DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

There is no greater example of the gospel than that found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin…and the “prodigal son” story (and that’s a huge misnomer!) So, my dear, dear friend…this is a story for you…

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Our lead teacher (Randy) has been doing a series on this chapter and it has been so rich! Sunday, he spoke about this son – this younger, prideful, rebellious son and about his return home. There were some key points that I wanted to share from his message because they blessed me and I think they’ll bless you, too.

FIRST: this young, headstrong and inconsiderate man thought that in license there would be freedom. He wanted to cast off the restraints of living in the presence of the father, thinking that if he could only go and do what he wanted, to be in charge and control of his own life, that he could find happiness. But, as Randy noted, “License always ends in bondage.” We think that the lack of restraints is what will not only bring us joy, but bring us freedom. It won’t. It ends in bondage. License doesn’t set you free – the Truth is what sets us free!

SECOND: the son totally misunderstood the father. He is hoping against hope to be welcome to serve as a hired hand in the father’s house and business. That’s all he could aspire to, all he could imagine after what he’d done to his father. But this just shows how badly he misunderstood the father. There is no way that the father would take his son back as a hired hand! No! This son was treated to the father’s very own rob, to shoes for his feet, a ring for his hand…but far more than that, what was the greatest gift of the father was his embrace and kiss. Fathers don’t embrace and kiss hired hands…but they do their sons and daughters. This son had no idea how much he was loved by the father until the embrace and kiss took place!

THIRD: perhaps most importantly – and I hope you don’t miss this one – the embrace and kiss are NOT given to the son because he came home.  They are given because he was a son…a child so deeply loved by the father that no other response from the father was even possible! The embrace and kiss had to be given because the father couldn’t not constrain his love.

In order to come home, we have to believe in the love of the father. The young man believed – or rather hoped – that there was some compassion in the heart of his dad.  He just didn’t know the love that was in the father’s heart.

And so it is with you and me. We won’t come home (not to a physical or metaphysical place) but into the relationship of the Father’s person, unless we begin to believe He loves us. And when we make the first step, oh sweet joy! – the Father runs to us, encircles us with His almighty arms, and gives us a “welcome home” kiss!

Are you away from “home”, thinking that maybe if you’re super lucky, that the Father might let you inhabit the darkest corner of heaven as a sweeper of the golden street? Forget it! You will be welcomed as a beloved child – and the greatest celebration of all eternity will begin – and never end!

PRAYER: Oh, Father, Father, Father! Your love is so overwhelming! Help us believe that You love us like this – even more than this – and that we are welcome in the home of Your embrace forever! In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. 

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/17/16 – Home, Boys, Home!

View from the rock wall behind which the Union troops watched as the Confederate troops began the ill-fated Pickett’s charge across this open field. 

DayBreaks for 2/17/16: Home, boys, home!

One of the most amazing and deadly military attacks that ever took place was at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. It was by all accounts a hot day. The two massive armies of the Confederacy and the Army of the Potomac had already been battering one another for two long, hot days. The Union army held the high ground all along Cemetery Ridge and had beaten back attacks on July 1 and 2. There were those who felt that there would be no battle on the 3rd due to the beating both armies had inflicted on each other – that the troops were simply too tired and there was nothing to be gained by further pressing the issue.

In spite of the advice of some of his most trusted generals, Robert E. Lee believed that if they could win the battle at Gettysburg then the war which had already raged for two long and deadly years would come to an end as there would be nothing between the Confederate army and Washington, DC. He believed that the Union would be forced to surrender.

Certainly, he was tired of the war and destruction, of the cries of the dying and wounded. He longed for it to be over. And perhaps that is why he decided on one more attack. The prior two days they had attacked at the northern and southern ends of the Union lines. On July 3, Lee believed that if his army massed an attack at the center of the Union line that they could break through to the final victory and they would win the war.

General Pickett was chosen to lead the assault. Between the Confederates and the Union armies was nearly an entire mile of open ground with no cover – and it was uphill to the Union position which was on the high ground. Approximately 12,500 Confederate soldiers stretched in a one-mile long line left the shelter of trees to march across that deadly space separating the armies. It wasn’t long before artillery shells of canister (like giant shotgun shells) was bursting over the heads of the Confederates as they plodded up the hill. Massive casualties resulted…and the the musket balls and bullets began to tear into the advancing soldiers when they got within range. Men fell by the hundreds…dead, dying, maimed. Yet they kept marching and actually broke through the Union line at one small point before the charge collapsed.

