DayBreaks for 3/01/18 – If You Can

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DayBreaks for 3/01/18: If You Can

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

“Hey, hon, would you see if you can get the lid off this jar?”  If I had a dollar for every time my wife asked me that question, I’d have a much faster PC than I do now!  There is also something in the male ego that rises to such a challenge: “What do you mean, ‘If you can?’  I’m macho!”  Then, so us guys can demonstrate our physical prowess, we try really hard to make it look easy to get the lid off the jar.  Sometimes it is very easy, but other times it is hard (but we can’t ever let on that it is hard).

In Mark 9.22-23, Jesus has been approached by a man who had a son who was possessed by demons, and here is part of their conversion, the man speaking first of all to Jesus: It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.

Here was a man who had a broken heart.  His son, whom he no doubt loved greatly, had been wracked with suffering as a result of the demon.  As a parent, you would feel like you could never take your eyes off your child for an instant because the demon might try to throw him into the fire or water at any time.  Parenting would become a very intense 24-hour a day job.  You can hear the desperation in the man’s voice: “But, IF you can do anything..”.  Undoubtedly this poor man had tried other “healers” or religious leaders – including the very disciples of Jesus – but to no avail.  He finds himself now, not daring again to get his hopes up, confronted with Jesus himself.  Would he be able to do what his disciples could not?  Was there any reason to hope?  Hence, the words, “…if you can…”.

Jesus’ reply picks up on the lack of faith in the father of the child.  “If you can?  EVERYTHING is possible for him who believes.” 

First of all, Jesus believed.  He knew the power of the Father that was at his beck and call.  He had no doubt that he could deliver the boy from demonic struggle.  The disciples apparently doubted that they could do it.  He didn’t permit the lack of faith from the boy’s father to cause him to doubt his own faith.  With Jesus is found certainty. 

Second, Jesus doesn’t limit the ability to do great things to just himself – but says EVERYTHING is possible for EVERYONE who believes. 

Are you at a point in your life right now where you are not sure that even God can help you?  It happens.  Does it seem you have tried everything and everyone with no progress?  The father who brought his tormented son to Jesus found mercy and grace and healing in spite of his personal lack of faith.  He only had enough faith to ask the question – “If you can, can you help me?” 

In your despair and the pit of your suffering, if you can find even the smallest bit of faith when you go to him, he can and will help you, too.

PRAYER: Lord, grow our belief!  Help our unbelief!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 1/16/18 – The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

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DayBreaks for 1/16/18: The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

John 14:1(ESV) – Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Troubled hearts are everywhere. My guess is you have something that is troubling your heart. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Scripture tells us to not be anxious – but just like this verse from Jesus, that’s far easier to say than to do. So how do we go about getting an untroubled heart?

Believe in God; believe also in me. Seven simple words, the longest consisting of just seven letters and two syllables. So how does it work?

First, think about what is troubling your heart. Is it fear of illness? Loss of job or home? A child who is in rebellion? A marriage that is falling apart? Ability to pay the bills? My guess is that you can come up with several things. It really doesn’t matter what it is, the cause of troubled hearts is found in this passage, this one little verse. Our hearts are troubled when we believe that God doesn’t know, care, or is powerless and indifferent to do anything. It is much harder to believe in someone or something you can’t see (like God), so Jesus makes it much more personal (“believe also in me”). The disciples had seen, touched and smelled Jesus and had seen his care and concern.

The hard part, of course, is always that we do not know what God will specifically do in any given situation. Will he heal? Will be lose our job? Will we go broke? Will someone die? Will the company be sold or go under? I don’t know the answers to those questions in my own life, let alone yours. But if our faith is based on some specific action that God will do, rather than His character and His promise to make all things work for our good, we aren’t really trusting or believing in God.

We need to also believe in His power. If I were to say to you, “Believe in Galen, believe in me for a trouble-free heart!” would you take that advice to heart? I would hope not! I have neither the power to fix what’s troubling you nor the wisdom to make sure that whatever is going on in your life will work out for your good and not harm. God, and Jesus, however, have both the power to fix it but also the wisdom to know whether or not it would be good for you if they fixed it in the way you want them to fix it.

