DayBreaks for 11/14/19 – It Is Here

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DayBreaks for 11/14/19: It Is Here

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you. – John 16:1-4 (NIV)

Jesus often couched his messages and teaching in riddles or parables that were designed to be understood only by those who had open hearts and eyes.  In what is surely a sad commentary on human nature, not even those who were the closest to Him often grasped what He meant.  But in this passage from John 16, Jesus spoke in point blank terms.  There was no mistaking His message to those who followed Him: “…a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” 

We have lived in religious freedom in the United States of America for about 235 years.  What a blessing!  I fear that we’ve come to a point in our country where we no longer experience much religious freedom.  Of course, I’m speaking in relative terms – we have far greater religious freedom than in China where churches are forced underground, or in Muslim countries or even in countries where Buddhism or Hinduism are practices.  In such countries, lives are sacrificed – literally – on the altar of obedience to God every day.  We aren’t there yet in the United States.  I hope we never will be – but such hoping on my part may just be wishful thinking for myself and those I love.  It may be best for the kingdom of God if such persecution were to come to this land. 

Seldom does persecution arrive “full blown.”  There are usually steps and phases – the proverbial slippery slope – where small things are first lost.  Then, if no one notices or raises an alarm, the next step is taken…and the next…and the next, until finally one wakes up to find the persecutor knocking on the door.  Think it isn’t happening here?  Consider this excerpt from “Cross and Culture”, an evangelical blog written by my youngest son, Tim: “Bill McGurn has an excellent article on two “Christian Girls, Interrupted.”  The first girl, Amanda Kurowski, was ordered by a judge to attend public school because, essentially, the judge determined that the girl should be exposed to ways of thinking other than those of her religious parents.  Amanda’s parents are divorced; her mother has primary custody, but her father has been concerned about the effect of home-schooling on her “socialization.” 

“The judge determined “that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.”  Yet due to her “rigidity on faith,” the court concludes that Amanda “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.”  In other words, the judge determines, essentially, that she must be sent to public school in order to get away from her mother’s narrow religiosity and be exposed to other worldviews.  Pretty extraordinary stuff.  As McGurn writes, “Just how extraordinary [this line of reasoning is] might best be appreciated by contemplating the opposite scenario: the reaction that would ensue were a court to order a young girl out of a public school and into an evangelical one so she might gain “exposure” to other “systems of belief.”

Religious freedom still exists in America – provided you aren’t a vocal Christian of the evangelical stripe.  Are you ready for the knock on the door?  Will your faith stand the test – or has it already been compromised? 

PRAYER: Lord, we pray for renewal and repentance in our country that we might return to You!  We pray that we would love our enemies, regardless of what they might do to us, that Your kingdom may grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/19 – Come to Me or Die

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DayBreaks for 11/06/19: Come to Me or Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

John Ortberg told this story in one of his sermons: “My friend, Jimmy, and his son, Davey, were playing in the ocean down in Mexico, while his family—his wife, daughters, parents, and a cousin—were on the beach. Suddenly, a rogue riptide swept Davey out to the sea. Immediately Jimmy started to do whatever he could to help Davey get back to the shore, but he, too, was soon swept away in the tide. He knew that in a few minutes, both he and Davey would drown. He tried to scream, but his family couldn’t hear him.

“Jimmy’s a strong guy—an Olympic Decathlete—but he was powerless in this situation. As he was carried along by the water, he had a single, chilling thought: My wife and my daughters are going to have to have a double funeral.

“Meanwhile, his cousin, who understood something about the ocean, saw what was happening. He walked out into the water where he knew there was a sandbar. He had learned that if you try to fight a riptide, you will die. So, he walked to the sandbar, stood as close as he could get to Jimmy and Davey, and then he just lifted his hand up and said, “You come to me. You come to me.”  (To escape a riptide, rather than swimming directly toward the shore it is necessary to swim parallel to the beach until one is out of the riptide current. – GCD)

“If you try to go the way your gut tells you to go—the shortest distance into shore—you will die. If you think for yourself, you will die. God says, ‘If you come to me, you will live.’  That’s it—death or life.”

Galen’s Thoughts: in Mark’s gospel, I’ve been struck by the differences between those who belief and those who don’t.  We are seldom, if ever, given reasons for why people choose not to believe, but they certainly do choose to not believe.  In chapter 16, it twice says that Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe the resurrection stories.  While that may seem incredulous to us, I think it makes perfect sense.  Which is harder to believe – that a person has risen from the dead or that they’ve been cured of some disease that may not even have been visible on the outside?  The resurrection has almost always been one of the greatest stumbling-blocks for unbelievers.  It’s not that people don’t want to believe in life after death – it’s just that no one that I know of who is alive today has seen a person walking and talking who was dead for 3 days. 

