DayBreaks for 5/08/19 – Settling for Lesser Things

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DayBreaks for 5/08/19: Settling for Lesser Things

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

We have all at one time or another had to “settle” for less than we wanted or hoped for. As a child, it may have been settling for a cookie instead of a full-blown banana split.  As a teenager, it might be something like settling for an iPod Nano instead of a full-blown iPod.  As an adult, perhaps you’ve had to settle for a two bedroom apartment instead of a 10 bedroom, 5 bath, 3 car garage home with a pool and built in bowling alley. We all have had to settle for lesser things. 

And even though we’re had to do it many times, it doesn’t mean we like it.  We still have the desire for more and bigger and better.  But we seldom get all that we’d really like to have. 

Consider this story, told by Skye Jethani in his book, The Divine Commodity, (copyright 2009, pg. 113), about a trip he took to India with his father. While walking the streets of New Delhi, a little boy approached them. He was “skinny as a rail, and naked but for tattered blue shorts. His legs were stiff and contorted, like a wire hanger twisted upon itself.” Because of his condition, the little boy could only waddle along on his calloused knees. He made his way toward Skye and his father and cried out, “One rupee, please! One rupee!” Skye describes what happened when his father eventually responded to the boy’s persistent begging:

“What do you want?” [my father asked].

“One rupee, sir,” the boy said while motioning his hand to his mouth and bowing his head in deference. My father laughed.

“How about I give you five rupees?” he said. The boy’s submissive countenance suddenly became defiant. He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give up five rupees. The boy started shuffling away, mumbling curses under his breath.

“My father reached into his pocket. Hearing the coins jingle, the boy stopped and looked back over his shoulder. My father was holding out a five-rupee coin. He approached the stunned boy and placed the coin into his hand. The boy didn’t move or say a word. He just stared at the coin in his hand. We passed him and proceeded to cross the street.

“A moment later the shouting resumed, except this time the boy was yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, sir! Bless you!” He raced after us once again—but not for more money but to touch my father’s feet.

This, I imagine, is how our God sees us—as miserable creatures in desperate need of his help. But rather than asking for what we truly need, rather than desiring what he is able and willing to give, we settle for lesser things.”

Sometimes we need to learn to be content with lesser things, trusting that God in His wisdom knows what is best for us to have – and what is best for us not to have.  But we can fall into the trap of settling for too little when God wants so much for us: Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. (Ephesians 3:20, NLT) In context, Paul is talking about us being spiritual empowered.  What does that mean?  Let me put it this way: how easily do I give up when that old temptation comes a knockin’ on my door?  I’ve convinced myself that that old trickster the devil will never leave me alone, that I will never be free from that particular sin/temptation.  But God is able to give you and me power that we cannot even conceive of.  In fact, He’s already given us “all we need for life and godliness.”  He’s given us the power of the Spirit that hovered over the face of the deep and brought order out of chaos. 

If the Spirit could bring order out of the material chaos, how much more can He bring order out of the chaos of our lives…as long as we don’t settle for lesser things.

Prayer: God, teach us to be content with what You give us, but to never be content with our spiritual progress!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 10/24/18 – The Last Word

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DayBreaks for 10/24/18: The Last Word

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Last things.  A final word.  A last goodbye.  A condemned man’s last meal.  A final hug of a pet or loved one.  Last things stick in our minds and it should be so.  Last things are important.  Maybe more important than first things, and as such they deserve our attention.

As humans, we are conditioned to think of last things as being the end, the swan song.  We are conditioned to think in terms of time and space, possibilities and impossibilities, probabilities and improbabilities.  In this, as in all other things, we need to have our minds reshaped by the power of the Spirit to see things that our human minds cannot perceive on their own.

Enter Revelation – that book that is revered and feared, loved and hated, and sadly, all too often ignored by believer and unbeliever alike.  Revelation is the last book of the Bible and the last one which was written – another of those “last things.”  And as such, it deserves our attention.