It’s still easier said than done. But the key is to believe in God and in Jesus. Believe in their power, but even more in their wisdom to do what is right. No matter what happens in life, that is the key to a trouble-free heart.

PRAYER: Lord, we all need to heed your advice to us because our hearts are all troubled! Help us, we pray, to believe in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/17 – The Christian Gamble

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DayBreaks for 11/06/17: The Christian Gamble

As we were in worship just yesterday, I was contemplating that which human minds cannot hope to contemplate – God. And as we sang a song, I thought about the power that it takes to call everything into existence simply by words. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? And yet that is what we Christians believe. We believe in a God who cannot be seen and believe he has done things which are incomprehensible. How can words bring physical matter into existence? Doesn’t that seem like the stuff of fairy tales or stories about the pagan gods? And when I think about it that way, I sometimes must admit that it sounds really far fetched and impossible and I begin to entertain doubts.

But, then I must come fact to face with the fact that physical things do exist, so how can they be explained? It is a basic premise that “Nothing comes from nothing”, i.e., that if something exists at all, it must be because there was something to make it happen. There is not a single shred of evidence, nor a claim that I am aware of, that the universe has been eternal – without a beginning. So that begs the question: where did matter come from if it could have come from nothing? Christians believe it comes from God. The fact that things (including myself) do exist, leads me to conclude that God must exist.

Can I prove it? No. Atheists take delight in the fact that Christians cannot prove that God exists. But, neither can an atheist prove that God does NOT exist. And so believers and unbelievers are all gambling that what we believe is true.

So, what is one to do, since neither God’s existence nor his non-existence can be proven? Perhaps the best we can do is to look at the evidence to make the most reasonable bet with our life that we can. And in that process, it might be wise to sit down with a piece of paper and do this exercise: write down the ramifications regarding life if His existence is real, and write down the ramifications if it is not real. Then decide which way you want to bet your existence.

You see, in the final analysis, for an atheist to say that faith is foolish is to call themselves foolish, too, because one’s belief about God’s existence and nature (if He exists) is based on faith, either way one chooses to believe.

Romans 1:19-20 (ESV) – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

PRAYER: Father, though we cannot prove your existence, we believe in it and in your goodness and trustworthiness. May our faith be rewarded not just in the world to come, but in this one as well! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/19/17 – In the Midst of Doubt

DayBreaks for 9/19/17: In the Midst of Doubt

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Doubts.  Uncertainties.  This past Thursday morning I was in a meeting with other pastors and we were discussing a particular aspect of doctrine.  Now you might think, “Wow, that really sounds exciting…a real snoozer!”  Normally, I’d have to agree with you.  As one of the pastors put it, “Doctrine, schmoctrin! I’d rather talk about Jesus!”  Right on!  Part of the reason that we struggled with the conversation so much was that we all recognized and admitted our own imperfect knowledge and understanding.  I think that one of the reasons that God chooses to save us by faith in Christ and not by passing a theological or doctrinal test is that He knows not one of us would ever get any, let alone all, of it perfectly right.  And so, while some discussions of doctrine are at least important, and some are very interesting, our doctrinal certainties are not the basis of our salvation. 

I have no doubts in my mind about who Jesus is.  I have no doubts in my mind about what He can do (although since it’s far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend, I don’t know ALL that He can do, so I just say, “He can do anything!”).  But every once in a while, something comes along that tends to knock the tracks off the tank of our life’s smooth progress and we begin to question, to ask (even if just for a fleeting moment), “Do I really believe this stuff?  Does it make any sense to believe it?”  Sometimes those thought-provoking questions come as the result of a cataclysm of worldly proportions (tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), sometimes as a result of the fall of a man or woman of God who seems to have lost or abandoned all they ever held true for a momentary dalliance with sin.  Sometimes they come tip-toeing into my mind for no apparent reason at all. 