Jesus (and God) seem perfectly willing to leave it up to us to choose whether or not to believe for our own reasons.  On the one hand, a centurion watches him die (probably the first time he’d seen or heard Jesus) and concludes he was the son of God.  On the other, the disciples who’d seen him and heard him many times, didn’t reach that conclusion for some time.  Jesus was taunted on the cross to “come down” and show everyone that he was who he claimed to be.  He didn’t do it – not because He couldn’t have – but because He shouldn’t have.  Belief must come to us as individuals as the conviction of the heart. If it had been me or any other human being that I’ve ever met who had been taunted as Jesus was, I’d have come down and proved my point – so strong is our desire for affirmation.  Jesus wouldn’t have any part of that – no forcing of faith. 

God is so gentle with us.  We’d break otherwise.  So we must come to Jesus because we hear his call, as Jimmy heard the call of his friend on the beach: “Come to me.  Come to me and live.”  We can’t force faith any more than we can swim against a riptide.  It is a work of God’s Spirit. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for sending someone to stand on the shore of this earth and call to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…come to me, and find rest for your souls!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/29/19 – With Healing in His Wings

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DayBreaks for 10/29/19: With Healing in His Wings

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.  (Deut. 22:12, NASB)

This passage is from God’s instructions to His people, Israel.  It seems like a strange command to us, but the tassels were there to remind Israel that they were to be a kingdom of priests to the world.  The Israelites used everything (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) to remind themselves of the One to Whom they belonged.  These tassels were to be a visual reminder of their identity and role.  Here’s the key point: the Hebrew word that was used for these tassels was kinof.  Remember that…you’ll see it again just a bit later in this message.

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (Malachi 4:2, NLT) 

This prophecy was about the coming Messiah, the “Sun of Righteousness.”  At first glance, it may appear to have nothing to do with the passage from Deuteronomy, but that’s only because we don’t speak Hebrew.  In the passage from Malachi, the word “wings” is also kinof…the same word that is used in Deuteronomy to describe the tassels that were located at the four corners of a garment.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.  She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:42b-48, NIV)

Here’s where it gets interesting!  This poor woman who had suffered for 12 long years, is in the great crowd that surrounds Jesus and is pressing in on him.  As she comes closer and closer, she reaches out to touch Jesus’ garment.  Why?  Because this woman either realized or certainly suspected that He was the “Sun of Righteousness” from Malachi who would have power in his “wings” (kinof) to heal!  Is it any wonder that Jesus said to her, “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace”? 

The good news, of course, is that Jesus still has healing in his “wings.”  We just need to get close enough to touch even the hem of his garment.  Our problem is that we are fearful and reluctant to get that close.  Could it be because we really aren’t that eager to be healed?  Is it because of what we may have to give up?  Or do we just not have the faith this woman had to take the risk?  She could have looked very foolish if she was wrong.  I find it interesting that she wanted the healing without the risk of being exposed for her faith if she was wrong about who this man was.  In the press of the crowd, if Jesus didn’t have healing in his “wings”, no one would know if she touched him and nothing happened.  But, of course, that’s NOT what happened.  Jesus wouldn’t let her faith remain hidden, but let it be known to the entire crowd that was gathered there.

I’m sure that we all need some healing today.  Jesus is within reach.  Reach out, take the risk, and find the power in his wings!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for being our healer.  We need the faith to reach out to you in our brokenness.  Thank you for coming to be within reaching distance!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/24/19 – The Bridge: When Faith Comes Hard

Weaving the Bridge

DayBreaks for 10/23/19: The MBridge – When Faith Comes Hard

It isn’t easy to always have faith and even hard to act on that faith. I suspect that it grows even harder as more and more is at stake. For instance, if you are being asked to deny your faith and the life of your family is at stake if you don’t, acting on faith in that case would perhaps be at the most extreme test possible.

The education system today calls faith into question, placing it on the scales to determine if it makes sense or not. We want to reduce everything to mathematical equations and certainties. The world is uncomfortable with uncertainty and things that cannot be proved, hence faith itself is deemed foolish and those who cling to it are ridiculed and proclaimed to be idiots.

