DayBreaks for 8/09/18 – The Confession Hotline

Image result for confession

DayBreaks for 8/09/18: The Confession Hotline

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Some time back, Time magazine carried a story about a new phone service that was being offered.  It was an “apology sound off line,” and people could call up at any hour of the day or night in order to get things off their chest.  The line, at the time, would receive up to 200 phone calls per day.

They also created a second number, which charged a higher price for their services, that people could call and pay to have someone listen to their confessions.  That line received as many as 10,000 calls per day.

The first line makes sense to me in a way because it’s better to vent into a telephone mouthpiece than to become violent or abusive towards someone who is present.  The second service – the confession hotline – was more intriguing.

Why would someone call a confession hot line and pay to have someone hear them confess the deepest and darkest secrets in their lives?  I am not sure, but I think it probably has something to do with the human heart and how hard it is for the heart to bear up indefinitely under the weight of our hidden sin and shame. 

But there is another reason that has been suggested, too: it is the one place where people could turn and know that they go to vent out their guilt and be guaranteed that no one would judge them for their evil.  There seems to be some craving in us and at some level, we know the truth does, indeed, set us free.

There was something about Jesus that seems to have made him a safe person so it was easy to confess to him.  Why is it not that way with other people?  Probably there is a plethora of things that enter into an answer for that question: we don’t trust them to keep it a secret, we are too ashamed of what we’ve done to have another human know, we’re afraid that they will think less of us, or that they’ll react with utter disgust and disdain – and that when we see them again, we’ll always have those dirty feelings hanging over our head.  No one wants to be in the presence of those who think you’re dirt or scum.

That’s a shame.  Jesus doesn’t feel that way about us when we confess to him.  Look at how he dealt with all those in Scripture who confessed their shame and sin – not one went away feeling like dirt.  Not one seems to have departed concerned that Jesus somehow thought less of them and would always think less of them.  Not one seems to have been of the opinion that Jesus wouldn’t ever want anything to do with them again.  And if anyone was ever in a position to judge them, it was the Son of God.

When will we learn that confession is important and that when someone confesses to us, it’s not our job to judge them or set them straight?  They’re already aware it’s wrong or they wouldn’t be confessing to start with.  They already feel the shame – they are confessing to be set free from that pit.  Let’s not throw dirt on top of them as they’re trying to dig out.

Jesus offers us the greatest confessional hotline of all time.  Let’s use it more often!  It’s free!

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to become like you so that when others confess to us, we are tender, gentle and restorative rather than judgmental and condemning!  We confess to you now that we are sinners – and we welcome your promised forgiveness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/09/18 – In a Different Light Entirely

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DayBreaks for 1/09/18: In a Different Light Entirely

Hardly a day goes by without me comparing myself to someone else in one way or another. It might be as simple as comparing how tall (or in my case, short) I am to someone else (I’m delighted when I find people who are more vertically challenged than I!) or thinner. It might be looks (but I usually wind up on the short end of that stick, too). Sometimes, though, it takes a more serious and harmful bent. I can start comparing my faith to that of others, or my practice of daily spiritual disciplines or my integrity to others. And when I read all the stuff that shows up on the internet each day, or hear about the horrible actions of someone on the news, I can get rather puffed up about myself. That’s why it is so serious and harmful – because I have no room to get all puffy about myself.

The problem, you see, is that when we compare ourselves to others, we quickly go right past comparison into judgements. And judging others is a very, very serious and deadly business. It’s not only serious because we’re admonished “Judge not” and that we’ll be judged in the same way we judge others, but it’s deadly when we start to think that I’m okay as I am because after all, look how much better I am than Tom or Sally, George or Jane. And the result of that is that I start to think that I don’t need Jesus very much.