I am not the kind of person who is free from doubts.  I have had people tell me that they have never doubted for a moment the eternal existence of God.  Many times, such people also tell me that they’ve never felt the need to read any of the outstanding books that wrestle with the questions of God’s existence, evidences for it, for the resurrection, for the virgin birth, for the miracles, etc.  More power to them.  I’m glad that God has given them such a simple, yet strong and resolute faith.  Maybe someday I’ll reach a point where I never even have the thought or shadow of a doubt pass across my mind.  But for now – every once in a while, I wonder.  I ponder.  I question.  I think God can handle that just fine.  And, I feel stronger for having to wrestle with those things.  I think Thomas’ faith was stronger after he wrestled with his doubts about the resurrection and then had it confirmed as a result, don’t you?  Jesus said that Thomas was blessed because he believed – but those who have never seen and believed are at least equally blessed.  Jesus didn’t knock Thomas for the doubt.

So, what do you do when you are faced with doubts, when the moving picture of life beats you up one side and down another like an automated car wash? Here are some thoughts from my youngest son, Tim: 

“…I always recommend that in the midst of doubt, one continue to go to the places where one has met God before–it only makes sense.  But what’s most important for you to understand is that you do not need to “come back” to God.  God is not “back there” somewhere, as though you have left Him behind, and He is only in one place.  God has been right there with you all along, right beside your bed, with His hand on your shoulder as you wept.  We do not worship an abstract philosophical God.  We worship a God who cared about us in the midst of our suffering so much that He became human so that he could stand before suffering and death alongside us.  We worship a God who “so loved the world” that He gave Christ in order that whoever trusts in Him “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without realizing it, I can see that this is what I do when I question.  I got back to the place where I met God before – and find He’s still there.  The patriarchs made a habit of every so often revisiting places where they and their predecessors had encounters with God (Bethel, for instance).  There’s a lot to be said for that.  There is something about familiar surroundings that can help resolve the doubts.  And so I read the words and life of Jesus again, and there I’m struck down and reminded of what a great God He Is and why I believe in Him.  The answers that I found to the questions I’ve asked still hold water.  And I can’t avoid those answers – they are solid, like the Rock Himself. 

PRAYER:  Thank you for being patient with our shaky faith and deep-rooted questions, Lord.  Thank you for the story of Thomas and how you blessed him after his faith was confirmed.  Thank you for solid places upon which we can regain our footing when our faith falters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/18/17 – Bronzing Your Flip Flops

DayBreaks for 8/18/17: Bronzing Your Flip Flops

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

The Associated Press ran a story recently about a Virginia woman says she’s still alive because of 2 things: her faith and her flip-flops.  It seems that Marie Drackert was watching the weather on television in her York County home July 29th of this year when a bolt of lightning came down her chimney and shot out through her fireplace. The lightning fried appliances and sent a jolt of electricity through her body.

Ms. Drackert says that it was the rubber in her flip-flops that kept her grounded and her faith kept her going, even though the impact from the lightning strike was so strong that she believed a plane had crashed into the roof of her home. 

The lightning blew out Drackert’s washer and dryer, television, telephone, stereo, microwave oven, toaster, coffee pot and a brand-new air conditioning unit. Parts of her home’s floor and walls were also damaged.  After ravaging her home, the bolt shot out and damaged the homes of two neighbors as well. 

Drackert says she’s thinking about getting the flip-flops bronzed. 

I don’t know this lady and I’m not making judgments about her faith, but I found the story interesting.  I’m not sure what she meant when she said her faith “kept her going”, but instead of getting the flip-flops bronzed and instead of crediting them for saving her life, maybe a bit of praise and thanksgiving are in order.  After all, does she really think it was the flip-flops that saved her life, of the grace of the good Lord?  It could have just been the press that didn’t mention the name of Jesus in the article (that’s a very real possibility!), but when things like this (and things bigger and smaller) happen to us as believers, the more credit that we give to the Lord, the better.  The world needs to see the power of the Almighty God and to understand that nature is not God, and God is not nature.  There’s a reason He’s called “supernatural”.  He is far above nature – and can control it at will.

