DayBreaks for 7/29/19 – Just Try to Imagine It

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DayBreaks for 07/29/19: Just Try to Imagine It

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

A 2009 movie, New in Town, tells the story of Lucy Hill (Renee Zellweger), a high-powered consultant who loves her Miami lifestyle, who is sent to New Ulm, Minnesota, to oversee a restructuring at a blue-collar manufacturing facility.  Eventually, she’s ordered to shut down the plant, putting the entire community out of work.  At that point, Lucy is forced to reconsider her goals and priorities.  When she arrived in New Ulm, a small, freezing city with one red light and a population of 13,595—a city where people “drag Jesus into regular conversation”—Lucy is met by her new executive assistant, Blanche Gunderson (Siobhan Fallon, who is a real-life Christian).  In this scene Blanche asks Lucy one personal question after another, culminating in a question concerning Jesus.

“Are you a scrapper?” Blanche asks. When Lucy is confused, Blanche clarified: “Do you keep a scrapbook?”

It is soon clear that Blanche is quite the scrap booker. She actually has a “mini” scrapbook in her purse, filled with pictures of Winston Churchill—her now-dead dog who was a “bit of a drooler.”

“Are you married?” Blanche asks. “Do you have children?”

“No,” Lucy answers, though visibly uncomfortable because of Blanche’s line of questioning.

“Not to worry,” Blanche insists. “You’re still young. You still have time—I suppose.” After a brief pause, Blanche continues: “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

Lucy, eyes bulging, replies, “Isn’t that what you’ve been doing?”

Unfazed, Blanche tenderly asks, “Have you found Jesus?”

“Well, I didn’t know he was missing,” Lucy replies with a laugh.

Blanche drops her head. Noticing she has hurt Blanche with her response, Lucy says, “It was just a joke.”

“Normally we don’t joke about Jesus around here,” Blanche replies. “But I can see how you could think that was sort of funny.” Then, with a look of concern, Blanche ponders out loud, “Imagine Jesus gone missing. Imagine.” – New in Town (Lionsgate Pictures, 2009)

Have you ever tried to imagine if Jesus had gone AWOL?  If, on the way from heaven to earth he’d decided to take a detour to somewhere else in order to avoid his mission?  Or, if on his way to Jerusalem for that last fateful visit, he’d headed north and disappeared into Gaul instead?  Or, if his body had gone missing and there were no after-death appearances to prove the resurrection?  Not a pretty picture, is it?

Has Jesus gone missing from your life and conversation with co-workers, family, friends, neighbors?  If so, bring him back today!

PRAYER:  What a wonderful Savior You are, Jesus!  Thank You for being part of our lives.  May we invite You into every relationship and conversation we have!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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

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DayBreaks for 1/22/19 – The Lesson of the Maggies

Magdalene laundries

DayBreaks for 01/22/2019: The Lesson of the Maggies

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

“A film made in 2002, The Magdalene Sisters, told the sad story of the “maggies” of Ireland. They got that nickname from Mary Magdalene, a revealing story in itself. The gospels mention only one fact of Mary Magdalene’s past, that Jesus had driven seven demons from her. Nevertheless, a tradition grew that Mary Magdalene must have been the same woman as the prostitute who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair. Hence when a strict order of nuns agreed to take in young women who had become pregnant out of wedlock, they labeled the fallen girls “maggies.”

“The maggies came to public attention in the 1990s when the order sold its convent, bringing to light the existence of the graves of 133 maggies who had spent their lives working as virtual slaves in the convent laundry. The media soon scouted out a dozen such “Magdalen laundries” across Ireland—the last one closed in 1996—and soon relatives and survivors were spilling accounts of the slave-labor conditions inside. Thousands of young women spent time in the laundries, some put away just for being “temptresses,” forced to work unpaid and in silence as a form of atonement for their sins. The nuns took away illegitimate children born to these women to be raised in other religious institutions.