Perhaps what Dr. Paul Brand wrote sheds a bit of light on this subject: “I have stood before a bridge in South America constructed of interlocking vines that support a precariously swinging platform hundreds of feet above a river. I know that hundreds of people have trusted that bridge over the years, and as I stand at the edge of the chasm I can see people confidently crossing it. The engineer in me wants to weigh all the factors—measure the stress tolerances of the vines, test any wood for termites, survey all the bridges in the area for one that might be stronger. I could spend a lifetime determining whether this bridge is fully trustworthy. Eventually, though, if I really want to cross, I must take a step. When I put my weight on that bridge and walk across, even though my heart is pounding and my knees are shaking, I am declaring my position.

“In my Christian walk I sometimes must proceed like this, making choices which involve uncertainty. If I wait for all the possible evidence, I’ll never move.” Dr. Paul Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully

For those who have taken “the step” of faith and have found it true, we heartily assert it is not foolish. Those who have tasted the goodness of God’s love and compassion know it is real. Those who never take the step will never know, nor could we expect them to know, how solid the Bridge and Bridgebuilder is.

I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.

PRAYER: Give us the courage to believe and to act in faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/03/19 – The Nature of Faith

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DayBreaks for 10/03/19: The Nature of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I think that Christians struggle with faith.  That statement can be interpreted at least two different ways: 1) that we struggle to believe, and 2) that we struggle to understand what faith is. 

We all understand the first struggle rather implicitly.  We know there are times we find it hard to believe.  We may not struggle to believe that God exists (though we may, from time to time), but this first struggle is more pronounced when we find ourselves or someone/something that we love that is in great pain and anguish.  In that case, we struggle with our faith in the proclamation that “God is a good, loving God.” 

The second case is more the one I’ve been thinking about lately.  I feel confident that the world doesn’t understand the very nature of faith.  All you have to do is read carefully what is said about “those Christians” and you’ll quickly see that they believe people of faith have taken leave of their senses.  They think that to have faith in God is superstition – nothing more and nothing less than blind, ignorant wishful thinking. 

Is that really true?  Is that the real nature of faith?  I don’t believe so.  Our faith is neither baseless nor wishful thinking.  If you didn’t believe (have faith) in the law of gravity, would you ever jump upward to grab a basketball or in a frenzy of joyful dancing leave your feet?  No, you wouldn’t.  If you believed that you would just keep going up and depart the atmosphere into the void of space where you’d suffocate, you’d never jump!  We have faith that the laws of gravity will not be superseded even once when we jump.  And that faith is based on observance of the situation and past performance. 

We sometimes say we have faith in someone.  What is that faith based on?  It’s based on observation of that person and their character over some period of time that has shown them to be faith-worthy.  The same is true for the fact that we have faith that the brakes on our car will work, that the steering mechanism won’t become disconnected and that the key to our front door will continue to work in the lock as long as the lock doesn’t change.  Even though molecular motion says that the molecules in the lock (and in the key and in our hands, etc.) are constantly moving, we believe the key will still work in the lock because of the history we’ve had with the lock.

The same is true of Christian faith.  It is not a blind, thoughtless, ignorant superstition, but an intelligent response to evidence we see all around us, to the past performance of the One that we see as the explanation for all that exists.  Atheists must have faith in something – for them it is chance and time that they put their faith in as the explanation for what they see and experience.  But what of the things we can’t see?  They never can explain how anything came to be (how did the matter in the big bang come to exist?) in the first place – even if time and chance were the operative factors involved. 

So, faith isn’t foolish.  Faith is reasonable.  Faith is based on past observations about reliability and performance.  No one would realistically walk up to a total stranger on the street corner who is unshaven, homeless and filthy and hand them their life savings and say, “I trust you’ll keep this safe for me.”  Why?  Because we don’t know if they are reliable.  God, however, has demonstrated faithfulness throughout every generation.  And we can go to Him, hand Him our eternal destiny, and with faith say, “I trust you’ll keep this safe for me.”

We have faith because of reliability, a proven track record, personal experience and because it is the only reasonable thing to do.  Faith isn’t blind. 

PRAYER: We are grateful that You have proven Yourself over and over to us and that You will always be worthy of our faith in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/01/19 – The Reason for the Wind

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DayBreaks for 10/01/19: The Reason for the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I think we often misjudge the Israelites.  When they left Egypt in the beginning, they were headed on a route that would take them toward the coast of the Mediterranean.  Imagine their consternation when God told them to turn around, go back the other way and head towards the Red Sea.  Try to put yourself in their place: they knew the Egyptians would be as mad as a nest of hornets, and now, instead of heading away, they’re heading back towards where they came from!  Noah showed great faith, Abraham demonstrated his faith as did all the patriarchs, but this must rank right along with one of the greatest acts of faith of a large body of believers in all history.  The pillars of cloud and fire were leading them into what appeared to be a death-trap where they would be stuck between the Egyptians and the sea.  Yet they marched on.