Here’s what Fred Craddock, a great Christian preacher, said: “What’s frightening about listening to John (the Baptist) preach is that he puts you in the presence of God. And that’s what everybody wants, and that’s what everybody doesn’t want. Because the light at the altar is different from every other light in the world. In the dim lamps of this world, we can compare ourselves with each other, and all of us come off looking good. We convince ourselves that God grades on the curve, and what’s the difference? We’re all okay. And then you come in the presence of God, and you’re at the altar, and it’s all different. For if our hearts condemn us, think of this – – God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. There’s no way to modulate the human voice to make a whine acceptable. The whining is over. The excusing is over. It’s the school, it’s the church, it’s the board, it’s the government. It isn’t! All that’s over. It just stops. Like waking from a dream of palaces and patios to find the roof leaks and the rent’s due. Like shutting off the stereo, and you hear the rat gnawing in the wall. That’s just the fact of it. In my mind, I serve God. But there’s another force in my life, and I say, `I’m going to do that.’ I don’t do it. I say, `I’ll never do that.’ I do it. Crucified between the sky of what I intend and the earth of what I perform. That’s the truth.”

Ouch. As they say, truth hurts.

Any human comparisons we make are vain, pointless and dangerous. There’s only one Light that shows reality: the Light that is bright enough to get past every one of our defenses and shows us for what we are so we will realize how desperately we need Him!

PRAYER: Spirit, we invite you to shine Your light into our lives and reveal our guilt in comparing ourselves to others and taking solace in what we see in that very dim light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/25/17 – The Wheat, the Tares – and the Line Through the Heart

DayBreaks for 7/25/17: The Wheat, the Tares, and the Line Through the Heart

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) – Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares seems strange. In that parable, the lesson is not to try separate the wheat and tares. In due time, they will be separate by the Judge of all. So, why wouldn’t Jesus want us to go out there are start sorting it all out? I think there are obvious reasons: what we think is a “tare” may in fact be wheat in its early stages. How many of us would have seen Saul of Tarsus (a believer in God, even before his conversion, no doubt) as wheat instead of a tare?

One preacher asked the people at his church to imagine what would happen if they adopted a policy of weed-pulling, drawing a circle around their little town and making a vow that no evil would cross that line, that no weeds would grow within that border. He told them, “You know, you and I could spend the rest of our lives protecting that boundary, standing shoulder to shoulder with pitchforks and clubs, making sure that we kept drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling safely on the other side. I think it would take all of our energy and most of our time. But what if we did it? What if we succeeded? What would we have? We would have a town characterized by the absence of evil, which is not the same as a town characterized by the presence of good. And maybe this is what Jesus was talking about all along, that it’s better to have a wheat field with weeds in it than a field with nothing in it at all.”
When that church in North Carolina later began a ministry to the children of a nearby trailer park, they had to decide what kind of ministry it would be. They could have chosen to root out all the sources of evil in that place-to chase down the drug dealers and the deadbeat dads, to confiscate handguns and arrest child abusers. Instead, they chose to put up a basketball goal, to tell stories from the Bible, to put their arms around little children, and sing songs about Jesus. And two years after they started that ministry, two years of going out there Saturday after Saturday to do those things, the pastor got a note in his box at church with five words on it: “Adrian wants to be baptized.” Adrian. The terror of the trailer park. That little girl who had made their work most difficult during the previous two years. Who would have guessed?
Instead of pulling weeds in the field where she lived, they just tried hard to BE  wheat themselves, and somehow Adrian saw that and fell in love with it and wanted it for herself. After she was baptized, there was a little more wheat in the field. And because she was there, soon, there was even more.

I know far too many Christians who continually want to cull the field, making decisions on the basis of assumed or real belief, behaviors, attitudes, speech, political stances, etc. One pastor’s wife looked back into her genealogy and traced it back over 500 years. In the process, they that she had a relative who was burned at the stake in Switzerland. Why? Because he had a different understanding of baptism than those who tied him to the stake, that’s why. They weeded him out. Then they burned him up.
As for me, I don’t always know whether I am weed or wheat. I believe it was Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That includes my heart and it includes yours, too. For all I know, I may even be the weed in somebody else’s garden. Perhaps in your garden.

If Jesus was content to let the weeds be, why shouldn’t I? He’ll sort it out when the time is right for he is far better qualified to do so than any human.