“A public outcry erupted, and eventually campaigners raised money for a memorial, a bench in St. Stephen’s Green, a park in downtown Dublin. I determined to visit the memorial on a trip to Ireland. It was a typical gray day in Dublin, with a sharp September wind and the threat of rain in the air. I asked a policeman and a park guide about the memorial to the maggies, and they both looked at me quizzically. “Dunno that one. Sorry.”

“One by one, my wife and I examined the bronze statues and impressive fountains, mostly honoring fighters for Irish independence. Only by accident did we stumble across a modest bench beside a magnolia tree. A couple was sitting on it, but behind their backs we could see brass-colored lettering. We asked if they would mind moving aside for a moment so we could read the inscription. The plaque reads, “To the women who worked in the Magdalen laundry institutions and to the children born to some members of those communities—reflect here upon their lives.”

“Walking away from the humble memorial, I found myself reflecting not simply on their lives but also on the sharp contrast between how Jesus treated moral failures and how we his followers often do. Jesus appointed the Samaritan woman as his first missionary. He defended the woman who anointed him with expensive perfume: “Wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” And Mary Magdalene, she of the seven demons, he honored as the very first witness of the Resurrection—a testimony at first discounted by his more prestigious followers. Where we shame, he elevates.”  – Philip Yancey, Christianity Today, 5/1/2003

Prayer:  May we learn from Your grace and be imitators of Your mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/29/18 – He’s the One

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DayBreaks for 10/29/18: He’s the One

It’s dark.  The air stings the lungs and is filled with the smells of unwashed bodies, human waste, wet straw.  The scrabbling sounds of rats in the darkness interrupts one’s ability to sleep.  There is little water and what food there is is not even fit for the rats.  The chains chafe on the wrists and ankles, digging into the flesh, creating bloody wounds that draw even more rats.  And John sits there, in the dungeon of King Herod, after a remarkable career serving the Messiah.  But John is alone now, the Messiah is no where to be seen.  John hears that the Lord is in Galilee (the backwater part of Israel), preaching to the rabble there.

The hours wear slowly and seem more like days than mere hours.  For how long John sat there, we don’t know…but we do know this: at some point, the soaring courage and fearlessness in this man began to flag, and so he commissioned some of his followers to go to Jesus with a simple question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” 

John’s followers go and find Jesus.  We don’t know how long they stayed, but they apparently stayed a while, based on Jesus’ response to their question from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

The disciples of John had apparently stayed long enough not just to hear Jesus’ answer, but to hear and see for themselves then to go back to John with their report.  “John, you should have been there!  We saw blind people see for the first time in their lives!  We saw cripples dance and leap!  Leprosy went away and skin was made pink and whole by just a word from Jesus!  The deaf hear the sound of their children’s voices!  But John, there was a little dead girl – and Jesus just told her to ‘Get up, little one!’, and she did, John, she did!  We wouldn’t have believed it if we’d not seen it with our own eyes, John.  And you should have seen her parents – their joy was so incredible – they were speechless and could only fall and hold Jesus’ feet and weep tears of joy and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Lord!’ over and over and over again!  And the words, John…you’re a great preacher, but no one ever spoke like Jesus does!”

John had his answer.  Jesus is the One.  He still is today.

PRAYER: Jesus, we believe that You are the Holy One, the One and only sent from the Father above.  In the times of our doubting, remind us of this eternal truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/17/17 – A Worldwide Competition

DayBreaks for 10/17/17: A Worldwide Competition

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

We’re fond of talking about winning a world championship when it comes to our sports here in the United States.  We tend to assume that anything we do in the sports world is better than anything anyone else can do anywhere else in the world.  Consider: it’s almost time for the October Classic – otherwise known as the World Series.  But think about that?  How can it be the “World Series” when only teams from the United States and a few Canadian teams are involved?  What about all the baseball played in the Caribbean, in Japan, or other places around the world?  “Sure,” I can hear you say, “but they’re not as good as American teams.”  I don’t know – that may be true.  But remember – we felt that way about our National Basketball League players who were defeated in a few past Olympics.  So much for the assumption that we just naturally the best, the world champions.