What enables men to make such a determined march in the face of nearly certain death or dismemberment? On that particular day, they were motivated by one special cry that was to dominate their thinking. It wasn’t the Rebel yell, it was something much simpler and dear to their hearts. They had been told that if they won that day that “Home is just over that hill, boys.” The cry that drive them forward that day across that deadly space was simple: “Home, boys, home!”

In the space of less than an hour, 6,555 Confederate troops fell, over 50% of the men who had started the charge.

The power of home is not to be underestimated as a motivating factor. That is why we are encouraged to not lose heart: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18 (ESV)

The soldiers on July 3 couldn’t see “home”, it was out of sight, but it drove them to incredible heights of courage and bravery. When we are tempted to surrender to life, to give up on the effort of living as a Christ-follower, let the cry of “Home, children, home!” remind us that our home is just over the hill – and He will see to it that we get there!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, I confess that it is very easy to surrender to the difficulties of this life and forget about what it ahead of us, of the all-surpassing home that You have prepared for us! Let us never lose the longing to be with You in that place that is now out of our sight, yet destined to be our eternal residence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/19/16 – Holy Land Lessons – My Father’s House

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Home of Simon Peter’s family, Capernaum, Israel. Photo property of Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/19/16: Holy Land Lessons: My Father’s House

I attended a church in my early years where we often sang the song, I’ve Got A Mansion, and the words to the first verse and chorus went like this: “I’m satisfied with just a cottage below, A little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransomed will shine I want a gold one that’s silver lined.
Chorus: I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop, In that bright land where we’ll never grow old, And some day yonder we will never more wander, But walk on streets that are purest gold.”

Let me go on record here that I never liked that song (but we sang it a lot in the churches I used to attend!!!) because it essentially says something to the effect of I’m miserable now, but someday I want You to make it up to me for all my sacrifice and suffering and give me a mansion and that’ll make it all worth it!” I think it misses the point entirely. The glory of heaven won’t be a shiny home – for God Himself is our very great reward – to be with Him and enjoy Him forever – not to live in a sparkling, huge, gold and silver home! Listen to what Jesus said to us (and I’m sure someone’s imagination took this out of the Hebrew/1st century context in which Jesus was speaking and came up with the idea of shining, metallic mansions): John 14:2 (KJV) – In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

That’s how the King James put it. Unfortunately, it is a lousy translation and totally misses the point of what Jesus was saying as I learned during our journey to Israel this month. Fortunately, newer translations get to the core of what Jesus was saying. For example: John 14:2-3 (ESV) – In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that WHERE I AM YOU MAY BE ALSO.

Here’s the point: in today’s picture that I took in Israel, you can see a “family home”. This just happens to be the home of Peter that is located in Capernaum (authorities are nearly 100% certain it is the actual home of Peter). The inner circle was Peter’s primary area, but there are other circular structures outside of the inner circle that were divided by stone walls, but still part of the overall complex. Here’s the point: people back then didn’t have individual homes (unless they were very, very rich). They had communal or “family” homes. There were walls made out of stone dividing out the rooms, but all the people of the extended family basically lived in the same home. As the family grew, another room would be attached to the same basic structure – it just expanded to include family. They had their own rooms, but not their own mansions. So when Jesus said he was going to prepare a room for us (not a mansion!!!!), he was referring to the typical homes in which close, intimate family would reside.

What is Jesus saying? We will not live in our own mansion…we will live in HIS very own house, in a room of our own, but part of the intimate gathering of his family. We will be His children there, we can crawl up in our Father’s lap, we will join in the story-telling, the singing, the joyful feasting – and we won’t miss a minute of it because we will be RIGHT THERE.

Now, isn’t that far better than a gold and silver mansion? If you want a mansion somewhere on the edge of the New Jerusalem, I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble. But God has something far greater and more glorious than that in mind for you and me: Psalm 23:6 (ESV)Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD forever.

