DayBreaks for 12/30/19 – The Right Goal

Image result for lofty goals

DayBreaks for 12/30/19: The Right Goal

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/27/99:

Who do you want to be like? Who is your hero? I recently asked that question in my adult Sunday school class and got some interesting answers, but not the answers that you might have expected. What do you think the Jews of Jesus’ time would have answered to that question? Some would probably have suggested that they wanted to be like their father, Abraham. Some may have chosen Moses or David or Daniel or Elijah.

Jesus would one day tell them what the answer should have been, and the answer would have set them all back, just as it does me. His answer is found in Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

No Jew would have dared to suggest that they could have been like God. As I think of my own life, I think that I would have also picked some of the characters from the Scriptures. I would be content to be a man of faith like Daniel, to deal with temptation as did Joseph, to be a man after God’s heart like David. I would be happy to be 1/10th the Christian that the apostle Paul was. But you see, that’s the problem. We set our sights too low. God has already set the target for us when he said, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

It seems that God has a far loftier goal than we set for ourselves. The fallacy of my thinking that I’d be content to be 1/10th the Christian that Paul was is that you can’t be 1/10th of a Christian. You are either a Christian or you are not. And in God’s eyes, if you are a Christian – you are entirely Christian and your goal shouldn’t be set to be anything like another human – but to be like Christ, to be like God Himself.

Why does God set that goal for us? Because He knew how low we’d set the target if left to our own thinking. He knew we’d be content to be better than our neighbor. But He also knows that being better than our neighbor would never suffice.

God has high ideals for you. That’s actually good news. The even better news is that He has made Himself responsible for helping you reach the target! Colossians 1:28 says that it is IN CHRIST that we are presented perfect. Ephesians 1:13 tells us who those are who are IN CHRIST: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…

We won’t get there on our own, but to those who believe, who are therefore “in Christ” – well, you just can’t get more perfect than that!

PRAYER: Let us dream the dreams you have for us, Lord, to be led by your Spirit to be holy and righteous, knowing that it is only by the blood of Jesus that we ever reach that perfection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/25/18 – Three Poison Pills

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DayBreaks for 10/25/18: Three Poison Pills

During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” With that George Washington got back on horse and rode off.

Where did Washington learn such leadership skills? I have no doubt he learned them here in these words of Jesus: Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. The young corporal had these words modeled to him from the man at the top. The disciples, likewise, receive from their leader a picture of servant hood.

Mark 10:35-37 (ESV) – And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

This heartbreaking text comes at a crucial time in the life of Jesus – and by now you’d think the disciples might be imitating their leader just a bit. But when this happens, it is only five days before Jesus’ crucifixion. Four days before his betrayal and trial. One day before the clearing of the temple. A few hours before the Triumphal Entry. If the disciples are going to start appropriating Jesus’ teachings in their life it ought to be now. But it doesn’t happen. Moments before the most crucial events in their life they are a bickering, petty, bad-tempered quarrelsome lot. We need to learn from this not-so-flattering moment in the life of the disciples.

How is it that critical moments can be so close at hand and we are wondering what’s in this for me? It has to do with the three poison pills of position, prestige, and power.

Let’s all check ourselves to see if we’ve swallowed any of those poison pills.

PRAYER: Lord, keep us from pursuing position, prestige and power. Let us recognize poison when we see it!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/07/17 – Replicating the Story of Jesus

DayBreaks for 3/07/17: Replicating the Story of Jesus

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

I was recently blessed to hear Eugene Peterson speak at a conference I attended.  He is a humble, thoughtful man of seemingly bottomless wisdom.  He is slow to speak – weighing his words carefully to be sure they convey truth from the Truth.  I greatly appreciated being able to sit at his feet for a while and learn.

At one point he was talking about the church and how it is perceived by the world.  There is much that can be said on that topic, but what Peterson focused on was how the church itself replicates the life of Jesus.  Consider how Jesus could have come into the world: with great fanfare and leaflets falling from the sky that was magically translated into whatever language was spoken by the person who picked them up.  He could have come with a PowerPoint presentation that flashed across the underbelly of the clouds above our heads, replete with musical background, bold and contrasting colors and maybe some video clips of what hell is like so we’d all be scared straight.  Or, he could have come and spent his entire time upon this earth turning rocks into bread and obliterating hunger and disease so that no one on earth would every go to bed hungry or wake up sick again.  Wouldn’t those things have been spectacular?!?!?!