Then, of course, there are folks like my wife.  I love her dearly, and over the years we’ve been married, we’ve developed some similar tendencies, but we’re also very different people.  In some things, I LOVE competition.  In anything, she HATES it.  When you’re dealing with an area that I know something about and have some skills developed, I don’t mind competing – at least as long as the competition is friendly.  But, take me out of my comfort zone, or put me in an arena where I don’t know the competitors or spectators, and I may tend to withdraw out of fear of failure.  Fear of failure probably keeps more people from competitive activities than anything else.  We don’t want to look stupid or to embarrass ourselves.

In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard describes a conference he attended, when someone asked him what was the human issue that Jesus came to address (as opposed to theological issue, I suppose).  He answered: “Jesus came to respond to the universal human need to know how to live well.  He came to show us how through reliance on him we can best live in the universe as it really is.  That is why he said, I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn. 10:10).  His supremacy lies in the greatness of the life he gives to us.  Putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition with all known alternatives is the only way we can give our faith a chance to prove his power over the whole of life.”

I must confess, I’d never thought about “putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition” before.  But stop and think about it for a minute.  Why are we afraid of putting Jesus front and center into the marketplace of thought and ideas and belief systems that are targeted at helping people live better lives?  Could it be because we are projecting our fears of failure on Him?  That we’re afraid that when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, that He somehow won’t pass the test?  That the life He tries to teach us to live isn’t perhaps the best life that there could possibly be? 

I fear that we let our fears keep us from putting Christ into a competition with anything that the world has to offer.  We are to “contend earnestly for the faith” – contending is a term from warfare and from competition.  Are we afraid that Christ will somehow fail to win in a competition against lies, deceit and falsehood?  It won’t happen.

How can you put Jesus front and center on the stage of the world in which you live?

PRAYER: Father, help us to have full and complete faith and trust in You.  Help us to not project fears about our failures onto Your ability to contend for the hearts and minds of those who don’t know You.  Give us spirits of boldness and courage to carry Your name with us wherever we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/02/16 – The Day I Learned Who I Was

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DayBreaks for 9/02/16 – The Day I Learned What I Was

John 11:47-48 (ESV) – So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

I have often found myself shocked and puzzled by the reactions of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus. They certainly are not painted with a sympathetic brush in Scripture. They (for the most part – there are some exceptions) are not figures that we think to ourselves: “I want to be like Caiaphas when I grow up!”

In the verses preceding the passage above, Jesus has raised Lazarus. Afterwards, the crowd that witnessed the miracle dispersed and it says that some ran to tell the Jewish leaders what Jesus had done. Why did they do this Maybe they did so because they were amazed and wanted the leaders to know that Jesus must have been the Messiah so the leaders could accept and welcome him. Maybe, however, some were spies who were in cahoots with the leaders and were sent out to report back all that Jesus did so they leaders could trap him. We see that the leaders had tried to trap him many times. We simply don’t know their motive, but the reaction of the leaders is what is significant.

John gives us at least a clue into their motivations. They couldn’t and didn’t deny the signs…yet in this recorded discussion, it is as if they totally excluded the miracles from their thought processes. Their fears appeared to be centered on four things: 1) that many would believe on Jesus; 2) that the Romans would intervene; 3) that they would lose their places of prestige and honor; 4) that the Romans would obliterate the nation.

I suspect that the greatest of these motivations was the third one. We always seem, no matter our position, to think of ourselves first and the impact something will have on us.  Sometimes the better part of us takes over and we over-ride the concern about impact to us and do something for someone else, even though it may be very costly to us as individuals to do so. Think of someone diving into a raging river to rescue someone else. They have made a conscious decision to disregard their personal safety for the benefit of someone else – perhaps even for a stranger. But, more often than not, when we are asked to sign up to help in the nursery at church, or to give to a cause or to take on some responsibility, don’t we do a mental check that goes something like this: “What will this mean to my time?  How long will it take me?  How long am I committing for? What won’t I be able to do or buy because of this?” This mental calculus doesn’t take us long, but if we are to be honest, don’t those thoughts run through your head when someone makes a request of you?