There, we shall find all our hearts and souls ever longed for (and more!!!) – forever!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for giving me a room in your house. I can’t wait to settle in and be part of the family that literally gathers at your feast table and sings and laughs together forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/04/15 – The Effort to Get Home

DayBreaks for 11/04/15: The Effort to Get Home

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/04/05:

BIZARRE NEWS – Wednesday, December 29, 2004  –  FORT VALLEY, Ga. – “Some people will do anything to get home to their family. One man walked almost two miles with a bullet hole in his head to die surrounded by loved ones if that was his fate. Larry Taylor had been walking to a friend’s house when a man came up to him and asked to use his cell phone. When Taylor said no, the robber pulled out a gun and shot him in the head. Bleeding severely from the wound, Taylor stumbled through the streets until he made it to his mother’s house, only to discover she had moved to a nursing home. After all this, Taylor was finally reunited with his family and was able to spend Christmas recovering from the trauma.”

All I can say is that Mr. Taylor must be one pretty tough dude.  I’m sure that the thing that kept him going must have been his motivation to be at home with his family.  With each step, he must have wondered if he’d see them again, if he could hang on and make it home before he died.  I can’t imagine the reaction of the people who were living in his mother’s home – and his disappointment at not finding his mother there.  Still, there seem to be some lessons here:

FIRST: We would do well to emulate Mr. Taylor’s desire to get “home.”  He was clearly a driven man – a clear goal and destination kept calling him onward in spite of the pain.  We are encouraged again and again by Scripture to “persevere” and “keep pressing on” in order that we can arrive safely at our destination.  Clearly, our efforts to make our way home can flag when we get tired or discouraged, and our motivation sags with the result that we lose sight of what was once so precious to us.  We need to hang tough – like Mr. Taylor.  The effort to get home may be monumental – but it is worth it.  No, we’re not saved by our works…but we were created for “good works in Christ”…and that takes effort!

SECOND: This world is full of disappointments.  Mr. Taylor must have been grievously disappointed when he got to where his mom lived only to find she’d moved!  It made me wonder about the relationship between Mr. Taylor and his mother.  But even though we are still sorely disappointed at times in life, just as Mr. Taylor found someone to help him, so we, too, find the One who wants to help us.

THIRD: Mr. Taylor was bleeding severely as he trod the path homeward.  Jesus bled profusely as he trod a pathway, too…the one up Calvary, not so that He could get home, but so that we could get there. 

Rev. 12:10-11 (NLT) –Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, ‘It has happened at last — the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth — the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night. And they have defeated him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of their testimony. And they were not afraid to die.’

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, help us to remember the path that Jesus walked in order to ensure that we could safely reach home.  Give us the strength for each day that we can hang in there as we make our way through life, and let us be available to help those who are stumbling through this life’s journey.    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 6/15/16 – Appreciating the Flying of Time

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DayBreaks for 6/15/15: Appreciating the Flying of Time

Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. – Psalm 71:9 (KJV)

Take a look at today’s illustration.  It’s a Salvador Dali painting, showing a clock that is sliding off the table and another one is bent backwards on a tree branch. It is called “The  Persistence of Memory.” I am neither an art scholar nor an aficionado, and I apparently can’t tell good art from bad (because I’d never pay what some people pay for so-called “art”), so I’m not sure what this painting has to do with memory.  But it does cause me to pause and think about something.

We all know that even on a hot Georgia summer day, clocks just don’t bend or melt, nor do they assume the positions as we see them in Dali’s painting. But stop for a moment at the beginning of today and this work week and ponder these kind of questions: what might this painting it be saying about time? What happens to time? Where does it go? Time flies, time melts away, time disintegrates, things fall apart. You may not like Dali’s painting, but you cannot help but think about it. How do you feel about time and life?

Just yesterday my wife said to me, “Do you ever find it hard to believe we’ve lived as long as we have?” My answer was a bit painful, but honest: “Yes, I sure do!”  You see, we are both in our 60’s now. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t imagine being in my 20’s, let alone 60!  Why, even when I turned 50 I could not imagine being 60! Where does the time go? In the “spent” pile, and you can’t dig it back out and spend it again. As the clocks in the painting infer, it melts away and we are left with wrinkled skin, failing hearing and eyesight, less strength even as our bones get more brittle.

That could be cause for great consternation were it not for one thing: with each passing day, or more precisely, with each tick of the clock, I am that much closer to home and my father/Father. I am that much closer to talking with Daniel, Abraham, Jeremiah, Peter, Mary, Esther…and my Jesus. I’ve never met anyone who died for me before. When the full realization of Who stands before me strikes me, how will I feel? Perhaps I’ll melt like the clock in the picture and fall on my face as though dead. But, if I understand Scripture and what it implies, I won’t be there for long. Just as the Father in the Prodigal Son ran to meet his son as he returned home, so, I believe, the Father will run to greet me, to lift me up off the ground, put His robe on me and welcome me home.