PRAYER: Forgive me for thinking my answers are all the right ones, that I am in any way qualified to separate the wheat from the tares! Let humility rise within us, Lord, and let us just get about the business of being wheat and not something else that is deceitful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/10/14 – First in the Kingdom

DayBreaks for 10/10/14 – First in the Kingdom

Mark 9:35 (KJV) – And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

A young minister graduated from seminary just before World War I and he was appointed to a church in a very small town. He had been there only a couple of weeks when he received the call every new minister dreads — the call to do his first funeral. The person who had died was not a member of his church. She was, in fact, a woman with a very bad reputation. Her husband was a railroad engineer who was away from home much of the time. She had rented rooms in their house to men who worked on the railroad and rumor had it that she rented more than just rooms when her husband was away. The young preacher, faced with his first funeral, found no one who had a good word to say about this woman, until he entered the small old-fashioned grocery store on the day before the funeral. He began to talk to the store owner about his sadness that the first person he would bury would be someone about which nothing good could be said. The store owner didn’t reply at first and then, in his silence, he appeared to make a decision. He took out his store ledger and laid it on the counter between him and the preacher. He opened the ledger at random and, covering the names in the left-hand column, he pointed to grocery bills written in red – groceries that people had bought on credit — and then the column that showed the bill had been paid.

He said, “Every month, that woman would come in and ask me who was behind in their grocery bills. It was usually some family who had sickness or death — or some poor woman trying to feed her kids when her husband drank up the money. She would pay their bill and she made me swear never to tell. But, I figure now that she is dead, people ought to know — especially those who benefited from her charity who have been most critical of her.”

Matthew 21:31 (NLT) – Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.

PRAYER: Father, take away our tendency to criticize other and to consider ourselves better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and must raise his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and put S090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations!

Your support would be deeply appreciated!

 

DayBreaks for 7/16/14 – The Wheat and the Weeds

DayBreaks for 7/16/14 – The Wheat and the Weeds

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Why is it that we are so judgmental, seemingly so eager to pass judgment and classify people one way or another?  There is perhaps no group of people who are more prone to do this than Christians – and that is tragic.  We seem to often be of the persuasion that it is our job to decipher who is “in” and who is “out”.  We may think it is our duty to protect the rest of the world from evil, to point it out, to call a spade a spade.  We seem to believe that we’ve been given special insight to discern what is wheat and what is a weed – to use the metaphor of the parable.

You know them: people who continually want to cull the field, who feel called upon to make decisions and proclamations about others on the basis of certain beliefs … behaviors … even baptism. A Christian who had a wife that was into tracing family geneaologies traced her family back over 500 years.  In doing so, she learned she had a relative who was burned at the stake in Switzerland. Why? Because he had the wrong understanding of baptism, that’s why. They weeded him out. Then they burned him up.

I must say that I don’t always even know whether I am weed or wheat. Alexander Solzhenitsyn said: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.

Every human being….that includes my own heart.  Who knows?  Perhaps I am the weed in someone else’s garden – maybe yours. 

If this parable teaches us anything it surely must include that it is not our job to sort the weeds and the wheat.  Jesus will one day sort them out himself and his advice to us to not to try to do that job for him.  Let them grow together, he said, until the harvest.  Then, and only then will the only One who is qualified to separate the weeds and the wheat will do what only He can do.

PRAYER: Forgive us our judgmental spirits, Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and must raise his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and putS090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations!

Your support would be deeply appreciated!

 

DayBreaks for 02/29/12 – Ghost Soldiers

DayBreaks for 02/29/12 – Ghost Soldiers

Ghost Soldiers

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 1/16/2002:

I have recently completed one of the most compelling and remarkable books that I’ve ever read.  The title of the book is Ghost Soldiers and it was written by Hampton Sides.  This amazing book tells the true story of an incredible rescue mission that was launched in the Philippines during WW2.  You may have heard about the Bataan death march that took place during World War Two.  This was a brutal forced march of American, Philippine and other prisoners of war by the Imperial Japanese army.  Hundreds died during this forced march, and those who survived were brutalized, beaten, diseased, starved, tortured and forced to live under the most incredibly demeaning circumstances in prisoner of war camps.  This amazing story (I would highly recommend it, but it isn’t for the squeamish) was one I’d never heard before, but one which deserves to be told over and over again – and never forgotten.

