DayBreaks for 3/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – The Suffering in Suffering

From the Fiery Furnace – A Sign of Hope

DayBreaks for 3/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #6 – The Suffering in Suffering

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 3/26/20:

For today’s musical pairing, Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen by Kjartan Sveinsson. See video below.

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, Your Majesty.’ He said, ‘Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’” – Daniel 3:24–25

Day 7. 511,603 confirmed cases, 22,993 deaths globally.

The suffering in this present moment is not captured in tallies and numbers. Alongside the loss of life is the loss of livelihoods, the loss of innocence, the loss of a sense of security. The scent of fear is in the air, and in the midst of the pandemic our epidemic of loneliness grows deeper.

Suffering has a tendency to isolate. It can carve us away from community, set us apart from the crowd, and strip away all our distractions and illusions and consolations. No one can experience our pain for us. No one can take it away. No one can cover it over with soothing words or glittering ideas. Even when we suffer together, we suffer alone.

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness,” Mother Teresa wrote, “and the feeling of being unloved.” Now the pandemic has made our spiritual isolation physical. We find ourselves in an enforced solitude, where our fears and anxieties echo in the emptiness. We ache for the presence of others.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound and hurled into the fiery furnace together, and they emerged unbound and unharmed. God met them in the fire. Christians are not wrong to read the story in the light of the Incarnation. Christ lowered himself into our condition. He made himself present with us. Christ entered into our sufferings and brought the love of God with him… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

PRAYER: Thank you, O Lord, that you are with us in our hour of need. Thank you that you have made yourself present in all the height and depth of our suffering. May we likewise enter into the sufferings of others and be bearers of your love there.

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page

The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.

Timothy Dalrymple is president and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/24/20 – Do Not Be Afraid?!?!?!!!

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DayBreaks for 2/24/20: Do Not Be Afraid!?!?!?

In every instance in Scripture where God appears to people they fall terrified to the ground! The only exceptions that I can think of (I may have missed some) are the incarnation appearances of Jesus – and in his case he looked just like a human and not God. But what I find interesting about the times God does show up and we humans cower in fear, his words to us are: “Do not be afraid”

Does that make sense to you? After all, when confronted by the One who is the Lord over all, the Creator, ultimate in power, who wouldn’t we cringe in fear and shame? At that moment there must be no doubt about the fact that he knows every single thing we have ever done, every impure, mean, angry, hateful thought we’ve ever had, every opportunity to do good that we let pass by. He knows everything about us – there is nothing that escapes His all-seeing eyes! And when confronted by the absolute judge of the universe who is totally pure and loves justice, why wouldn’t we be terror stricken!!!

Yet isn’t that precisely why he came as an incarnate human being? To show us what he is really like…to say, in essence, “See me? Touch my hands, hear my words, know my heart…and you’ll know you don’t need to be afraid. I’m on YOUR side and I love you! I won’t ever leave or forsake you.”

The more I think about it, the more I think that was a key part of his coming – to take away our fear. His truest revelation of himself to us is visible in the incarnation and on the cross. Once we have seen that and accepted him, there is no need for fear for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for taking away our fear and for showing us the true nature of the Father! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/19/20 – One Greater Than Bubba Has Come

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DayBreaks for 2/19/20: One Greater Than Bubba Has Come

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

From John Ortberg’s sermon, Big God/Little God:

“Many years ago I was walking in Newport Beach, a beach in Southern California, with two friends. Two of us were on staff together at a church, and one was an elder at the same church. We walked past a bar where a fight had been going on inside. The fight had spilled out into the street, just like in an old western. Several guys were beating up on another guy, and he was bleeding from the forehead. We knew we had to do something, so we went over to break up the fight. … I don’t think we were very intimidating. [All we did was walk over and say,] “Hey, you guys, cut that out!” It didn’t do much good.

“Then all of a sudden they looked at us with fear in their eyes. The guys who had been beating up on the one guy stopped and started to slink away. I didn’t know why until we turned and looked behind us. Out of the bar had come the biggest man I think I’ve ever seen. He was something like six feet, seven inches, maybe 300 pounds, maybe 2 percent body fat. Just huge. We called him “Bubba” (not to his face, but afterwards, when we talked about him).

“Bubba didn’t say a word. He just stood there and flexed. You could tell he was hoping they would try and have a go at him. All of a sudden my attitude was transformed, and I said to those guys, “You better not let us catch you coming around here again!” I was a different person because I had great, big Bubba. I was ready to confront with resolve and firmness. I was released from anxiety and fear. I was filled with boldness and confidence. I was ready to help somebody that needed helping. I was ready to serve where serving was required. Why? Because I had a great, big Bubba. I was convinced that I was not alone. I was safe.

