DayBreaks for 7/17/17 – Getting Close Enough

DayBreaks for 7/17/17: Getting Close Enough

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Preachers face some interesting dilemmas.  It isn’t uncommon for us to visit the sick in the hospital.  And as you know, hospitals are rife with all sorts of disease and infections.  In some ways, it’s amazing that anyone comes out of a hospital alive.  Recent stories about drug-resistant staph infections are scary, aren’t they?  Yet, when someone is sick, you go, hoping and trusting that you won’t get infected.  After all, you may have to get up in the pulpit the next day and preach!!!  And, what if you’re too sick to be there?  I know things would always work out.  But it’s one of the crazy things that go through a minister’s head from time to time. 

Of course, the closer you get to someone who is sick, the greater the chance of infection and the spread of disease.  As I write this, my wife is winging her way to India where she’ll work at an orphanage for two weeks.  She’s got anti-malaria pills to take every day while she’s there, other things to fight dengue fever, special spray to put on her clothes in advance (that will survive 6 washings!!) to hold the mosquitoes in abeyance, and other stuff to protect her from diseases.  We Americans don’t have good immunity to numerous other diseases that are common in other parts of the world.  Proximity to Indian mosquitoes, for example, certainly increases your risk of getting those diseases. 

Proximity to other humans increases our chance of getting diseases they may have.  Sneezing, coughing, vomiting.  The tiny aerosols that spew from our mouths when we sneeze spread disease.  Other diseases are spread though bodily fluids, including sweat from a fever.  Getting close is dangerous.

How close should we get to others?  In Luke chapter 5, Jesus heals a leper.  Sometimes when Jesus healed people of disease or illness, he just spoke the word and the healing was accomplished!  He could heal at a distance – we know that from the healing of the Roman centurion’s son.  But in this case, Jesus specifically chose not to heal at a distance.  He touched the leper.

John Ortberg put it well when he noted that “…only when you get close enough to catch their hurt will they be close enough to catch your love.”  Jesus got plenty close to catch our hurt.  He felt it in his own flesh.  He experienced it in his own heart.  And he got close enough to catch our disease.  Instead, he healed our disease, discounting the risk, so we could catch his love. 

Will we get close enough to others so we can feel and catch their hurt so we can give them His love?

PRAYER:  Thank you, Jesus, for not being afraid to touch us.  Thank you for being willing to feel our hurt.  Thank you for the love you’ve given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 12/29/16 – Fixer Uppers

DayBreaks for 12/28/16: Fixer Uppers

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

From NEWS OF THE WEIRD by Chuck Shepherd, United Feature Syndicate: “A year ago, News of the Weird reported that a jury in Westminster had convicted Cal State-Long Beach engineering professor Elena Zagustin, 61, of massive health violations at her exceptionally odoriferous and messy home, which included many buckets substituting for broken toilets. By September, Zagustin had sold the house (at a discount for its conditions, but still, because of the California real estate market, $301,500), and when the buyers pried the door open, they found trash two feet high in every room.”

You’ve heard the term “fixer-upper”, right? It implies a building or car in less than ideal condition – one that needs lots of work to be useable. As horrible as the home in the story above may have been, if someone was willing, they could reclaim it and make it serviceable again.

Jesus faced this situation many times with the people that he met. Many people who were physically “unclean” and repulsive came to him. Matthew 8:2-3 tells of one of those encounters: “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”

Did you notice the keys for the leper? First of all, he had to know who to go to with his problem – Jesus! It would have done him no good to go to anyone else. But there was an even more important key to his being “cleaned up”: Jesus had to be willing for the man to be cleaned. What if this rabbi from Nazareth was not willing?

Physical cleansing is one thing and Jesus responded to the struggles of people with disease and physical illnesses. Moral filth pervades humanity. We won’t all suffer leprosy or some other disfiguring disease, but we all suffer from moral filth. Our lives were in horrible shape – the rooms of ours heart and minds were filled with every kind of filth imaginable. The same two keys apply: will we go to the right place for cleansing, and is he willing to take the time to “clean” us?

Jesus specializes in fixer-uppers. He doesn’t care how dirty you might be. You don’t have to be cleaned up first before He’ll accept you. He comes into the home of your heart and begins the life-long process of cleaning up what he finds there.

Our prayer should be the same as the plea of the leper: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Just know this: Jesus’ response to us will be the same as it was to the leper: “I am willing. Be clean!”

PRAYER: How reassuring it is to know that you not only can, but do, wish to heal us of all our infirmities – physical and spiritual! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/16/12 – Christian Gamblers

DayBreaks for 11/16/12 – Christian Gamblers

Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need. 26 I am sending him because he has been longing to see you, and he was very distressed that you heard he was ill. 27 And he certainly was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and also on me, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28 So I am all the more anxious to send him back to you, for I know you will be glad to see him, and then I will not be so worried about you. 29 Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve. 30 For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away. – Philippians 2:25-30 (NLT)

I love the way that there are “back stories” behind nearly every passage of Scripture!  This seemingly innocuous passage is quickly passed over in a rush to get through one’s daily Bible reading.  It doesn’t seem very spiritual, does it?  When I was a little kid, the local newspaper from the very tiny little Iowa town that was nearest to our farm would even include news about who got a phone call from someone else!  Or, who had out-of-town guests.  It may seem strange to people today, but it was a very personal and tight-knit little farming community.  So it is with this passage.