The book of Exodus records precisely what happened in Exodus 14:21 – a strong east wind began to blow and it blew all night long, drying out the seabed and piling up the waters for the Israelites safe passage. 

Have you ever contemplated what God did and why?  I mean, He is God…all He would have needed to do was just say, “Waters, part!  Ground, be dry!” and it surely would have been so.  But that wasn’t what God did.  Or, he could have said, “Wind – be a super wind and dry the ground instantly and push the waters apart!”  It would have been far more spectacular, wouldn’t it?  Surely, it would have clearly been seen as the hand of God controlling even the forces of nature.

Gerald Schroeder hit it on the head, I believe, with his observation from The Science of God, when he noted “Of course, the natural appearance of the wind was exactly the intent.  Choices had to be made.  For the Israelites, to trust in the Divine or to surrender to the Egyptians?  For the Egyptians, to follow the Israelites onto the seabed or to retreat?  Had the wind been obviously supernatural, the decisions would have been predictable, and free will would have been compromised.”  Note in reading the story that the wind was so obviously NOT supernatural, that the Egyptians did in fact follow Israel onto the seabed, and only when they were trapped in the waters did they acknowledge the miracle: “The Eternal fights for them.” (14:25)

Schroeder then goes on to make sure the point is clear: “The biblical message: not every extraordinary event in nature is labeled ‘miracle, made in heaven.’  Sometimes we must read between the lines to apprehend its full significance.”

Are you looking for miracles that are so clear that you’ll have no doubt – in other words, something so clear that you’ll not have to act in faith?  God didn’t provide that luxury to Israel more often than not, and I doubt He will for us.  Many miracles go undetected because we are looking for such a huge, supernatural happening that when the wind blows we attribute it to nothing more than fluctuations in air pressure. 

May God open our eyes to the miracles that surround us each day…but give us the faith to act when it seems to be nothing out of the ordinary. 

PRAYER: Forgive our desire and insistence of super-visible miracles and our ignorance of normal, everyday miracles that come constantly from Your hand!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/30/19 – Pain and Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/30/19: Pain and Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How would you feel if someone that you couldn’t see showed up to your door one day and offered you a deal like this one: “Hi!  I’m here to offer you a deal.  I know that you are concerned for your children.  Every loving parent is and you are clearly a loving parent.  Here’s the deal I’ve got for you: I will guarantee you generations of descendants.  I will make sure that they have a place to live.  I will see to it that they are taken care of and loved forever.  But, in order to have me do those things for you, your descendants will have to go through a few minor things, in particular, they’ll have to wait 400 years to get their land and in the meantime, they’ll be slaves to the most powerful nation on earth. How’s that sound? Do we have a deal?”

Chances are, you’d slam the door quickly and tell the visitor to “take a hike.”  And you’d have plenty of company. 

The scenario, of course, is not just a made-up story.  It really happened to a man by the name of Abraham and it is recorded in Genesis 15:13-14.  What is amazing is that Abraham essentially said, “Sure!  Sounds like a deal to me!”

We could always marvel about this grand old man of the faith.  He earned that nickname the hard way – by being tested and purified by the fire many times in his life.  I doubt than many, if any, living today would want to go through the same kind of testing to earn a similar nickname to “father of the faithful.”  But that’s not really the point that I’m after today. 

I’m sure that it was great for Abraham to hear that his children and their descendants would be cared for and loved by God.  But I’m also sure that it was very painful for him to hear about the 400 years of servitude that would precede their taking possession of the land of promise.  And so, at one and the same time, Abraham’s descendants because both his greatest joy…and his greatest pain.

If you look back at your life, isn’t that how it’s worked for you?  That the sources of your greatest joys become the sources also of your greatest pains, and that the things that have caused you the most pain often bring the greatest joys?  As Dr. Gerald Schroeder wrote in The Science of God, “If we mistake pleasure to be the avoidance of pain, we may miss some of the greatest pleasures in life, such as reaching the peak of a mountain or rearing children.  Ask parents the source of their greatest pleasure, and then ask them the source of their greatest pain.  It’s their kids every time.”

For all the complaining and moaning we often do about the pain in our lives, maybe we’re just too short-sighted to reflect back on the pain later and see how God has turned it into joy. 

PRAYER: Thank you for the many ways you teach us and for the fact that even our greatest pain can be turned into life’s greatest joy through your power!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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