Revelation is not about prediction: Jeanne Dixon and Nostradamus were into prediction.  Predictions may or may not come to pass.  Revelation is not a book of prediction, but of eschatology.  Most think of eschatology as being about “last things” and rightly so, for that is what the word itself means – the study of last things.  But if Revelation is eschatological, it is only eschatological in the worldly sense, for in the great book of John, the key eschatological message is that as the last breath of the earth is gasped out, the heavenly reality is that the future is breaking in upon us. 

In Reversed Thunder, Eugene Peterson (note: Eugene passed to glory on 10/22/18, with his last words reportedly being, “Let’s go!”) noted: Eschatology involves the belief that the resurrection appearances of Christ are not complete.  This belief permeating the Revelation makes life good, for when we are expecting a resurrection appearance we can accept our whole present and find joy not only in its joy but also in its sorrow, happiness not only in its happiness but also in its pain.  We travel on through either happiness or pain because in the promises of God we see possibilities for the transient, the dying and the dead.

How are your expectations today?  Are you living in great expectation of another post-resurrection appearance of the Christ, or have you resignedly condemned yourself to a life of mundane trivialities?  The expectation of his appearing and of the infinite possibilities his coming hints at are worthy of our meditation and great expectation that this day, as likely as any other day, can be changed from an ordinary day into a day and lifetime of endless anticipation.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us to expect not just Your power through the Spirit, but the appearing of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Let this expectation transform us from victims into victors, from depressed creatures buffeted by life into glorified saints full of joyful exuberance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/5/16 – Traveling to the Unexplored Land

DayBreaks for 12/05/16: Traveling to the Unexplored Land

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) – For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

My oldest son was always captivated by maps. He would draw maps of imaginary places when he was younger, though I don’t think he does any more. Perhaps you’ve seen ancient maps of what were the unexplored portions of the world? Maps that portrayed the prevailing ideas of what lay beyond, the unexplored lands and the uncrossed seas? Maps from before the adventures of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan? How grotesquely inaccurate those maps were! How vastly they differed from what the explorer eventually found! How fantastic were the notions the ancients had about what was out there – a dropping-off-place, mammoth sea serpents to swallow up ships. But as things turned out, it wasn’t that way at all. You know, if Columbus had believed half the maps and legends of his time he would never have lifted an anchor!

Well, we are all on a journey traveling into the unexplored land, and we ought to be careful how we map it until we’ve traveled there. Certainly we shouldn’t let the future do things to us it never meant to do. For many, the future is a terrifying place – they don’t believe anything is there, or whatever it may be that lurks there is most likely, in their view, to be unfriendly at best.

It is my faith that the future means to be friendly; and I don’t think we ought to treat it as an enemy. If we do, and start in to do battle with it, I can tell you this: it’s a battle we can never win. Let those who believe never suspect it of standing over us with a club waiting for a chance to clobber us into the ground, or of lurking in the shadows to pounce upon us around the next dark corner. If the verse for today says anything, it says that we can, and should, look towards the Unexplored Land with joy and great anticipation, not just during this season, but always.

PRAYER: Father, I believe that when we travel to the Unexplored Land that it will be full of delights and surprises we cannot even imagine. Let it stir up in us excitement as our arrival in Your land draws closer and may it spur us onward until we are Home! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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 10/05/15 – Don’t Get Too Comfortable

DayBreaks for 10/05/15 – Don’t Get Too Comfortable

From the DayBreaks archive, 2015:

A year ago for my birthday, my wife and kids got me a hammock.  We live on the side of a hill that overlooks the world famous Alexander Valley – famous for the vineyards and wine that comes from the area.  I’ve got to tell you the truth – in the afternoon when there’s a nice breeze coming up from the valley, it’s VERY comfortable to lay out there in the hammock with the Bible or a good book and read.  In fact, it can be too comfortable – it’s too easy to fall asleep. 

I guess we were designed to like comfort and to be comfortable.  Given our druthers, most of us would rather be comfortable than uncomfortable.  (There are a few who would rather climb a 2000 foot vertical rock face instead of lay around in a hammock, but I’ve concluded that those people are probably crazy!)  One of the things that makes us comfortable is predictability.  When we know what to expect, we can relax because we aren’t worried about things that take us by surprise or that go bump in the night.   