“If I were convinced that Bubba were with me 24 hours a day, I would have a fundamentally different approach to my life. If I knew Bubba was behind me all day long, you wouldn’t want to mess with me. But he’s not. I can’t count on Bubba.

“Again and again, the writers of Scripture pose this question for us: How big is your God? Again and again we are reminded that One who is greater than Bubba has come, and you don’t have to wonder whether or not he’ll show up. He’s always there. You don’t have to be afraid. You don’t have to live your life in hiding. You have a great, big God, and he’s called you to do something, so get on with it!”

Are you facing a huge challenge that you believe God has put squarely in front of you?  Something that you just know deep inside there is no way you can do?  Will you let your fears of failure stop you or will you get on with the task God has assigned?  It’s not easy – it takes a huge step of faith.  We fear failure so much!  We need to remember, however, that God doesn’t call us to succeed, but to obey.  If it is His plan, it will accomplish His purpose.  Sometimes I believe He may ask us to do something not so much because He “needs” a certain outcome, but because He is testing our faith and obedience. 

If you are called to do something for God, don’t hesitate.  One greater than Bubba has come and he’s got your back!

PRAYER: Thank You for the comfort of knowing that the outcomes don’t depend on us and our own achievement, but upon You and Your might!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 12/26/19 – Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

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DayBreaks for 12/26/19: Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

It was during the night that the Savior was born. In the darkness. How ironic that the Light chose to be kindled in the dark, but also how meaningful!

There are those today who have set up elaborate and expensive arrays searching for life in the universe. It is a hot topic among astronomers and astrophysicists to name a few. Many movies have been made speculating on whether or not the life that might be out there is friendly or if it will be hostile toward humanity. As a Christian, though, I have to say that we already know there is intelligent life out there in the universe– and we know what that Life is like. It is not filled with hate – but it is filled with love. We know that because of the event we celebrated yesterday – the birth of a baby, wrapped in “swaddling clothes” who came to bring Light and Life, to seek and save the lost. We saw that life, that love, because we have seen Jesus.

Now, however, Christmas is over. The baby in swaddling clothes will be packed up and stowed away for another year. But if Christmas means anything, it is in how it points forward to the next great “holy day” of the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday.

We don’t know when Christ was actually born, but we do know much more certainty about when he died. Again, the irony strikes me: at his birth he was wrapped tightly in strips of linen cloth (that’s what swaddling clothes were in the first century) and when he died, he was once again wrapped tightly in linen strips even as he was at his birth.

As with the birth, so with the death: he quickly left the swaddling clothes behind and he likewise burst forth from the second set of wrappings in great glory.

The end of Christmas starts the great story rumbling forward and points to the coming celebration of his death, burial and the defeat of death for us.

As we leave Christmas behind, let us begin even now to look forward to our next great celebration.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we have celebrated your birth but we cannot stay at the manger. Even as the swaddling clothes held you only temporarily, we look toward the grave wrappings that could not bind you any more than death could, in total awe and wonder for your finished work on our behalf. Help us start now to prepare for the rest of your story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/25/19 – A Reason for the Incarnation

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DayBreaks for 12/25/19: A Reason for the Incarnation

Why did Jesus take on flesh?  Philip Yancey, in Finding God in Unexpected Places, pondered that question and came up with various possibilities.  Certainly, he came to show us what God is like.  He also came to show us what a man “fully alive” was meant to be.  He came to seek and save the lost.  He came not to be served, but to serve.  He came to give himself as a ransom for many through his selfless sacrifice.

God loves matter – the mountains, the trees, the animals, the heavenly orbs, the beauty of a diamond, the rings of Saturn – all made by His hand for His own pleasure.  Creating gives God pleasure.

The creation’s sin, however, created a separation or gulf between God and man.  All the great characters of the Bible struggled with this separation and cried out in terms like these: “God, you don’t know what it’s like living down here!” Job, eloquent as ever, put it more bluntly: “Do you have eyes of flesh?  Do you see as a mortal sees?”

All these Biblical characters had a point – and God recognized the truth of that point by visiting Planet Earth Himself.  The author of Hebrews puts it in absolutely stunning terms when he said that Jesus’ life on earth was a time when he “learned obedience,” “was made perfect,” and became a “sympathetic” high priest. 

How does one learn sympathy?  There is only one way and it is evident in the Greek roots of the word used for sympathy: sym and pathos, meaning “to feel or suffer with.”

Of the many reasons for the Incarnation (Yancey concluded): “…surely one was to answer Job’s accusation.  Do you have eyes of flesh?  Yes, indeed.”