But, that’s now how Jesus came, is it?  Not one of those things happened when he showed up.  Here’s part of the point: Jesus never, during his entire 30+ years of life on this earth, left the world of poverty into which he was born.  He spent his life as one of the “people of the land” – despised by the ruling religious hierarchy because they were unlearned, sweaty laborers who couldn’t ever seem to put two cents together at one time, but who were always scrambling for their daily bread.  He was humbled, he was broken, he was in the midst of a very sinful people, he seemed powerless before the forces arrayed and conspiring against him.  And, he bled…and bled…and bled…from his hands, back, feet and side.

The church, just like Jesus, could have come in a different way.  God could have preached the first gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost by shouting out loud from heaven so that all the entire universe heard and understood every single syllable and word.  He didn’t.  He used a human mouth (just like He did with Jesus).  The church (like Jesus) exists in the middle of a very sinful people (and the church itself, being made up of people, is sinful).  The church seems powerless against the stratagems of Satan, and is made up of badly fractured, dislocated and broken folk.  And (if the church is true to its calling to be the very body of Christ on earth), as the body of Christ literally bled, the church will bleed, too.  We will bleed out mercy and compassion on the downtrodden like the blood of Christ.  We will bleed because of our stand for faithfulness, to accomplish the will of the Father, even as Christ’s blood fell for the same reason. 

Do you ever wonder why the church has such a bad reputation in the world?  Granted, some of it we bring on ourselves with our hypocrisy and leaders who fall like dominoes, but here, I think, is the core reason: Jesus was a stumbling block because he was broken, bleeding, appearing powerless and as one who associated with sinners.  And that is EXACTLY what the church is to be about, too.  We are to be a broken people (because that’s what we truly are – and once our brokenness is seen and admitted – we cannot be hypocrites any longer).  We are to bleed literally and figuratively because of our love for Christ and for the lost that He loves.  And the church appears powerless.  So, why does the church stink to the world?  Because the church, as Jesus’ body, takes on His nature of being a stumbling block. 

Each of us as Christians are to be “little Christ’s”.  Let’s get on with replicating his story and stop publishing our own!

PRAYER: God, we’ve got a long way to go to be very good reflections of Christ.  As His body here on earth, we feel powerless, we feel bloodied sometimes and broken.  Even as we struggle with what we see in the church and in ourselves, let us remember that you see us differently because we are “in Christ.”  If we are to be stumbling blocks to the world and individuals in it, let it be for all the right reasons – because we are living the story of Jesus visibly, out loud, each day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/19/17 – Admiration or Imitation?

DayBreaks for 1/19/17: Admiration or Imitation?

Note: Galen is traveling this week so he’s recycling some old DayBreaks.


I am constantly amazed at the diversity of God’s creation.  Why, there are enough breeds of dogs alone, to keep my little mind fascinated endlessly, let alone all the other kinds of animals.  Diversity can be good.  Too much of the same old thing is considered dull and boring – and we tire quickly of the “same-old, same-old.” 

As much as we might enjoy diversity and appreciate that it delivers us from boredom, there are times when we don’t really want it.  We don’t want to go to the jeweler to buy a ring and be told that it is 23k gold, only to find out that it’s not really gold, or not really 23k.  If you pay for an original “one of a kind” work of art, you’d be disappointed to find out that it wasn’t really “one of a kind”, or that it wasn’t really unique. 

When it comes to being a Christian, we would hope to only find the genuine article.  However, Soren Kierkegaard described two different kinds of Christians: those who imitate Jesus Christ and a second type, a much cheaper brand – those who are content to admire him.

I think Kierkegaard has struck a chord to which we need to listen.  It really isn’t hard to admire Christ.  Many in the world, even those who aren’t Christians, admire Jesus.  The ethical quality and spiritual nature of his teaching has never been equaled in the history of the world.  And so he is admired.  Admiration doesn’t cost us anything.  But imitation costs us our lives.