While we may seek comfort (a relaxed, casual, non-alarmed state) I seriously doubt that God wants us to be that way.  Over and over again we’re cautioned to stay alert, be awake, be watchful, to keep our lamps trimmed and bright.  Why?  Because God is not the God of the comfortable.  We may even quote the verse about God being “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow” and we’d be right.  But there’s a big difference between what God is (His unchangeable nature) and the things that God may do.  A rather casual glance at Scripture shows us a God who is chock-full of surprises: He inhabits pillars of fire and cloud, sends an earthquake to shake up the complacent, sends windstorms so strong that they rend the very rocks, hails fire down from the sky, makes an animal talk to an abusive master, piles up the Red Sea like curtains and then surprised everyone by appearing as a baby in a manger who later on will die as a criminal on a cross.  If there’s one thing about God that’s certain, it’s this: you can’t really follow Him for very long and remain comfortable.  He’ll do something the stir you out of your lethargy.

Maybe you’ve been getting a little too comfortable.  You can do it by pulling back from any and all ministries, by not using your giftedness for the benefit of the Kingdom.  It’s easy to do – we all love an easy chair!  Just don’t get too comfortable.

PRAYER: Keep us from the mistake of thinking we know what You will do or when you will do it. Don’t let us grow fat and complacent with our relationship and walk with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/26/15 – The Power of Pretend

DayBreaks for 8/26/15: The Power of Pretend

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/25/2005:

Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:3)

It won’t be long now until The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe finds its way to the big screen. I don’t know if you’ve seen previews of it, but it looks great. It is, of course, based on the book of the same name which is part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. How fitting (and delightful) that it should come to the big screen. Of course, I’ve not see it so I can’t vouch for the content, but what I’ve seen by way of previews looks very exciting, indeed. Already there are Christian books springing up in anticipation of capitalizing on the movie and the books that Lewis wrote. I even bought one.

In Aslan’s Call – Finding Our Way to Narnia, by Mark Eddy Smith, the author was speaking about the power of pretend, and how that sometimes, when in moments of weak faith, pretend seems to be able to convey truth that sometimes we miss in the middle of real life. Of course, the author points out, Narnia and Aslan are pretend, while earth, heaven and Jesus are very real, indeed. Nonetheless, he wrote concerning the verse above: “The specific childhood virtue to which he alluded is humility, but it cannot have escaped his attention that the thing for which children are best known is their ability to pretend, to make believe that they are mothers or fathers, Davids or Goliaths, camels or coyotes. When someone tells them there’s a man who can walk on water, their eyes go wide and they gasp in astonishment, just as if they had seen it themselves. The next time they’re at the beach, they give it a try; and their disappointment when they sink is profound…The stories in the Bible tell us we can change the world, indeed that we must, and maybe we long to believe them, but it’s hard because of the sinking we did when we were children.”

I remember trying to walk on water as a child, and failing. Was I disappointed? Yes, I was. In many things since my childhood, I’ve tried to take a step in faith. Sometimes it was successful (although it isn’t really about me and my success as much as it is my willingness to say, “Yes, Lord!” when he asks me to take a step), many times I failed. When I failed, it was usually because whatever I was trying to do didn’t make sense to me, or rather, I concluded that it would never work and didn’t take that step of faith because I was afraid that I’d sink, just like I did when I tried walking on water as a little kid. “It didn’t work then, it won’t work now,” might as well have been my mantra. And sadly, there are still times in my life now when I don’t try to walk on the water anymore. And that is a tragedy, because life lived with Jesus calls for walking on water, for the power to imagine what could be, for the excitement and amazement of the adventure that beckons us onward. If Jesus walks on water, and I am to follow him, doesn’t it stand to reason that I must walk on water at least part of the time, too? Of course, I’ll only be able to walk on the water if I’m walking with him and through his uplifting power and Presence. 

Imagine. Imagine what God could do through you. If you need to pretend in your head first, fine…go right ahead. But don’t let it stop there. After the Spirit puts the vision in your heart and confirms it, live it!!!!