I find that I often flip-flop between acts of faith and praise and acts of cowardice and discontent.  I pray to have those kind of flip-flops removed.  They don’t deserve to be bronzed.

PRAYER: Jesus, please remove the flip-flops from my life that I can be a more consistent witness for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/03/17 – Lessons From a Little Child


DayBreaks for 8/03/17: Lessons From a Little Child

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

My oldest son, Doug, recently wrote this in his blog:

“My four-year-old son and I went for a swim at our neighborhood pool on Saturday in the early evening. Though it was still quite warm out, we had the place to ourselves. After our swim we pulled up a couple chairs to sit and dry, facing toward the declining sun. It was a lovely scene: the still, shadowed water of the pool surrounded by an ivied fence; the tall eucalypti and willows stirring languidly in the breeze; the hummingbirds darting through the flowered margins of the grounds; the playful cries of a pair of hawks dashing through the treetops.
We sit silent a moment or two and then my son folds his hands on his lap and says, “Let’s have a conversation.”
“All right,” I say. “What should we talk about?”
“You decide, Papa.”
“Okay. So tell me,” I say, recalling a conversation we had that morning, “do you really think you’d like to be a fireman on a train when you grow up?”
“Yes, a fireman, who shovels the coal and fires it up to keep the train moving.”
“That sounds like a good job.”
“Yes, but I won’t have any little boys or girls or a wife when I’m a fireman.”
“You won’t?”
“No… Can a fireman be married and have little boys and girls?”
“Well, yes, he can.”
“But how can he if he’s always working on the train?”
“He comes home sometimes, you know.”
“Oh… Can all workers have wives and little boys and girls?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“I didn’t know that.”
I stretch my legs out in front of me while my 4-year old son digests this new revelation. He pulls his chair closer and rests his hand on my arm. We sit quietly for half a minute. I take a deep breath and sigh.
“You know,” I say, “I think it’s wonderfully relaxing just to sit here and listen to the wind and the songs of the birds, don’t you?”
“You know what I like better, Papa?”
“To sit in a very uncomfortable rocking chair outside and listen to the sounds of forklifts!”
“Really?” I ask, astonished. “An uncomfortable chair? Forklifts?”
“Yes,” he answers. “But what can a forklift lift, and what can a forklift not lift? You tell me.”
“Well,” I say, “a forklift can lift a pallet stacked with heavy boxes and things, but a whole house would be too heavy for it.”
“Yes, but I bet a house wouldn’t be too heavy for an elephant-sized forklift.”
“You mean a forklift so big it could only be operated by elephants? That kind of a forklift?”
“Yes, by elephants. That kind.

“I suppose you’re right, son.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

FIRST: I am struck by my grandson’s commitment to his passion.  Even though he labored under the illusion that a fireman on a train couldn’t have children or a wife, he has a passion in his heart to be such a fireman regardless of the cost.  The apostle Paul describes people who came to Christ, but who then turned back because they loved the things of this world more than they loved Jesus.  They weren’t willing to give up the things of this world to follow the Lord.  Charlie was ready to give up all future hope of a family to fulfill a passion.  Where is my passion, where is yours?  What is it worth to you?  What will you give up to follow Him if He calls you?

SECOND: I don’t think my grandson really believes, at 4 years of age, that elephants can run forklifts.  But he thinks big.  Age has a way of making us think small – and smaller as time goes by.  We limit not only ourselves, but more importantly, the actions of God because we have concluded in advance that a situation is impossible – so we never step out in faith to watch God do HUGE things.

THIRD: it is a good thing to have conversations with your dad.  The day comes when you can’t.  It’s even better to talk with God while we have the chance.  We’ll learn amazing things if we listen to His voice – and we will be delighted with the conversation, just as my son delighted in this conversation with his own boy.