Perhaps we aren’t that different from the Pharisees at all. I learned something about myself from this passage today – and I didn’t like what I saw when I looked into the mirror of God’s Word.

PRAYER: God, I confess that my first instinct is to count the cost of what something I might do for someone else means to me and my wishes and my goals and my “place”! Help me to know when it is right to count the cost and when it is right to simply say, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 9/01/16 – Martha and I – the Practical Twins

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DayBreaks for 9/01/16 – Martha and I – the Practical Twins

John 11:38-40 (ESV)Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

I really like Martha!

Martha was very much like me, or rather, I am very much like Martha. She was a woman of practicalities. When Jesus comes to dinner, it is Martha who is busy with the cooking and preparations while her sister sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to the teaching of the Master.

Here, in this passage, Martha is worried about something else. She is worried about the stench emanating from her dead brother’s corpse. Quite frankly, I would be worried about it, too, if I had been Martha or if I were in a parallel situation with Jesus. I have not smelled a decomposing human after four days, but I am told it is an unforgettable, sickening odor. Jesus, of course, knew about the stench. For some inexplicable reason, I’d always assumed that when the stone was rolled back and Lazarus came forth, it was as if Jesus had sprayed some heavenly Lysol in the air and there was no stench. But the Scripture doesn’t say that when the stone was moved away that there wasn’t a stench that was released from the enclosed space where Lazarus had been decomposing.

Martha, I’m sure, thought Jesus just wanted to cast one more glance on the face of her dead brother and was trying to let him know that not only wouldn’t it be a pretty sight, it wouldn’t be a pretty smell, either. She was a practical woman – she wasn’t expecting an entirely impractical resurrection. It just isn’t practical to let oneself hope for a resurrection. Such things don’t happen, so don’t even start to get your hopes up.

God, however, isn’t concerned with such trivialities as what is practical and what isn’t. For him, there is no impractical or impossible thing. Everything serves his purpose. Jesus is the God of the practical and impractical. Perhaps it is only my lack of faith that prevents me from seeing more impractical things become reality in my own life.

I am grateful that Jesus loves even practical people like Martha – and me!

PRAYER: Lord, I believe you can do anything you choose to do. Yet I know my practicality often leads me to not even expect things from you, rather than to expect amazing things when you are “on the scene”. Keep me from being so impractical that I don’t believe you can do far more than we can ask or even imagine! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

This is probably the first verse that most of us ever memorized. Why? Because it was short and easy. But short and easy can make it more likely that we’ll miss the incredible power of God’s word to tell us something important in just 9 letters combined into two words.

I have often wondered why Jesus wept. I’ve heard many different interpretations, but the most common are that 1) he was moved by the grief of his friends; 2) he was grieving himself over the loss of Lazarus; 3) he was agonizing over the effects of the fall on humanity – and death was included as part of that fall. I don’t know for sure why he wept, but I rather doubt it was the second one – after all, Jesus knew perfectly well what he was going to do in Bethany that day. But whatever we do, we shouldn’t let our not knowing why Jesus wept distract us from the fact that he did weep.

The shortest verse in the Bible is probably also one of the most poignant and important verses of all time. Some ancients believed that the gods lacked emotions. Their reasoning was that if the gods had emotions then they could be swayed by people and events and that they would no longer be gods. So, they held that the gods must be stoic and untouched emotionally from human affairs. Jesus destroys that notion. Jesus shows us a God who weeps. This is important for at least two reasons: 1) it gives me hope that my prayers can move God, just as God was moved by the requests of Moses and David and many others throughout history; 2) it comforts me to know that Jesus understands heartbreak caused by living in the human condition. It makes me able to go to him and know he “gets it”. And it gives me hope that when I weep, he weeps with me, even as he wept with his friends in that cemetery in Bethany.

You may need someone to weep with you, to share your sorrow and grief. Jesus is that Person you need. He is “the man of sorrows”, “acquainted with grief.” Scripture doesn’t tell us those things just to be telling us facts about Jesus, but to know he sympathizes with us to the point of sitting beside us and crying himself.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring John to record that Jesus wept. May all who weep today find comfort in His Presence beside them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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