to get the tiniest bit of understanding about why things happen.  And, if we could see the eternal salvation that has come to who-knows-how-many-souls through hardship (which is usually God knocking on the top of our skull trying to get our attention!), we might think differently. 

At a Bible study I was teaching this past week, we were discussion Joseph and the period of time that he was left rotting in the prison after the cup-bearer was restored to his duties in the palace of Pharaoh.  It doesn’t seem fair to Joseph.  How could the cup-bearer forget the man who had interpreted his dream?  But, he did.  I’m convinced we should see God’s hand in that rather than just mere human frailty and forgetfulness.  Did Joseph have to learn more patience?  Did he need to learn to trust God more?  (Remember that Joseph had no inkling whatsoever that he would soon be the #2 man in Egypt.)  As I pondered those thoughts, another thought came to me: perhaps Joseph was left in the prison for another year or two (or longer) for the sake of some other human being, nameless and faceless and lost to humanity for about 3000 years now, who was also languishing in the prison? 

God’s ways aren’t our ways – but God can make rabbits, elephants and entire universes in the blink of an eye.  That should be a confidence builder for us to trust Him to know what is best for our individual lives!

PRAYER:  Father, thank you for all the things you’ve done to give us confidence in you.  Help us not to be so wise or smart in our own eyes that we think we can even begin to know better than you what is good for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/28/17 – Humans and Infallibility

DayBreaks for 8/28/17: Humans and Infallibility

There is something about us humans that just loves certainty.  We’re not keen on the unknowns. We struggle with it and are uncomfortable if we’re not sure about things.  We even have actuarial tables that deal with probabilities. Insurance companies use them to decide who and what to insure and what to turn down.  Sure, they don’t know for sure when anyone will die or have an accident, but they have calculated the odds and are willing to risk money betting that you won’t die prematurely (i.e., before they get their money’s worth out of you.)  We speak highly of those who are so self-confident and sure of themselves.  They project an image of infallibility that we find comforting – and so they are the kind of people that others willingly and eagerly follow – the certainty they possess makes them seem safe. 

And so, when it comes to God and what we believe about Him, we would like to have certainty – or at least a bit more certainty than we naturally have.  Some people choose to not believe in God because His existence cannot be “proven”,  only speculated (albeit with lots of good reasons, in my opinion!)  No one has seen Him, many claim to have heard from Him, we blame things on him (even in insurance contracts) when we refer to them as acts of God. 

So, what about certainty in what we believe?  I hope you won’t take this wrong, but in some ways, I’m less certain about things I believe than I once was.  By that, I don’t mean the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the reality of the Spirit, the reliability of the Bible, etc.  I believe in all those things, and as I get closer to the end of this planetary journey, I find my faith in those things grows stronger and stronger each day.  What I am talking about, though, is the degree of confidence I have in my own judgment and understanding.  When I was younger, I was very self-confident. I was part of a very legalistic religious tradition that, although they would have denied it, seemed to believe that Godliness was next to rightness – that you had to believe according to a long list of doctrinal positions on everything from card playing to dancing to co-ed swimming to the millennial questions, etc. 

And for a while, in my foolish younger years, I thought I had all the right answers.  I’m so grateful that God is merciful and forgiving of such preposterous foolishness.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about this kind of thing in relation to “hearing” God and our level of certainty with what He is saying and wants us to do: Of course, you could still be wrong.   God does not intend to make us infallible by His conversational walk with us.  You could also be wrong about most of the beliefs on which you very successfully base your life.  But you are usually correct.  You could also be wrong in believing that your gas gauge is working, that your bank is reliable, that your food is not poisoned.  Such is human life.  Infallibility, and especially infallibility in discerning the mind of God, simply does not fit the human condition.

How many times have I had someone tell me that “God said He’s going to do this-or-that,” only to find out that He didn’t do it.  It’s sometimes enough to make you wonder who or what they are hearing.  We need to be cautious when we talk about how we’ve “heard” God tell us something.  Do I believe He can and does from time to time?  Absolutely!  But much is ascribed to God that I don’t think He ever said.  If it’s in the Word – count on it – if you keep it in context.  If it’s just in your head – be wary until God has confirmed it through the Word or through other means.  Telling others that God has told us something, only to not have that thing happen, can cause them to lose confidence in His existence. 