Epaphroditus had come to Paul from Philippi.  Paul was in Rome, in chains.  It was risky for Ephphroditus to come, because if Paul were to be killed for his preaching, Epaphroditus could be killed as a follower or “co-conspirator.”  But he came to Paul anyway.  While in Rome, he got sick – and nearly died.  Fortunately, he recovered and now Paul is eager to send him back to his friends in Philippi so they can rejoice in his recovery.

In verse 30, Paul uses an interesting Greek word to describe how Epaphroditus “risked his life” for Christ’s work.  The rather long Greek word was a gambler’s word that described staking everything on a single throw of the dice.  That’s how Paul describes what Epaphroditus had done for the sake of Christ.  But here’s the “rest of the story”:

In the Early Church there was an association of Christian men and women called the parabolani, the gamblers. They weren’t gambling for money.  Rather, their aim was to visit the prisoners and the sick, especially those who were ill with dangerous and infectious diseases. In A.D. 252 plague broke out in the city of Carthage.  In their distress and terror, the heathen tossed the bodies of their dead into the streets and fled the city in terror. Cyprian, an elder in the church in Carthage, gathered his congregation together and charged them to gather up the dead bodies, and to also care for those stricken by the plague in the city.  By doing so, they saved the city, at the risk of their lives, from destruction and desolation.  They were gambling everything on a single throw of the dice – risking their very lives for Christ and the love of their neighbors.

This “gambling” spirit should be in every Christian, an almost reckless courage which makes him ready to gamble with his life to serve Christ and others.  How are you doing?  What have you risked for Him?

PRAYER: We have become so security conscious that we’ve grown risk-adverse, even when it comes to serving You, Lord.  Start today to create a spirit of courage and boldness within us for there is much to be done!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

Want to help the poor children of the world?  Here’s a couple links to projects at I Am 2 Partners, Inc.:

To help feed and protect the 37 orphans at Bright Future Children’s Home in Migori, Kenya, click here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RKR8ZNZX4UVPA

To help put in a purified water system for the Good Shepherd Pediatric Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda, click here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=B7U2JA5QSYCRC

Thanks!

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DayBreaks for 07/13/12 – Worse than Cancer

DayBreaks for 07/13/12 – Worse than Cancer

There are not many things that strike us with fear more than the word: C-A-N-C-E-R.  We want to leave the word unspoken as if to pretend that such a horrible spectre doesn’t even exist.  Somehow, we believe if we don’t speak it, or know about it, it can’t exist.  But we all know better, don’t we?  Whenever we get an unexpected pain (especially as we grow older) that seems to recur with some degree of regularity, we start to hear the whisper in the back of our mind, “Cancer…cancer…cancer…maybe I have cancer.”  It’s not that we are wishing it to be so, it is more that we are fearful of it being so.

There is no doubt about it, cancer is a horrible disease.  We will rejoice on the day that cancer and all disease and death are obliterated in the twinkling of an eye!  We dread it and fear it as if it were the worst thing in the world.  But maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the worst thing…

“The art of being sick is not the same as the art of getting well. Some cancer patients recover; some don’t. But the ordeal of facing your mortality and feeling your frailty sharpens your perspective about life. You appreciate little things more ferociously. You grasp the mystical power of love. You feel the gravitational pull of faith. And you realize you have received a unique gift—a field of vision others don’t have about the power of hope and the limits of fear; a firm set of convictions about what really matters and what does not. You also feel obliged to share these insights—the most important of which is this: There are things far worse than illness—for instance, soullessness.” These words were spoken by Tony Snow, who you may recall was a White House press secretary, who died of cancer in July 2008 after a three-year battle with the disease.

What is soullessness?  It is denying the existence of the soul, of ignoring the whisperings of God that we need to believe that life will go on beyond the grave and that therefore it is of vital importance.  It is turning a blind eye, being dead inside, to the cries and pleas and suffering of people.  It is denying that there are over-arching values worth living – and dying – for.

What is your greatest fear?  Is it physical disease?  Poverty?  Loss of employment?  Loss of a child?  Loss of a relationship?  Those are all mostly physical things, like cancer.  The ultimate realties, the ultimately good things, are not physical, but matters of the soul and heart and personhood.

As much as I hope no one ever develops cancer, I’d much rather have cancer than become a soulless human being.

Genesis 2:7 (NLT) – Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

PRAYER: Melt me and break me, mold me into a person with a soul that longs for the things of God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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