I have a hunch that Judas admired Jesus.  Would he have followed Jesus for 3-1/2 years if he didn’t at least admire him?  I think not.  Admiration of Jesus doesn’t make us disciples, nor does it make anyone a Christian.  It is only acceptance by faith of Jesus, and a life of discipleship – of imitation of the life of Christ – that makes us Christians.  To that extent, I think Kierkegaard was wrong – there is truly only one kind of Christian – one who imitates Christ in their thoughts, words and actions.  The other is a false Christian – the kind to whom Jesus would say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

What kind of Christian are you?

PRAYER:  Lord, we want to be true disciples, yet we are afraid at times of where You may lead us and what our discipleship may cost us.  Help us to believe the truth – that no matter what the cost, it will be well worth it for the wonder of truly knowing Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/11/15 – Show and Tell

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DayBreaks for 6/11/15: Show and Tell 

Steve Morrison tells a story about a friend of his who likes to read fairy tales to his two young sons at night. This friend has great sense of humor and often times ad-libs parts of the stories just for fun. One day his youngest son was sitting in his first grade class as the teacher was reading the story of the Three Little Pigs. She came to the part of the story where the first pig was trying to gather building materials for his home.

She said “…And so the pig went up to the man with a wheel barrow full of straw and said ‘Pardon me sir, but might I have some of that straw to build my house with?'”

Then the teacher asked the class “And what do you think that man said?”

This friend’s little boy raised his hand and said “I know! I know! he said, ‘Holy smokes! A talking pig!'” The teacher was unable to teach for the next ten minutes.

We may not be able to predict what our kids are going to say, but there’s one thing for certain, it’ll usually be something unexpected. Hopefully they won’t repeat something we’ve said that maybe we shouldn’t have said and embarrass us. And the other thing we know for sure is our children are like sponges, they soak up everything we say and everything we do.

What we say to them and about them makes a huge difference in who they become.

Read Mark 4:26-34 and listen to what God might be saying to you today: And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.  The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”  And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,  yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”  With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.  He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. – Mark 4:26-34 (ESV)

What we say and what we do are like seeds planted in the hearts and minds and spirits of our children. Jesus makes it very clear that often times it’s the smallest things which make the biggest difference in our faith. The same can be said about parenting. Watch this.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Our children will not only imitate us, but in many ways, they will grow up to be like us simply because we’re their parents. Surveys show that parents still have more influence than peer pressure, even though the kids might rebel.

So, you might say that parenting is kind of like farming or gardening. You see, I learned something growing up on a farm in Iowa: We Harvest What We Plant. If we plant squash, we can’t expect to get corn. If we plant potatoes you can’t expect to get tomatoes. We Harvest What We Plant. The same is true in parenting. And in my opinion, the best way to make sure we reap the best harvest is to plant the best seed possible.

And that means we have to go back to elementary school for a little bit. Elementary school is where we learned all the basic for everything else we would learn. And one of the most important lessons for parenting in elementary comes from Show and Tell time. As parents we’re called to Show our children how to live as a Christian in the world today. We’re called to Show them how much we love them. And we’re called to tell them how much we love them.

How are you doing with that today?

PRAYER: Teach us to live before our children and grandchildren as You lived before mankind and may our lives and speech be worthy of emulation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/28/12 – Join Me

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/26/12:

reflections on Christ - crucifixionColossians 1:24 – “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

Christmas was just yesterday.  Perhaps it seems strange to speak of suffering at this time of year.  But is it really all that strange?  While the Christmas story itself is joyful and the angels proclaimed tidings of great joy, the shadow of the cross was always in the background even in the stable.  Christmas was, for God, the beginning of the sacrifice and the beginning of suffering. 