God invites us to listen to Him.  It’s the right thing to do.  Just be careful about what voice you’re really hearing.

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, that you do desire to not only hear from us, but to talk to us.  Help us to recognize you voice and not to read our own wishes and hopes into situations, but to trust you to reveal your holy and perfect will in due time.  Keep us from deception that we may walk in the pathway of truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/18/16 – What Christian Hope Means

DayBreaks for 10/18/16 – What Christian Hope Means

Every pastor has been touched and troubled when there have been those in the congregation who suddenly have faced unemployment. Like an ambush from two sides, unemployment attacks us with the fear of financial insecurity on the one side and the loss of self-esteem on the other. Job searching can deepen both. In just such a moment I encountered Brian. He is a competent and creative person whose skills and personality cannot be long overlooked. “It will work out, Brian,” I said. “God does provide.” “I hope so!” he replied. From the inflection of his voice, I knew he did not “expect” so.

One is reminded of Lucy’s encouragement to Charlie Brown in one of the Peanuts cartoons. “Look at it this way, Charlie Brown,” she consoles. “These are your bitter days. These are the days of your hardship and struggle …” The next frame goes on: “… but if you just hold your head up high and keep on fighting, you’ll triumph!” “Gee, do you really think so, Lucy?” Charlie asks. As she walks away Lucy says: “Frankly, no!”

Hope is like that. We speak of it more often than we believe in it. Hope is not a strong word for us. It has more to do with “wishing” than “expecting.” It has the sound of resignation, an inability to bring about, influence, or even believe that a desired event or goal might ever come to be. “Well, I hope so” has in its whimsical sound the same negation of the words that we hear in the sarcastic “Sure it will!” or “Well, I guess!” Hope, as we understand it, is not a word of excitement and expectation. It speaks of resignation and helplessness. “Well, I hope so …”

How then can we understand the New Testament’s strong use of the word? Repeatedly Paul writes about hope. To the Thessalonians he writes of the armor of God, including the “hope of salvation” as a helmet. To the Colossians he writes of the “hope laid up in heaven,” and of the “hope of glory.” Peter writes in his first letter that “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, held in heaven for you.”

Given our understanding of the word, shivers run up our spines as we think about it. “Is that all we have?” we want to shout. “Is ‘hope’ all we have after all? Just … hope?”

In the NT, hope means more than wishful thinking. The action of hoping has nothing to do with a speculative desire. It is, rather, a fully confident anticipation of deliverance, won through the person and work of Christ. If you’ll pardon this rather simplistic explanation, it is like a child who is waiting for Christmas. They know it’s coming, they know it will come, but they can hardly stand the wait because they know it will be so wonderful when that day arrives! Our hope is even more sure than the fact that Christmas is coming, because for any one of us, we may die before Christmas or Christ may return before Christmas Day 2016. There is nothing that will stop the arrival of Jesus, there is nothing that will prevent him from making all things new, there is nothing that can force him to abandon his plan or change his mind about us. Our hope is assured, fully confident that Jesus can, and will, do all that he has promised to do and that we will be the recipients of that grace and goodness!

That is what hope means. Without hope we wouldn’t make it from one day to the next. With the Christian hope we can make it through anything.

Romans 5:5 (NLT) – And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

PRAYER: Jesus, we believe that you are as good as your word to us. Sometimes we struggle to hope for better things because things in this world so often disappoint us. Remind us daily that you will never fail or disappoint!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 1/12/16 – To the End!

DayBreaks for 1/12/16: To the End!

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

John 13:1 (KJV) – Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Churches talk a lot about ministries.  Sometimes we are trying to get people to volunteer to help out, at other times, we’re trying to just get people involved who are sitting on the sidelines and being spectators.  There are plenty of ministry opportunities in this world: the tsunami victims, Katrina victims, Pakistani earthquake victims, those affected by the genocide in Africa, the poor and hungry here in the United States and perhaps in your own town.  The list of opportunities to minister to others is longer than could ever be printed, I suppose.