FINALLY: maybe you’ve had a tough week.  I hope this story brought a smile to your face and will remind you that not everything in the world is a deadly serious as we sometimes make it out to be.  Enjoy your weekend!

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord!  Fire the passion in our hearts, give us hearts ready and eager to give up everything to follow You when you call.  Help us to believe – and to expect great things from You through Your great power.  Delight us with Your voice and Presence, and let us laugh and rejoice more than we do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/27/17 – The Intimate Dance of Faith and Hope

DayBreaks for 7/27/17: The Intimate Dance of Hope and Faith

Preface: I’ve recently started reading Jurgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope, and thus far I’ve found it to be a fascinating book.  Be on the lookout for numerous DayBreaks based on this work in the future.  

Christian hope has been the target of nay-sayers for a long, long time.  Some criticize the Christian hope as causing us as believers to live in a never-never land of make believe, as if we were children who hope for a cotton candy but who haven’t yet been told that the machine is broken and there will be none – not for good or bad little boys or girls.  And as a result, we’re considered foolish for hoping in something that those who don’t believe think doesn’t even exist. 

Others attack the idea and principle of Christian hope from a different angle: they say that it distracts us from the present realities, causing us to be disconnected from the only life that we shall ever possess and the urgent needs of the present world.  If all we Christians are good for, the thought goes, is being distressed in this world and focused on a future world where things are infinitely better, we won’t spend much time trying to make this place better.  Instead, we’d write it off as a colossal loss as we live in hope of something better. 

Of course, Moltmann would not agree with either of those two propositions.  In his introduction, he reveals some insights into the intricate relationship of faith and hope that help me understand it a bit better.  I’ll share some of those with you in the next few days.  For example: “Hope is nothing else than the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God.  Thus, faith believes God to be true, hope awaits the time when this truth shall be manifested; faith believes that he is our Father, hope anticipates that he will ever show himself to be a Father toward us; faith believes that eternal life has been given to us, hope anticipates that it will in some time be revealed; faith is the foundation upon which hope rests, hope nourishes and sustains faith.”

“Thus in the Christian life faith has the priority, but hope the primacy.  Without faith’s knowledge of Christ, hope becomes a utopia and remains hanging in the air.  But without hope, faith falls to pieces, becomes a faint-hearted and ultimately a dead faith.  It is through faith that man finds the path of true life, but it is only hope that keeps him on that path.”

To put it in my meager terms, hope is what gives faith its wings, it’s feet.  Just because we believe God is true and will be so, it is the hope that someday that truth will be shown and recognized by everyone – even His enemies.  Through faith we accept that we are his “offspring” and our Father, it is hope that allows us to call Him the kind of Father that we can proclaim as “Abba” – a good, loving Father who will forever be so.

Hope and faith are joined at the hip.  Faith without hope would be interesting, but not very uplifting or encouraging.  Hope without faith is virtually a non-sequitur and a childish dream. 

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul speaks of an unlikely trinity – certainly not one that an earth-bound mind would conjure up: Then abide these three: faith, hope and love…and the greatest of these is love.  Paul was speaking about what remains in this world I believe, and not in the one we hope for, because once that world is realized, there will be no more need for hope nor for that matter, faith.  We will see the object of our faith and walking by faith will be no more.  And, once we are in full possession of the heavenly blessings, what more is there to hope for beyond that ecstasy?  Nothing.  But love will remain – and it will remain throughout all eternity.  That shouldn’t cause us to relegate faith and hope to a backseat in our present walk, but it should enhance our appreciation of the necessity of both until they fulfill their purpose and deliver us to heaven’s portal.

Romans 5:4-5 (NLT) – And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.  And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

PRAYER:  Lord God Almighty, we thank You for the twin blessings of faith and hope.  Thank You for opening our eyes through faith to Your existence and for the hope that it gives us that our lives are not meaningless, but that we are destined for better things and that our hope will not disappoint us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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