This story highlights the most noble side of human nature – and the most degrading.  It is hard to believe that humans could rise to such heights of self-sacrifice, honor and integrity – in many cases giving up their lives for fellow-prisoners or for people they’d never met before.  I am in total awe of the prisoners and rescuers.  At the same time, it also reveals the depths to which human nature can sink when deprived of any knowledge of God.

Sadly, I think that far too often the church reflects both sides of humanity, too.  Some of the most noble and honorable acts in human history have taken place in the church because of the love of one Christian to another.   Sadly, some of the most inhumane acts have been perpetrated in the church and by the church – supposedly in the name of God.

Matthew 7:3-5 – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I know that we are also told to speak the truth in love, and also that we are to restore those taken in by sin: (Gal 6:1-2) “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  While Paul may be warning us about falling into the same sin as the one who is being restored, I don’t think that’s what he had in mind.  I think he was warning us about becoming too puffed up, too proud of our own righteousness (which we have none of – our only righteousness is HIS righteousness!) and as a result fall because of our prideful, haughty attitudes.

Sometimes when a brother or sister has been around a long time and has a long track record of sinning, repenting, being restored, then repeating the pattern over again, we become jaded and skeptical of repentance.  We start to judge the heart of the person as if we can really see it, we determine if the person really feels sorry for their sin or not, and if they have really repented or not.  That’s dangerous ground.  Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone who sinned against him.  Jesus’ response didn’t delve into reading the person’s heart, weighing the risk if the person hadn’t really repented, etc.  No, he put it this way in Matthew 18:21-35: “21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.  29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’  30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.  32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Perhaps the most difficult thing here is the last 3 words: “…from your heart…”.  What does Jesus mean?  With ALL our heart.  Without reservations.  Without hesitation.  The same way God forgives us.  Can you imagine, even for a second, that God sits and debates about whether or not to grant you the forgiveness you ask for?  (And He already KNOWS if you’ll fall into that sin again!!!)

Perhaps some day we’ll learn to extend even a portion of the grace to others that God has extended to us.

PRAYER: May we extend grace to others as much as we desperately want Your grace to be extended to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/03/11 – In the Lineup

DayBreaks for 08/03/11 – In the Lineup

Some line-ups are tougher than others...

You’ve seen them hundreds of times on police/detective shows on television.  The suspect is placed in a line-up to see if the guilty person can be pointed out.

This past Sunday morning, I was preaching about judging others as part of a series on grace.  In his book, In the Grip of Grace, Max Lucado played out an interesting scenario.  To illustrate it, I showed pictures of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Gary Ridgeway (the Green River Killer), Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer.  The people in the congregation immediately knew and recognized all the pictures except Ridgeway.  Someone even said out loud something to the effect of what an awful lot of people they were.  Put them all together in a line-up and it is a true rogue’s gallery.

It is easy to judge such people, isn’t it?  Yet, you may not know that before Dahmer was beaten to death by another inmate, he became a believer in Christ and sought forgiveness.  That may offend you – it offends many people.  We don’t want to think that Dahmer found the same grace that the thief on the cross found.  Yet, as far as any human can possibly know, that’s precisely what he found.

As part of the illustration, I put pictures of the aforementioned up on a single slide and threw in pictures of  Osama bin Laden and Adolph Hitler.  Then I put in my picture and the picture of another brother from our congregation right in the mix with the rest.  The point: even someone who looks like me looks pretty good compared to the likes of those rogues!

But there’s a fly in the ointment: God puts us a line-up all right, but it isn’t the line-up of those folks.  It’s the line-up with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  When I am placed in that line-up I look utterly awful and despicable, indeed.  We all do.

God has never used the standard of comparing us to other mere mortals.  He, Himself, is the standard to which we must answer.  More on that tomorrow.

Who do you compare yourself to in terms of righteousness?  If you are comparing yourself to others, stop and put yourself in the line-up with the Trinity…and rethink your sinfulness.

PRAYER: Forgive our judgmental hearts that see others as unworthy of your grace and forgiveness…yet claiming it for our own selves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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