It is a good thing that we talk about ministering to our fellow humans.  God wants and expects us to do so, in the name of Jesus.  But sometimes we don’t focus that much on Jesus’ service to us.  At the last Passover, Jesus washed his follower’s feet.  In that washing of the feet, Fleming Rutledge sees strong parallels that we may have missed: the cleansing of the feet represents the cleansing by blood and water that was to come that Friday.  The laying down of his garments foreshadows the laying down of his life as a sacrifice.  She reminds us that this was his last action of Jesus towards his disciples as a whole before he lays his life down for them.  The apostle John seemed to grasp the significance when he noted that it was the proof that “he loved them unto the end.”

Ms. Fleming writes that he loved them “…to the end of his earthly strength, to the end of his earthly capacity, to the end of his earthly life.  But far more, to the end of the world, to the outermost boundaries of time, and beyond his own Second Coming into the time that is beyond time, he loves us to the end.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that, in spite of all the loves you have experienced on this earth – parent, friend, child, brother or sister, spouse – that there truly is one love that will never, ever run out, get tired of you, stop loving you or get bored with you?  That is the love of Jesus for his followers.  And that is the love that will follow and chase us throughout all eternity!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, even the best love that we’ve ever experience here on this earth has been flawed and has failed us – and we have failed others with our imperfect love – and we’re inclined to be fearful that your love may someday fail us, too.  Lord, how we long to fully experience a love that is perfect, without any flaw, which will never grow old or tired of us.  Teach us to love others with that kind of love, and most of all, to love you in response in the very best way possible until we are perfected in heaven and see you face to face!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/23/15 – Deeper Still

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DayBreaks for 4/23/15: Deeper Still

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

Corrie ten Boom knew something about tragedy and suffering. She lived with a courageous faith. Upon emerging from a Nazi concentration camp she said, “There is no pit so deep that God isn’t deeper still.” She picked an apt analogy because pain and tragedy is a pit. For some, it appears bottomless. Many experience a falling, disorientation, a terror, as they grab for walls that are out of reach. They see only blackness, and hear only echoes of the life they used to know. And for many, they claim that God is not present. But Corrie ten Boom reminds us that even in the pits of tragedy, God is still there. He is present. Yes, pain is real. But God, indeed, is real, too. That’s where faith comes in.

On the wall of a concentration camp, a prisoner had carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it does not shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.

As I write this DayBreaks, I’m in Florida at my sister’s home.  While the sun shines outside and the birds sing, it’s a bit darker inside.  Her husband died a week ago this past Sunday after a titanic struggle with pancreatic cancer.  She is a couple of years older than I, and she faces a future of raising 2 boys (currently 9 and 5) as a widowed mom.  It is a pit of tragedy?  Yes, it is – in human terms.  Her husband was a minister of the gospel and college professor.  But the human tragedy is still real and the pit is deep and the pain is deep.  And it will be for a long, long time.

But we also know that God is real.  He is the most Real reality that there is.  And though at times the sun doesn’t shine, and at times love seems to vanish, and though at times we may all cry out to God seeking answers to the universal question of “Why?”, even when He can’t be heard, He hears.  He cares.  He cries.  And He will heal.

Our faith in God must become deeper – and stronger – than our tragedy and despair.  If we allow our pain, tragedy or despair to be greater than God, we have made it our idol.  If we let it dominate our lives, fill our thoughts and minds – it has supplanted the place that only God is intended to fill.  By dwelling on those things instead of God, we are worshipping trouble rather than the One who will ultimately fix all things. 

May our faith in God’s goodness admit no boundaries, accept no limits, and grow until there is no room in our hearts for anything else.

Job 11:7-8 (NLT) – Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the Almighty?  Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—but who are you? It is deeper than the underworld—what can you know in comparison to him?

PRAYER: When we are tempted to despair, remind us of Your goodness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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