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

PRAYER: Teach us to have spiritual vision as well as physical vision.  You who came to have human eyes, please give us eyes like yours that we may see what you see, think like you think, and be conformed to your image.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/24/19 – The Lamb Victorious

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DayBreaks for 12/24/19: The Lamb Victorious

“Christmas, the celebration of the first Coming of the Lamb, looks back to the humble stable and the simple shepherds. The setting is a dark, fallen world. He has come to expose through His weakness the impotence of what the world calls power. He has come to show us that it is we who are upside-down.

“In that sense, Christmas is a preparation for the celebration that will be the Second Coming, of the Lamb triumphant. The contrast between the settings of the two comings could not be more extreme. Instead of a silent stable and a bunch of motley shepherds, there will be a resplendent multitude whose praise can only be described as a “roar”.

“Oh Lamb of God, innocent, helpless
One, born in a stable, held in
shepherds’ arms, sleeping in the hay.
You are the Lamb, our Lamb, meek,
gentle, and spotless Victim.

“Yet you are the Lamb victorious!
You have conquered sin and death.
You have overcome the evil one.
The throne is yours. The glory yours.
We look up to see the lion and yet it is
still You that we see, both reigning
and slain. And you bid us follow.

“This Christmas, make us mindful of what
Your first coming means.
Clear our vision so that we might
look ahead and upward to your
Second Coming, a faithful Bride,
longing for the feast.

The writing is taken from the devotional book The Promise, © 1991 by Michael Card. All Rights Reserved

PRAYER: Lamb of God, we await Your return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/23/19 – Jesus’ Priorities

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DayBreaks for 12/23/19: Jesus’ Priorities

On 12/19/19, Craig Keener wrote on the theology blog of Christianity Today about two events, closely linked in the text of Mark and in purpose, in the life of Jesus. The first, the healing of the woman with the issue of blood and the second, the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. He made the following observations:

“So far as we can tell from Mark, Jesus has not yet raised anyone else from the dead. Jesus thus demands from Jairus greater faith, and he accordingly continues with Jesus to the house. Faith does not mean that Jairus will not join others’ astonishment when his daughter is raised (5:42).

“Jesus had physical contact with ritual impurity when healing a leper (1:41) and the bleeding woman. But whereas such contacts rendered one impure until evening, touching a corpse rendered one impure for a week (Num. 19:11–13). Jesus, however, embraces us in our need, which takes priority over ritual purity (Mark 7:1–23) and even the Sabbath (2:23–3:6). He takes the dead girl by the hand and raises her up (5:41).”

As we enter the week where we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let’s remember that he didn’t come so we could sing nice carols, decorate trees and houses and exchange presents with one another. He came to take on our uncleanness and raise us up to wholeness and purity.

As we celebrate our rituals, let’s remember that He was willing to become unclean to make us “well”. Meeting our need was more important to him than any ritual. It should be that way for us as well.

PRAYER: Jesus, there simply aren’t words that express our amazement that you were born to take on our sin and raise us up. We are forever thankful for your birth, your life, your death and resurrection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/20/19 – The Rescue Mission for Creation

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DayBreaks for 12/20/19: The Rescue Mission for Creation

If you look for just a few minutes every day, you can find a story of an incredible rescue taking place somewhere in this country or world, perhaps, if you community is large enough, even in your own neighborhood.  Firemen, highway patrolmen, soldiers, officers of the peace, teachers and parents (sometimes even kids or dogs) carry out amazing rescues and we applaud them and give them the honor that they deserve.  Rightly so.

This week, Christmas is upon us.  We often retell the story to ourselves and our little ones about the birth of Jesus.  It is a sweet, charming story, full of farm animals, night skies twinkling with stars, angels singing to shepherds who were out on the hillside at night with their animals.  Don’t forget the magi who came to see and worship this king being held in the arms of his virgin mother, Mary.  In all the sweetness of the story we can easily forget what led up to this moment in time: the fall in the garden, years of sin and wickedness culminating in the flood, renewed evil immediately after the flood, a people chosen to be God’s own special people, prophets, judges, miracles, kings and always…more failure and sin.  In the midst of the wonder it is easy to push such thoughts aside and try to ignore them.  It is understandable, I guess.

But we must not forget these forerunners to the Nativity story because it was all of those things which were the precursors and the factors that made this visitation from Immanuel necessary.  Timothy Keller wrote: “Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment.”  Yes, those things are true…and more.  Here is the kicker, the driving factor behind God’s decision to come and visit this planet in such a personal and human way: “Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation.  He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.

Wow.  I’d never thought about it in those words before, but the more I’ve contemplated them, the more I believe they are dead on target.  If our sins hadn’t been paid for he would have had no choice but to end us when he ended evil and suffering in the world.  He would not have been righteous and holy if he’d ended evil and let us survive – for we are evil when we are left to our own devices.  All the evil we have within us had to be answered for, or we would have had to be “ended” when he did destroy evil. 