Were it not for that, the fleeting of time would be something to fear. But with that scene from the story of the Prodigal firmly implanted in my mind, the fleeting of time becomes nothing more than a countdown to a long awaited place in the Father’s home.

What will you do with your time this week?

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t know how much more time I have here. That is in your hands and only you know the answer. But I pray that you will help me to live it well!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 3/26/15 – A Home We’ve Never Visited

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DayBreaks for 3/26/15: A Home We’ve Never Visited From the DayBreaks archive, dated 3/18/2005:

I am often possessed by a sense of great sadness at the amount of pain in the world.  No one – not one – is immune to the suffering, pain and disappointment.   It searches us out as a mother looks for a lost child.  And it always finds us.  Yet there is still nothing like going home.  For anyone who had anything approaching a normal upbringing, “home” is sweet music to our world-weary souls.  It promises remembrances of safety, of love, of belonging and being cherished.  It fires joy into our hearts and longing into our spirits.  Home.  Perhaps the finest place on earth.  But there is only one place that is home, and much of the rest of the world is brutal and heartbreaking.

Philip Yancey, in Disappointment With God, wrote: “For people who are trapped in pain, or in a broken home, or in economic misery, or in fear – for all those people, for all of us, heaven promises a time, far longer and more substantial than the time we spent on earth, of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace.  …The Bible never belittles human disappointment (remember the proportion in Job – one chapter of restoration follows forty-one chapters of anguish), but it does add one key word: temporary.  What we feel now, we will not always feel.  Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better.  And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness – for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for.”

T.S. Eliot put it like this:

“And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

Rev. 21: 1-4 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Lord, we long to come home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 9/29/14 – At Home

DayBreaks for 9/29/14 – At Home

Psalm 23:5 (NKJV) – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

I have recently seemed to become a road warrior.  No, not like the old Mel Gibson movie, but a frequent traveler.  I’m not done yet.  I won’t be for a few weeks.  But right now, today…I am home.  And it is wonderful!!!  Though I was blessed with my most recent trip, how grateful I am to be home again!

What is home?  It is, to be sure, the walls that surround us to protect us from the elements.  It is the roof overhead that keeps things from falling on us and shields us from the hot sun or cold snow.  It is a warm room, cozy and bright on a cold day, with adequate sustenance in the larder.

But those things aren’t really “home”, are they?  They may be a “house”, but a house is not “home”.  Home is the arms of your loved one(s), the lilt in their voice, the catch-light in their eyes, the upward curl of the corners of their mouth when they see you.  Home is (at least it should be) being surrounded and enveloped in love.

I’ve been to Jerusalem and seen what they believe are the ruins of king David’s palace at the City of David.  It was situated nearly at the point of a hill commanding a spectacular view.  But it wasn’t really the home that David was longing for.  I’m sure there were many times he came home from battle, perhaps even bearing wounds from the fighting, and he was very, very glad to enter his palace again.  But I suspect that in the back of his mind, he always had a better, grander home-coming in mind: the day that he’d walk into the house of the Lord…forever.

In this Psalm David has talked about the goodness of the Shepherd and rightfully so, but for every blessing (not wanting, green pastures, still waters, restored strength and soul, His presence in the dark valley, the feast table set in the presence of the enemies), there is a subtle reminder that these are blessings which are offset by needs: things we need for live, food, water, weariness, mortality and enemies who surround us. 

But, when David walks through that valley (in the Presence of the Shepherd and under his guidance and protection), he will wind up in the house of the Lord.  And never again will David be hungry, thirsty, tired, or have enemies who can threaten.  Never.  Again.  Ever. 

That residence isn’t held out as an option only for kings, queens and princes.  It is held out for the ordinary human, the beggar, even for thieves dying on crosses.  It is there.  It is real.  It is just barely out of my sight now, but growing slightly more clear and closer with each passing year.

At the end of a life, what a delight to know as we take our last breath: “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord….forever.” 

PRAYER: Jesus, Lord God, Holy Spirit…how delightful it is to contemplate being home in Your house and never, ever having to leave!  We praise You for Your promises and for the words of our brother, David!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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