In entering human history God shattered all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is meant to be.  In the New Testament we are presented with a God who suffers crucifixion, a Supreme Being with spit on his face.  What he went through in His passion and death is meant for me too; the invitation he issues is, ‘Don’t weep for Me!  Join Me!  The life I have planned for Christians is a Christian life, much like the life I led.  I wasn’t poor so that you might be rich, I wasn’t mocked so that you might be honored.  I wasn’t laughed at so that you could be lauded.  I was revealing the Christian picture of man and woman, one that is meant to include you, too.’  Paul wrote to the Colossians, ‘We are meant to fill up what is wanting in the suffering of Christ.’”  (Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning)

This year has seen major changes in our lives, our families, our churches, our nation and our world.  Wouldn’t it be appropriate for Christmas to be a bit different, too?  Instead of being so focused on what you GOT for Christmas, why not seek a way to “fill up what is wanting in the suffering of Christ”?  How?  I’m sure that there are many ways that it could be done, but ask yourself this question: “If He were here today, how would he suffer for the benefit of another?”  Then go do it.

Copyright 2002 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

Prayer for today: We need your courage, Lord, for if left to our own devices, we will always seek the path of least resistance and comfort.  Let us live not just in imitation of your love and compassion and mercy, but also in imitation of your willingness to suffer for truth and for the sake of those who might even hate and reject us.  In  Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/21/12 – The Shape of Christmas

DayBreaks for 12/21/12 – The Shape of Christmas


From the DayBreaks archive, dated 12/21/2001:

I was in Costco recently and I was standing in the checkout line when I noticed two young boys (about 8 years old) who were standing in the next line.  Behind them was a man who had a large stuffed tiger in his shopping basket.  The boys were enthralled, and the joy on the man’s face of knowing how his child would love having the stuffed tiger was evident.  For some little child, Christmas this year may come in the shape of that stuffed tiger.

In Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning wrote: “Jesus does not dominate my life.  Any tree in my path seems to have more power than he, if only because it forces me to walk around it…what would life be like if Christ did rule in me?  If during Advent my primary concern were His Kingdom? …What shape would Advent and Christmas take, if Jesus really RULED in me?

“If He did, that is, if my faith were deep, burning, powerful and passionate, my life would be very different.  My self-esteem would cease to be based upon the worldly values of possessions, prestige, status, and privilege, and upon the group solidarities of family, race, class, religion, and nation.  For to make these my supreme values is to have nothing in common with Jesus.  With burning faith I would speak of Jesus not as some distant being but as a close friend with whom I have a personal relationship.  The invisible world would become more real than the visible, the world of what I see, Christ more real than myself.

“…It stands to reason that if during the Advent season we relegate Jesus and what He stands for to second place on our scale of values, then we have already denied Him and what He stands for.  Either you accept the Kingdom of Jesus understood it or you don’t.  You cannot serve two masters.

Jesus came not only to save you, but to make you different.  To transform your mind (Rom 12:2) – “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

To the extent that Jesus rules in us, our lives will take the shape of His not just at Christmas, but all year long.  What shape will your Christmas take this year?

PRAYER: We are prone to think of You more during this season, Lord, and to forget about you for much of the rest of the year.  We invite you to shape our lives to fully conform to Yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/01/11 – What We Really Need

DayBreaks for 08/01/11 – What We Really Need

To become the image of Christ

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. – Romans 8:29

“I wish I were a better person.”  “I wish I could stop this-or-that-sin, but I just can’t ever seem to stop.”  “I wish I didn’t have those awful thoughts.”  “I wish I could forgive them, but it’s impossible.”

We do a lot of wishing when it comes to our behavior and our thoughts.  I suppose it goes hand in hand with being a Christian: we see the standard as demonstrated in the life of Christ but when we look in the mirror of the Holy Word and see our lives, we see that we fall drastically short of what we should be.  It can be discouraging.

Yet, long as we wish to be better people, perhaps we are longing for the wrong thing.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a better person, but that will never be achieved by resolve or our own human effort.  In a recent post at, I thought one of my sons put it well: “We do not need a better us.  We need more of Christ in us.” – Tim Dalrymple

Rather than trying to live better or make ourselves better (very self-focused), let’s try to have less of ourselves and more of Christ living within (Christ-focused).

PRAYER: Father, let us not strive to make ourselves better, but to daily let more of Christ live within us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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