This week as you focus on His birth, I hope that you’ll contemplate yet again, this statement: “He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.”  This was the reason for the baby coming to the manger and for the Godman walking to the cross where he died.

PRAYER: Thank You for the greatest rescue ever conducted, Jesus!  Thank You that You found a way to pay for all of my evil that didn’t include ending me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/19/19 – The God of Frailty

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DayBreaks for 12/19/19: The God of Frailty

In a short devotional for Christmas, writer Paul Williams reflects on why he still remembers one particular Christmas pageant from 1981. It all starts with a strep-stricken son. He writes:

“The dull eyes tipped me off before he could open his mouth. Jonathan had strep throat. It seemed the children in our family picked up strep two or three times a year, and someone always had it during the holidays.

“Jonathan had been excited about the nursery school Christmas play for a couple of weeks. He would be Joseph. Mary would be played by a Jewish girl from down the block. Yes, her parents had given permission for her to be in the Christmas pageant.

“With neck glands swollen and his voice a nasally whine, Jonathan begged to go to the festivities. Against our better judgment, we acquiesced. Bundling our son in his warmest coat, we drove the five short miles to the Central Islip Church of Christ. By the time all the parents had squeezed into the small auditorium, Jonathan was as white as the pillowcase he was wearing as a head covering. He looked fragile and diminutive.

“Cathy and I sat on the front row. Jonathan came down the aisle hand in hand with Mary, and the two sat down on the second step below the manger, recently retrieved from its usual home in the boiler room. Jonathan was looking paler still, all the light out of his big blue eyes. He looked at us and managed a weak smile.

“As soon as the play was over we hauled Jonathan off to the doctor’s office. Since our family doctor was a friend, we sneaked in and out in no time. Filled with penicillin, our son was feeling better the next morning. I do not remember much about the rest of that Christmas season, though I am sure it was utterly delightful, as all Christmas celebrations are.

“I have often pondered why that is my only remembrance of that Christmas, in December of 1981. Of all the memories of all our family Christmas experiences, what makes that one event stand out?

“I know the reason.

“Christmas is truly about frail vulnerability, freely chosen. With heart in throat God watched his infant Son cry and squirm in the cold manger, where there was no penicillin.

“I know how I felt watching my son with his head resting in those small hands, wanting to be brave, but weak and unsteady. I can only imagine what my heavenly Father thought, seeing his infant Son in the hands of a frightened young girl.”

PRAYER: Lord, may our spirits be tender to Your Spirit.  Thank You, Father, for entrusting Your Son into the hands of Your frail and flawed creatures.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/17/19 – How Christmas Must have Felt

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DayBreaks for 12/17/19: How Christmas Must have Felt

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2009:

In one of my messages this Christmas season, I pondered what it must have been like for God to become human.  Jesus, as God, had been worshiped and adored throughout all of eternity past.  For ceaseless ages He was enthroned in fabulous and indescribable glory.  He spoke – and worlds came into being.  He had no limitations that weakened His power to do good.  Angels waited at His beck and call ready to do His most minute bidding. 

I’ve wondered how it felt when God in the flesh first stepped on a sharp stone and cried out in pain.  I’ve wondered how it felt when He felt that virus spreading through His body that would cause His nose to run and fever to spread prior to vomiting up the contents of His stomach?  It must have been strange for the God of creation to become like one of His creatures and take their frailty into His own being. 

How did Christmas day feel to God? I know that we can’t recall what it was like to be new-borns, but try to imagine for just a moment becoming a baby again: giving up language and the ability to communicate in anything but cries, to give up muscle coordination and to be unable to do anything to help oneself, to surrender for a period of time the ability to eat solid food and even to control your bladder. God as a newborn took on all those things.  A more appropriate analogy, though, might not be for us to once again become a baby, but to imagine ourselves becoming sea slugs – something vastly of lower position than what we have always known and something we have never been.  This is more like what God did when He became one of us.

Gone were the vast choirs of angels and the heavenly music disappeared only to be replaced by mooing, belching cows, roosters crowing and donkeys braying.  Gone was the throne and the glory that had once surrounded Him only to be replaced by swaddling clothes and straw.  Words were gone – the Word that spoke everything into creation was exchanged for cries of hunger and discomfort.  No one remained to do His bidding except for his mother and father who were lost in the wonder of it all as they alone knew Who this was Who was held in their arms and hearts. 

How does this make YOU feel this Christmas – to know what God endured for you?  

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

PRAYER: For Your humiliation to become like us, we are thankful and we worship Your Holy Name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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