PRAYER: Lord, we long for a great adventure, but are afraid to take the first step because we’ve failed so often. Help us to take the first step when Your Spirit shows us the direction! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 1/24/14 – Encountering Jesus at the Intersection (Disappointment #2)

DayBreaks for 1/24/14 – Encountering Jesus at the Intersection (Disappointment #2) 

Have you ever dreamed of Jesus? If you have, I’d guess that your dreams were of a gentle, tender, friendly, smiling, bearded and somewhat long-haired person who looked a lot like a Francis Hook painting of the Lord. I can’t tell you those things are wrong, but I can tell you that such images are, at best, only partially correct. I don’t say that because I’ve seen him or have any inside knowledge, but because Jesus always surprises us and we tend to think of him in the pleasantest light.

Can we be brutally honest in this series of thoughts on disappointment? Here’s the fact: I don’t know anyone who at some point or another was not disappointed in Jesus. His apostles were. The religious leaders were. I have been. And if you are being honest, I believe you have been disappointed in him too: when he didn’t heal someone, when you didn’t get that job or the A on the test or when the other team won the game.

Disappointment happens when our expectations of someone or something is not met. The expectations may be realistic or may be groundless, but we have them and when they aren’t satisfied, we are disappointed. And what does that have to do with Jesus? Didn’t he say that if we ask anything his name that we would receive it? Has that been your experience? Who among us who became believers when we were young, didn’t try to literally move a mountain or walk on water as a result of that promise (which we took literally and that caused us to muster up as much faith as we could to try such things).

Here is where we meet Jesus – in this unlikely place that is the intersection of expectations and disappointment. The Jesus we meet there is not the Jesus of our dreams. The Jesus we meet at that intersection is the unpredictable Jesus who let his friend Lazarus die, who couldn’t heal in his own home town, the man of sorrows as well as joy. Make no mistake: he is not a Jesus who lacks power to do anything we ask. He may, if I may be so bold, lack the will to do what we ask because we ask amiss. But once we meet the Jesus of disappointment, you won’t forget him, just like you will never forget the Jesus who does miraculous things that totally blow us away.

We live in a world, especially in America, of unreasonable expectations: a shampoo will make us irresistible to the opposite sex and alcohol only leads to laughter and good times with good looking people but never to hangovers, broken homes and regret. We are told that buying the right car is the roadway to happiness and adventure. What are all these things really offering us? Ultimate fulfillment. As media critic Jean Kilbourne said: The problem with advertising isn’t that it creates artificial needs, but that it exploits our very real and human desires. We are not stupid: we know that buying a certain brand of cereal won’t bring us one inch closer to that goal. But we are surrounded by advertising that yokes our needs with products and promises us that things will deliver what in fact they never can. 

In short: our culture has set us up for disappointment, and so has the church. American theology combines humanistic optimism with a work mentality that leads us to believe that good little Christians will have the hard times and cutting edges of life smoothed over because we are good followers of Jesus. It has even been encapsulated into some of our hymns: Not a shadow will rise, not a cloud in the skies, but his smile quickly drives it away…(Trust and Obey).

Is that true of your experience of Jesus and his smile? If so, where does that leave someone like Job who had his pathway blocked by God and said: Job 19:8 (NLT)  “God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness”? It would also leave out Jeremiah and his belief, expressed aloud, that he’d been deceived and brutalized by God’s purpose (Jer. 20:7).

Tomorrow we’ll explore some of the reason this happens. This is life, folks. This is where the rubber meets the road and where we will either meet the real Jesus at the intersection of Expectation and Disappointment roads and will cling to him, or like many, we will take a detour of our own concoction.

I believe that Jesus still deserves our allegiance in spite of our disappointment. The problem, you see, isn’t with him….but with us.

PRAYER: Jesus, we have at times been disappointed with you when in reality we came with unrealistic dreams and concepts of who you are and what you are about. Teach us to deal with both our expectations and our disappointments and to continue to seek you in spite of whatever frustrations we may have. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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